In Kyudo ( Japanese Archery ) there is a saying. Which I’m loosely going to paraphrase as-
“Don’t concentrate on the target. Concentrate on making the perfect shot.”
Target Oriented Blindness
It seems paradoxical at first. Especially in the UK which seems to be dominated by a target led management culture. But the key thing to realize is that ‘concentrating on the target’ and ‘concentrating on the perfect shot’ represent two very different styles of decision making.
For me it underpins why the early days of game development were a lot of fun, and why things seemed to work even though we were mostly just making it up as we went along. Yet now AAA development often feels like your wading through mud.
I’ve seen it many times in different companies. By not planning to iterate ideas. They essentially write themselves into a corner. If the tools aren’t there or quite bluntly if there’s too much bureaucracy. Necessary changes delayed and delayed until the issue is such a huge problem it’s unfixable. Big titles get halfway through development everything is scrapped and they start again.
Process not product
You may have heard your art teacher say. “Process not product”. The’re reminding us that we can’t get too attached to the thing were making. In the end we always want the cool shit. But if we rush in to fast we rarely get what we want.
- Only concentrating on hitting next your deadline isn’t concentrating on the process.
- Concentrating on a perfect product isn’t concentrating on the process either.
With good processes quality and speed take care of themselves.
There are a lot of games and post-production companies out there. Of the ones I’ve seen, most companies will get most of the way to create something half decent. If they can’t, then their not going to be in business for very long. However, it’s those last few iterations of ideas that really makes the difference. It’s the fine tuning stage. It sets you apart from everyone else. It happens right at the end. It’s the bit that we never have enough time for and, if we take too long at it we never deliver. It can involve thousands and thousands of little tweaks, and there are usually a lot of very stressed people breathing down your neck while you try and do it.
In games development its called the crunch.
Here’s the deal.
If your processes are efficient you won’t notice the fine tuning stage.
If your processes are broken you never get to the fine tuning stage.