What does a game designer do? What mistakes do they make? What are the key skills of a good game designer? In the article below, we answer these questions and try to give you an idea of what it means to be a good game designer.
What is a game designer? One of the definitions used is “a game designer is a design engineer of recreational software”. They are a designer because they design project documentation, and they are an engineer because they utilize an engineering approach (with deconstructions, decompositions, implementing ready-to-use units).
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Key Skills of Middle, Senior, and Lead Game Designers
What to think about when hiring a game designer? The position’s requirements are obvious for any employer or HR but are not so obvious for the people who apply for the job.
A mid-level game designer has to be able to… do everything. If a project manager needs help with anything - they want to be sure that the mid-level game designer can take that task and provide acceptable results. They are supposed to acquire the necessary diverse knowledge base when they are hired as a junior game designer and run around doing various small and easy tasks.
The skillset of a senior or lead game designer is different because they shift from “down-to-earth” hard skills to more “people-oriented” soft skills. The applicants should:
be good at structuring information,
be good at presenting their ideas,
be able to compromise,
be well-equipped with game expertise,
think on a broader scale.
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Four Common Mistakes of a Game Designer
1. They don’t use what was created previously
Game designers often refuse to buy ready-to-use assets and prefer to create them from scratch. To put it simply, every time they reinvent the wheel dreaming to improve it. As a result, however, they only waste time because their end product is always more expensive and very rare has better quality than an off-the-shelf one.
2. Can’t keep their emotions under control
Every game designer wants gamers to play the features they invented. If they develop a game with economy, they tend to award these activities higher than they deserve it. It means that they try to get traction and interest using not excitement but money and it always hurts the economy of the game. What to do? Allow other team members - the people who can approach that kind of a problem with an unbiased look - to do it.
3. Bad at preparing game design documents
One of the main problems that junior game designers experience is that they fail at developing thorough enough and specific enough game design documents. They alone can understand what is meant there. This is crucial for any project because the problem well-stated is half solved.
Game designers should view the game design documentation as a product for their in-house clients - programmers, designers, etc. That’s why they need to make it accessible and clear for anyone working with it. How do you make sure that anyone involved can understand it? Simply allow other people - people who are not so good at what you are working at - to read it. You can turn to designers, junior developers, etc. - they will gladly give you a hand.
If you are responsible for hiring a game designer and want to assess their level of professionalism, you can make good use of the game design documentation issue as well. During the interview ask them how many times their game design documents get returned for review and upgrade. If it happens more than 0.4 times (more than 4 documents out of 10), most likely you will have a hard time working with this game designer.
4. Too focused on some features
Often, game designers create a feature but forget to add enough content to it, they don’t work on its development. Instead, they develop more features and as a result, the game has plenty of poorly developed mechanics.
Therefore, stop constantly developing new features. After you made one, finish it completely before starting something else. If the feature is mediocre or unpopular, then there is no need to add content to it - discard it and start again.
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KPIs of a Game Designer
The game designers who avoid the mistakes we have listed above usually have high KPIs because they don’t waste their time and respect the time of coworkers.
How to measure the KPI? Game design is a creative process that is not measured by the time spent but rather by the end results. A manager gives a task and time to complete it. If the game designer can’t make it on time, while their colleagues working on similar tasks can, then the performance of your game designer is poor.
If you are interested in becoming a game designer or want to move to the next level in your career, we hope that you make good use of the information above.