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distilledwater71

difference between a game director and a game designer?

12 posts in this topic

Every video game these days has "director" and "designer" credited as different people.

Why do those positions have to be held by different people? What does a director do that is different from what a designer does?

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A Game Director is more like a Producer or a Project Manager. They're the most senior person on the team, but not directly in charge of anything (besides delegating). They decide how and what the rest of the team will work on. The lead game designer will report to the director, which gives them the ability to direct the design.

Edited by Hodgman
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Not all directors have design experience.

 

Correct. The title is not well defined in our industry.  It's usually a title chosen by the individual, or bestowed on the individual based on unknown criteria.  Someone could be "director" of any department (HR Director, for instance).  Since the OP was contrasting the title with "designer" I gave him an answer based on the assumption that the two titles were comparable or related. (The OP was likely asking about "design directors" or "directors of design".)

 

There is always an exception to every statement, including this one.

Edited by Tom Sloper
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An example would be Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The designers for that game are Richard Lemarchand and Neil Druckmann, and the directors for the game are Bruce Straley and Amy Hennig.

What did the directors do that was different from what the designers did?

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I've never worked with a Game Director. But I'm a designer and I've worked with the same Creative Director for 2 years. Here's what he does from what I can see:

 

The Vision - "Tone Hammer" is a popular phrase he uses because everything must fit the tone. If anything doesn't fit his Vision (Tone) of the game then it's hammered out 

Management - He gets everyone from ALL TEAMS talking and on the same page. That means 3D World, Lighting, Design, Production, Gameplay, Online, AI and UI.

Punch Bag / Buffer - When executives aren't happy then he's the first person that knows it. He also absorbs the heat on behalf of the team. 

Overall Design Scope - When deadlines approach he has to make the tough decision on what stays and what gets cut

Plays the Game - The Creative Director makes a point to play the game EVERYDAY. He writes notes on what he likes, what he doesn't like and sends it to the right person

Press - Deals with the media, social networking sites, marketing details so each one is advertising the game correctly and consistently

 

Overall, this is the guy that knows what the game should be but doesn't have the time to sit down and design it all himself. He oversees the design along with the rest of the game and makes changes throughout development.

 

As a Designer my time consists of:

 

Paper Design - 15% (Done very early and edited as you update the game's design)

Implementation - 30% (Building levels, scripting, balancing and setting up game play elements)

Iteration - 30% (Making changes to the stuff I've implemented based on feedback)

Bug Fixing - 5% (Even the best of us have a few bugs we need to fix)

Play testing - 20% (Playing the game)

Edited by herbertsworld
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So a game director is a lot like a movie director. They create a vision and then lead a team of people to fulfill it.


The position is not well defined in the game industry. The title might not be used at a company, and at another company it might mean something different from what you wrote. It's usually a title chosen by the individual, or bestowed on the individual based on unknown criteria. Most times, when the title is used, a director is a more-highly-paid game designer, with managerial responsibilities and visionary power. Edited by Tom Sloper
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So a game director is a lot like a movie director. They create a vision and then lead a team of people to fulfill it.

That depends on the company.

 

In my experience:

  • creative director has creative vision.
  • A studio director or game director has the authority to dictate the vision, but usually delegates that responsibility to the lead designer (or to the creative director). They would only interfere with the lead designer in response to project constraints, like time/money/manpower, or in response to publisher demands.
Edited by Hodgman
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Are there games where the director and designer are the same person? Like it's just one person who comes up with all of the ideas and he just needs a team for programming and art.

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Are there games where the director and designer are the same person? Like it's just one person who comes up with all of the ideas and he just needs a team for programming and art.

 

The only AAA game I can think of is Metal Gear Solid released back in 1998. 

 

Hideo Kojima is credited as the game's design, story writer and director. But be mindful that this game is 15 years old. In terms of level design I could see how this was designed by one or two people, but today levels are far more complex and the game's themselves are incredibly detailed. One person alone cannot do this in a 2-3 year development cycle.

 

Even now Mr Kojima is working in a larger team with many designers working under him at Kojima Productions to develop MGS5.

 

To look for games where 1 person comes up with the ideas is going towards the indie scene with very small teams of 1 - 10 people. When you work in a studio with 100 or more people and 1 person is the only ones who comes up with ideas, then people are going to get frustrated and move somewhere else where their opinion matters.

 

Actually I'm going to add the credits link to this post as well. Go through the credits and see all the work Mr Kojima did on that game. He wasn't just the "ideas guy." He was very much involved with building the game as well as designing the game. This is exactly what I (I'm sure others) want to see from the people in charge. Getting their hands dirty with level editors and scripting tools.

http://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation/metal-gear-solid/credits

Edited by herbertsworld
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