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GCG Feature: 'Tips for the Working Designer'

In this latest feature for Game Career Guide, industry designer Sylvain Dubrofsky outlines helpful tips for working designers to maximize their potential for qualit
In this latest feature for Gamasutra sister education site Game Career Guide, industry designer Sylvain Dubrofsky outlines helpful tips for working designers to maximize their potential for quality of work, referencing his own research methods. In this excerpt, Dubrofsky explains the importance of research, noting why it remains an underrated tool among game designers: “Many game developers overlook the importance of research in game creation. When you are responsible for creating something that you do not have much experience with, the best first step is to gather research on the subject from as many sources as possible. Talk to friends in the industry - often they have dealt with the task at hand or have heard about how other teams have. The Internet is a great place to find research papers, pictures, or past Game Developer Conference (GDC) talks and there are great websites where you can learn a lot from other developers (such as Dave Johnston and Cliff Bleszinski). Also, there are numerous books, both game related (such as the Game Programming Gems series) and not game related (such as The Design of Everyday Things), that can be very useful. Don't limit yourself to only books on game design! Finally, it is extremely useful to grab a pen and paper, some relevant games, and reverse engineer what they are doing. Depending on your current design goals, some of the things to pay attention to are timing, determinism, and difficulty ramping. Examples of timing and ramping are: the frequency of AI attacks, distance between placement of enemies, frequency and location of enemy respawns, size and placement of hit-boxes, frequency of setups such as rails in a skating game or hard right turns in a racing game, etc. Determinism is the amount of randomness or lack thereof in a system. This is useful for figuring out AI systems. It can be tedious deconstructing games this way, but it pays dividends when you have to explain why the AI you designed attacks so little at Level 1 or what the thought process was for the last objective in your level.” You can now read the complete feature, which includes more useful tips from Dubrofsky of working in the field of game design (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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