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xSgtWalkerx

What is expected of a Gameplay Designer?

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This is for a class I am in.

 

I wanted to know what is expected of a Gameplay designer in terms of what they need to know.  This is something that I would want to do and would like to know all the skills and knowledge that I would need to get a position doing this.  

 

Thanks in advanced.

 

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Hi SgtWalker

 

I am a full time game designer, although not as experienced, but I do have my opinion on this.

 

In short:

Everything there is to know.

Visual art, programming, marketing, even psychology will help depends on what you are working on and how you are going to approach it.

 

It is rather vague, but really, I cannot be more honest on this.

 

For basic tho, programming and visual art theory are the most important I think.

Too much to explain in a single reply, so feel free to PM me if you wanna know anything.

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Here's what I think a good game designer should do:

 

1. Communications - IMPORTANT. Able to articulate well what you think and your ideas to others, both verbally and written.  Your job is not just about expressing your own ideas, but also hearing other people's ideas, from developers to QA to managers to other people.

 

2. Drop the ego - Many self-proclaimed 'game designers' think that their idea is the best and everybody should listen to his idea.  You don't make games for yourselves.  You make games for others to play.  If other people don't like your idea, then admit it.  Alternatively, other people may end up with better ideas than yours, in which case, you should be willing to adopt this new idea and flesh it out.

 

3. Creativity - Be creative, but not too creative.  Although your idea may be good, but being too creative can make it complicated, and sometimes people don't want complicated mechanics in their game.  Again, listen to feedback, back to point #1.

 

4. Have other skills under your belt, programming, but artistic skills is preferred as it can help you in communicating your ideas better (see #1 above).  Many designers that can draw/sketch and design levels would sometimes do so to get their point across.

 

In the professional world, you will always work with other people.  Being a game designer does not mean that you have other people to create your ideas for you, and all you do is just sit there and coming up with ideas.  You become the hub of communications between engineers, artists, testers, producers/managers, and other stakeholders.  Your job would mostly be answering emails, making phone calls, attending meetings, and making sure that the game stays on track when it comes to the whole look and feel.  Engineers can easily lose track on how the game looks as they are concerned about getting things to work and fixing bugs.  Artists can easily lose track in the feel of the game as a whole as they tend to narrow their art on parts of the game only (i.e just making those textures).  Testers are your good feedback generators as they will be the ones who would genuinely tell you if game sucks or not.  Then managers only care about money, so they tend to be stuffing down everyone's throat to make your game just like Farmville.

 

So you sit there, in the middle of all that chaos, and making sure that the game is still fun while people are complaining left and right about it.  As you can see, at the end of all that process, you might only be able to squeeze in 10% of your own original ideas, while the 90% are others.

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would like to know all the skills and knowledge that I would need to get a position doing this.


Job advice question. Moving to Game Industry Job Advice forum.

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All these answers seem to be in regards to game design in general, rather than gameplay design (a specific field).

 

Gameplay design specializes in building gameplay objectives and to a far greater degree, designing and balancing the mechanics for meeting those objectives. I'd suggest checking out my Guide to Balanced Gameplay Design.

Edited by Tucker933

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Maybe this is not the answer people would like to hear, but it's been my (admittedly very limited) experience that "game designers" tend to be people who are in other game-dev related roles that end up donning that hat for reasons other than having targeted that exact career path.  What I mean by that is that it's not a super self-contained role in the same sense as "programmer" or "artist" or "sound engineer" or something like that.  Almost every game related project I've worked on, professionally or otherwise, has had all of it's design work done by programmers and artists (who also have good design knowledge as well, but it's not their primary role).  Most of the completely independent people I know that make games on their own time or for fun are programmers first, and designers out of necessity.  That's not to say that there's no such thing as being employed specifically for design, because I'm fairly sure that is a thing, but I imagine you'd have to work your way there through another role, or just be very lucky to be given an opportunity somewhere.

 

It's been said before, but ideas on their own have no real value.  Everyone has the coolest idea for a game, or how some sort of mechanic should work, or feels like they "know games".  The real value is in the implementation, and there's a lot of design involved in all of that, but at the end of the day what you're designing is a piece of software.

 

My experience is pretty limited though, so I'm only speaking from what I've seen so far.

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I think 'Game Designers' fulfill the role Business Analysts do in enterprise software design. Game designers, depending on the company, will prepare a SRS for each core component of the game. They should be responsible for interacting with software developers and QA to make sure the game meets their intended vision. They should be capable of writing technical requirements, understanding technical requirements, and working with the programmers to achieve "what is possible" vs "what is desired". They also need to be able to do research and prove why their vision is the right one. They probably have to translate what a producer says they want out of a game into actual mechanics that will be fun and successful as a product.

 

They may also be involved in ancillary maintenance roles like "game balance" if the game is online and continually developed. They might also be more technical in some companies, writing things in a scripting language role to put into effect their vision overtop the framework some software developer created.

 

I don't work in the industry, but that's my take from viewing it from the outside.

 

As an example, I'd say a good game designer would not only say in a spec, "Mario can jump if you press the A button", but also explain how that button press should "feel" -- fine tuning the exact way jumping works and how it interacts with the game environment. Mario 64 was so successful in part because of just how perfectly designed the control scheme was. I have no idea how you'd write a spec to say all you'd need to say, but a game designer needs to be able to technically communicate how you achieve such a graceful movement, at least in theory. You have to work with the programmers to accomplish this task too, in practice.

Edited by anubite

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