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Retro_Joe

If Designers aren't programmers then...

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I know lots of you out there design and program, but all the time I see these websites that say ''you don''t need to program to design.'' So if that''s true, then what do the designers who don''t program do once the design documents are done?

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... give them to programmers ...

--------------------
Matthew Calabrese
Realtime 3D Orchestra:
Programmer, Composer,
and 3D Artist/Animator
"I can see the music..."

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coordinate, alterate and assuring the team''s communication, etc.


Yesterday we still stood at the verge of the abyss,
today we''re a step onward!

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... ie. become producers.

As has been argued here many times before, the industry in general tends not to have ''designers'' in the sense of the word that is often used on here. A designer will tend to fall into one of three categories (terms are my own):

- technical: the designer is a programmer with an interest in design. Or a designer with an interest in implementation - same thing. After the initial design, he will help code it. This is probably going out of fashion these days, despite the fact that some of us think it is the best way to work ("The fact I am not a programmer is a real problem for me. It''s not a debilitating problem I hope, but it is an issue. If I were a programmer I could do my various jobs better." Warren Spector, 2002.)

- organizational: the designer is one of the team leaders who will oversee the various teams and ensure they are working together smoothly. For example, Tim Stellmach, lead designer on Thief, says that he is "coordinating the project on a day-to-day basis" on his latest title.

- practical: the designer will go on to develop assets for the game, usually in the form of levels/maps. Taking another example from the Thief team, all the designers except one had a hand in one or more of the missions. (That last designer was writing dialog, and only worked part-time anyway.)

In short - there are hardly any positions for someone who just thinks up the game plan and specifications.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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You can''t do everything... well you could, but it''s way more effective to design the game, and work closely with a team to get that game made.

As the designer it''s your job to ensure that everyone understand what you''re trying to get made. This of course has to be done without being bossy.

Always be open to ideas, and always be open to suggestions. If you can''t trust the programers to program the game you envision... you may as well pack it up and stop there.

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There was a letter in CGW from a designer who described his job. He had also learned skills in programming and artistic skills to a junior level.
So it wasn''t a matter of _what_ he did specifically, he was also able to measure what others were doing, how long, and at what cost(money-wise and time-wise) so he could make a choice about the balance of things and the progress. That''s my point of view of the designer.
Do we have time for feature X?
Asking the programmers: what is the cost of such a feature and understanding how it would relate to the artistic tasks.
Keeping in mind a clear goal.

A producer would also describe this job as well. But at a more financial basis.

ZoomBoy
Developing a iso-tile 2D RPG with skills, weapons, and adventure. See my old Hex-Tile RPG GAME, character editor, diary, 3D Art resources at Check out my web-site

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... deliver pizzas.

Seriously, if you have ever been involved in a building construction project, you will notice that the architect is often on-site answering questions and clarifying things that come up. That would be very similar to what the game designer (i.e. the "architect") would be doing in order to make sure that his vision is being built correctly.

Dave Mark
President and Lead Designer
Intrinsic Algorithm Development

"Reducing the world to mathematical equations!"

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The designer is usually responsible for tweaking all the data, balancing and making sure that the level designers understand what is to be done.

I think the role of a designer depends a lot on the size of the company. A large sized company is more likely to have lots of specialists. A lead level designer, a writer, scripters etc.

I worked for a small sized company and had the role of designer, level designer, scripter and writer... Lots of different hats.

::aggression is the result of fear::

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Add to what Grimjack said that one company may have a different ''pipeline'' in place than another, so in one case (depending on many different variables, including team size, project type, funding, etc.) the designer might have very specific and limited tasks and in another they might be involved in a wide variety of things. I know a designer who only writes dialogue. I know another who actual creates levels and scripts AI. Lots of variety in the industry...

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And don''t forget... when the game development is going to be completed (if it''s not before...), you need to think of new projects to keep alive the studio and to get funds

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