I found this on slashdot – an article on Gamasutra about 4 grad students who created over 50 casual games in 1 semester. I wrote about my thoughts on casual games in a previous post. As a part of the Experimental Gameplay Project at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, a team of 4 grad students set out to create as many games as possible under the following conditions:

  1. Each game must be made in less than seven days,
  2. Each game must be made by exactly one person,
  3. Each game must be based around a common theme i.e. “gravity”, “vegetation”, “swarms”, etc.

I think this is a great idea and exercise. Ideas are cheap, so throw them out there, as many as possible. Let a thousand flowers bloom. I’m a believer in rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping allows you to fail. Build it quick and cheap and if it does not work, then scrap it and try something new. You’re hedging your bets. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, you put them in many smaller baskets. I think this mentality doesn’t have to just apply to startups but even projects. Instead of creating these ridiculous 2-4 year projects with 1000s of developers, bring down the scope and/or cut up the project into multiple smaller projects. I do believe that you get diminishing returns when stretching out projects as well. You might hit the dirt running, but the longer you run, the more steam you lose. Just like in a real race, if you can see the finish line you’ll keep on pushing. If you don’t make goals that you can see or accomplish, you’re prone to just throw your hands up and give up.

It’s funny. I was just extolling the virtues of small casual simple games that cost next to nothing to make. In the wake of this, Grand Theft Auto IV, a $100 million game with over 1000 developers just got released, and it made $500 million the first week. Just goes to show, there are many ways to skin a cat.

Tangentially, the famous Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia wasn’t built by one company. One tower was contracted to a Japanese company and the other was contracted to a Korean company. Playing off the rivalry between the countries, the two companies tried to outdo each other at every stage of the development. Break up the project into 2 parallel pieces among two competitive groups pitting them against each other. Interesting.

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