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Can you identify a specific designer's work by playing their game?

Can you identify a specific designer's work just by playing through a game they worked on? See why one game programmer who worked on Skyrim thinks so.

If you’re a music fan, you can probably identify a songwriter or musician just on a few notes. If you’re a cinephile, you can recognize different filmmakers' or cinematographers' styles just by watching a few minutes of a movie. But if you’re playing a video game, can you easily identify the work of a game designer or level designer?

During our stream (which you can see a part of above) we were making our way through the Bleak Falls Barrow in Skyrim when Douville pointed out this was the level he’d played the most during development, since it was a test level Bethesda frequently relied on when checking code or art assets. 

But as the conversation went on, Douville said that especially when it came to some of his old colleagues from LucasArts, Reed Knight and Troy Mashburn, he could easily identify their levels in any game they worked on. 

“Reed is more cerebral with his pacing, he thinks about the story of how a space works. Troy tends to funnel you into you grinders and put you into a place where there’s going to be a cool battle moment. And you won’t see that in Reed’s and likewise and you won’t see Reed’s approach in Troy’s.”

Douville said he couldn’t quite say the same for Skyrim, since it was such a large game with so many different environments to explore, but the fact alone that he could identify the two level designers’ work in other games is intriguing. And it’s worth asking, are there any other developers whose influence is easily apparent in the games they've worked on?

Be sure to subscribe to our Twitch channel for regular developer interviews and gameplay commentary, and catch up on our full stream of Skyrim: Special Edition from last Friday. 

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