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maybe it could, possibly, this pass, do THIS sort of thing, for now

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Hello Designers

 

I come to you with a question. I am currently working with a designer whose writing style is, quite frankly, annoying to me. I am given a task to do X, but the description of X is full of indeterminable words.

 

"maybe it could, possibly, this pass, do THIS sort of thing, for now" (literal quote)

 

Designers I have worked with previously have never used this language, if something needs doing it was always definite

 

"It should be done like this"

 

I had no problem with this, if it needs to change in the future fine. Everything read clear cut. However using  indeterminable words make it sounds like I should keep the Thing I am developing open, as the designer thinks it will likely change in the future, and it makes me question how it should work.

 

Is this normal, or am I just complaining for no reason :)

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Do you have a producer or project manager, as well as the designer? I'd probably get cranky too, and go ask the producer whether we're prototyping / exploring, or working towards a known target / deadline :P

That kind of weak design is basically asking you to do the designing for them... which can be fine, if you know that's what you're supposed to be doing. I've worked on games where the programmers have knowingly been given only broad strokes and have been responsible for all the fine details, and in one case they developed new genre-defining gameplay systems. So it can be good to have the people with the power of implementation and iteration to have ownership over parts of the design... as long as they know they've got that responsibility. In other situation, the producer might be pissed that the programmers are faffing about in exploration/iteration mode, and the designer is wanking onto a page while a milestone deadline looms overhead...

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Do you have a producer or project manager, as well as the designer?

Yes somebody should be pruning your tasks to make sure that they are ready for development.

 

How are you assigned the tasks?
Are you in some kind of Agile team.

If so how can your ScrumMaster even accept a story into a Sprint without a properly defined goal / criteria.  How are QA even supposed to test this if nobody knows what it should do?

 

 

Can you not just reject the task and assign it back to the designer until they've decided what they want you to do?

 

 

 

In short to answer your question.  No this isn't normal and you are entirely justified in complaining about this.

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Do you have a producer or project manager, as well as the designer? I'd probably get cranky too, and go ask the producer whether we're prototyping / exploring, or working towards a known target / deadline :P

That kind of weak design is basically asking you to do the designing for them... which can be fine, if you know that's what you're supposed to be doing. I've worked on games where the programmers have knowingly been given only broad strokes and have been responsible for all the fine details, and in one case they developed new genre-defining gameplay systems. So it can be good to have the people with the power of implementation and iteration to have ownership over parts of the design... as long as they know they've got that responsibility. In other situation, the producer might be pissed that the programmers are faffing about in exploration/iteration mode, and the designer is wanking onto a page while a milestone deadline looms overhead...

No producer (yet, may hopefully change)

 

These ARE first pass, so it is, in a way prototyping. However, I would much rather be told what the first implementation should do.

 

For instance I Just asked the designer, "how should this be implemented the options are , A,B or C" to which the reply I got was "Yes, any of them". It seems the designer is afraid of commitment. Previously I have communicated verbally to him, which turned out to be a disaster.

 

I asked about X feature which I was to implement and he described the feature with some ambiguity. I thought fine, I can just do the obvious path. For example, I was to implement the character throwing a ball. It seems obvious to me, that when the ball is thrown, it is thrown with some force and is effected by gravity, has some sort of friction and restoration. After implementing it, I was told it was "just wrong" and that it would "obviously" travel in a straight line, not effected by gravity. 

 

Yesterday I questioned him (again verbally) about something else, and resolved the ambiguities. But today he when questioned about something else he contradicted himself.  

 

I am fine with things changing, but changing your idea of how something works day by day is frustrating. My idea how it should be is: Design it one way, play test, if it works great if not change it.

 

After the first instance of the ambiguities and my restricted freedoms (obviously the designer and I, don't share common ideas) I have stopped querying him face to face, instead I use the task manager comment system. So atleast I can refer to things he has said in the past on 'why I made it which ever way'

 

 

And before anyone asks we don't have a GDD *(or atleast one I can view)

 

and yes this is scrum, kinda, not really though :/

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That kind of weak design is basically asking you to do the designing for them

Agreed. The designer isn't sure, and is hedging. When I've been unsure like that, I've
said that the feature should be made flexible so it can be easily changed. I've also worked
with a designer who would poll the team before designing a feature.

dsm, you say you'd rather be told. Would you like to be told to do it one way, then be told
to change it later? I don't think you'd like that. But a designer can't be certain all the
time, so why don't you just discuss with the designer - sounds like he/she/they is laboring
in a vacuum.

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That kind of weak design is basically asking you to do the designing for them

Agreed. The designer isn't sure, and is hedging. When I've been unsure like that, I've
said that the feature should be made flexible so it can be easily changed. I've also worked
with a designer who would poll the team before designing a feature.

dsm, you say you'd rather be told. Would you like to be told to do it one way, then be told
to change it later? I don't think you'd like that. But a designer can't be certain all the
time, so why don't you just discuss with the designer - sounds like he/she/they is laboring
in a vacuum.

 

Well, in previous projects where there was no designer per se I was more than capable and enjoyed filling out a mechanic of what felt good. But atleast on this project numerous times I have... been made aware of that is what the designer did not intend (when I have fledged out a mechanic with what I thought should happen). 

 

So now it seems I am in a place where the designer cant/wont make concrete decisions and if I fill out ambiguities I will be told that that is not what they had in mind.

 

Of course being told what to do, and potentially having to redo it would be annoying. But I think that would only be the case if the iterations are frequent.

 

as previously said, discussions lead no where. I will be provided with a vague task, I ask about the task, the answers are equally vague. Trying to promt some decision I give multiple options, in which the designer will say "any of those options". Then the next day I will be told something totally differently  (without the designer seeing the implementation)

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From the side of a young or inexperienced designer, it can be baffling that some people don't want room to add their own interpretations and decisions in a development process. :D  Took me years to really grasp that some people aren't like me in being compulsively creative and offended if they aren't treated as a partner who deserves a say in the design process.

Edited by sunandshadow

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