Game Development Reference
stay silent. A candid designer will point out a fault in a superior's idea, or
disagree with a boardroom full of people. Candid designers are thought-
ful, sincere, and direct, not weasely and lame. They put the mental effort
into having ideas, and the emotional effort into expressing them.
In the end, worthwhile people respect and appreciate those who stand
behind their ideas, even if they don't always agree with the ideas them-
selves. In our hearts, we all want to be the one who has the strength to
form an independent opinion and then say it.
Game design is very, very hard. A game is a hundred game mechanics
interacting on a computer with a billion transistors, running 10 different
foundational technologies, each of which implements thousands of algo-
rithms, all interfacing with human players who express all the complexity
and variation of human nature and live in the world-scale madness of
culture and markets. Such a system is unfathomable. Our minds did not
evolve to understand this kind of complexity.
So many of the mistakes of game design spring from thinking that we
understand things that we cannot. Hubris makes us overplan. It makes
us judge others' work too quickly and confidently. It makes us playtest
less than we need to and miss gaping design flaws. I think that one of the
most important basic things we can do to become game designers is not to
learn more, but to understand how little we can really understand of what
we're doing. This means we have to be humble in the face of the task we're
Humility lets us accept how little we know. It helps us perceive not
only our small islands of understanding, but also the ocean of igno-
rance beyond their shores. It helps us catch serendipity when the world
is trying to teach us something. It counters our natural WYSIATI bias,
and makes us more observant, more thoughtful, and maybe even a little
wiser. Because there's nobody who thinks less than the one who believes
he knows everything.
Imagine you've created something excellent—a great level, a beautiful
song, a perfect batch of cookies. Everyone is applauding your success. Your
competition is defeated. You are the best. Now what do you do?
At this point, most people stop. Once they've outperformed every
standard and defeated every competitor, they're done. Human nature is to
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