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The Perils of Bottom-up Game Design (18 Oct 2004)
I've been guilty of it myself, back when I was a young programmer and still thought that making computer games was about writing cool software. Your head is fizzing along with data structures for representing this and that, and algorithms for computing this and that, and the very first thing you want to do is code it up and watch it go. But this isn't a column to tell you "design your code before you write it" - that's been said a million times already. The problem with bottom-up game design, even if you don't write a line of code for months, is that you don't know if it's any fun while it's just a simulation.

This was one of the weaknesses of Black and White, as I think Peter Molyneux himself would admit. Molyneux is famous for creating amazing, hugely innovative game engines, and only then figuring out how to turn them into a game. If the gossip is right, he did it with Populous, then with Dungeon Keeper, and again with Black and White. Despite their success, all show signs of having been written as a simulation first, and only then having been turned into games.
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