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The technical side of game design

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I don't know if this is the right forum for this.

 

Are there any resources for the technical side of game design on the web?  By the technical side I don't mean how to code and stuff like that.  What I mean is something that would lead to less inexperienced game designers from trying to make Skyrim on a gameboy advance.  In other words an article that is a sign of the time in regards to what is possible and what isn't, and the techniques (not necessarily implementation) that would allow for the more taxing behaviors of certain types of games/graphics.  Something that would allow a game designer to communicate better and be a more effective member of the team rather than just "being a dreamer". (not my opinion)

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Are there any resources for the technical side of game design on the web?  By the technical side I don't mean how to code and stuff like that.  What I mean is something that would lead to less inexperienced game designers from trying to make Skyrim on a gameboy advance.

 

The simplest thing to do would be to google "What games can X amount of people make", or to ask people on this site if your idea is possible.

The best is just to remake a small retro game, this will quickly teach you what kind of assets is needed.

 

As a rule of thumb, you will need a extra person on your team for each kind of asset. Concept art, sprites, 3D models, Programming, Animations, Sounds and Special effects are some of the most comment assets for a game and have dedicated artist that focus on only one.

However it greatly depends on what you are doing, if you decide to make a multiplayer game you could need to add a extra programmer than understands networking.

 

 

Books about game development do exist, because how much games differ these books tend to be guide lines instead of technical rules.

 


Something that would allow a game designer to communicate better and be a more effective member of the team rather than just "being a dreamer". (not my opinion)

Learn a skill related to making games.

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I don't know if this is the right forum for this.
 Are there any resources for the technical side of game design on the web?  By the technical side I don't mean how to code and stuff like that.  What I mean is something that would lead to less inexperienced game designers from trying to make Skyrim on a gameboy advance.  In other words an article that is a sign of the time in regards to what is possible and what isn't...


I don't know if this is the right forum, either. Because I'm not sure what you're asking... or why you're asking it.

Are you saying you want information about the capabilities of game platforms? Or are you saying somebody is trying to get you to program something that's beyond the capabilities of a platform?

Someone could design and implement a Skyrim-like game for Game Boy Advance (just to go with the example you gave) - it wouldn't have a minutely explorable 3D world like Skyrim, and the 2D world wouldn't be as big as Skyrim, and the characters wouldn't have voices, and there would be other differences. But the experience could be roughly similar. It just takes communication between the designer and the technical director as to what features can't work, and what substitutions could work.

Is there something that can teach a lone individual (someone who doesn't have a technical director to consult) about the capabilities of a particular platform? Sure - practical firsthand playing of a number of games on that platform, and a realistic acceptance of the probabilities of limitations to what's already been done on that platform.

But there's no book that lists the memory, graphics, audio, and controls capabilities of today's multitude of game platforms. Back in the eighties, I was able to make documentation of the limits of sprites, palettes, backgrounds, and graphic modes of the 8-bit game platforms. But it was because I was working in the industry - and had access to technical people.

If you could explain more about the problem you're trying to solve, maybe you could tell us so we can help you.

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I don't know if this is the right forum, either. Because I'm not sure what you're asking...

Is there something that can teach a lone individual (someone who doesn't have a technical director to consult) about the capabilities of a particular platform?

Basically something along the lines of the this.  Not necessarily a lone individual but also small teams that don't have a technical director.


Sure - practical firsthand playing of a number of games on that platform, and a realistic acceptance of the probabilities of limitations to what's already been done on that platform.

I don't think this is practical for everyone.


or why you're asking it.

In truth I was just curious and wanted to read myself being a programmer with a creative streak but maybe I got ahead of myself I guess I should have asked if there is a technical side to game design first.  In the future however I might start a project or join one (once I'm ready), scouting resources to improve the team is something I'm already doing... so this is also some legwork.

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Tom Sloper, on 06 Sept 2015 - 4:32 PM, said:

Sure - practical firsthand playing of a number of games on that platform, and a realistic acceptance of the probabilities of limitations to what's already been done on that platform.

I don't think this is practical for everyone.

Those for whom that level of analysis are not practical are probably not qualified to be game designers.

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Tom Sloper, on 06 Sept 2015 - 7:32 PM, said:

Is there something that can teach a lone individual (someone who doesn't have a technical director to consult) about the capabilities of a particular platform?
Basically something along the lines of the this.  Not necessarily a lone individual but also small teams that don't have a technical director.

 

sure!  its called R&D!  with platforms and development techniques as constantly evolving targets, continual R&D is a core component of game development.

 

the trick is to start with a game concept, which defines hardware requirements such as 2d vs 3d graphics, how much ram might be required, and so on. then see how those match up with the specs of platforms you're considering supporting. the result is you can say, "well, if we make game X, we can do it on platforms A, B, and C, but not D.  and if we make game Y, we can only do it on platforms D and E.   A, B, and C aren't powerful enough.".

 

assuming its a for profit venture, then you consider how well game X might do on platforms A,B,C, given the popularity of the game type and size of the installed user base of platforms A, B, and C. and weigh that vs the estimated development time and costs. if it still looks good, you might move forward with a design doc and some rapid prototyping of anything that needs to be tested first before committing to the project.

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I don't know if this is the right forum for this.

 

Are there any resources for the technical side of game design on the web?  By the technical side I don't mean how to code and stuff like that.  What I mean is something that would lead to less inexperienced game designers from trying to make Skyrim on a gameboy advance.  In other words an article that is a sign of the time in regards to what is possible and what isn't, and the techniques (not necessarily implementation) that would allow for the more taxing behaviors of certain types of games/graphics.  Something that would allow a game designer to communicate better and be a more effective member of the team rather than just "being a dreamer". (not my opinion)

 

Whats possible on a given platform is pretty much irrelevant.

The only thing that matters is: 

What can your team actually do with the platforms you have access to in the time you have available for it ?

 

Designing any reasonably complex game without knowing what human resources you have available is pretty much doomed to fail, the platform is only a consideration if you are pushing close to its limits (and even then your human resources will be the biggest factor in determining how close to the limit you're actually able to get).

Edited by SimonForsman

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Almost anything is possible.
Unless you dont have any programmers, then almost nothing is possible :lol:

One thing I've learned from the industry is that creative staff should not ask "Is X possible?" because the answer is almost always "Yes".
They need to ask "How long will it take to implement X (assuming Y use-case) and what effects will this have on other features?" and then take that answer, consult with the producer and see if the a time schedule is possible.
i.e. assuming you've got a talented team, then 'possibility' is dictated by budget available to the producer :)


Every game is a constant conversation between tech and creative, a back-and-forth trading of restrictions and assumptions and compromise.

"Your zombie horde is too expensive"
"Could we afford to put that horde of 1000 zombies in this level if we delete all the lights?"
"Hmm does the camera have to get up close to them? We can use cheap imposter rendering if you promise to keep the camera away from that crowd."
"I need to have a close up, but we can frame it so you only see half a dozen of them."
"When do you need this done by? How long do I have?"

You can't really make a site that answes all that stuff. These are conversations that you have to have with your own tech people.
It's also the reason that "game designer" is a full time job during production.
You cant just write a GDD, hand it over, and wait for it to be made. Good designers are themselves producers, babysitting the game all the way, massaging flaws that appear and navigating technical hurdles.

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One thing I've learned from the industry is that creative staff should not ask "Is X possible?" because the answer is almost always "Yes".


Absolutely. Anytime somebody asks me if something is possible in a game, I always say "anything is possible, with enough time and money." (I might also add, "Anything except, that is, two things: time travel to the past, and the Star Trek holodeck." But today, them young whippersnappers don't know what the holodeck is.) Edited by Tom Sloper

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One thing I've learned from the industry is that creative staff should not ask "Is X possible?" because the answer is almost always "Yes".
They need to ask "How long will it take to implement X (assuming Y use-case) and what effects will this have on other features?" and then take that answer, consult with the producer and see if the a time schedule is possible.

Well, said. So for an individual or small team, how do you figure out how long it takes to implement a feature? The question becomes more of what's possible on  your own time scale or budget, rather than what's possible in general.

 

Of course there's the joke site, http://yourgameideaistoobig.com/ , but it doesn't have much practical use. I've heard anecdotes about estimating how long a game will take you, then doubling it, or adding a few months. But when you don't have a producer or technical director on your team to consult, what would you look for to get a better estimate?

 

As far as I can tell, it seems to be something that comes with experience, so you may be better off starting small and working your way towards larger games. 

Edited by DifferentName

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So for an individual or small team, how do you figure out how long it takes to implement a feature?

Same as in a large team - you ask the person who will be implementing the feature to give you an estimate.

One programmer might be able to do a task in a day, another programmer might say they need a week to research the problem, and then decide they need a week to implement it.
In the latter case, it's irrelevant that someone out there can do it in a day; your guy needs two weeks, so that's how long it will take.
i.e. estimates/budgets are specific to your team. You can't create them in a vacuum.

Inexperienced staff generally suck at making estimates, because it's a skill they've never practiced before. Just start writing down estimates on tasks before you begin them, and use task-tracking software to measure the actual time taken. Most people get pretty good at guessing their own pace after a while. Most people also don't account for the extra time required for when things go wrong (e.g. debugging), which is why you multiply your initial guess by 2 :D
In larger organisations, often team leaders know each of their staff well enough that they can also make rough estimates on your behalf, which is especially useful for the Junior staff who aren't sure of their guesses.

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Tom Sloper, on 06 Sept 2015 - 4:32 PM, said:

Sure - practical firsthand playing of a number of games on that platform, and a realistic acceptance of the probabilities of limitations to what's already been done on that platform.

I don't think this is practical for everyone.

 

Those for whom that level of analysis are not practical are probably not qualified to be game designers.

 

Can we all take a moment to appreciate the untamed savagery that is Tom Sloper?

Edited by KingOfTheNoobs

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In non-american companies, directors are like executives: CEO=Managing Director, CTO=Technology Director, VP=Director, etc...

Confusingly, non-"executive" staff might share the title.
Creative director -> Boss of art/design.
Art director -> Boss of art / internal critic.
Technical director -> Boss of coding.
Development director -> Boss of production.

Sometimes you just have "Director", in which case they're probably the boss of the above directors. I've mostly seen this on Japanese credits so I'm guessing.

Even more confusingly, "technical director" has a different meaning in the Film/VFX world - there it means something similar to what games companies call a "technical artist"; someone who can use Maya but also write python scripts and ray-tracers.

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