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Game developers need to consider "bang for the buck"

Independent videogame producer Risa Cohen says that developers need to better balance game elements with the time it will take to implement them

Independent videogame producer Risa Cohen says that developers need to better balance game elements with the time it will take to implement them.

"I often use the term 'production value' when looking at the high cost of production today - that's where we get close to film," she told GamesIndustry.biz.

"You need to look at how much bang for your buck will you get, how much will the audience appreciate what you're putting into a specific element."

Part of the solution of avoiding development crises is to identify risk ahead of time, spotting problems and managing the people who will be fixing those problems, she said. Mostly, however, developers need to focus on what really matters.

"The thing is, in game development, what I've seen is that through the production process, and pre-production, maybe you don't have enough time to do it and you don't really think it through - when crisis hits, maybe the publisher wants to make changes, you have a hard time focusing on what's important, which is making the best game."

With development costs rising, making a decision to throw something out means throwing away a month or two of work and trying to catch up, which Cohen says you can almost never do.

"You want to make [a game] rich and big, and so the logic of throwing stuff away should really be in pre-production to limit the chain reaction that effect has on the whole production," she said.

"In retrospect, if you look at the rising cost, now it's true that the value of what you get is really how well you use your team, how well you think your design through.

"It relates to similar industries like architecture, where you have to decide on what materials you're going to use, where you're going to put your money, which features are really worth it, which are secondary."

Cohen will be giving a talk at GDC Lyon entitled "Zen and the Art of Production Management." The full GamesIndustry.biz interview can be read here.

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Mark Androvich

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