GDC 2011: This past week, a sizable (though sadly incomplete) contingent of Universal Happymakers spread their probing tendrils into the warm light of the Game Developers’ Conference. Each of us saw our own successes, had our own stumbles, and learned our own lessons. This series explores the Happymakers’ reactions to this peerless event.
The New Dumb philosophy came out of the Happymakers’ own experiences in making games. While the advice seems obvious—to focus on player experience rather than simulation fidelity, to favor selective visibility of internal systems over hidden complexity—it can prove hard to follow in practice as one’s specialist and perfectionist instincts override the simple desire to make a fun game. At this GDC, we took heart when we learned that the problems we cited may be nearly universal among independent game developers. Therefore, one at a time, we take the main concepts of The New Dumb and see how they were affirmed during the past week. We also add two new features to New Dumb Theory: Sennott’s Corollary (that the love put into making a game has little to do with the love perceived by a game player) and a warning against design by default (seeing a game as a set of features to be implemented). See the results at Universal Happymaker.