I just checked in my last major tuning change to my game. I’ve been totally absorbed by the process of increasing and decreasing hit points, damage, upgrade values, enemy attack rates, and the like, for the past three weeks.
It’s been a blast.
My Exec Producer laughed at me at one point. He told me that his wife had been worried about how many hours I had been putting in (in particular over the weekends) and he told her, “Are you kidding? This part of the project he would do for free.”
Which indicates two things: 1) my EP knows me far too well. That’s dangerous. And, 2) he’s right, I would gladly do this for free.
Hello, any aspiring game development teams! Once your game is totally built and nearly done, I will gladly tune your game for free!
All the designers out there go, “Yeah, over my dead body, byotch.”
It’s the best part, you see. It’s the part game designers live for. Game is all built, it runs, all the features are in place, the knobs are all exposed, and you’ve got to sit there and turn them until it sings. Or, at least, fails to screech.
It’s absolutely the kind work that I most enjoy.
The cost, of course, is that to get there, sitting in the chair in front of the command console with all the knobs and dials and meters smiling up at you, you have to endure at least a year (often two, sometimes three, argh) of fits and starts while your team constructs all those knobs and dials, and wires, and whatever it is that the knobs and wires actually hook up to and control.
Don’t get me wrong. That part can be fun, too. It’s just not the miasmic joy cloud that is the tuning phase.
Now, of course, that my big ol’ phase one is (largely) complete, it’s time to get out the fine-grit sandpaper, and… uh… polish those… dials? Or something. You know what I mean. Polish!
This is the part that I think is the hardest for many designers: when you get the knobs to a state where it generally works, is stable, and is doing roughly what you want it to do… you have to stop turning the dials.
This is impossible for many people. Designers I have known, worked with, loved, circumnavigated the globe with, and jettisoned into space, all of them at one time or another have had to be physically pried off of the command console.
And that, dear friends, is why God made Producers.