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Why there are no real or very few "game designers"....yet

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I read one of the other articles on here the "What should a game designer know?" article and found it very interesting. Drew, from Irrational Games, pretty much had the entire thing pegged and pretty much what he said is. What I want to talk about is this, in this industry there are few to no real game designers, why is that you ask? Simple, most so called game designers these days are guys with one or two good ideas, that is not a game designer, that is a guy with one or two good game designs, big difference. A true game designer has no limitations, and is at least in my opinion able to design if not all then most genres...period. Doing the same type of RPG or Strategy game for years on end doesnt make you a game designer, it makes you a guy with one good idea rehashed a thousand times. When will people realize that the game designer, is the most important part of the team, you can have average programmers, average artists, and average anything else, but have an average game designer and the entire game suffers. Want an example take the Tenchu series on the Playstation, average everything, but about average game design, what happened, it still turned out to be a good game. Another example, "No one Lives forever" on the pc, above average game design, average everthing else, result, four stars in Next Generation. I myself am a game designer, I have had ideas stolen from me when I was younger (been designing since I was 7 years old). I can and have designed titles in nearly every genre, and have had offers for them once I got older (but I declined and wanted to start my own company instead) Shigeru Miyamoto is not a good game designer, he is a guy with two good ideas, Mario and Zelda, but he is a fantastic game tester who knows what should be in a game once he starts to play it. Yu Suzuki is a game designer, he has designed things from Altered Beast, to Hang On, to Space Harrier, Sword of Vermillion, and lately to Shenmue. The man has and was able to cover his bases and was sucessful each time. He doesn''t bog down his time programming, because he is not a programmer, but he understands how code works, me myself, I learned how code works and how to write psuedo code for my programmers to understand as well as several math based AI logic routines, but I dont know programming, not a lick, nor do I care to learn about it. I do my own networking, my own human resources and my own funding, in which has resulted in me having a team behind me now, ready to be started on an official level very very soon. Point is its a shame that this industry doesn''t take game designing seriously, the way companies seem to just whip up ideas out of the blue is appaling and that is why many of them suffer with bad sales in the end. No over hyped over marketed piece of shit is going to ever beat the design and sales figures of what Nintendo does, ever, but that is how Nintendo operates, everyone else cannot follow the same example. American companies sorry to say with a slim few who are trying, (mainly on PC) and Crystal Dynamics and Oddworld Inhabitants on console, (you guys do try, much props) don''t seem to really care, and that is why America''s biggest sellers will continue to be movie adaptations, or some other commerical adaptations and sports games whether is football or skateboarding, and they have the nerve to wonder why. Where is the American company who has the talent to challenge Squaresoft, or the American company who can give Namco and Sega a cold sweat in the morning?, there aren''t any and there won''t be for some time. What American company will ever have the balls to try to challenge Nintendo in the kids department? Then you have publishers like Interplay who specialize in rpgs for the PC (Bioware), who then try to challenge EA in sports but not Square in RPG''s, what the hell?, there isn''t even a second place holder in the RPG category on consoles, but you have a company known for its RPG''s on one platform and then deciding to challenge EA for sports, there is no excuse anymore about why this is because RPG''s are flourishing on consoles now, and there is no second place holder (hint hint). The answer is none, most are too content with letting the Japanese companies like Nintendo just have their audience and pumping out garbage at their respective employer who really doesn''t give much of a inkling of a damn about making a quality game, that is what happens when people like game designers are thought of as "unescessary".

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I think you''re forgetting politics. Interplay makes PC games, because they have PC programmers. To become a console programmer, you have to sign contracts. You have to exclusively make that game for that console. It''s not a big market like the PC market. First, you have to find a suitable console to make a game on. Secondly, you have to make a game workable on that console.
Try going from PC to console and see what problems you hit.
A) No mouse
B) No keyboard

Two of the biggest reasons why PC designers are NOT console designers. Two totally different spheres of power there.
Now account for graphics. Sure, PS2 has decent graphics. But look at any PC game and it''s got the PS2 whooped. I admit, nothing has come out to fully show the PS2''s power yet.. and i''m eagerly waiting for it. But look at the difference tween a PC RPG and a console RPG. The console has less control. I''ll give Summoner the top props for RPG on a console. You had a lot more options than the typical RPG. It''s downfall? the load times sucked! You couldn''t navigate through a city like you could in BG2, either. So you''d wait 20 minutes for it to load, then you walk to the next place, and wait.. and walk and wait.. and walk and wait. When going into the main city and to the palace from there, you had to wait for it to load FIVE TIMES before you finally got to the place! FIVE! that''s insane. And each wait takes on average 3 minutes. Slow load times will kill the PS2.
Suddenly, i''m missing cartridge systems so much more.

But back to your point.. simple games, kids games, with simple controls are about all you can easily make for a console. If you go too far, you have too many buttons.. and players get confused. It becomes like a clickfest. Hit R2, L1, right, A, B, B, L2 to perform the super duper double whammy combo mega hit! And who wants to do that?
Summoner was great cause it had MENUS! It allowed you to pause the game, look at the menu, pick an action, and then perform it. And the chain attacks was a very well thought out system. And it was all clear to the player.. no hidden BS. You advanced skills, you gained levels, and overall it was great fun. The story was really involving, and had a nice plot twist to it. But the game wasn''t impossible to beat. They didn''t keep throwing more and more monsters at you to try and kill you right up until the very end where there were just a bit too many monsters. The random fights were even done in a halfway decent manner. Certain enemies lived in certain areas, and you would only encounter things from that area.
But, don''t take my word for it.. go out and play it

J
p.s. let''s face it, you can design more complex games on the PC, with better graphics, better sound, and a MUCH better interface then you can on a console. And no, zelda isn''t an RPG.. and shenmue sucks.

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Hmmmmm... really have you ever played the Persona series on console my friend? Play it and tell me why complex rpgs with simple interfaces arent working on console

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The game designer role has been taken over by that of programming and development. The designers are basically just programmers who have ideas. But, being one of those, I herald it . Anyway, as a specialist designer, you are always going to be attacked in some form of critical way. What do you have to show for your brilliant game idea anyway (well, there are some things, but anyway)? A programmer who is a game designer will be able to make the jump from the design to code, and will know what is feasible and what is irrational.

Game Designers do not necessarily have to be programmers or lone sharks though. They could be the muso''s or the artists as well, or instead of that.

Either way, it is very rare to find a game designer as an independant role in most teams (note that I say ''most''). For this reason, it is best to have skills in other areas, and be a ''guy with a couple of good ideas''. Without at least some idea of implementation, a designer can (note that I say ''can'') become next to worthless in a team.

Ultimately, the team will choose an idea and a design to suit them as a group, and this may not suit the individual game designer. Another reason why it is a good idea to have lots of ''guy''s with a good idea or two'' in one group than ''one unlimited resource of game ideas...'', because in a legion mindframe ''the whole is much more than the sum of its parts''

Being on GDnet (and specifically in this forum) has taught me one thing. Lots of guys that you can bounce ideas off is much better than having all sorts of whacky ideas yourself. Naz will back me up on this. If you have a whacky idea, you need a co-conspiritor to advance and mature that idea into a workable solution to a problem in your game. Otherwise the idea may end up being unworkable.

Anyway, I think that I am just ranting now. What was the post about?

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers'' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

          

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From your defintion, a good game designer is one who has designed for many genres of games. Does this mean that people who has just started off don't have good ideas for game designs?

A good idea is a good idea and it doesn't have to depened on whether the designer has designed for many genres does it?

But I do not disagree with you that people with as much experience as you would do better. People like you would probably be thinking of something new everyday.

But there will come a time where there wouldn't be a need for designers, or artists, musicians or even programmers. The time where programmers are able to produce every image that would be possible to create. A program that produces every song possible.
After all, images are just a series of pixels and music a series of notes. Then, imagine produciing a every executable possible...
There wouldn't be a need of programming would there? Or painting and composing for that matter.


Edited by - Darkor on January 14, 2001 7:45:17 AM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
From your defintion, a good game designer is one who has designed for many genres of games. Does this mean that people who has just started off don''t have good ideas for game designs?

A good idea is a good idea and it doesn''t have to depened on whether the designer has designed for many genres does it?

But I do not disagree with you that people with as much experience as you would do better. People like you would probably be thinking of something new everyday.

But there will come a time where there wouldn''t be a need for designers, or artists, musicians or even proghrammers. The time where programmers are able to produce every image that would be posibble to create. A program that produces every song possible.
After all, images are just a series of pixels and music a series of notes. Then, imagine produciing a every executable possible...
There wouldn''t be a need of programming would there? Or painting and composing for that matter.

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I think we may have to wait until computer systems become extremely powerful before game designers get the credit they deserve. It''s going to be a long wait still but time will be the the official on that matter.

A designer doesnt need to know everything about code, they just have to have an appreciation for its limitations and how those limitations affect features they may wish to include in their design. - Drew

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Advise to Game Designers of today and tomorrow though; Get some experience in doing something other than game design... Like Programming for example. It is a long and lonely road otherwise

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers'' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche

          

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Guest Anonymous Poster
dwarf, game designers don''t always have to do something else. In a small outfit, then yes, it would be practical. If you have a large team of programers and artists, then dosen''t it become neccisary to have a seperate group of designers? I think it would be optimal to have a team of designers who share a vision, and then communicate it to a producer/technical producer who can make it all come together.

To say that all designers have to be programers/artists etc, doesn''t make sense to me. No offense, but how do you know this? Do you work in a large development studio? I''m not trying to be insulting, I''m just trying to understand where your coming from.

To that kid who said that programmers/artists won''t be needed in the future... what are you talking about? I mean, did print artists exist before and after technology like Photoshop? We will always need creativity and artistic talent, no?

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