Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Designer Worries

I was looking at old reviews for the Da Vinci Code game. It’s funny how almost all of them agree that there were some really interesting puzzles and a compelling storyline, the two areas of the game I was 80-90% responsible for. Whereas the combat is universally panned by almost every critic and it was the one thing I was diametrically opposed to having in the game. Pretty much every other game I’ve been involved in has been pretty good (okay, downright spectacular), with the exception of a few projects which I had little to do with up front or was not allowed to stay on to the end of.

In essence, I can truthfully say that over my career, all of the game design work I’ve done has been of excellent quality and my portions have turned into good gameplay that people enjoyed.

Despite all that, I can’t help but feel that if I ever get my own project, it’ll somehow not come together right. Perhaps I’m only good at working on a part of something and not the whole…

Or maybe I’ve got cold feet.

posted by CommanderHate at 2:47 pm  


  1. I think that’s just the feeling that sneaks up on anyone attempting to create something for which they have a lot of respect.

    I have the same fears when I start working on a project, no matter what media the project is in. I think it just comes down to wanting the finished work to match up with your initial intentions. Although, I’ve never heard of any creation that ended up as it was originally intended.

    The fact that you worry about whether or not a project you head-up will be the level of quality you expect of yourself assures me that it will be an excellent product. Well as long as you don’t lose a lot of battles with the publisher. 🙂

    P.S. I read through your archives after seeing your post on Braid. Excellent blog, sir.

    Comment by Mayo — March 29, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  2. WELL, I’m not familiar with the Da Vinci Code gamem and I don`t have a clue about the others projects you’ve worked on.

    But since I started following your blog, I’ve noticed most of the things you say do make sense. And I guess that’s the most important thing to have in mind when working on anything – making sense.

    I (unfortunately) followed the legal path, studied Law and became an attorney, before I started working in the State Tribunal as a judge. And I too base my veredicts mostly on good sense. Different careers, same need for just kaming sense out of problems and challenges.

    Anyway, I’ve been looking for a change of pace latealy. Any advices on pursuing a new career in the game business with my background? (Law, attorney, judge) ?

    Thanks, any help is welcome.

    Comment by ebreda — March 30, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  3. Well, I assume you already play a lot of games. The way I teach most junior designers is to have them analyze the games they’re playing and break down for me what their favorite and most hated game systems and game mechanics are in their favorite games. For people who are just starting out, I often recommend trying to create a minigame using tools that already exist. The Warcraft III editor is one example.

    There’s a huge market for casual games right now, so learning how to make fun little time wasters in Flash can actually end up being lucrative if you get into it.

    My path into the game industry (which I believe you can find in my earliest posts) started with Quality Assurance. There I learned the most basic components of what makes a good game, and it gave me a sharp eye for things that work and don’t work when making a game. If you have to start somewhere, start there, it’ll give you good fundamentals (and force you to play a game beyond the point that it’s still enjoyable, which is important for developing a game).

    Having said all that, be prepared for a COLOSSAL pay cut, because even as an 11 year game industry veteran in a Lead Game Designer position, I still have trouble making ends meet. Were I to be starting over now and had to go back to a QA salary, I’d immediately be bankrupt. =P

    Maybe I should make a new post on this.

    Comment by CommanderHate — April 2, 2009 @ 3:54 am

  4. Well, one thing I can’t complain about is the salary I earn every month, no questions asked. Thanks for the advice. I had thought of pursuing an initial QA position, but only if I could keep my current job, which sounds pretty hard to do.

    What do attorneys do in the gaming business, other than harassing most of the industry with ridiculous claims and getting kicked out of BAR?
    Is there any interesting aspects of pursuing a law position close to gaming developers?

    Thanks in advance

    Comment by ebreda — April 18, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  5. I meant *can’t complain.

    Comment by ebreda — April 18, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  6. Actually, most game studios have at the very least a lawyer contact, and occasionally an entire legal team. Blizzard has had its own lawyer (Paul Sams) for at least 12 years.

    Comment by CommanderHate — April 30, 2009 @ 12:25 am

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