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the burn

What is a game designer?

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I''m new to the game dev scene. I know C++ but I dont really like programming all that much I just want to know what EXACTLY is a game designer? What types of skills does a good game designer need to possess? Do I need to be a good programmer? "You will be consumed.."

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No, you don´t have to be a good programmer, but some knowledge of programming certainly helps.

I dont think that there is a standard "profile" for game designer, I know some that come from Q&A, some from the art department and a few ex-programmers.

I think that every additional skill you have is a great benefit, especially some drawing skills, as it makes illustrating your ideas much easier.

Then there are a few musts. You have to know how to write. Clear, good style, concise and to the point. You have to be able to put your ideas in words that everyone understands, without omitting anything. You have to be able to structure a 50, or 100 page document in a way so that it is easy to understand, readable, and without much redundancy (otherwise making changes becomes horribly difficult).
You shouldn´t be afraid of writing papers >10000 words, some academic writing skills are good here.

Ideas of your own are good, but you must also often work with ideas that are not your own, maybe even make a good game out of a bad idea.
The point here is that what you write about should not have any impact on the quality of your work. It´s easy to deliver good ideas when you write about your favourite genre, but if you try and make a good game out of something you hate, things can become difficult.

Some management and people skills are also good, as sometimes the designer has to fill the role of the project manager (on smaller projects), its also much easier, because you, as the designer know exactly how the thing should look, which makes it far more easy to talk to artists and programmers, instead of having to have a go-between.

Hope this helps.

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quote:
Original post by the burn
I''m new to the game dev scene. I know C++ but I dont really like programming all that much I just want to know what EXACTLY is a game designer? What types of skills does a good game designer need to possess? Do I need to be a good programmer?

"You will be consumed.."


A game designer will generally put the pieces together before the programming starts. ie: He makes sure that all the different concepts of the game fit together, he sometimes reviews sounds, music and graphics to make sure they are fit for the project, etc. In other words, these are just a few things that a game designer might do. I guess it depends on the company or group you work with...



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I think a good game designer must understand gameplay, the psychology of the game''s intended audience, and how to explain/ describe the game he/she wants to make. It is helpful, but not necessary, to know how to write, storyboard, draw (and other art things), compose music, program, design web pages, design advertising for the game, and do the necessary secretarial and diplomatic work to keep your team unified.

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I think a good game designer must understand gameplay, the psychology of the game''s intended audience, and how to explain/ describe the game he/she wants to make. It is helpful, but not necessary, to know how to write, storyboard, draw (and other art things), compose music, program, design web pages, design advertising for the game, and do the necessary secretarial and diplomatic work to keep your team unified.



Amen to that, except for the writing thing. As a game designer you´ll have to write design docs, so writing (apart from researching and turining out huge amounts of wastepaper) will be the main thing you are doing (at least that´s what I´m doing).

In all the other fields of game development it´s good to be specialised, but I think a good designer can´t have a broad enough knowledge. That doesn´t just include things directly related to game development, so apart from what I mentioned above a broad knowledge of all things is useful... science, literature, literary techniques (if you should ever have to write a story), ... and of course it´s good to have played many different games from all genres.

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This is from an interview I was just reading -
"As lead designer, I''m responsible for spearheading a specific project from inception to completion. Typical duties include drafting design documents, developing the story, writing the script, directing voice sessions, doing level design work, implementing the cinematics, conceiving and balancing game systems, falling asleep in meetings, etc. The whole team contributes to design, so I spend a lot of time making sure everybody''s ideas fit together in a way that benefits the project."

That''s from a professional game designer as well so that should fully answer your question.

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It depends what level you''re working at.

If you''re working for a big company like Cyan, you''re a godlike visionary, with absolute power of life or death of all lower ranking employees like programmers.

If you''re at my level, on the other hand, you''re a twinkie munching recluse with a hard drive crammed with freeware development and art programs, and a tatty paper folder stuffed with concept art, back story essays, character descriptions and puzzle designs, not to mention failed previous projects.

You''re probably also highly frustrated and pessimistic about life 98% of the time, as a direct result of trying to do the work of an entire, highly paid development team all by yourself.

"brainstorming is particularly tricky if you''ve only got one brain to work with" - Captain Insanity, 7 October 2001

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to be a games designer usually needs a bit of knowledge about programming and you may need to do some drawings. the designer decides the main things about a game from the small extras to the big gameplay aspect. if something is out of place or the story is badly written the designer will suggest how to correct or say what needs doing. the designer is the brains behind the game. the designer is usual the boss of the team.

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I''m a little surprised at the answers. I would recommend that programming knowledge is second only to writing in this, myself. If you can''t program, you won''t know what can''t be done, and sometimes have to rely on the knowledge of slacker programmers - like myself, but that''s another story.

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