In the modern big-budget age, is the so-called "waterfall" game creation method (designing early, polishing late) still the best way to go? High Moon's Rory McGuire discusses the Agile alternative in this exclusive Gamasutra feature.
In particular, McGuire explains in the introduction to his fascinating piece:
"Traditional game development uses a production methodology that spends a lot of front-end time, defining intended functionality, often with implementation of important elements such as mechanics and levels waiting around until the mad scramble at the end. The traditional methodology, often called Waterfall, isn’t dissimilar to an assembly line, with the beginning of the line starting the process of piecing together the product while the end of the line waits to add polish.
The wait is what creates the problem. Designers and publishers are never able to get a real feel for the game, for example whether their initial assessment of mechanics was right, or the implementation of features doesn’t end up to original specifications. Factors like these are what degrade product quality..
One alternative addresses exactly these problems with traditional game development methodology. It is, a product R&D process and team management style aptly referred to as Agile Methodology. Agile puts the emphasis on producing demonstrable iterations of a game almost immediately into production, creating prioritized vertical slices that iterate on the most critical elements and features."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including plenty more on this fascinating topic (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).