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Mythics

Game Design Position Title

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Mythics    135
I've read on many forums, informative sites, etc about the different possible game design positions available. My problem with what I'm seeing is that it would appear the lead designer gets put in charge of a ton of work.... and control. If I were in a game design position, the only things I’d want to really involve myself in would be the general mechanics. I’m referring to things like (in a RPG) the spell system, combat system, travel mechanics, etc. I would want to be the one to decide on how the game is played, rather than what the game is. I wouldn’t want any part of the storyline or level editing, NPC dialog, etc. I’d be very happy to give suggestions on these things, along with others like the UI or keyboard controls. In fact, I’d probably be just as happy with being more like a pre-release critic (assuming I had a lot of influence), lol. There have been countless games I’ve picked up to play, and not lasted more than an hour on them due to their gameplay (great art, awesome sound/music, storyline on par with the greatest, yet combat might be something akin to chutes n ladders). Games have almost always been my passion, but as I’ve aged games have seemed to get worse and worse on gameplay in general (not to mention games like WoW making billions built on a foundation of mindless grinding). It may be my ‘growing up’, but even if that’s the case I can’t help but think there should be something available for my tastes. Ok, so after that long ramble, what are the chances of a title consisting of something similar to what I’m interested in? Even if it’s a long shot, 20 years of experience to obtain kind of thing, it’d be a very important goal for me. Thanks in advance, Mythics

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Tom Sloper    16062
Quote:
Original post by "Mythics"
what are the chances of a title consisting of something similar to what I’m interested in?

Not very good. You want only some of the responsibilities of the game designer, you aren't open to doing everything your employer needs you to do. The problem, therefore, is your attitude.
BTW, this is not a business/legal question. Should've been posted in the Game Design forum.

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zer0wolf    1022
Tom is right. As a designer you need to be a tad more ... flexible than that. Positions like you're talking about do exist at some really large studios working on large MMO projects where they needed dedicated designers for more specific subjects. The thing is though is that you need to be part of the team, not just a specific role. Even as say a combat designer, you're still going to be required to occasionally do non-combat related work. Also, what happens when the next project isn't a combat oriented MMO and is instead a sports title or sim sort of game? You've pigeon holed yourself into a very specific position and you're going to need to either adapt or find a new job.

It may seem like a "long term" goal to you, but really it isn't a long term sort of position. Even if you do manage to maintain a specific "combat designer" position across multiple title, that'd mean you'd be doing the same thing for years on end.

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Mythics    135
I greatly appreciate both replies, and I apologize if this should indeed have been placed in the Game Design forum. I only placed it here because it was more related to the business (not legal) aspect of game design rather than game design itself.

To explain myself a bit more, I'm not saying I wouldn't enthusiastically accomplish other aspects of the game by any means. I just simply know that my heart and soul would be in gameplay (not just combat, to ensure the clarity of that). I don't believe it's my attitude, rather that it's my skill set is very very strong in certain areas of what a Game Designer would need to do and lacking in others.

Honestly, it sounds like trying to put two different worlds together from my point of view. Level design, dialog, storyline, etc just sound so extremely artistic/imagination based, while gameplay sounds much more mathematical. It could very easily be why I seem to think most games excel at one or the other, but rarely both.

Saying I would be willing to handle both aspects would definitely be true, but I know through and through that any game where I handled what I consider to be the mathematical aspects while another handled the more creative/artistic side, could easily be a very high seller.

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frob    44971
Quote:
Original post by Mythics
I'd want to really involve myself in would be the general mechanics. I'm referring to things like (in a RPG) the spell system, combat system, travel mechanics, etc.
Sounds like the job title "gameplay programmer".

"Game designer" means a whole lot more than just figuring out how the spell and combat systems work. It is a thousand other things in addition to that relatively simple task.
Quote:
I would want to be the one to decide on how the game is played, rather than what the game is.
Programmers have a little freedom for how the game is played, although most of that comes form people far above you on the corporate food chain.

After a few years you'd be far enough up the food chain to get your ideas listened to. After four or five or six or eight years, assuming you are moving up in your career, you could play a very significant part on the design of how the game is played. You might make the move to game designer at that point, but before then you would have to develop the capacity to do all the hard work, distasteful tasks, and thousands of other tasks involved with the title.
Quote:
I wouldn't want any part of the storyline or level editing, NPC dialog, etc. I'd be very happy to give suggestions on these things, along with others like the UI or keyboard controls.
Yup, those are things a gameplay programmer doesn't do. It sounds like the direction you would want to go.

Quote:
any game where I handled what I consider to be the mathematical aspects while another handled the more creative/artistic side, could easily be a very high seller.
Good luck convincing any experienced business person of that. A "very high seller" is not made that way just because one particular person happens to work on the math behind the combat system.

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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Mythics
My problem with what I'm seeing is that it would appear the lead designer gets put in charge of a ton of work.... and control. If I were in a game design position, the only things I’d want to really involve myself in would be the general mechanics. I’m referring to things like (in a RPG) the spell system, combat system, travel mechanics, etc.

In that case get a game design job and stick at game designer instead of moving up to Lead Designer. No point in doing a job you aren't happy with. Companies always need designers to work on the nitty gritty details of combat systems and spell systems etc.

Quote:
In fact, I’d probably be just as happy with being more like a pre-release critic (assuming I had a lot of influence), lol. There have been countless games I’ve picked up to play, and not lasted more than an hour on them due to their gameplay (great art, awesome sound/music, storyline on par with the greatest, yet combat might be something akin to chutes n ladders.
Ahhh not so useful. Anyone can can look at a finished game and suggest improvements (few of them understand the reasons why games aren't perfect see Most games today are rubbish for several possible reasons). That's not a worthwhile skill I'm afraid. It is being able to make those suggestions DURING development that is a worthwhile skill.... then actually working with the level editor and tool set at hand to make that vision a reality. Ideas are easy, its the doing the work that is hard.

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Mythics    135
Quote:
Original post by Obscure
In that case get a game design job and stick at game designer instead of moving up to Lead Designer. No point in doing a job you aren't happy with. Companies always need designers to work on the nitty gritty details of combat systems and spell systems etc.

Any idea on how many Non-Lead Designers a team may have? What are the chances of not having to mess with level editing, but sticking strictly with what I'm calling gameplay aspects?

Quote:
Original post by ObscureAhhh not so useful. Anyone can can look at a finished game and suggest improvements (few of them understand the reasons why games aren't perfect see Most games today are rubbish for several possible reasons). That's not a worthwhile skill I'm afraid. It is being able to make those suggestions DURING development that is a worthwhile skill.... then actually working with the level editor and tool set at hand to make that vision a reality. Ideas are easy, its the doing the work that is hard.


Thanks for the link, I'll give it a look over.

Without ever being on a development team, I can't exactly be 100% positive on this, but I personally believe I could easily make those kind of suggestions during development (or at least argue intelligently about the matter).

Regarding doing the work, that wouldn't be a problem. In fact, I would probably be very happy with being a Gameplay Programmer, again though.. only if my opinion held some weight (which experience would have to develop I know, but still talking potentially far future goals here).

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Nypyren    12074
<sarcasm>

Sounds like you want to be in middle-tier management for a major publisher, because you've just described what they inevitably do - dictate inflexible dreams to people who actually have to implement ridiculous gameplay systems.

</sarcasm>

My intent is not to personally insult you or anything - it's to give an example. I've had bad experience working under managers who never worked on actual implementation and thus have NO IDEA what the implications of their decisions are.

It is my belief that it's EXTREMELY important that managers and producers understand the technical implications of management decisions (especially those that are not their 'jurisdiction' as it were). Unfortunately, the publishers are in charge of the money.

Even the most junior designers will have a say, if they present their idea / observation in a well-throught-out, rational way. It won't always go your way, but you'll probably have more say than you think you will.

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Mythics    135
Quote:
Original post by NypyrenI've had bad experience working under managers who never worked on actual implementation and thus have NO IDEA what the implications of their decisions are.

My current title is Software Design and Support, if that eases your mind about lack of knowledge regarding implementation time/difficulty. I've been programming for about 8 years now, only as a hobby though until these last 2 years though.

Quote:
Original post by NypyrenUnfortunately, the publishers are in charge of the money.

Which sadly results in little change from the other big money maker titles, which I also partially blame for the lack of 'great' games.

Quote:
Original post by NypyrenIt won't always go your way, but you'll probably have more say than you think you will.

Well, I'm not exactly meaning I want to be the end-all judge on anything relating to gameplay, but I don't doubt your statement much at all.

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Obscure    175
Quote:
Original post by Mythics
Any idea on how many Non-Lead Designers a team may have? What are the chances of not having to mess with level editing, but sticking strictly with what I'm calling gameplay aspects?

Sorry you have misunderstood how game development works and misunderstood my reply. The person who designs the gameplay aspects IMPLEMENTS them. That means they do the level design or scripting and define all the attributes for combat systems and test that they work and tweak them until they are right.

There is no job in game development for designers who do'nt actually DO. As I said, just sitting around having ideas is easy.... You get paid to pick-up up the tools and actually implementing those ideas by designing levels and scripting them.

Quote:
Without ever being on a development team, I can't exactly be 100% positive on this, but I personally believe I could easily make those kind of suggestions during development (or at least argue intelligently about the matter).
As you have never been on a development team you have nothing to base that opinion on and sadly no one who has been on a development team is going to hire you into such an ivory tower position.

As a complete aside I have noticed that people with no industry experience always say that "they know they can do X" whereas people with proven industry experience say "I think I can do X (but if not then I will try Y").

Quote:
Regarding doing the work, that wouldn't be a problem. In fact, I would probably be very happy with being a Gameplay Programmer,....

Sorry but this part is confusing. You originally asked about being a designer. Now you are talking about being a programmer. Which is it that you wish to do?

Quote:
...again though.. only if my opinion held some weight (which experience would have to develop I know, but still talking potentially far future goals here).

Far in the future equals 5-10 years and you will only get into that position by succeeding at the lower positions where you have little or no input/control over design.

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