Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In The News: Richard Garriott thinks “most game designers really just suck”

So Richard Garriott thinks "most game designers really just suck", it's a good read, so I highly recommend reading it.  But if you don't, at least I'll quote this:

“If you like games, you eventually get to the point where you’d like to make one,” said Garriott. “But if you had this magic art talent as a youth, you can refine your skills and show a portfolio and say, ‘I’m a good artist, go hire me’ If you’re nerdy enough to hack into a computer, programming on your own, you can go to school and learn proper structure, make code samples and go ‘Look, I’m a good programmer, hire me.

’But if you’re not a good artist and not a good programmer, but you still like games, you become a designer, if you follow me. You get into Q&A and often design. 

“And the most valuable part of creating a game is the design, which the programmers are technically executing. And they’d be happy to just execute some of them. But in my mind, most artists and programmers are just as much of gamers as the designers, and I usually find in my history that the artists and programmers are, in fact, as good of designers as the designers. They’re often better, because they understand the technology or the art. 

 You know what's funny?  What he described was basically how I ended up as a game designer, both "not quite good enough" but also having that technical background...let me explain further:

When I started working at Koei Canada, I had hired as a programmer (with 4 others at the time).  I think within the first few weeks I knew that I was probably one of the weaker programmers (really, what I knew about programming and computer science is by pure brute force and endurance, not ingenunity), so it was no surprise when I was "demoted" to design.  We had joked about in the office that the incompetent programmers gets demoted to design.  I didn't care much for it, because for myself, design was the end goal, and programming was merely a stepping stone for it.

However, it was also my programming background that helped in the design/project management process (of course we were also so shorthanded that I ended up coding a bunch on the PSP projects anyways).  Having a realistic understanding of how long certain technical hurdles would take definitely gave me a better chance of scheduling, and knowing certain memory limitations and restrictions prevented me from widely suggesting absurd ideas, both of which are vital to design.

Going through this, I definitely see who a lot of designers have moved up from art or tech side, only because their background gives them even more information about what makes design works within the constraints of their field.  But at the same time, only pulling people in from these specialized fields also makes the end result "samey".  We want people in design because of their breadth of knowledge, we want designers to know everything and anything, so why just single out "programmers and artists are just as good as the designers"?

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