talking to myself about what a game design job for a large game entails
Alright, you're set. You're inspired and there's nothing else you'd rather do. Lets talk about what your work requires of you. It's gonna be great.
but first: why figure out what i'm responsible for?
Well you see, properly defining my job has benefits:
- I have a baseline for easily remembering what work I need to do
- Responsibility is a resource. If teammates know I'm covering design aspects, they can focus on being responsible for their roles and we can work more effectively.
- A bonus of properly allocated responsibility is it helps prevent over-working one aspect of the game (e.g. the whole team spends too much time designing, leaving our target audience with less-than-okay amounts of content).
Any of my teammates can still interact with my job and contribute if they wish. Responsibility is not exclusive rights to work on something. It’s declaring that I, the designer, will make sure this job I’m responsible for gets done.
second: what does a "designer" do?
Anyone can think of new ideas, but you’re going to spend more time refining them. Once you’re set to prototype or produce a certain concept it’s about making choices about what you’re making, how you’re making it, and making sure you can get it done on time.
You can have the coolest ideas, but I think you should also be responsible for making sure people get to play them.
Expanding this, you might expect to take care of:
- Choosing what you're game is trying to accomplish, and the message it's sending. You're going to find a target audience.
- Choosing when the game's design is dominated by audio, visuals, gameplay, or story (could just be for a part of the game).
- Making sure teammates are happy when one part of the design dominates (reconsidering the atmosphere in a cutscene means storytelling design forces composers to (re)make content)
- You might have to playtest. And your design should really be fun in the first place, a good design will become apparent very quickly.
- You need to understand what appeals to your target audience.
- You need to decide when the game is finished. When it's sufficiently amazing, you have a duty to let people have fun playing it!
- You shouldn't have any pride, any feature could be cut if it compromises the game. You're simply cutting the path towards making the best possible game with the resources you have.
- There's an endless amount of situations like these ones listed, that you have to use your wits to solve!
The reason why I… err I mean, you want to become a designer is because your taste in games, your rational thinking and your ability to work with others can bring a team together and make something incredible.
Speaking of teams…
third: how does the job vary from team to team?
Well, as you go from team to team, you’ll inevitably end up in different roles of design.
You’ll probably start off doing gameplay and UI design. But once you’ve gotten familiar with more teams, you might be inclined to consider how to stitch together the entire project.
I suppose your pathway upwards is to be able to manage more. Design and management share key skills, you’ll have to understand a teams strengths and weaknesses while you sort out how you’re going to finish the next game.
And understanding your teammates is the sought-after skill you plan on wielding.
Teammates themselves come in many different forms:
- They could be waiting for a task and you've got to find it for them, and let them know if they're going well.
- They might need convincing of an idea. Work needs to be meaningful! It might be your responsibility to make it meaningful for your teammates!
- They could be proactive! If they're thinking of new tasks or asking for your opinion on their progress, that's great! But don't neglect anybody else.
- Some teammates might not get along, or they might be lazy... but don't be quick to judge.
This might not be you responsibility, but if you can spare the time to help facilitate your team’s progress you all win in the end.
And if the team doesn’t recognize this contribution? Do it anyway.
Maybe I’ve missed something. Well, I’ll add it here if I get an actual design job. But it doesn’t hurt to think about it beforehand.
Have fun out there, won't you?
[7. designer responsibilities]