Sign in to follow this  
Triba

Game Design External Input

Recommended Posts

At the recommendation of Trapper Zoid, I decided I'd attempt to salvage something of Pirate_Lord's thread. So, a question to all industry designers, how much input (and what type) do programmers and artists have when it comes to designing a game?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought that Triba's question had the potential to salvage something from that thread, so I'd typed up a reply just before it got closed. Since I had the reply already written I PMed it over to Triba, so I'll post it again here with a little bit of editing.


Quote:
Original post by Triba
It's encouraging to see that designers do function as an autonomous role. I would really like to know, from those designers here, how much input the graphics and programming departments have in the design themselves?


I'm not a professional designer, have been out of the game industry for years and was only in it professionally very briefly as a junior programmer. But from my experience on one game, I'd say we programmers had a small but significant influence on the design, mostly in the areas we were creating ourselves. In my case I was making extra graphical and user interface options that could have been safely cut if they didn't work out (thankfully they did), but I was able to make suggestions on how they could be extended for extra functionality. The A.I. programmer was able to make suggestions on improvements or necessary cutbacks that had to be made to the enemy A.I., and so on.

I wouldn't describe it as "design by committee"; it was more like cooks in a large kitchen; we all had our own prescribed roles and expertise and could make suggestions in our area and the designer (head chef in the metaphor) would listen to our opinions; but we'd do what the designer said if he went against it.

The thing about being a designer is that you have to manage a bunch of creative people, and you need to tread the fine line between being too soft or too hard with suggestions. If you give everyone free reign you'll end up with a mish-mash of a design as everyone tries to pull the game towards their own vision. However if you clamp down too hard you'll squash the creative energy of the rest of the team, breeding resentment and disrespect. It's a fine line you have to tread.

But I only had a brief glimpse of the industry from the inside. Hopefully some of the more experienced developers here can give their opinions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think Trapper Zoid summed it up pretty well, from my experiences. Game designers make sure that there is a cohesive and well understood design and they need to communicate with the team for this to happen. Artists and programmers are the ones really making a game, so it is important to consult them. A programmer working on menu flow, for example, might notice a more efficient way to handle things as he is coding in the various states. A designer should be there to talk to him and come to a consensus on if it is a good idea or not.

The big problem I personally have is that a lot of hopefuls think that writing a big design doc will make them a game designer. Being a designer is so much more about being a team player and communicator than it is about being able to just write massive blocks of text. A single designer rarely designs an entire game either, unless you're designing a game targeted towards cell phone, or other such small games. You'll have your lead designer who oversees the entire picture, but you'll have your level designers doing the level design, you'll have writers writing story and dialog, and you'll have other technical designers who do things like laying out bot pathing or scripting out other behaviors. That team together designs a game, and so everyone gets a piece of ownership in it. Who wants to make a game precisely how someone else dictated and not get any say in it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Triba
So, a question to all industry designers, how much input (and what type) do programmers and artists have when it comes to designing a game?


It depends. There's no one-size-fits-all structure.

Some places have designers who make pretty much all the decisions, including what to cut out when running over budget.

Some places may have designers working with programmers and artists in creating the original design. Perhaps more common is to involve the leads of each department at an early stage to check the feasibility of each feature.

Other places have no dedicated designers at all, and the work is done by others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this