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pabloruiz55

How to work with programmers

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Hi!
I've put together a few tips for designers that have to deal with programmers in their everyday life. Most tips are what to do to avoid annoying developers or how to have a better communication and workflow.
Here is the article.

If you have your own tips, I'd like to hear them as well!

- Pablo

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Well, I'm by no means an expert, but here's what I think:

The designers are the people in control of the aesthetics, programmers make the code, that's it. Some people may have multiple roles of course, but that's in the case of lacking the right man. They can and should suggest things, but the game industry needs to seriously get rid of their many "holier-than-thou" programmers who think they know everything about every single science, just because they took a crash course somewhere. I know, that sounds terrible coming from someone with as little background as me, but I dare people to prove me wrong. And I guess I need to couple it with defending the programmers too from vice versa.

But here's a logical fact:
Working for 10+ years typing C++ all day long doesn't make people experts at things like player analysis (the psychology of volition, patternicity, agency, repulsors, etc - far more than just reading statistics) - even if you touched the subject briefly here and there. In the case of player analysis, it's nice to know what most players are doing, but it's really nice to know why they are doing it (and thus what they're going to do, ahead of time). Edited by DrMadolite

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Be tidy with revisions[/quote]

I'd expand that to 'be organized with your files'.  There's nothing worse than going back to an artist with a simple change request and discovering that they can't find the original file to work from.

That said, I think the stereotype that artists and programmers don't get along is outdated and inaccurate.  Most developers in my experience are prepared to put a little bit of effort into communicating clearly and showing respect for their coworkers.

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I've read it and I would like to make a couple remarks:


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]Do a little research[/font]

[/quote]


This should not even be the case in the first place. If your designer (I hope you mean artist actually..) is not able to deliver the assets in the proper format, you, or the one who is in charge of it, failed to create a proper pipeline for the assets. Info might be readily available easily, but if there is one thing I learned, it is to never assume anything! This doesn't mean artists or designers are stupid, it's about assumptions gone wrong. If you have encountered this multiple times, learn from it and create a document for your artists/designers to read. Only then, if they bother you with "stupid" question, you can point out and say: "It's in there, you should read it".


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]Don’t make him try to understand your PSDs[/font]

[/quote]

I don't know anything about iOS development, but this is once again something you should document. You want to have things delivered in a certain way, let them know!


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]If you are working on a game, try to understand some game design and programming concepts[/font]

[/quote]

I'm 50/50 with you on this. Artists should know about some techniques from their part, how to make seamless textures and such. Naming conventions however is once again something you should document.


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]Try to be as specific as you can[/font]

[/quote]

This I can agree upon. It has happened more than once to me that a feature is requested and it wasn't what he/she had in mind because of bad communication.


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]Get to know the platform’s limitations[/font]

[/quote]
Bit of a grey area in my opinion. Perhaps some platforms are small enough for a designer or artist to properly understand, but expecting your designer to fully understand the Ogre3D engine with Nvidia PhysX and FMOD can be a tad overwhelming. Sure, there are some things that might be plain obvious as you mentioned, but this is surely not the case in every situation. So yes, in those cases it is better to ask your programmer if you are able to do that. but please.. Do take our word for it, if your programmer is lying about being able to implement stuff because he doesn't feel like it, you should look for a new one.


[color=#FF3333][font=inherit]Be tidy with revisions[/font]

[/quote]
Use something like SVN or other revision software. Just saying.. This is once again something you should document.

It seems to me that a lot of the points you are stating here are merely points of bad communication and the lack of a proper pipeline. In most cases you only need to set it up once for specific platforms/engines. Seems like you are emphasizing on the iOS here. Document how you want the stuff to be handled and a lot of points here will become better.

@DrMadolite
I think you misinterpreted his post. He is not talking about how programmers know things better than designers do, he's merely making a point that some designers want feature X that is simply not possible to do in terms of code.

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Good read! And as some of the comments below the blog post mentioned, I would *love* to read the same article from the other side (i.e How to work with designers).
Most problems arise from miscommunication and unspecific specifications (no pun intended).

but the game industry needs to seriously get rid of their many "holier-than-thou" programmers who think they know everything about every single science[/quote]

Let me rephrase that. "but society needs to seriously get rid of their many "holier-than-thou" people who think they know everything about every single science"

You'll find those guys in every field, and it sucks. Edited by Madhed

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I've put together a few tips for designers that have to deal with programmers


'Dealing with programmers' seems a tad.. combative. I am sure that is not your intention, but it comes with the connotation that programmers are an inherent problem, and you have to tiptoe around them, for fear of their wrath. I've seen my share of disagreements between designer and programmer, and they never (usually) come to blows, but coming into it with the mindset of having to 'deal' with someone is already a bad first step.

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Personally I used to help in few games by only doing art, and I can tell that since I mainly a programmer, knowledge of what other programmers are doing helped a lot. And also viceversa. I think that till you are working in small teams some other skills helps communication a lot. By the way if you want to start a team take some rest and socialize before with other people. this make you more kind with team members ;-). bring respects to other mates and never lies. Use social networks. Serious people don't warry to put its real name /face into a serious project.

anyway it's not matter of "deals with other". it's matter of dealing with yourself..

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I think its safest to approach any subject you have a shallow understanding of with as much grace, humility and respect as you can (this works both ways). Programmers should assume they know nothing about the art and only bring their knowledge to bare on design if it helps fix problems (not just to point them out), people get excited about answers, they get tired of problems. Be quick with questions and gentle with critiques. On the other face of that coin, designers should be open to anything a programmer has to say, they are the pit crew of the fun that is going to be had. If you were a pilot would you mouth off to the guy working on the engines? Its just bad manners and in the end it has the potential to hurt everyone's fun. Programmers are often the last ones to touch a design be it art or mechanics, before it finds its way into a build. It can end up in the build cleanly, or "too buggy to implement" very easily, so be wary. I'm sure no programmer has ever done this (ever) but I hate bad games and if one could be a good game just because people are hunky dory with one another. Its worth it!

DemonRad is dead on about dealing with yourself. Insecurity is the greatest spawn of bad manors.

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If you are not sure about your game never do it. I assume you have motivation as game designer/programmer/artist. If you have no motivation for one of the funniest things in world you are just in crap ;-). As you will notice soon rarely people understand your words even if clear, that's why communication is important. You need to be humile and respectfull. If they don't understand. Is that because you explained bad, the simply didn't read well, or they are trying to saying something new? Can also be all of them at once. Never judge others. That's a big mistake most people do. Edited by DemonRad

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