How the creative process really works

Guido Schmidt
Design Manager and Meta Game Lead, Remedy Entertainment Plc

Guido Schmidt

Guido is a 20+ year industry vet and current Design Manager at Remedy Entertainment. Guido has also worked in senior design roles at Ubisoft Blue Byte and Paradox Interactive.

Last Tuesday the Tentacle Zone hosted another engaging virtual talk for our resident studios. This time we were joined by Guido Schmidt from Remedy, creators of Max Payne, Alan Wake and Control.

Guido’s talk – “How the creative process really works” – looked at the ways that games are usually planned in the industry and explained why planning out projects during a proof-of-concept phase is a pretty terrible idea.

The meat of Guido’s talk covered the two broad approaches to the game development process – predictive and adaptive. The predictive method (also known as the waterfall model) emphasises: 

  • Working in parallel. 
  • Minimising dependencies.
  • Accurate planning.
  • Use of feature & asset lists.
  • Limited iteration.

On the other hand, adaptive methods (often referred to as agile) focuses on:

  • Working incrementally.
  • Reducing uncertainties.
  • Reducing overheads.
  • Focusing on player experiences rather than feature lists.
  • Iterating correctly.

Guido emphasised that predictive methods are generally bad for creativity. Creating not only takes time but it’s also impossible to predict how long it will take to develop the very best version of the various features of your game. Therefore, when possible, you should avoid using predictive methods, particularly at the beginning of projects when feature development is at its most intensive.

Although predictive models are poor for creativity, Guido believes that they do have their place in the industry. Once you’re far enough down the path of your game’s development, with features that are well developed, now would be a good time to switch to a predictive method – essentially treating the proof of concept phase and the production phase as two separate projects.

A big thank you to Guido for lending us his time this week. If this taste of his talk has whetted your appetite for more Guido content then we highly recommend that you take a look at his book – Game Design: Impossible: The drama of game development – available at all good bookshops, and Amazon too.

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