Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mythic development process

Paul Barnett of Mythic talked about lessons learned in the Warhammer Online development. In light of my entry on Monday about Blizzard’s development process, I can’t help but make a comparison.

Paul Barnett: Everyone on the team from designers to coders will try to expand upon it and before you know where you are you no longer have your core idea anymore

In contrast’s to Blizzard’s organic model that lacks cohesive direction, Mythic prefers to keep a clear vision of the core idea to avoid scope creep. On Monday, I wrote that a cohesive vision brings everyone together towards a unified goal. Rather than allow unconnected ideas to create distractions, the focus is on fleshing out the end result. The downside to this method is that you might simply ignore really good ideas because they don’t fit in your existing vision.

Paul Barnett: We don't need good ideas, we need strong ideas[.] The problem with good ideas is that there are too many of them - can’t be measured. Good ideas aren’t hard to come up with. Strong ideas are unstoppable because they’re strong. A strong idea can be a good idea but a good idea isn’t always a strong idea.

This is interesting because it addresses the downside I mentioned about the risk of ignoring good ideas when you stick closely to the core vision. Paul’s take here is that good ideas are easy to create, but what you need are strong ideas that are unstoppable. These unstoppable ideas will somehow find their way into the core and become part of the game simply by virtue of being such a great idea that it can't be ignored.

Paul Barnett: WoW is a work of flawed genius. This means that when you dismantle [it], you can never be too sure if you got the genius or the flaw. I can’t tell what is flaw and what is genius in WoW, so I don’t want to get sucked into copying things in case I get the wrong one[.]

I don’t agree with Paul on this point. WoW may be a work of flawed genius, but that doesn’t mean those flaws aren’t transparent. Every blogger I know has wrote about them at length, so it’s not like they haven’t been well documented or discussed. The really good things are also pretty obvious.

AND – I think Paul is smart enough to realize what they are on his own merit. What I think he is really trying to point out here is that they didn’t set out to copy WoW. That they had a vision for what the game they wanted was going to be and that they worked towards that goal rather than trying to be the same game as WoW.

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