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Educational Feature: Sharing the Design

One of the challenges of being a new game designer is learning how to share the theoretical ideas and notions that make up a game project. In a new feature article that was just po
One of the challenges of being a new game designer is learning how to share the theoretical ideas and notions that make up a game project. In a new feature article that was just posted on sister site GameCareerGuide.com, Brandon Van Slyke, a designer at Vicarious Visions, explains to entry-level game designers why sharing is good -- and how to do it. Here’s an excerpt: “The act of sharing is typically instilled in us at a very early age. We’ve all been asked to share something at one time or another: a box of crayons, the last piece of cake, a link to an online viral video. No matter what is being shared, the act of sharing is a basic part of creating social relationships -- and it plays a huge role in being part of a team. Sharing allows one person to partake in an experience with a team and lets us complete projects that are far too large for any one individual to tackle within the constraints normally imposed. But what does it mean to share a game design? How do such creative endeavors fit into the sharing scheme? How can creativity be shared in a democratic environment? First, it’s important to reiterate that you will be sharing the development of the game with not only the extremely talented programmers and artists on the team, but also your fellow designers. More often than not, this means you won’t be assigned the glamorous job of coming up with the game’s story, its levels, or gameplay systems all on your own. Usually, as a non-lead designer, you’ll be accountable for a far smaller piece or even subset of one of those elements, such as a particular game mechanic or a specific feature. For example, as a level designer, you may find yourself tasked with plotting player progression, determining enemy spawn points, or even scripting event triggers in the game. If you’re a systems designer, you might be assigned the job of defining and implementing a character’s abilities or balancing the enemy AI. Remember that being as versatile and knowledgeable about each of the tasks within each role will make you a more valuable team member. It’s also unlikely that you’ll have the opportunity to touch every element of the design. Each of these individual tasks can be enough to keep even the most talented designers busy for the duration of the project. They also provide an interesting challenge: how to go about splitting up all that work.” To find out how that work gets split up, and to read the full article “Sharing the Design,” visit GameCareerGuide.com, Gamasutra’s sister web site dedicating to helping newcomers learn the ropes of the game industry.

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