Chris Hecker on gamejams

Reaching a similar (although more thought-through and well put) conclusion about game jams as I ranted about after GGJ a few weeks back, industry veteran Chris Hecker ranted on GDC about the importance of following through on good ideas and how the gamejam mindset might beĀ  dangerous to that. Jonathan Blow among others comments on this as well. Although the rant itself is a bit more nuanced than “don’t do games quickly”, I wonder if we will see a community backlash against the concept of rapid prototyping. That would indeed be interesting.

Rapid prototyping evolved as a way of trying out concepts quickly before committing a lot of time to them, with the idea that once a solid concept was found you were supposed to put more time into it. The same “throwing everything at the wall and see what sticks” idea common in other creative industries. I do not think Hecker has any issues with this, rather the culture that has evolved around it where the prototypes are the goal and not a step on the way… And I do agree that this is becoming a problem, though I mentioned that in my own rant so I will not go over it again. There are a lot of talks and presentations on how to go about rapid prototyping and making the most of your time, maybe there should be more about recognizing good concepts, where to go when you have them and something about the dangers of losing yourself in endless small projects. On the other hand, making games quickly is becoming sort of a hobby in itself, a sport to occupy yourself with, and maybe it should just be separated from “normal” games development and treated for what it is.

On a final note, I do not worry too much about the fixation on sticking to schedule being a problem in the mainstream games industry, important people have assured me that a willingness to recognize opportunities and make the most out of a project even when it means changing the plans is much more desirable in a developer than a willingness to stick to the schedule. In other words, projects that are poor would usually have been poor even with a few more months development time -had they been scrapped and recreated from the bottom up a difference might have been made, but it is questionable if such a rewrite could really be called the same game. For small to medium-sized productions this might be an issue but for larger projects the marketing budget will easily rival and more often than not exceed the production budget, so it is often cheaper to cancel or delay a poor game than to release it prematurely to poor sales.

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Posted on Mar 18/10 by Saint and filed under Gaming culture | No Comments »