While there are no hard set rules to abide by in the world of game development, there are certainly a few unspoken ones to follow when making sure a game is playable (and hopefully enjoyable).
Outside of making sure their games can run, what are some game development rules developers actually live by?
Richard Rouse III, developer behind the upcoming game The Church in the Darkness, sought to answer that question and prompoted his fellow game-makers: What’s their personal rule of thumb when it comes to game dev?
Warren Spector (best known for Deus Ex) chimed in first, noting that devs should never judge the player.
"Let players play & solve problems the way they want to, not the way you require them to," he continues. "Don't pre-determine what's good and bad for them."
Creative director of Wood Fired Games Stuart Jeff followed up, explaining that a player's intuition that something is wrong is usually right, but their solution to fixing the problem is usually wrong.
The player’s feeling that something is wrong is always correct but their solution to fix the problem rarely is.— Stuart Jeff (@stuartjeff) March 11, 2019
Alejo Silos of TequilaWorks said that no matter how detailed designs are (either mechanic or level), they will almost never work in practice. Iteration is key.
Not a single design (mechanic or level) will ever work straight from the paper phase, no matter how much it is detailed. Allocate time to iterate, the more the better it eventually will become. Oh! And don’t forget to iterate again!— Alejo Silos (@AlejoSilos) March 12, 2019
Design director at Crystal Dynamics Will Kerslake offered a few of his personal rules ranging from tuning variables to setting up AI, and encouraged other devs to keep track of why certain things were cut from a game.
Keep notes of why you cut things. Some number of months in the future it'll sound like a good idea again. Make sure the reason you cut it in the first place isn't still valid.— ð•Žð•šð•ð• ð•‚ð•–ð•£ð•¤ð•ð•’ð•œð•– (@wkerslake) March 11, 2019
Other helpful rules were offered in the Twitter thread as well, like paying close attention to playtesters or knowing what constraints there are (whether technical/financial/etc.) before prototyping.
Interested developers can check out the entire thread here to read through all the responses. It's well worth taking a quick look!