Chapter 15: Driving to the Finish


At some point in your schedule, you begin to realize that you're a lot closer to the end than the beginning. While the calendar might imply this harsh fact, your workload seems to increase exponentially. For every task that goes final, two or three seem to take its place. What's more, the team is likely working overtime, already exhausted, and somehow everyone has to pull together for another long weekend.

Sound familiar?

If you've ever worked on a game, it should. This phenomenon is pretty common in many project oriented businesses, but games are especially susceptible because there's something games are required to deliver that doesn't exist anywhere else. Games have to be fun.

I've said it a few times in this book already but it deserves another mention: You can't schedule fun and you can't predict fun. Fun is the direct result of a few things: a great vision, a mountain of effort, and a flexible plan. Any one of these three things in abundance can make up something lacking in the other two. Most game companies simply rely on the effort component—a valiant but somewhat na ve mistake.

If you've ever been in a sustained endurance sport like biking, you know that you start any event with lots of excitement and energy. Towards the end of the ride you've probably suffered a few setbacks, like a flat tire or running out of water, making it hard to keep your rhythm. Your tired body begins to act robotically, almost as if your brain has checked out and the highest thinking you are doing is working a few muscle groups. You refuse food and water, believing you don't need it. Then things really start to go wrong. You'll be lucky to cross the finish line.

The same thing happens to game development teams after a long stretch of overtime. Tired minds can't think, and not only do they make mistakes they don't even recognize them when they happen, and they attempt to solve the entire mess with even more mandatory overtime. This is not only tragic, it is a choice doomed to fail.

Getting a project over the finish line is tough, and you'll be called upon to solve some sticky problems along the way. Some of these problems will happen fast, too fast for you to have a solution in your back pocket. You'll have to think on your feet—not unlike someone who happens upon an emergency situation. When you learn first aid, you are taught that you must be able to recognize a problem when you see it, have the skills to do something about it, and most importantly, you must decide to act.

I can give you the first two. The final one is up to you.

Game Coding Complete
Game Coding Complete
ISBN: 1932111751
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 139

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