I have a crude, inelegant method of problem-solving.
My friend Daniel (and “Brother by another Mother”) describes it thus: “You tend to walk up to the problem, head-butt it, then beat it to death with a very big club.”
I think that’s pretty accurate.
I don’t “do” pretty. I just do the thing that works. If the original solution doesn’t work, I beat on it until it sorta works. Then, once it accomplishes the goal I have in mind, I pick through its bones to figure out what’s making it work, and start refining it to make it work better. (Correction/Clarification: I understand the value of “pretty” from the perspective of making a thing more accessible/acceptable to the public, but function always has to come before form)
A slow, often painful, iterative process.
Pretty, if it comes at all, happens last.
This may, or may not be the best way to approach big, seemingly intractable problems. I don’t really know, and honestly, haven’t given the matter much thought.
It’s the methodology I stumbled into when I first began this process, and it’s working out pretty well so far, so until and unless I come up with a way that works better, I’m not terribly inclined to change the approach.
That’s not to say the process itself hasn’t undergone incremental refinement and improvement.
I have found that adding large spikes to the club works better. As does a (metaphorical) steel plate in my forehead for the initial head-butt, but…yeah.
I basically beat the shit out of a problem until it’s not a problem anymore, and I’m finding that the more I do that…the more practical, hands-on experience I get from solving for the problems, not only with building the basic architecture that makes Play the Planet run, but also in terms of fixing the various problems the game takes aim at, the easier it becomes.
Part of that is the experience itself, and part of that happens through conversations with other people who are interested in the project, and who start tossing out ideas of their own.
All that to say, if you’re interested, don’t keep it to yourself! Post a comment and lets kick ideas around. That’s as much fun (and most of the time, even more fun) than clubbing bigfreakingproblems over the head. 🙂