Join Brenda Romero for an in-depth discussion in this video The role of the game designer, part of Game Design Foundations: 1 Ideas, Core Loops, and Goals.
- [Instructor] Hi, everyone, I'm a game designer. When I tell people that, I usually get one of three possible reactions. Did you make Minecraft? No, I didn't, but I sure wish I did, it's an amazing game. Another is, do you spend all day playing games? Well, yeah, I kind of do. Game designers need to play games. I play hundreds of games for research, however, most of the time, I'm imagining or playing early versions of my own games, trying to get them into a state where they're ready for primetime.
What this means is that I play a lot of unfinished games. It's a lot like spending most of your day playing with broken toys. When they're fixed and fun, out they go, and I'm back to the proverbial drawing board again. The third reaction I get is perhaps the most common. What exactly does a game designer do? Though many people say they want to make video games, there's a surprising lack of information about just what it means to be a game designer and some common misconceptions. First and foremost, as game designers, our goal is to create virtual worlds and experiences for our players.
From sci-fi settings to iconic characters, game designers dream of the worlds in which you play. In fact, being a game designer is a lot like being an architect. From the plans that I draw, called a design doc or a prototype, a world will be made, much like a construction crew can build a house from an architect's plans, how that happens is game design. In fact, my plans for levels look a whole lot like an architect's plans.
This is an actual drawing from a level I designed for a role playing game. The numbers represent particular events in the world. From the plans that I draw, the programmers act as construction workers to put the house together. The artists act as interior designers to make it beautiful, an attractive place to be. Game design is more than just a finished house, though. The inside of a house is empty without experience, even if the inside is beautiful. What happens inside the house, inside the world we're building, is what matters.
So, in essence, game designers are experience planners. What's going to happen inside this house? Or this one? Or this one? Or this one? And especially, this one? Each suggests a distinctly different type of game. Someone, Markus Persson, thought of an experience he wanted to share and made decisions about how this world would work to convey that experience. How do you walk? What happens when you hit a tree with an ax? What happens when you're alone outside at night? In essence, game designers write the rules of play.
Collect $200 when you pass GO, pay when you land on someone else's property, if they notice, or buy unowned properties from the bank. You see these actual rules very clearly in boardgames. These rules arise from the experiences game designers want to create. We teach players these rules through play, jump over pits, collect gems, don't lose your health and keep your stamina up. In fact, if you look at any video game you love from a design perspective versus a player's perspective, it's easy to see these rules in motion and the role of the game designer.
As a player, you see a game intro screen. As a game designer, you image that game intro screen and all its functionality. What happens when you hit the Help button? What about the game's Story button? We turn these decisions, these rules, into game design documents, which then turn into prototypes, which then turn into games, sometimes with the help of a team. If you're new to game design, don't feel intimidated. We'll cover all this and much, much more step-by-step in this series.
Ultimately, we create games and play games because we want to enjoy or convey a particular experience. Whether that's to survive a zombie apocalypse, save the castle and defend the kingdom, or teach children through educational games, game designers dream up those worlds.
- The role of the game designer
- Generating ideas for games
- The core of a game
- Defining the core loop of a game
- Mechanics, dynamics, and systems in game design