Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Game Development Quote of the Week: Derek Yu on Resources and Constraints

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 19, 2013

Today’s quote of the week comes from the absolutely outstanding article (which I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to before) “Finishing a Game” by Derek Yu. If you are an aspiring game developer who hasn’t yet gone through to release, I strongly recommend this article.

“The fact is, if we all had unlimited resources and unlimited time, we’d all make the same crappy, meandering everything game and there’d be no reason to play at all. It’s our limited resources and time that forces us to make tight games that feel like they have a purpose.”

I’ve heard this many times with different variations, and not just about games. We hate limits, but constraints can be our greatest ally, providing a foundation to build upon.  Great advice, especially for indies who generally have more power available to them than they could possibly take advantage of.

Filed Under: Game Development, Quote of the Week - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Anon said,

    It’s a great advice if you are small potatoes – or if you want many games 😉

    It’s a not-so-great advice if you want stuff like Ultima VII or the next Elder Scrolls epic…

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I don’t know. Yeah, sandbox games change things up a little bit. But I don’t know that they are a fundamentally different approach.

    I think the advice might be even more important if you are doing an “open world” game of that scale. You really need to prioritize what needs to be in there, and what doesn’t, or you really will never ship.

    You can find a few of the design documents for Ultima 7 online. They had a roadmap, and a clear view of what it would be and wouldn’t be. Really, it was more of an expansion of what they’d accomplished with Ultima 6. So while they’d demolished traditional constraints for competing games (and previous games) at the time, they weren’t meandering.

    You can also take the Minecraft approach, I suppose, and release regularly, each time deciding what feature set you are going to include on the next release. That is a weird but cool approach with modern distribution, so the constraints are never completely set in stone.

    But I think you are right in the respect that the advice is geared more for beginning developers. More experienced developers have usually internalized this rule, and and can apply it more broadly.