Anyone can have an idea, though ideas do not make a game or player’s experience of one. Ideas are distillations of an experience and may not even be good without considering and including all the other parts that are needed for the idea to work out. This calls for having evaluation periods. Everyone involved should be aware that this is a process, and that it is good to iterate the process efficiently and effectively for a better outcome and delivery. In this post we will talk very briefly about process.
As an example that we can start with, slower iterations will suffer too much refinement and may incur more work than is necessary if the work is done too thoroughly. What is meant by refinement you may think of as polish, or progress. One should remain open to exploration at the start, but if you start working towards a certain end product and find out that it was not at all how you envisioned it, or it does not work out, then there has been too much time spent on refinement. This is where evaluations can help.
An evaluation may find better ways of lessening that kind of impact and allow further iterations to focus on better priorities. Evaluations also help distinguish the better ideas and a method is established where there are set procedures to iterate and find improvement in. There’s also the possibility of setting metrics and measuring how well things have gone, and evaluations that do so will be able to comparatively know how well things are going.
Here I will revisit the playcentric design process (Fullerton) to make your game. It is very much like any common (iterative) design process, just applied to play.
This forms the basis for your development cycle. There are a lot of positives for taking up this process. One of them being that you will aim for a playable prototype very early on which other participants in a game jam could already start playing. In turn you can see just how fun the game will be from the get-go. Another is that you could (with good reason) spend a few iterations making completely different games to test the waters. You may experiment rather freely with different mechanics, with different experiences and most importantly and if documented properly, you will be able to figure out what your priorities are in order to get the game developed to a point where your team would be satisfied with the results.
Well that really was brief. I do not really have that much more to add that you can not find by researching further into the topic of design iteration. If you are here to create game jam games or understand game creation you should just really trust this process without much criticism. One may be able to make games just fine without focusing too much on process, though it is through iteration that one can improve the end result. And as said before, remember that anyone can come up with a good idea. It’s in the implementation and the innovation being done in the execution which shines and differentiates one result from another.