Thursday, May 21, 2009

Planning for Greatness

How can you plan to achieve something which is great? This is quite an interesting problem when the details of the end result are unclear as they always are with any entertainment production. If I were to supply an answer to this question I would have to begin with trust. Mutual trust is imperative to greatness.

This pops up in the game development industry through various funky ways. Almost no one has enough credibility in the gaming industry to be trusted with anything that is not an oldskool artform such as painting, writing code or making music. This results in a tiny number of pioneer game design luminaries riding a positive feedback loop of trust which everyone else struggles with aiming for a foothold.

A lot of people are struggling to develop trust in the arform of game creation (design is not an artform) but almost no one is reaching a point of credibility. The number of people who prove their ability to make games which work is enormous, the number of people who prove their ability to reliably create game which are profitable business is miniscule.

Almost everyone who has created profitable games did so by getting lucky. I usually call this kind of system a "darwinistic process" which means that the reason why they were successful is obfuscated by complexity. This is also the reason why a "repeat performance" is extremely rare on the level of the individual production unit. Getting lucky is a statistical anomaly and it is even more rare to get lucky twice in a row.

To plan for greatness you have to understand this pattern. Even if you do have a "trusted" fellow who can claim responsibility over a portion of the creation you have to understand that this person was mostly likely just lucky and got involved with a project which had a randomly lucky destiny. Armed with this knowledge you need to integrate the experience from this person with the new team. Teach everyone in the team how the successful fellow learned to reduce the statistical probability of failure with healthy motivation. This will develop trust.

Trust can also develop in several other ways. I would personally recommend communication as the primary tool. Once you have trust you can have success. If you demand success to feel trust you reduce your chances of success to the same level as all the other random mutations within the darwinistic soup of creativity.

Btw, being just another random mutation in the chaos that is life gives you a very poor probability of success.

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