Meanwhile, back in my own life...
I continue to get an ongoing education on just how hard (but fun) it is on this side of the fence. Yes, it is as I hoped and expected: a creative and stimulating challenge. But boy are some parts of it *really* challenging.
One thing I've come to realize is that, at least in my limited, newbie design experience, there is a real Catch 22 involved in game design: You think of things in your head that you'd like to see in the game. You ask the engineers and artists to make it. But they don't want to make it unless it's really going to be in the game, otherwise it's a waste. But you don't know if you want it in the game until they build it. Now, we have been doing fairly extensive prototyping, so, yeah some of the game's core systems are of course being tested in advance to see if they're actually cool or not. But we don't have the luxury of time/money to do that for *every* feature in the game. So the bottom line is you *really* have to know exactly what it is you want. Or at least pretend like you do.
What I like best, in fact, is the total collaborative nature of the process. There isn't one part of the operation that isn't completely interdependent with every other one: artists, engineers, producers, designers, development directors--all are intertwined in even the tiniest pieces of the game development. And the suggestions that stick often come from unlikely places: an engineer focusing on routing may, in fact, have the funniest idea for what, say, a hippo should do in the game.
But the schedule and budget looms large over us. Even now, when we're not even in production yet, we can feel the pressure to keep our arses firmly in gear, lest we suddenly find ourselves in panic mode (which, I'm sure, is going to happen eventually anyway.)
I love having the opportunity to try my hand at this. But I admit: It's intimidating and stressful. There really isn't any time or leeway here for failure---especially in this economy. I *need* to prove I have some clue what I'm doing, even as I'm learning it on the job. And the big lesson I've learned in the last week is that even if I think of something that might be cool in the game, that thing is going to beg about 50 great questions from all the people who are going to have to do the work I'm suggesting. So I better have some answers.
It is for all these reasons above that I have decided to start doing cocaine. Just kidding! But I have upped my daily coffee and chocolate intake. I'm determined to make a great game, even if I have to get completely wired and fat to do it!