1 minute read

I read in the nimrods blog about this
Jacob Davenport, designer (or co-
designer) of some great
Icehouse games like
Pikemen and

Few topics have garnered such praise and criticism as
Agile / Extreme programming (XP) over the past 4 years.
Its proponents argue that XP is a deliberate and disciplined approach to
software development, while its opponents often claim that it is nothing more
than a chaotic, shoot-from-the-hip approach that eschews formal requirements
analysis and design. The Truth is, when applied to certain classes of
projects, XP is a very attractive, effective approach that can be very

Jacob's juxtaposition of XP on top of game design is interesting, though I
wonder what point he is trying to make. I'm not a game designer, but the two
seem so very different to me. Software methodologies exist for one primary
reason - to reduce the defects (or, to put it a different way, increase the
quality) of a software product. Usually this means bringing some formality to
how we figure out what the problem is (requirements), how we plan to solve the
problem (design), solving the problem (programming), and verifying that we
solved it (testing).

Game design isn't so much about solving a problem as it is producing a system
for entertainment - an act of creativity. I'm not sure that any sort of
methodology would help me become a game designer. But I will concede that
Jacob's ideas make a lot of sense around the area of game and rule refinement.
He has some nice things to say about refactoring and testing that sound
applicable to game design.