Jedi Master, PMP

Raph Koster discusses the design history of SWG Jedi, which is a bit of an extended apology as well as a good story. Most people reading this like MMOs and Jedi, so you probably already clicked the link. Welcome back.

For me, given my work, the most interesting section of the post is “We’re out of time.”

We had to go through and make tough choices on cuts. As early as that Christmas I was already triaging the entire game design. My criteria was “can the game function without this.” Not “will it be good.” Will it work at all.

Being able to think this way is an amazingly important skill if you want to complete projects. I have had co-workers who experienced the need to prioritize as a personal insult that you were not giving them everything they wanted. Projects managed from that point of view do not spontaneously generate larger budgets or more programming staff, but they do lose features at random instead of according to a logical scheme of “required” versus “nice to have.” As the idiom would have it, when filling your bucket, put the big rocks in first; if you are tossing in handfuls of gravel, there won’t be room for all the big rocks by the end. You can probably fit some gravel in the bucket around the big rocks.

Jedi never really seemed a good fit for that bucket.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “Jedi Master, PMP”

  1. Yeah, some people need to learn the hard lesson that if they say “everything is high priority”, then things will get done in whatever order the developers feel like. Easiest first, most fun first, quickest first – who knows what approach will be chosen. But it’s not likely to be what the person saying “everything is high priority” actually wants.

  2. I am a solution designer for a bank, and I endorse this blog post.

    Seriously, prioritising requirements and the cost-time-quality triangle are fundamentals of project management as concepts go, they aren’t rocket science – you can explain them in about two minutes. So it’s scary how many examples of people clearly not understanding them you see when you watch MMOs being developed. Am I the only person who gave Mythic a thumbs up when they announced that they were cutting four cities and four classes from Warhammer Online before launch – because at least they recognised that when it comes to a crunch between scope and quality, something had to give and they had the guts to make it scope instead of quality?

    On the other hand, those aren’t the ONLY principles of project management, which is why when I shudder looking at some of the kickstarters out there with ever more grandiose “stretch goals” being added through development (cough, Star Citizen, cough).

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