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Using Decision-Making Matrices to Resolve Design Disputes

A decision-making matrix is a simple chart that can allow a team to compare two game-ideas according to a set of self-selected criteria.

Tempest Games came to a divisive point when choosing our most recent project. Half of the team was strongly in support of moving forwards with a baroque puzzle-platformer, and the other half of the team wanted to work on a top-down survival/RTS-game. Discussion had hit an impasse, and so we decided to take the team through a decision-making matrix. I started the discussion by briefly explaining what a decision matrix was at a very high level: a chart that would allow us to compare the two game-ideas by ranked criteria that we would select as a group. The group was making all the decisions, the matrix just served as an objective tool to compare the team’s agreements.

The first step was to ask the team what criteria they felt were most important to the game they wanted to be working. We came up with a list of 7-9 criteria, which we narrowed down to a list of four. The resulting list was then ranked from most important to least important:

  1. Fun
  2. Strong Visual Style
  3. Scope
  4. Marketability

Each of these measures was then ranked on a scale of 1-10. The top-ranked measure automatically got 10 points, and each of the other criteria was given a weight that had to be less than the higher-ranked criterion. “Fun” got 10 points, and then the team voted how important “visual style” was on a scale of 1-9 relative to the 10 that “fun” got.  “Visual style” got a 7, and so “scope” was ranked on a scale of 1-6. The end-result looked like this:

  1. Fun (10)
  2. Strong Visual Style (7)
  3. Scope (5)
  4. Marketability (3)

Once we completed this step we went through each of the criteria for both games. For example, when we got to “scope” the group briefly discussed which game they felt was more within scope. The game that was deemed most well-scoped got 10 points in “scope”, the other game was then rated on a scale of 1-9 relative to how well the team felt the first game was scoped. If the team felt that the other game was half as well-scoped it would have gotten 5 points in scope. By the end of this process, we had a matrix representing how strong the team felt each game was in each criterion:

Criteria

Baroque Puzzle-Game

Survival/RTS

Fun (10)

7

10

Visual Style (7)

10

6

Scope(5)

10

8

Marketability (3)

5

10

 

Once we completed the matrix, the scores for each game were multiplied by the weight given to the criteria and the scores were tallied at the bottom:

Criteria

Baroque Puzzle-Game

Survival/RTS

Fun (10)

7(10)=70

10(10)=100

Visual Style (7)

10(7)=70

6(7)=42

Scope(5)

10(5)=50

9(5)=45

Marketability (3)

5(3)=15

10(3)=30

 

205

217

 

The result of this was that the team could see which of the ideas they as a group felt was the stronger of the two. After this point discussion leaned strongly towards the winning idea, and within a few days the entire development was fully bought-in and ready to run with the new idea.

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