onigame (onigame) wrote,

Musings on Doctor When, making good products, and the Five-Man Band

I found myself thinking the other day about Doctor When, and on how well the meeting team (by which I mean the four people that came to almost every meeting) tended to work together and take on "spokesperson" roles. Basically, we had four people who had these four focus areas:

* Attention to the Big Picture: Allen was always very mindful of the overall story and vision behind the game, and would speak up if we seemed to stray too far from that vision.
* Attention to Details: Wei-Hwa was focused on small imperfections and ways to improve things, working on backup plans and wanting to make sure that there'd be as few unexpected surprises as possible.
* Attention to Customers: Sean was always conscious of how our game would be perceived by the players, on whether certain things would be fun or not fun.
* Attention to Reality: Erik tended to be the sanity check, who would make sure that what the others wanted to do was feasible, whether we had time to do things. This person often tended to be the "swing vote" in cases where we disagreed.

Of course, all four of us shared some aspects of each of the four focus areas; it wasn't a fight between viewpoints since we all appreciated each other's viewpoints.

What I was thinking is that this applies to making almost all products, and not just a weekend-long puzzle hunt. A good product is made by someone who can pay attention to all four aspects. Often there's a reason why a small product tends to suffer -- it's because it was designed by one person or a small team, and they failed to pay attention to one or more of those four aspects.

I also wonder if there is a mapping between the four aspects and the four classical temperaments (you know, the stuff that covers everything from Ninja Turtles to Greek philosophy). Something like:
* Attention to Big Picture = Choleric (Raphael)
* Attention to Details = Melancholic (Leonardo)
* Attention to Customers = Sanguine (Michaelangelo)
* Attention to Reality = Phlegmatic (Donatello)

Ah, but later on the Phlegmatic gets separated into the Leukine and Phlegmatic II. Perhaps not coincidentally, we actually have five members of the core team -- Melissa, Erik's wife, didn't participate actively in the meetings but did a lot of work for us and gave opinions when necessary. Although I wouldn't consider her temperament to be the classic Leukine, I certainly can see it matching her level and style of participation.

So that sets a mapping from our group to the Five Man Band trope:
* Allen = The Lancer
* Wei-Hwa = The Smart Guy
* Sean = The Big Guy
* Erik = The Hero
* Melissa = The Chick

Back to thinking about making good products, I wonder what the missing fifth element (analogue to the Leukine) would be?
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