Luke McMillan has a nice article on Gamasutra entitled “An Intro to RLD,” which is about using math to assess the difficulty of jumping puzzles (and by extension, other parts of the content ramp in your game design).
I’m not here to talk about the article. It’s a nice article. I’m here to talk about one of the reactions to it.
The article is a nice, straightforward illustration of how quantitative methods can bring greater clarity to something that designers do every day, usually by “feel.” And of course, the challenge with “feel” is that it only arises from experience. As I have termed it before, the “apprenticeship model” of learning game design: you do it until you develop the feel, and have internalized heuristics of your own for things like difficulty ramps. Then you struggle to communicate those heuristics to others, and they learn it the hard way themselves.
Michael Joseph, in the comments, states the following:
- that the article shows “a desire to depersonalize game design”
- that no one has “proved that ‘zen’ style of game design is a significant problem”
- that these methods are “design encroachment tool by the business side so that any hairless monkey can churn out a game”
- and that the method “reminds me of the Auto-Tune used by some singers with questionable talent.”
McMillan responded very politely to this comment. I on the other hand… this stuff makes me mad enough to be sarcastic and blunt. I apologize in advance to Joseph, since I know his track record in the industry, and it doesn’t seem reflective of the comments he’s making.