Here is the content of the article I have published in Develop Magazine, issue #116 that you can read and download on the following links:

Read online: http://issuu.com/develop/docs/dev116_web.

PDF Download: http://www.develop-online.net/digital-edition. Look for the issue #116 in May 2011 page 47.

The version in the Develop Magazine is obviously nicer to read with diagrams. The magazine is definitely worth reading as a whole!

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“Dealing with a Serial Killer”
 

We all know that “requirements” quality is a major factor in developing a hit title. The subject has been covered at conferences for years and books have been written on how to model and improve them. But to my mind, the deeper and root cause of many trans-project bottlenecks is often intrinsic and completely missed – namely the subject of “ambiguity”.

The first challenge faced by games designers is to accurately convert your “world of ideas” into a “world of words”, i.e. into a games design document (GDD). This exercise is essential for scope, but will also create issues for the following reasons: (1) Some ideas are not conscious enough to be converted into words so about 30% are lost; (2) A further 20% of the ideas that can be converted are partly “damaged” on the way; and (3) When the written document is received by others for implementation, ambiguities remain that require interpretation and some of these interpretations will be wrong, resulting in 20% being badly implemented.

To formularise: For every 100 ideas or features desired only 44.8% (100×0.70×0.80×0.80) are implemented accurately in the natural world of software. Yes, less than half and a major cause of change requests.

Why? Because written language is treacherous! It was originally invented to calculate how many cows or slaves we bought and sold at [...]