As a solo indie developer, I'd be happy for a good game designer working for me.
By game designer, I mean someone who knows how to design the mechanics
of games in a scientific way.
I'd be happy to have a dedicated writer with a degree in writing, or else proof (published works?) that he's actually a writer. Not a person who happens to write something. (I make art, that doesn't make me an artist)
I'd be happy to have a dedicated musician, artist, 3D modeler, scripter, etc...
I'd be happy to have dedicated level editors and map makers... IF
they actually understand the science behind it. (Given two hallways, one poorly lit, and one brightly lit, most players will travel down the brightly lit one first. Thus, make your 'real path' brightly lit, and side-paths dimly lit, so less-exploratory players don't get lost. Given a choice between a left turn and a right turn, which is the average player more likely to take? Around which corner can he better defend himself? Science of level design
I'm not saying there isn't intuition in artistry, but an artist who doesn't know the science behind his art is usually a bad artist. Intuition + Creativity + Knowledge (science) + Experience = Awesomeness in any skill set.
Game designer does not mean, "Person who comes up with ideas for other people to make
Game designer means, "someone who understands the ramifications of each decision he makes before he makes them, comprehending the entire vast system of intricate interactions that is a game
A dedicated game designer probably wouldn't be in charge of the story, or the characters, or the art style, or anything like that. The story would be for the writers, the art style for the artists, the music for the musicians, and the gameplay mechanics for the game designer.
I'd love for someone to adequately explain in detail why changing the reload time of the sniper rifle in Halo 3 from 0.5 seconds to 0.7 seconds
was beneficial. That is a game designer. Someone who constantly has in the back of his mind that it takes exactly 2.4 seconds for the player to do a complete 180 degree turn around in whatever specific FPS he's working on, and the effect it has on competitive play. This is the science of game design. It should be called "gameplay mechanic engineer
Everybody has ideas, and it's not bad that so many people are creative. If you want those ideas to become reality, you need to either hire people to make it for you, learn to make it for yourself, or convince them to help you for free. One possible way of doing this is by learning a different skillset (like art), and teaming up with a programmer - you make the art for his game, and he writes the code for your game, maybe.
An artist is hopefully creative. If he is, he probably has ideas for games he wants to make.
A musician is hopefully creative. If so, he too has his own dreams.
A writer, creative. He has games he wishes could become reality.
A programmer, also (hopefully) creative. He also has his own game ideas.
So if the only thing someone brings to the table is a game idea, and nothing (money or skill in some discipline) that can turn that game idea into reality, why should the artists/programmers/writers/composers/animators/modellors/level-designers put their life on hold to cater to someone who's offering them nothing in return, in exchange for wasting the next three years of their life making a game that isn't the game they want to make?
"Idea person" isn't a job title - it's the very nature of everyone in the game industry, from the janitor to the animator.
"Manager"/"Leadership" isn't a valid skill you can offer, unless you understand the science behind leadership and have actual experience in it.
Most people on the internet saying, "I'll manage/lead the project
", actually mean "I'll control the project to make people do things my way, because it's my ideas, and my ideas are more important and better than their ideas... they can just make the art/code/music for my idea, and make my dreams a reality. To heck with their dreams!
Ofcourse, it sounds alot less selfish and silly in their head.
So, yes, I'm a programmer. One who bothered to learn a very real skillset, and invested time to study to acquire knowledge (science) in that skillset (programming). I became a programmer to make the games I want to make.
What do I want from a game designer? I want someone equally passionate and equally creative, if not more so, who actually took the time to learn the very real skillset of engineering gameplay mechanics, and the science behind it. I've put in my 7 years learning programming in-depth, where's his 7-years of studying player behavior and psychology, and the interactions of objects in a simulation?
If I, as the programmer, know more about "game design" then the game designer, I'll kick him off the team and do both the game design and the programming... which I'm already doing anyway (along with the writing, more than half the art, and the scripting and half the level layout and world design).
A game designer must bring real value to the table, otherwise he's just using me to make his project for him, and giving nothing in exchange.