Think by Building / Build to Answer Questions*

Jun 30, 2011

A musician is more likely to dream up new songs by strumming on the guitar than by writing notes on the page. A chef is more likely to invent a new recipe by trying a bold variation on an otherwise known formula – while actively preparing the invented dish, not while sitting in the park with a pen and a notepad. A painter, no doubt, benefits by investing some mental energy in deciding on subject or approach, but I think that the genius of Mona Lisa happened while standing at the canvas with paint.

I’m guessing at the above, since I’m not a musician, chef, or painter. However I can say for certain that as a videogame developer, I think by strumming on my guitar, trying different spices in the kitchen, and mixing on the canvas.

When we’re halfway into developing a game, we think differently about it than we do when we’re just getting started or nearly done. The same is true at 25% through, or 75% through (which often turns out to actually be only 25% through). While building something, we’re always at an intersection of “How do I address this immediate challenge?” and “How can I keep this on track to hone in on a coherent, complete result?” Yet before initiating building, the tendency is to think in vague, incoherent, daydreaming ways about the project without either of those helpful grounding questions in mind, because there’s nothing tangible yet to pivot on… (continued in ebook)

*This entry is now in the Videogame Developer’s Strategy Guide, available through membership in Gamkedo Club.

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