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Landfish

The Role of the Technologist

8 posts in this topic

I''m gonna start this one off with a note: I am not a programmer, but a writer. Does this make me less worthy to design games? It is my belief that if games are to gain more respect as a medium, the technology tail needs to stop wagging the creative dog. Have we moved to the point where that is possible? This is brought on by the harsh treatment that dedicated writers recieve in the gaming community. Their skills are often entirely ignored, and they are seen as pipe-dreamers who want to make games but are too lazy to code. Mind you, my team affords equal design power to coders AND writers, but we try to use everyone''s abilities to their fullest. In essence, I think we should start moving towards a production style more like that of film, where everyone comes together to work towards a common vision. Isn''t the way dedicated writers/designers are (sometimes) treated a little counterproductive, even greedy? Landfish
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Maybe you''ve had some bad experiences?

When being a programmer I look to the designer for ideas, not to ignore them.
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You''re right, I''ve had some mildly frustrating experiences. I''m wondering if it wouldn''t be better to involve EVERYONE a little more under a director of some kind. Most Lanrge developers already do it this way.
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From my point of view (a pro-programmer) dedicated designers are a must, no matter what their background. However designers need to be technically minded so they can communicate with the art and programming teams well. Designs turn into pipe dreams when a designer does not appreciate the difficulties and challenges their designs will push onto the rest of the development team.
A designer doesn''t need to know how to code or use art packages but a minimum knowledge is necessary to know what ideas will work and what ideas _are_ pipe dreams due to technical impossibilites.
You can learn this fairly quickly (and I''m sure you have) by having brainstorming sessions with everyone on the team.

Mike
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I''m a programmer, but for good games designers are very important. It''s the job of programmers to make the fundaments.

Visit our homepage: www.rarebyte.de.st

GA
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That''s pretty much my point. But wouldn''t you argue that knowledge of how to work with the others on a team and knowledge of technological limitations should be standard training for a dedicated designer? I couldn''t agree more that a designer who refuses to do these things is a pretentious idiot and should be whacked a few times for good measure.

I''m thinking we (meaning both other developers and designers THEMSELVES) need to start changing the way we think about what is necessary in design. My own team starts by looking at the ENTIRE CREATIVE TEAM, including coders, and asks, what do we WANT to create? Then, as we shuffle through some ideas, everybody gets to put their knowledge to work.

My problem, after all this, is that I still see alot of young talent being scorned by other developers who could benefit from a partnership. There are a precious few programmers who know how to tell a story the way a professional writer can. They are out there, but not enough to be depended on in the coming future. Shouldn''t the burden of design be shared somewhat equally on the gteam, under the lead of a dedicated designer?
Rant over...=]
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well there''s different meanings by design. I see design as a engineering discipline. Not programming mind you, but that game design itself is a science. Deciding how many hit points a unit should have doesn''t require programming or writing skills. It requires an understanding of what makes games work. The designer of Starcraft didn''t write the code and I doubt he wrote the script for the single player missions but he was the most important person on the team.

Now the problem is right now there isn''t an easy way to become a designer. The designer makes or breaks the game so you don''t want a newbie in the post, and there isn''t a clear career path. I guess you could say the entry level posistion is in house tester but then what? You can''t jump straight from there to running the show. So you have to work your way to the top some other way. That means programming or art. Either way would work but it just so happens that people good at programming are more likely to be good at design than people good at art. So that''s why programmers often become designers.

Perhaps as companies grow there will be a design career path, starting with tester, then level maker, then assistant designer, then lead. So designer would work their way up through the bigger companies until they got control of a team or they could go to work for smaller company which wouldn''t have a career path leading to design.

As for writing I think that only applies to a few types of games, such as roleplaying
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Truer words have rarely been spoken, anonymous. I have to concede completely, it really is an issue of terminology. I have a very biassed view, since my games tend to be written with the underlying structure common to "RPGs".

In the plot>obstacle>reward>plot paradigm, the writer and designer are nearly one and the same. This is what RPGs use, but on some level, all non-simulation games use it.

Anyway, I''ll change topics. To what degree should technology affect the end result of a game? Are we going to, or have we already arrived at a point where new technology is either unimpressive or detrimental to game?
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technology is good and it can help add to the game. Of course it is obvious that even the best technology won''t do if the rest of your game is trash, same with art. The key is knowing what to do with technology. Personally I think the gameplay of zelda for super nintendo is better than that in zelda64 (though both are good games). I think one of the reasons is that they changed the view, which leads to a different type of level design. If they had gone with a top down view in zelda64 I think they would have had a more interesting game. I think 3d in a sense tricked them into going with a view that messed with the gameplay. So yeah, incorporate new technology when appropriate, just make sure to use it right.

RPGs can benefit from good game design too. It isn''t as important because the story really supports the game but it still helps. Like look at the super nintendo final fantasy games vs those for the playstation. Now there''s a series that lost its gameplay (I think the overall game got worse too but that''s a different issue). Like in FF7 all the characters are essentially the same except for limit breaks. That right there is a bad move, they should have more variety. Then they make it worse. You are allowed to pick your party (in of itself not a bad thing) which is horrible when combined with those items that let you power up your stats. The obvious thing to do from a gameplay perspective is to pick three characters and work on their stats exclusively. So those items should have been removed at the very least. Another thing about the old FF games is that different characters could use the same weapons. Only got one of a certain item? Which character gets to use it? Choices like those make it more interesting.

Then there''s Baldur''s Gate. Bows are by far the best weapon. In terms of damage output they are double that of a two handed sword, plus they are more accurate and you can attack from a distance! BG was able to stand on its story but if they had put a little more work into its gameplay it would have done even better.

So back to the tech thing. If you are limited by technology yeah of course you should take it into consideration. Other than that it shouldn''t influence the game. Games that have focused on technology have failed time and time again, though they usually get good reviews.
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