Gamasutra - In Defence of Open Development
Gamasutra is hosting an article that gives a response to Rock, Paper, Shotgun , and their article about developers using open development to make games.
Today I read a piece by John Walker, where he asserts that having an open development process is a bad thing. I responded on Twitter, but I feel I need a few more characters to explain myself. While Johns argument seems sound, in a superficial manner, he fails to understand the role of a games designer, how games production in general works and the reasons why a developer might turn their ear to their customers.
The foundation of Johns complaint is that a democratic development process cannot work, because the input from ill-informed people will lead the developer astray. Here's the thing: Open development is not democratic, only the developer is holding the wheel.
Open development is about providing the users with the information they need and communication channels required to allow them to critique your work. It is not about compromising the design process in an effort to pander and please.
By talking openly about features I am forced to defend my ideas. I have to provide a reason as to why I feel an idea works and justify my thought processes. I have to work hard to build the trust of my community so they will accept my final judgements. It is a review process that strengthens my vision and challenges my arrogance as an artist. It is healthy.
For a developer, ideas are never in short supply. If a designer is not able to quickly filter bad ideas, then they are a bad designer, it doesn't matter if they come from within or without.