Double Fine Adventure and the Operations Struggle

I just finished this series showing the nuts and bolts of game development:

I’m an outsider, here, just an observer. I can tell you that the things that go on in the later part of this series aren’t exceptional for game development, from what I know. I can’t tell you why that is, only that it is, and that I believe it doesn’t have to be this way. The culture seems to assume that this cruelty is inevitable – that things go over budget, over schedule, over everything, all the time, crunches notwithstanding. I just can’t resign to that reality.

I’ve got expertise that shows that it is possible for the world to be otherwise.

I’m an analyst of business operations in my day job – it is my job to figure out how to do the job of a software company at scale in a repeatable, standardized way that produces results that are, within reason, reliable.

When I see folks cavalierly violating deadlines and budgets, knowing that these are non-binding, welcoming the problems of crunches (and the associated human breakdowns and burnouts that occur as a result), and tolerating this, the professional analyst in me becomes very frustrated. I’m reminded of creators – like, arguably, George Lucas – who have a Vision, but who are much more on-point when their Vision is restricted by reality. I see a company at the start that feels like they’ve been handed a panacea, and only later finding that things are not nearly so simple.

This is a strength that I can bring. I see their “business guy,” and I know that position isn’t untenable for me, but also that a company can’t rely on miracles and ass-pulls.

I see Broken Age, and I know it was never a waste of money or time – it did cost this much of both to bring the game you see to bear. But I see the drama, the stress, the panic, the tension, and none of that is necessary. The great unknown of scheduling and budgets can be conquered. I’m eager to know why it hasn’t been yet – that’ll involve some more experience. I’m ready for it, though.

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