Talking to Gamasutra as part of an in-depth interview
, Silicon Knights founder Denis Dyack has been discussing game development structure, suggesting there's a "fundamental flaw" in not having directors overseeing the creative vision of games.
Explaining his company's setup for the upcoming Xbox 360 title Too Human
, Dyack noted:
"Our philosophy: We have several directors on a project, and with engagement theory, we've got content, and story, artwork, game design, technology, and audio. We have five directors. Plus my role on Too Human is as a director.
How many times do you say, "Oh, this person's the creative director," but there's no overarching director. That person who's responsible for that game's vision, from when you first started out, to the end.
And so many times, in our industry, do people pitch a product or pitch an idea, and by the time they start and the time they get to the end, they don't resemble each other. That's a fundamental flaw in the process. That means something's wrong, and I think one of the things is lack of directors."
Continuing on this train of thought, and suggesting that it's both nomenclature and responsibility that needs to change in order to demonstrate clarity of creative vision, Dyack suggests:
"You know, if someone says they're the lead designer, that's not director. If someone says, you know, "I'm the lead technology person," or, "I'm a lead programmer, and I have a lot of influence over game design," that's great. But they're not the director either. And you need someone to take responsibility for that, to carry it from the beginning to the end, and I would like to see more of that in our industry, actually.
It started off being very producer-driven, and I think Electronic Arts' model has been very heavily producer-driven, but I think it really needs to change past that. There is a need for producers, for sure: we need to keep on the schedules, we need to make sure that the budgets are intact, and as Ken Levine said, we have fiduciary duties to make sure that we're on time and on budget as best as we can.
But my role as a director is to make sure that the creative vision stays on track to the end. And I have producers and executive producers say, "Hey! Keep in line!" but I'm always like, "What can I do to make this game the best that I can, and keep it on that vision?" And when the game is all said and done, I would like to do something at some point with you."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including more about story mythology in gaming, the aforementioned role of 'directors' in the game business, and why - ultimately - it's better for your game to be late than bad.