For all my past history of coding (and coding failures) the one thing I overlooked each time and the thing that ultimately brought me to my knees was a poor design ethic and a lack of initial planning. It’s relatively easy enough to start to code a basic game given a reasonable knowledge of the language you are writing in. With a bit of effort you can get a nice looking introductory screen and menu system, but once you start to get bogged down in the actual coding side of a game, a lack of planning and design input can turn your dreams into frustrations, and frustrations when coding normally mean that you end up dropping the project and start the vicious circle again! With a bit of initial planning and forethought, you can eliminate most of these problems quite simply.
Game design isn’t just about how many points for killing Alien X, its also about how things will work in the game, such as how fast should the bullet that kills Alien X go, does it take more than one shot to kill Alien X, does Alien X move a lot, and if so, in what direction, and when he moves does he animate or remain static. This is a fairly simple explanation of the level of depth that goes into such a simple and small part of the game, imagine how much effort went into just the design of GTA IV or other AAA titles. It boggles the mind, and goes some way to explain why these games take so long to produce, and cost so much money to make. So whilst we are on the subject of game design it seems like a good point to continue with the team introductions and hand you over to our lead designer, Chris Smith.
“Hello there fine community of The Sixthaxis. I have been asked by Lee to post within this diary and tell you a little about me and my role within Adarakion Games. So here it goes. My name is Chris Smith, you will all come to know me around here, and our website, as “hexalot”. I am the youngest member of the team at a mere age of 25, assuming that this post is before the 29th of this month! I have three wonderful children and a loving wife. My gaming days started back in the late 80’s with the old Codemaster machine and moving through the C64, Spectrum ZX and countless others up to the present day to which I now own two PS3’s an Xbox 360, Wii all three DSs a PSP and countless other consoles, really too many to list!”
“So moving on to my role within Adarakion Games. Quite simply put I am the Lead Designer. It is my job to take the teams initial ideas and turn them into a full, ready for production, game. With the current project that we are working on Lee approached me and said ‘here is the idea now can you help me turn it into a game?’ He presented me with a brief single page ‘high concept document’ of the game he wanted to make. Now as the designer I have to work closely with him and the other developer and artist within our team and provide them with hundreds of pages of documentation to give them all the relevant information to create this game for you. Sounds like a massive chore but it is why I am the designer, I get to create things and watch as everyone else brings them to life. It may appear that my role is to write, write and write some more but there is much more to it then that.”
“As we are a small group of four I help pitch in with quality and I am currently on bug watch to help identify problems with the game as the developers put it into a working title. So, that was a brief introduction about me and my role here at Adarakion Games. I leave you with one last thought and that is if you do anything in life make sure it is worth doing, and for me gaming and game design is extremely well worth doing.”
Thanks Chris. It takes a certain calibre of individual to be a games designer. Attention to detail, imagination and patience in abundance (especially working with me!). Having never worked with a designer before now, I can quite confidently say that it is one of the most important roles within a game development team. Not only does the designer have the responsibilities listed above, but they also provide cohesion between the various “departments” (the departments being individuals in our case!). Its easy to lose sight of who is doing what, even in a small team like ours, so that cohesion is incredibly important. In addition to working on Project Blast! we are also working hard on getting our website fully designed, functional and much nicer looking than it currently is, so please check us out regularly at www.adarakion.co.uk for updates.
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