On a similar note to my post yesterday regarding operant conditioning, I want to talk briefly about loopholes and shortcuts, as far as game design is concerned.
A lot of people are very stubborn about their own designs, and will stick to their guns when they’re designing a game. This is often the cause of the infamous relationship between the designer and the producer.
This isn’t about professional qualms though, this is purely design oriented. If a designer finds an aspect of their game that players find enjoyable they have two routes to take: oblige the player and give them more more more, or stick to their guns and design around this peak in player interest. The later is (usually) the worst decision you can make, considering that when people find something you make enjoyable you should do all you can to take advantage of that upper-hand. If you stick to your own guns you will probably be more self-satisfied with the end result of your design, but it won’t get you a job or get you paid (very much) if people see a great piece of your game that isn’t fully realized.
Now keep in mind that I’m not an indie designer at heart, and if I make and release my own game I would make something that appeals to a massive crowd of players and not myself or a niche market; that’s just the way I design.
Back to the original hypothesis – taking advantage of a loophole or shortcut in design is pivotal. If you’re making a racing game and a corner is poorly made, but a player enjoys it, put in another one. If a player likes the running in your first-person-shooter, give them some hallways with no enemies in them.
Give them what they want. At the end of the day if you don’t do that and you toot your own horn with the game you’ve made, people won’t see you as a designer but just as a guy who makes games for himself to play. Making great video games is (for the most part) a selfless act – you make it for others to play and brag to their friends when they beat it.
Making sure an original vision stays in place is important, but you should never shy away from a change just because you might not (personally) love the end result, the point is that the player does.