Wishing For More Wishes

There’s that line from Aladdin, where Genie Williams says, "Three wishes… and X, nay on wishing for more wishes! That’s it! Three! Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds!". Thanks Wiki.

I was reminded of the construct used in stories across all the medias we have available, when watching Fantastic Four, which I thought was a pretty cool movie, where there is some kind of object that breaks the rules of the universe.

In Fantastic Four, it was really obvious when Ben decided to become the Thing again. So he jumped back into the device Reed had made to simulate the bombarding radiation from space.

I enjoyed the movie, espeically because I can probably watch it soon with my kids, sooner than spidey or x-men. It was simple fun.

Wishing for more wishes breaks things. It was rife when playing Diablo 1 on battle.net … with the massive amount of hacking that went on. You introduce a weapon that is so ridiculously powerful that everything else becomes mundane.

I remember doing it with Baldur’s Gate. Getting a character hacker, and buffing up my chars.

Books, movies, games, comics, cartoons, other tv shows … it’s something that every story maker, particularly the fantastical mind, would have to deal with.

The classic example is Supes. Where would the world of Superman be without Kryptonite? It’s the one foil to his becoming a "Wishing for more Wishes" element.

So then this turned my mind to development. Are there any parallels?

I think so.

Imagine a technology is given a new face, a phrase is created, and suddenly, it’s the buzzword of the year. Hmmmm, perhaps … wait on …

Ajax has been foretold by some to be a Wishing for more Wishes construct. So has Ruby on Rails. Microsoft would like us to believe that .Net is going to take care of everything for us.

I don’t like the idea of having a product that does everything, AND gives me +50 to my damage magical creatures roll.

What I do like, is the idea that there will always be a number of different paths to a solution, and that getting the best solution will sometimes require utilising more than one tool. I don’t want a sword that doesn’t even have to be swung to waste the enemy. I want a story that is complete and uses it’s magic with subtlety.

Where am I heading? Perhaps we overpromise on our products … a side-effect of this thought process is that I can see a little more clearly that we have to be careful to maintain the focus on the core functionality.

But more than this … I never really want something that will do away with what I bring to the table. If it’s my sword skill and battle wits that bring me glory, then I never want a sword that will kill on sight.

I know, bizaro thoughts. But I’m clearing out what I started with, and stumbling towards some conscious single thought.

Don’t give away what makes development so much fun … your own creative ability. Your own sense of purpose and direction. Your coding skills. These things should be part of development for as long as we continue. There will be tools that ease the bad stuff, that’s what Clarion does so well … but they should never take over the core of development. The mind, the excitement, the fervour. Determination. Etc.

Not sure if I started or ended with a clear point … but there it is.