Who is a game designer?

Starting a series of articles about game design, first of all, it’s worth figuring out what it is and who these game designers are.

Game design is a set of decisions that determine what a game should be. You have to make these decisions, and they can touch anything.

What do you need to start inventing your game? You can assume that these are the skills of using engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity, maybe knowledge of programming and scripting languages ​​or years of experience?

No, just go to the mirror and you will see everything you need - a head and hands! With the help of the first, you can come up with any idea and tell other people about it, and with the help of the second you can write down your thoughts. Keeping everything in your head at once is difficult, so be sure to write down every little thing that comes to your mind, and after that start working with it. It will also help you to convey to others in the right way about your concepts.

But what about technical skills, you ask? Many games can be created even without them: card games, board games, text adventures! It’s not necessary to start your journey with the creation of Minecraft, the main thing is to start. But even when creating a game on platforms such as PC or iOS, you don’t need to know every little detail. To make the right decisions, the main thing is to represent each area as a whole. After all, a game designer is the most multifaceted profession in the gaming industry. We'll have to learn a little about everything.

Someone thinks that a game designer is someone who makes up a story for a game. No, it is not. You and I must come up with not only a story, although sometimes it too, but every detail: rules, tasks, how the game looks, how it feels, the pace of gameplay, awards, punishments and everything else that a player will encounter during his adventure .

Those. should a game designer come up with all this, write down and enjoy the result? Unfortunately, it never works that easy. Our area is the most unpredictable of all possible. No one can imagine how this or that idea will look in its final form. How does she fit into the game? What will the player feel? How will the balance change? There are dozens of things that can go wrong as you expected, you have to change your idea, adapt it to the game or even adapt the whole game to one single idea!

Of course, the more experienced you become, the easier it is to predict what will happen in the end. But even those with many years of work behind them can also make mistakes and will make mistakes in order to, thanks to mistakes, come up with something even better and more interesting. Thus, you will not be bored. Even when everything, it would seem, will be ready, you need to balance this “everything” and put it together, creating a continuous and exciting experience for the player.

When the product appears on the market, the work is still not finished, because you need to analyze how your game behaves, maybe something can be fixed and supplemented? Why do players leave it? Why are they buying this thing but not buying another? We will have to answer these questions with you, and then localize and fix all the problems found.

How can you become a game designer? After all, you just graduated from the university, or maybe you are still studying? The first thing that will help you is the analysis of other games. You need to understand at a subconscious level what works well and makes your creation better, and what can be harmful.

So, let's say you played countless games and understand how everything works? Then immediately try to create something of your own! Before you look for work, you need to at least try. Before you boundless open spaces:

  • Read books about game design - however, this may require knowledge of English, because all the good literature is on it
  • Write concepts, show your friends, put on websites, listen to other people's opinions
  • Think about how you can improve existing games, write about it on the forums, communicate with the community
  • Create mods for popular games, write stories and bring them to life. Skyrim will help you here first of all
  • Try to understand any engine and make a simple game on it, although this is not an easy task and not everyone can do it. Do not despair, someone better succeeds in theoretical design - this is in the order of things
  • Examples of complex engines, but they mainly work in companies: Unity, Unreal Engine, Cry Engine
  • Examples of simpler engines for single players: RPG maker, Game Maker Studio

  • Try to create your text adventure, for example, on the Quest5 engine or ADRIFT
  • Create board and card games, play them with friends
  • Create balance systems for non-existent games in Excel, maybe balance is your calling? In any case, these skills will definitely come in handy!
  • Yes, at least go to the same Game Developers Conference and listen to various speakers, for beginners the information may be useful

In addition to developing skills, everything you can show others will definitely help you when applying for a job. Even a cardboard board game. How to find a job? After all, do you want to make games? Get settled by anyone! A tester, a community manager, a junior game designer, the main thing is to get into the industry and develop.

What do you think junior game designers are doing? As a rule, this is a chore of adding information to configs or databases, editing errors, the simplest level design, and many other not-so-exciting jobs. However, this is the start. And the main thing is to start.

What skills can a game designer need when creating a game?
  • Animation - you have to imagine what you expect from the characters, how they should move, how your design can use these opportunities
  • Audience - you have to imagine who will play your game and what they expect from it, the most important thing is to justify these expectations
  • Architecture - yes, yes, creating entire cities and worlds, you will have to be inspired by world architecture so that your locations look real and alive
  • “Brainstorm” - it’s difficult to translate these expressions (BRAIN OF THE STORM), in fact you have to create tens and hundreds of ideas, you need to be able to do this without limiting yourself to

  • Business - most games are made for money and in order to make money, you need to imagine what kind of game is worth making, especially in our “Free to Play” time
  • Cinematography - in many there is a special behavior of the camera and cut-scene, you must imagine how to use these elements to improve the player’s feelings
  • Communicativeness is probably your main tool. You have to talk to people every day, every hour, every minute. Correctly explaining your thoughts to the whole team is very important.
  • Scenario - not all projects have screenwriters and, often, a game designer performs this role
  • Economics - in many modern games, a very complex resource economy and you have to calculate it and create a balance system
  • History - often games tell about certain periods in the history of mankind, and knowledge of different eras can greatly help you
  • Management - for a team to achieve good results, it always needs good management. Designers can excel in this area, helping to organize work.
  • Mathematics - in order to balance any game, this or that knowledge of mathematics will be required. The better you feel in this area, the easier it will be for you
  • Music, sound - a good soundtrack and soundtrack can make even not the best game - a masterpiece, creating an atmosphere and immersing the player in the events around
  • Psychology - you need to make people happy, and for this you need to understand how they think and what they want
  • Public speaking - yes, not everyone likes to speak in front of society, but game designers often have to do this: talk about new ideas, introduce a concept, explain to engineers how this or that thing works
  • Technical documentation - the ability to create accurate instructions for programmers and artists will help you a lot. After all, allowing the slightest misunderstanding, you can get a completely different result

And, of course, the main skill is the ability to listen. You will have to listen to many: your team, audience, game, yourself.
  • It is unlikely that you have all the skills listed above. However, your team most likely has them all. Listening to your colleagues and making the right decisions will help you a lot.
  • The audience is the people who will play your game. If they are unhappy, then you have failed. You need to know better than themselves what they want.
  • The game - only by carefully following the development process of the game, you will understand what went wrong and you can fix it at the right time
  • Listen to yourself - often when you develop a game in a limited time, you don’t have time to listen to your own inner voice, and when you realize that something has been done wrong, it is too late

So we figured out what a good game designer should look like. Someone can do it easily, someone will have to work hard, but the work is always rewarded, and if you try and develop, then you will succeed. Wait for the continuation!

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