I'm an employed game designer; AMA

  • According to this CNN article player's average age now is 38.

    That's much more than I expected, I thought something around 20. Thanks for the links, interesting read. Like, 90% of gamers never finish their game <img src="smileys/smiley3.gif" border="0" align="middle">

  • 90% of gemers are playing wow, wii sports and farmville XD

  • I'm glad to be in that other 10% of gamers :D

  • Hi all! Good evening!

    What about game length? What do you think, would be a good gameplay length for a single player game, not rpg, say side-scroller? Are there any statistics, how much time people spend playing daily, according to their age, and how long they usually stay with one game? And what's todays average player age?

    If you're asking for a game say, made by an army of one, I would say scope for something you are just absolutely certainly certain that you can achieve. We are actually 3 people working on my game and I'd be just extatic if we can wrap that little 15 - 20 minutes level of good RPG gameplay and story I have in mind.

    What's a good game lenght... if the game is good it kinda stops when it was meant to. Even with close to no story there is still sometimes something the game designer is saying. A life story. Every one of us is a small kid that's celebrating hommages to the Video Games Gods that created us. Ok that was way too deep, I guess I just can't answer this question!

    According to this CNN article player's average age now is 38.

    That's just awesome. All thanks to Nintendo. It takes a lot of older folks to weight in against the armies of young gamers. Wii/DS is the best moves in video games history in my opinion.

    Honor to be here.

  • Oh and look who's here, little Jesper!

    Credits to my amazing gf. This is our first son so far!

    Say hi!

  • Oh and look who's here, little Jesper!

    Credits to my amazing gf. This is our first son so far!

    Say hi!

    Not sure if you're just talking about your avatar or if you're a newly father.

    Anyway GG I guess <img src="smileys/smiley4.gif" border="0" align="middle" />

  • Nah we only produce video games... :P

  • Hi there, Gropwel. I am trying to get into the industry. Finished my last class for my bachelors in game and simulation programming on the same day I was laid off this past June. I would like to send you a network connect request. Trying to expand my network.

    Speaking of Tom Clancy games, I recently game tested for the day the new 2012 title "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" and we were focusing on weapons for the day and reporting any issues in gameplay. Fun game.

  • Hi GSPforChrist !

    I have to apologize, due to some experiences in the past I keep my professional network to people I worked with or that I know personally. It sucks, I'm sorry... it there are other ways I can help I'd be happy to.

    It's been a while since I heard of Future Soldier. These folks must be very eager to release that game!

  • Gropwel, you have worked on a combat system (in a Spiderman game).

    Does working on the combat system include thinking about the explanation of this system, or were you only working on the system and someone else was working on how to explain it to the gamer?

    2nd question about the same topic: were you able to be as innovative as you wanted, or did the producer or publisher give you limits/boundries (for example: make the combat look/play like game x)?

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  • Gropwel, you have worked on a combat system (in a Spiderman game).

    Does working on the combat system include thinking about the explanation of this system, or were you only working on the system and someone else was working on how to explain it to the gamer?

    2nd question about the same topic: were you able to be as innovative as you wanted, or did the producer or publisher give you limits/boundries (for example: make the combat look/play like game x)?

    That's a very interesting question!

    In game design everything is about teaching. Everything can make perfect sense in your head but the real work is about making it about just as clear in about anybody else's mind. Learning is fun!

    The designer is usually the best at determining what needs to be taught. Then he sets his learning curve in motion and ask production for necessary assets and HUD element, voice overs, upgrade system, mechanic distribution, etc... validate everything, keep testing with people who never played the game to see what information is getting across, and which one is just falling flat in pain on the pavement.

    But the best is when you have a playtest lab at your disposal. The designer can sit with ergonomics and playtest experts to really design an experience where learning is completely blending with gameplay and the player is learning without realizing it or reading a single line of text. Then you're really having a blast.

    This is not always how it goes though unfortunately but more studios are beginning to understand the value of consistent user playtesting.

    Your game is usually well understood when playtests are not painful to watch anymore. :P

    As for your second question the answer would be no from 99% of all designers. When making games for money I found it works best when you do the effort to forget about your own personal preferences and desires and really embrace what the product is meant to be, both as a brand of the company and towards players expectations. My goal is to provide delightful satisfaction to everyone involved with the product. I use my creativity mostly to improve system designs or wherever I need to provide an answer that my first two aspects are not providing, which is not so often.

    My own needs for creativity happens in my basement, figuring out construct, drawing, writing and playing music. Actually if I can get a damn menu system to work my game would be flying by now... anybody is up 50 bucks for an event sheet?

    Sorry, side tracking here... so best advice to new developers, don't expect work in big studios to satisfy your own desires of creativity, do this at home, you'll be much happier and efficient that way.

    And I think we really did something great with Edge of Time combat system. See for yourself! :)

  • In game design everything is about teaching. Everything can make perfect sense in your head but the real work is about making it about just as clear in about anybody else's mind. Learning is fun!

    The designer is usually the best at determining what needs to be taught. Then he sets his learning curve in motion and ask production for necessary assets and HUD element, voice overs, upgrade system, mechanic distribution, etc... validate everything, keep testing with people who never played the game to see what information is getting across, and which one is just falling flat in pain on the pavement.

    But the best is when you have a playtest lab at your disposal. The designer can sit with ergonomics and playtest experts to really design an experience where learning is completely blending with gameplay and the player is learning without realizing it or reading a single line of text. Then you're really having a blast.

    I agree about texts as explanation from a personal point of view as a gamer. I sometimes wanted to start with a game and didn't read all text it was giving me in the tutorial.

    But abandoning text is not necessary, as long as it is not too "meaty" (I like to use this expression - I hope I used this right. Not native English myself, so excuse me if my use of language gives anyone goosebumps here <img src="smileys/smiley1.gif" border="0" align="middle" /> ).

    I guess (and I don't have much experience with game making/thinking so far) it's all about a balance between methods of teaching (as you said: voice overs, GUI-help, texts) and play testing.

  • My lecturer said that designers tend to either come from the artist side or the programming side, and work their way through to being designers. Is this true?

    And if so, what angle did you come from?

    He also mentioned that it's possible to move in from testing, sound, marketing or business, but it's done very rarely.

  • I think Gropwel is neither a graphical artist or a programming artist. He mostly designed levels and most recently (co-)designed the Spiderman combat-system. So I think Gropwel is a design artist. :)

    Gropwel, did you create levels in the Quake/Duke Nukem era as a hobby?

  • My lecturer said that designers tend to either come from the artist side or the programming side, and work their way through to being designers. Is this true?

    And if so, what angle did you come from?

    He also mentioned that it's possible to move in from testing, sound, marketing or business, but it's done very rarely.

    Hmm it certainly appears that way now that I think about it, I saw designers coming from ALL imaginable areas, testers, business men, metal musicians, doctors, soldiers, stunt men, cooks, dynamite engineering, haha! But that was another era, now you can study video game.

    But definitely everyone is either more rational or emotional. I've been an artist all my life, selling paintings and playing guitar since I was 9, started out as a cg artist and amateur animateur, but it quickly changed once I entered the industry. I since became more and more interested in design and sciences so I dedicated everything to that ever since, mainly due to relationships with so many great people.

    Gropwel, did you create levels in the Quake/Duke Nukem era as a hobby?

    First mod I did is to redraw every sprites of Sim City 2000 to make it look like an ugly rainbow version of Moonside, in Earthbound. I just loved the pixel art. :D

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