I met up with a partner on my current project today to work on fleshing out our game’s world and it went really well. Over the course of 3 and a half hours, we made significantly more progress than I’ve made in many design sessions in the past. Zac is a good designer to be sure, but I think our success should be attributed more to team dynamics.
In our meeting, the common thread of productivity was this: For each design task, one of us would ask a question and the other would give an answer. We would then volley answers back and forth, refining our ideas until we had something that made sense. Often this would lead directly into other questions until we'd covered the design of a whole section of our game. Through this process of collective design (sometimes referred to as design-by-committee), we managed to multiply the perspective we had in discussing each problem. I've heard that this style of design only works with a smaller group (7+ is when it supposedly goes downhill) and I prefer working in small groups, so I tend to keep each design meeting small. This leads me to another interesting lesson I've learned from our design process going into this game.
Having multiple perspectives while looking at a problem or when brainstorming ideas will give much better and more interesting results. For Godlands (our working title) our team is being advised by two local artists, Lilli Carré and Kevin Zuhn who have a very different prospective. Lilli is a fine artist with a focus on comics and animation, while Kevin is the creative director indie-darling studio Young Horses who recently released their first game Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Both have had a big impact on the game so far just by offering their perspective on our design choices. The point I'm getting at is that everyone can only see through the lens of their own life and so having others look at your work, give feedback and ask questions that you might not have considered is a good thing.
Going back to my meeting today with Zac: Having both of our perspectives when it came to designing our world and in answering design questions about our mechanics and characters allowed us to better discuss and suss out the next best steps for our game. If there's a takeaway from this, I guess it would be to think of feedback and advice and partners as a different, valuable perspective that might be just reveal what your game needs.