Friday, October 28, 2005

Rapid Prototyping - Recommended Reading

Gamasutra published a feature article "How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days:
Tips and Tricks from 4 Grad Students Who Made Over 50 Games in 1 Semester

This article provides an interesting story on rapid prototyping. Several points made directly oppose the ideas pushed by Agile Development. Specifically they devalue working together during the coding phases of the project. Also, they denounce formal Brainstorming. While at the same time, some points re-enforce Agile Practices. Their call for picking the solution done the fastest is similar to the Agile practice of making the "simplest thing that could possibly work".

Overall, I think there is more need for Rapid Prototyping in Business Application development. The Agile community calls this a "Spike Solution". Far too often I see product managers and developers writing production solutions without first creating a prototype.

Also, I agree with their assertion that "Complexity is not necessary for Fun" in game play. I think this also applies to application development in that "Complexity != Productive Solutions." Application designers seem to want to add flexibility and options. This adds Complexity and reduces the productivity of the users and developers. Most users just want a simple solution to their problem. Once they find the solution, they don't use those extra options.

They said their Brainstorming sessions did not produce immediate results. But it did get them thinking and at a later time (maybe while driving home), an idea would pop into their head. This is exactly the same process that I have read from a successful inventor. (Sorry I don't have the reference). The inventor said he could always find a new idea or solution with a two step process. First he would focus and concentrate on the problem for some time. He wouldn't expect to get any results from this activity. But somehow it got his subconcious mind working on the problem. Then the second step was just to do something else. Driving, going to a park, etc. At a later time his mind would bring up a new solution or invention related to the problem he had focused on in the first step.


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