As game development projects grow to huge proportions, game developers may want to explore the use of internal Wiki websites, writes industry vet Tim Ryan
in a new Gamasutra feature.
Ryan explains why he, a self-described "old school developer", decided to look into the pros and cons of an internal game development Wiki, to which numerous team members can contribute:
"Our industry has grown. The size of the projects, the depth in the games, and the sheer amount of information is staggering. There is just too much for a single designer or producer to write up. There is also just too much information for a single design document, even if it were divided up into sections. Wiki solves this issue because it allows many individual contributors and a browser interface to organize and find information."
"Perhaps this is just a side-effect of being gamers or an influence from the MySpace, Blogger, and Twitter culture, but game developers seem to have a small attention span and appreciate the bite-size pieces of design that Wiki encourages. They don't like wading through 100 page design specifications. Each Wiki page is a topic, and it can easily be linked to other topics, be grouped into sections and be labeled for searching. In short, Wiki makes design more accessible."
But Ryan also recognizes that there are some possible drawbacks in implementing an internal game development Wiki. While some pros include better collaboration, easy accessibility, and security, some cons include potential "design mayhem" ("too many cooks in the kitchen" syndrome), constant fluctuation that's difficult to control, and a lack of portability.
In the end, however, positives may outweigh the negatives for many developers:
"At first glance, I found Wiki overwhelming. The sheer number of pages and contributors made it appear like a contributor to chaos rather than a beacon of information. I really missed my docs. At first I would produce everything in a standard doc form, then export it to Wiki, but that wasn't using Wiki for its intended purpose."
Eventually I saw the light, and I worked around the negatives of Wiki. This old dog learned new tricks."
Ryan's complete, in-depth review of the pros and cons of using internal Wiki websites can be found in this Gamasutra feature
(no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).