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Traditional design methodolgies Vs trial and error

What are your experiences on game design and work flow, there are plenty of books out here, of which I have never really put any effort into reading. So from initial game idea and name to content creation, game mechanics, bug fixing, testing, polishing off and publishing. If you have a rough idea should you just ‘go with the flow’ and learn the experimental self taught way or would it be better to do some serious game design research and try and follow tried and tested ways. I am thinking about saving time mostly Vs really learning the whole in and out, the pitfalls and good ways of doing things?

You also have the general software methodologies for example, a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle , you could spend a lot of time learning about all these techniques, but do we really need to do this?

And then you have all the software dev methodologies such as Agile, Scrum…

How do you approach, game design and sofware development?

Posmortens are more worthy what many books, you can find many of them in gamasutra. Imo trial and error +1.

No other opinions?

My opinion is that you’re talking about software development practices in your post, and not about game design in particular. You shouldn’t have much difficulty finding quite a bit of information about that side of things.

Game design specifically on the other hand is a little arcane; modern video games in their current forum are a fairly new thing and there’s little serious material on the topic - the fact that up until recently we’re still exclusively applying traditional software engineering practices to games tells you a lot about that which still needs to be learnt. Nevertheless, there are some good books on the topic, but you’ll need to be looking for material covering general design practices (for example for everyday objects), rather than specifically for games. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the generic design books can give you some really good rules and processes to follow.

At the end of the day though, there is no substitute for iteration and improvement. There is almost no product that hasn’t undergone plenty of iteration before making it into your hands in order to make it what it is.

In my experience there are two types of designers: Type 1 is basically a level designer with some design insights, but generally isn’t good with mechanical/abstract systems (and usually can’t script or code). Type 2 is more of a “game designer” and understands abstract systems, mechanics, flows etc.

It really depends what you want to be. But it sounds to me like “I can’t be arsed learning to learn how to really design, so can I skip the hard work and just wing it?”. The truth is that you CAN wing it, but then you’ll find it incredibly hard to produce consistantly good designs (and as importantly throw away bad ones).

The best designers I’ve worked with have been incredibly well read, have been either great “systems” designers or great aesthetic designers, both being valuable. Take guys like Dan Cook and Stephane Bura and look at the things they’ve written about. Most books I’ve read on game design have been pretty useless to be fair, but you simply can’t get around the fact that to be a great designer you need to skilled in lots of areas and able to distill ideas into abstract concepts, then to flesh out those abstractions into practical designs. So finding the best books on game design is a start, then supplement those with other design areas, architecture, philosophy, maths, artificial intelligence, writing, cinematography, economics etc.

I guess what I’m saying is that you’re question has completely the wrong tone if you actually want to be a great “designer” and not just some dude who maybe occasionally makes a half-decent game. Put the effort in to get the reward and all that.