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Because... you listen - shunji
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Subject:Because... you listen
Time:02:09 am
Thoughts that I've had over the past three months:

1. Is there a mechanism that can replace raw ability and talent with education?

2. If a poorly designed game is fun, does it make sense to analyze the game design?

3. Is the intent of methodology to replace or supplement experience?

These are all basically the same question: is there a fundamental difference between what can be taught and what must be learned? I hope there isn't, but experience has taught me otherwise.

When Resident Evil 4 came out, I went out a bought a copy and didn't stop playing for about 2 weeks. It's a tremendously fun game, if you get past the control scheme. Now, one would think that I would immediately explode at the slightly revised but still the same tank control scheme; however, there are two factors that make this game not entirely disruptive:

1. The camera moves as you rotate around; this gives you a much better sense of orientation and location compared to having a fixed camera direction and watching your character rotate on screen. That's probably what annoyed me the most with the traditional Resident Evil camera system.

2. Blowing the crap out of zombies is fun. And the guns kick ass.

I hope they sell well; I hope that third-person games adopt a similar camera style. It works extremely well.

When good games come out, there is always an article that attempts to capture the development process for that game: with Metal Gear Solid 2 we heard all about the programmers writing down every crazy idea they had, and Kojima looking at all of them every week to add something new to the game. We heard about Valve's Cabal process for all their games. You probably saw the shotgun/machete approach we took for Halo 2. And Oddworld has their own unique process that basically amounts to making sure no one developer or artist can break their game.

My point is that all these studies of process and development culture don't really tell you anything about anything except how the game was made. From what I can tell, 90% of process is accidental. And the 10% that's intentional doesn't really help or hinder.

I think that some of that 90% is defined by the overall quality of the people you work with. I've had the fortune of working with a large group of highly capable and intelligent people; I don't think you can replace that quantitiy with something else. I think that if you do not acknowledge the importance of individual people, you are one step closer to not shipping a game.

What does this have to do with anything? I'm not sure. I don't even think the first part of this post has anything to do with the second part.

Ah well. Maybe my next post will help me codify the swarm of thoughts and reflections I've had for the past few months of not updaing this blog.
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walshicus
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Time:2005-03-06 07:37 am (UTC)
You're right Mat; it was posted before the heat death of the universe.
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mochiman
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Time:2005-03-06 07:56 am (UTC)
You can learn perfect pitch, but you can't learn rocking out!

btw,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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dogens_zen
Subject:So all you want is the secrets of the universe?
Link:(Link)
Time:2005-03-06 08:30 am (UTC)
No problem!

Learned vs. Innate talent gets to the old, old psychology issue of nature vs. nurture. And what always irritates me in these arguments is the idea that it must be one or the other.

The correct answer is both, of course. The ability to learn programming is innate (well for some folks), but the skill must still be learned. It is clear that there are levels of brilliance in programming that are innate, but even those individuals learn tips and tricks from others.

Vis games and game design, this gets at a sublte issue - can you brute force a game into brilliance? And the answer to that seems to be no. OTOH, you can easily ruin a great game by not doing a lot of the correct "hard work" things around it - tight controls, good balance, interesting story, good intro to gameplay and so on.

Someone else mentioned music, so to take that tack.... if you have a duff melody/hook, no amount of orchestration, riffing, and dressing it up will make a great song out of that.

Yes, great people is key. And you can tell the studios that have great people from those that don't. Usually. Though you should also know that there are the individuals and there is "the studio". The latter is a cultural entity that is (at its best) greater than the sum of its parts. How to create this culture is the trick.
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(Anonymous)
Subject:20/80
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Time:2005-03-07 06:27 pm (UTC)
I've heard, both in economics and in weightlifting, that 20% of your effort gives you 80% of the results. Is this true at all in game design?

-RC
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(Anonymous)
Subject:Re: 20/80
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Time:2005-03-08 03:44 pm (UTC)
It's called the Pareto Principle. Pareto lived in what 1600/1700? It is a truism for all human activity I would posit.

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Because... you listen - shunji
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