I realize this question is complex and subjective, but bear with me for a moment.
I firmly believe that video-game software is essentially different from, for example spreadsheet software, as from a user point of view, some games have more similarities with film art than with regular software. However, when it comes to requirements prioritization methods that help developers sort out which feature or idea is most important, there is none that facilitate the creative aspects of video games. Most available techniques only aid regular software development where focus is on the risk and cost of requirements, and do not take into account the creative aspect of video-game requirements.
To illustrate the problem, think of a requirement (i.e. feature idea) such as the one seen in Super Paper Mario, where Mario can exit the 3D world and enter a 2D world, and vice versa in order to go around obstacles. This is a fairly challenging requirement to implement and probably costly, but definitely crucial to the success of the game. Available prioritization methods overlook the creative/entertainment value of this requirement and mainly just estimate how costly and (technologically) risky implementation is. Of course, this is a very simplistic example, but you can imagine a case where there is a pool of great game ideas (functional and non-functional requirements) and not enough resources to realize them all. When it comes to value calculation, academic research doesn't provide game developers with an adequate way to estimate the value of game requirements.
UPDATE / Clarification: In my research, I study available software product management solutions (more specifically requirements prioritization algorithms) and try to find out why are they not suitable for game development. It seems that it is the creative or entertainment nature of the software itself that introduces this incompatibility. It is the (available) techniques inadequacy, to recognize the core value of the software and its conceptually different purpose.
With regular software, it is the user or his/her needs that most often help estimate the value of requirements. Moreover, it is the user that produces most requirements. In video-game software, it is the creative vision that drives the requirements. With regards to requirements origin, it is the outside in vs. the inside out paradigm. Having established this fundamental difference, we can deduce that if requirements prioritization (RP) algorithms focus on user ideas/needs in order to estimate the value of requirements for regular software, then in the case of video-game software, the RP algorithm should satisfy the creative vision. By creative/entertainment value of a requirement, I refer to the degree to which the core vision relies on this particular requirement.
What I try to do is find a way to prioritize the requirements according to their relevance/importance to this core creative vision. This will ultimately provide a creative value, but it is relative to the central idea and the stakeholders’ ability to subjectively assess the requirements. This is just one side of the RP algorithm, as other factors such as risk and cost need to be taken into account as well, but the available RP solutions already offer adequate ways to do that, and they are compatible with the needs of game development.
The reason I’m writing here is because I am trying to see how developers deal with these problems (PR and focusing on the core idea) when dealing with more complex projects.
I try to refine part of the preproduction process by developing a requirements prioritization method tailored to the needs of game development industry. A pivotal element in such a method is the ability to identify and estimate the creative/entertainment value of requirements. However, in order to do that, I need to understand how game developers perceive this creative/entertainment value of requirements. In a nutshell, I am seeking answers to the following questions:
Question 1: How would you define the creative/entertainment value of video-game requirements?
Question 2: How would you measure it?
Question 3: Who should measure it?
I would love to see how these issues are perceived by game developers and I would appreciate your take on them here, but if you want to contribute to this research – receiving my eternal gratitude and a proper credit/citation in the research and all the publications that will follow, please fill up my extremely short survey (just 7 questions, 3 of which you already see above):
The extremely short survey which will cement you as my personal hero.
Research information and trigger
This research is being conducted at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, as part of an Information Science master’s thesis.
Game development is in many ways similar to product software development as developers follow certain software development processes. Following a poor development method (or none at all) could result in longer development times, going over budget and/or delivering buggy products (Bethke, 2003). What makes video games different is the creative game vision that must be shared by the entire team to ensure that the end product is consistent and of good quality. This is especially true for full-blown game titles where from a user point of view, there are more similarities with film art than with any other software. Unfortunately, this curious creative aspect renders many software product management techniques unadoptable by the gaming industry.
I am quite interested in working towards improving the game development process in the preproduction stage, by creating a requirements prioritization method tailored to the specific needs of the game industry and I need your help! The easiest way to contribute to the research is by filling up my short survey (link above). If you find this research interesting, please contact me at [email protected]
My name is Alex Chervenkoff, an avid gamer and quite excited about this research! You can contact me at: [email protected]
Degree in BSc Computer Science, The University of Sheffield, UK.
Currently doing MSc Information Science at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.