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  • 10 Design Lessons From 10 Years In Games

    - Peter Harries

  • 6. Be a jack of all other trades

    Where possible' take time to learn about how other disciplines work.

    Don't be afraid to have a go yourself (in your spare time). Design doesn't exist in a bubble, it's the culmination of multiple elements.

    Understanding the nuances of other disciplines will make you a more efficient designer. Getting a grasp on the work loads & time costs of other disciplines allows you to better gauge what you're asking of them when making requests.

    7. Choose your words carefully

    The quality of your feedback is important.

    Take time to consider what your are saying and even who you're saying it to. Being rude (or even what the person you are talking to considers as rude) will distract from the point you're trying to make.

    However, this must be balanced with being candid and constructive. Strive for a setting where healthy confrontation can take place, where people can talk passionately for or against a proposal or idea.

    8. Betting the house has development side effects

    The more financial risk a project takes on the more commercial viability must be considered.

    Although it is possible to over scrutinize commercial viability and at the cost of burn rate (the rate at which you're spending any capital). Trying to find something that's a perfect fit for the current market can lead to paralysis by analysis. I learnt this when taking on personal debt to finance an independent project. I began to over scrutinise the visuals when in hindsight our financial risk meant shipping something would have been better than prolonging development (the project never released!)

    The opposite of this is to totally ignore it, and potentially end up spending your whole budget on a game that only you want to play.

    Projects have business & financial goals. Understanding those goals and the limitations associated will allow you to focus on what's really important for your game.

    9. Take care of your pipelines

    Process, pipelines, planning and documentation can often be overlooked or seen as more of a production concern. However it's worthwhile taking care of these, especially in larger teams.

    Creating a pipeline that supports taking an idea from concept to production can help avoid;

    • Stagnation, when a feature is stuck as a concept or rough prototype without a clear path to becoming production quality.
    • Edge case creep, when features are added without scrutinizing how they fit into the games wider echo system. As systems begin to interact with each other edge case issues begin to creep in. Usually resulting in bugs piling up. This always happens to a degree but mitigating it early can help save time.

    Allowing time for planning means assets like the vision statement, pillars and values can be focused on and developed to make sure the game has a clear and defined direction.

    Design documentation can be used to create design driven QA, where test plans are created directly from design documents and design documents can be updated as QA find new edge cases. This helps avoid design-on-the-fly fixes.

    Generally maintaining these helps keep the game moving in a clear direction.

    10. There is passion everywhere

    Comparisons between who is the most passionate about game dev or who are devs who make "real" games, AAA devs, indie devs , mobile devs, casual devs, etc. is absurd.

    Passion exists everywhere in this industry.

    No mater what area of this industry you're in you will always be able to find someone who is passionate about what they do.


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