Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to Be a Team Player as a Game Designer

Game development is a team sport. Multiple people working together towards achieving one goal, make a great game. It is rare to see a successful game made from start to finish by one person. Teams of people make games, and a professional game designer will work with many other designers, programmers, artists, audio engineers, producers, and testers through out the course of development. All these people have ideas on what will make the game they are working together on fun and successful. The responsibility of the game designers on the team is to not to just have great ideas and solutions to design problems, but to get the team to share their ideas. A designer needs to listen and go through their team's ideas and feedback, and to make sure the best and strongest ideas make it into the game. A designer needs to do more than solve design problems and come up with great ideas. A designer needs to facilitate communication and tap into their team's creative potential. It is important for a designer to check their ego at the door, and listen to their team.

A designer needs to foster an environment that promotes creativity and discussion. Team members need to feel like they can talk to the design team and give their own ideas and feedback on the design of the game. Having an environment that encourages people to contribute their ideas to the design is great for team morale. People feel like they are being heard, and will feel like they are owning a piece of the game. Having ownership will motivate people to work hard as they now have a personal investment in the design. A motivated team will be more willing to collaborate and help a designer arrive at better solutions to design problems. The more ideas and feedback a designer has, the better informed decisions they can make about where to take the design of the game.

Game development is a collaborative process. To make a great game, a designer has to be willing to hear the ideas and feedback from their team. Those ideas will not always be great, and the feedback will not always be constructive, but it's part of a designer's job to identify the good ideas and get them into the game. A strong designer is someone who identifies a good idea and executes on it. A strong designer does not come up with ideas and solutions on their own all the time. It can be tough to put aside one's personal feelings when it comes to their design work, as it is natural to be defensive of one's ideas. A designer has to work on letting go of these feelings, and has to keep their eye on delivering the best game possible to their customer. Game development is a team sport, and it's the designer's role on the team to identify best ideas and design solutions, no matter where they come from, and make sure they get into the game.