Why I love collaboration

Over the last five years every personal project I’ve worked on has been a collaboration. I expect the next five years to go the same way.

Collaboration is the most fun part of design for me. You get to talk about the game or story with passionate people. You can share the thrill of solving difficult problems and be proud of making something bigger than yourself. I always want to point at games I’ve worked on and say, “I was part of that team”.

Working with different people also helps shake up your thinking. Unquestioned assumptions are the silent killers of great design. This is why we try to get multiple people on the same side of the board during balance testing. When you see another good player unthinkingly making a completely different move than you would, that sparks discussion. These friction points deepen understanding.

This is also why we use a point rating system for a card’s power in various formats when doing large batches of design. Different team members might never realize they disagree on a card’s power, because it seems obvious to both of them. But when a 5-point-scale results in someone rating a card a 1.5 and another rating it a 4, you suddenly know you have something to talk about just by scanning the spreadsheet.

Collaboration also increases motivation. You can always give yourself permission to quit, but in a team you’ll be letting your team down. This is why people in a guild take longer to churn out of titles than people playing alone.

I know there can be friction in collaborations, but even friction can help start a creative spark. Just be respectful with your team members, and apologize if you ever accidentally mess that up.

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