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monachus

The Lean Design

7 posts in this topic

Have you read The Lean Startup, or heard of it?
If you haven't, it is collection of simple concepts: Launch a minimium version of your product, learn from consumer behaviour and modify or produce more. Iterate indefinitely. The Lean Startup is a fad, but there are lessons to be learned from it and I think that game design can benefit from them.

I'm working on my first indie game and the idea is still not completely defined. I am working on the minimum possible version 1.0.
I am doing this because it is fun but I also want to make money. I believe that if the process of designing my game follows these principles I will have a better chance of success and end up with a better game.

An (exceptional, but still...) example I like to think about is Minecraft. It was developed in an open fashion with continuous feedback from it's exploding community; very similar to the 'lean startup' ideas on how things should be done.

I don't think this design strategy could work for all games. And I don't presume that it leads to minecraft-level success; but I think that it may work for certain games, especially in the mobile space like in my case. It is certainly better than working on something for a year or more only to find out that people don't like your idea and they don't want to play your game.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and read your opinions. =)
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The whole software industry is moving into a more agile direction the last several years, agile development processes includes lean, scrum and xp. All share the same basic idea: smaller iterations and feedback based design.

So, yes, this is a good idea.
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It's the opposite of every other game. In many games, players play but stop after beating the game so many hours later. Games like Minecraft, on the other hand, only grow more and more.
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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1338541125' post='4945251']
The whole software industry is moving into a more agile direction the last several years, agile development processes includes lean, scrum and xp. All share the same basic idea: smaller iterations and feedback based design.

So, yes, this is a good idea.
[/quote]

So feedback based design is already common practice? How early in development does playtesting usually take place? I thought that playtesting was done later in production.

[quote name='aattss' timestamp='1338554448' post='4945282']
It's the opposite of every other game. In many games, players play but stop after beating the game so many hours later. Games like Minecraft, on the other hand, only grow more and more.
[/quote]

So don't you think it is possible for most games to change the game design and game idea based on player behavior?
I think it is possible to have a prototype of the game with most of the design implemented; just gameplay, even if it is buggy, graphics are ugly, has no story and no sound, and expose that to the players (or playtesters) as early as possible so you can improve the design, get rid of crappy ideas and discover new ones before the game is too big to be maleable.
I'm talking of 'design development' before 'game development' and doing the former in a more "agile" fashion.
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[quote name='monachus' timestamp='1338570590' post='4945363']1. So feedback based design is already common practice? How early in development does playtesting usually take place?
2. I thought that playtesting was done later in production.[/quote]
1. As soon as the game is playable.
2. It depends on the type of game. A packaged-product game is most thoroughly tested in postproduction. But for a mobile or social game, or a game being created with the iterative process, testing starts earlier.
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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1338571372' post='4945369']
[quote name='monachus' timestamp='1338570590' post='4945363']1. So feedback based design is already common practice? How early in development does playtesting usually take place?
2. I thought that playtesting was done later in production.[/quote]
1. As soon as the game is playable.
2. It depends on the type of game. A packaged-product game is most thoroughly tested in postproduction. But for a mobile or social game, or a game being created with the iterative process, testing starts earlier.
[/quote]

Normally playtesting is to find what bugs and exploits there are, but in these kinds of games, people "playtest" it to see how fun it is.

One good thing about these is that normally developers are adding as many features as they can before the due date, but here they can add as many as they want, like how Dwarf Fortress is being funded while in development and has so many features (albeit he's supported by donations, the principle still applies).
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It's an excellent Idea for games, I think. Especially for the MMO, which is iterative by nature.

However, instead of hyping your game up to insane standards, you'd have to take the more 'minecraft-y', approach to marketing. Actually come to think of it, the "from humble beginnings" type games actually tend to have an avidly devoted (but smaller) following. So definitely a good idea, if you're willing to sacrifice the "Epic Launch" for a loyal fan base and a more agile development framework.
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I think that's a good approach before committing to a big (and potential expensive) project. You'll notice that some games, such as indie MMOs (look up Path of Exile) or niche games like Minecraft which you mentioned, bloom as a result of the developers keeping in contact with their following as they watch each other develop and have fun. I think minimalism goes well with independent development.
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