Sunday, January 31, 2016

Like Batman....

Clearly, I have found a Lazarus Pit....

It's good to be back.  With the GDC Art Leadership Roundtable just a few short months away, it felt that now was the right time to return to this blog.  Both personal and professional challenges of the past year kept me away from writing for the past year.  I'm hoping that this first post of 2016 can be a sign of better things to come.

I've spent a fair amount of time recently thinking about the Project Management Triangle or the Cost-Scope-Time Triangle or any of the myriad other shapes and terms by which it is known.

Instead of focusing on any one of these attributes, I instead wanted to bring to mind a relative under-addressed axis called complexity.

Complexity is often combined with Scope and/or Quality, but I believe this to be a confabulation of sorts.  This is especially true in the game development industry.  For me, simplicity/complexity is the force multiplier; it moves the whole triangle.

To illustrate my point, think about Riot's League of Legends or Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto.  Most people would agree that the scope of LoL is smaller than the scope of GTA (though time continues to narrow that gap by significant amounts).  Though different in scope, I expect there underlying gameplay systems have similar levels of complexity.  However, I also presume that their asset pipelines are quite different.  Comparing the rapid content updates of LoL to the prolonged release schedules of GTA titles clearly indicates that LoL has a less complex asset pipeline.  Obviously, there are numerous other underlying factors that speak to their scope and complexity, but this example alone shows why you can't combine the two.  Likewise, one would say that the relative quality of each title (aside from purely subjective taste) is comparatively the same.

Complexity is an axis worthy of more significant contemplation.  Where does the complexity reside within your project?
Are your gameplay systems simple or complex?
Is your asset pipeline simple or complex?
Is your workflow simple or complex?
(Note: It would likely be far more telling to plot these answers on a scale rather than purely binary.  Ask the same questions of different departments, and collect their answers.  What variations to see in the data?  Do the gaps tell you anything about the team's perceptions?)

People will always ask how to get a project done faster and cheaper without sacrificing quality.  The logical next question should be: how to make it simpler?