Tuesday, June 11, 2013


No pictures today, I'm afraid.  I thought I'd take a bit of time to tell you what I have recently learned about the roles that I have found myself in through this Masters project.

From the top:

World Designer.
Typically over the creation of the overall backstories, settings and themes of the game.  I've done this by creating the game itself, the history of the characters and the general ideas of the settings and appearance of the game.

System Designer.
I have taken on this role in creation the rules and underlying patterns of the game.  In theory, anyway.  There are a great deal of rules to write out, so I'm writing the basics.  Which is still a lot.

Content Designer.
This is probably one of the biggest parts of what I'm doing.  This is character, item, puzzle and mission design.  I love this bit.  Once I have the world down and once I have a basic rule set, I can create anything and everything I want to fit in and use in the game.

Game Writer.
Writing the dialogue, text and stories in and through a game is a huge part of the way it plays.  It may not be extremely obvious because when a game is very well written, you can play it though and pretty much let it to the thinking for you.  When a game is well written, it's interesting and engaging.  When the twists are put in at just the right time, it can pay off massively.  When the right characters come into play and when the right mechanics and abilities are available at just the right time, then I think that it really propels a game.

Level Designer.
In crafting the levels, laying out the maps and deciding what points of interest are seen on the maps, I have taken on this role.  A lot of my project is based on the players being able to decide for themselves where they place objects and items, so my end is to make sure I can communicate clearly which items are able to be played in which environments.  I am essentially providing a canvas with a few marks on it and getting other people to join the dots, make splashes of colour, gouge holes through it and generally make it their own.  Although a lot of the layout is decided by people other than me, I have to make sure that they can't break levels by placing objects and items there that shouldn't be there.

User Interface Designer.
Under this role, I have to design how the player interacts with the game and - in return - how they receive information from the game that makes the game playable.  If they collected an important item and weren't told about it, that would be less than helpful.  I am thinking about how they control their character, how they interact with other characters, objects and environments and I have to consider that they will best know how to control their character based on what it is that character is doing in whatever situation they are in.  If they are in a swamp, the character will sink and their movements become sluggish.  Accordingly, the player would have to navigate their way to a place of harder ground in order to move effectively.  The interactions bounce off each other and build up to a point where the player can clearly see both what needs to be done and what they are doing.

The nice thing about taking on a few roles is that I can look to different areas of design to aid my design and redesign in specific areas.  For example, if I'm thinking of a character idea, I can look to the design of the world and see if it's fitting.  I can look to the rules and see if I have to change or modify anything.  I'm cutting out the middle man.  Granted, the middle man does a whole lot of stuff, but being able to take charge of everything for this part of the project is pretty interesting.

It's fun to design a lot of things for one of these areas and then see it get diluted and split up as it travels to the other areas.  Taking the SpEngineer as an example, I know the worlds that he interacts with.  One is Earth, one is the planet that the game is based on.  From this, I can write rules based on human limitations and the possible environments he will explore on the alien planet.  It's agiven that his design and possible inventory is designed for the game.  His involvement in the storyline of the overall game is also written out, with interactions with all possible creatures thought of and as accounted for as possible.  Then there's the design of the planet itself.  Not strictly design based on the SpEngineer, but very much inclusive.  Last, but not least, we have the screen that the player sees when taking control of the SpEngineer.  The graphics on there, the way they are going to have to interact with their device in order to get the character to do what they want.

Every aspect of the design processes and areas are hit by the idea of a single character.

I love it.


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