Scripts Are Misunderstood

Scott Hartsman‘s roundtable at IMGDC was about scripts, stemming from a blog fight that I had missed. I summarize the consensus as, “Scripts are often implemented poorly. If you are going to use them, take them seriously and design them well.”

Designers know that players will work creatively to get around restrictions. Players are bound by the limits of the code, not the intent of the vision. If a system can be broken, it will be. Programmers should know the same thing about designers. If you place artificial restrictions on the designers to keep them from mucking something up, they are still creative people who will find ways around them, sometimes breaking things more interestingly along the way.

If you want to see how this applies in your game, think of how one thing can break while a seemingly identical other thing still works just fine. There is a good chance that two developers used the same tools to create the same outcome in different ways. The latest patch changed something that one implementation depends upon, while the other is unaffected; for more fun, both could be broken in different ways. Good programming practices were not adhered to, and now the game is much harder to update. Now multiply that across several dozen people working over several years, most or all of whom now work on other products. Have fun maintaining the code!

To explain the title, “x is often implemented poorly” is a common issue. Jason Booth explained that about procedural content, which is neither a panacea nor the destroyer of worlds. Jeff Freeman explained that about forums, which can use valuable tools or useless noise. It may be a bad sign that some tools are misused more than others.

: Zubon