Teamwork Game Design Vishnu Kotrajaras, PhD
Team structures in industry today Executives Marketing Team QA Producer Publisher’s team All contribute to design Developer’s team Producer Game Designers Programmers Visual Artists QA Specialized Media
Publisher & developer • Sometimes the developer will do almost everything but sell and market. • Sometimes the publisher will do the developing themselves, only using the developers in specific tasks. • Typical tasks are summarised in the next table.
Many publishers develop games internally • EA • We consider the internal team as developers too. • The internal team usually has to manage its own cash flow, profit, schedules, and staffing, just like a real company. • Some developers are owned by publishers • Blizzard is owned by Vivendi Universal Games
Publisher: EA GamesDeveloper: Lionhead Studios Black and white
Developer’s team • We help each other but still have our own focus. Battle for Middle Earth
Game designer • Gameplay linked with programming, art, music, etc. • Game designer must collaborate with all teams. • Brainstorms concepts. • Creates prototypes. • Playtests and revises prototypes. • Writes concept and design documents, and updates them throughout production. • Communicates vision of the game to the team. • Creates levels or work with level designers. • Acts as players.
Not all companies have designers. • A person from some team may take this role. • But skill is important. • And it’s better to separate the team. See example • If 1 man acts as designer and programmer, he may let 1 feature pass because he’s too tired to improve it. This will cause problem in gameplay. • So it is best to do the design as a full-time job.
Producer • Deliver game to the publisher as promised. • Create schedule, budget, resource allocation. • There is one on the publisher’s team, and one on developer’s team. • Work together to make sure both teams are acting on the same assumption. • Make sure both teams communicate well.
Mario Kart Double Dash Director Mr Mizuki Producers Mr Sugiyama & Mr Takahashi
Producer’s responsibilities • Team leader for the developer’s team. • Main communication link between developer and publisher. • Schedule and budget the developer’s side • Tracking, allocating, and forecasting resources. • Hiring, firing, saying no to excessive spending request. • Make sure the developer team finishes the work on time. • Some tough decisions on the way. • Motivate team and solve production related problems. • Often have to be a representative to appear in the press.
Executive producer • Oversee multiple productions or an entire development group. • Assistant or associate producers • Help the producer.
Game designer’s relationship with producer • Sit down together at the start of any production. • Talk through the design document. • Explain all the concepts, visions, and ideas to producer. • So he can craft realistic schedule and budget. • This means a designer must also understand scheduling and budgeting. • Read the scheduling and the budget, and be able to understand and offer opinion.
programmers • Coders, network and systems engineers, database programmers, hardware support.
Programmer’s responsibilities • Drafting technical specifications • Technical implementation • Software prototypes • Software tools • Game modules and engines • Structuring data • Managing communications • Document code • Coordinating with QA engineers to fix bugs
Most reviewed Commercial Engine • Torque Game Engine ->hard to use, poor structure and docs • 3DGameStudio -> better than torque • TV3D SDK 6.5-> bad support • C4 Engine ->Good • Unity ->C#, good but hard to debug, no source. • Leadwerks Engine 2 ->all lang. support may be lacking • NeoAxis Engine ->from Ogre, ok • DX Studio • Esenthel Engine • Visual3D.NET Game Engine
Most reviewed Open Source Engines • OGRE -> not easy to make game or to learn but best rendering effect • Irrlicht -> easier to use but ogre is better in rendering • Crystal Space -> a little hard to learn • Panda3D ->python, easy to start, graphics ok but not best • jME -> not sure about lastivity • Reality Factory • Blender Game Engine • The Nebula Device 2 • RealmForge • OpenSceneGraph
FREE-OPEN-SOURCE engines that you could play with for your projects..http://ode.org/ http://www.crystalspace3d.org/http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net/http://www.talula.demon.co.uk/allegro/http://oomadness.tuxfamily.org/en/index.htmlhttp://www.genesis3d.com/ • http://www.devmaster.net/engines/ • www.dimensionex.net/(online servlet engine) • http://lwjgl.org/links.php (java engine)
Designer’s relationship with programmer • Designer must at least learn programming concepts. • So you can do a better design. • Modular design is better for changes. • So programmers won’t have to change things much. • Can describe game concepts more clearly to the technical team. • Ask programmers about his work if you don’t understand. • Talk to the head of programmers first, do not cut corners. You must respect authority. • Have good relationship with lead programmer, so that he respects your idea and is ready to help you communicate with the rest of the team.
tips • Avoid making huge changes. • Prototyping an playtesting can help on this. • Don’t make them feel that the change is extra work. • Let the programmers do playtest too, so they understand the reason for any change. • Fun too, this will lead to good relationship. • Or, at least, share the results with them.
Artists • Character designer • Illustrator • Animator • Interface designer • 3D artists • Art director • Lead animator • You can see there are many specific tasks. Artists will be good in different things.
Artist’s responsibilities • Characters • Worlds • Interfaces • Animations • Cut-scenes
Designer’s relationship with artist • Artist may condense features to make things look better. • You may tell them first to follow your specification exactly. • Or you may re-think your features, and compromise. • Just make sure the game feature does not change. • If you want a medieval style, find artists that like the style. • If you get the people who love different style • Change your vision to utilize their skills to the fullest. • Or, communicate your ideas clearly, so they can implement them.
Bring your own reference materials in to communicate. • Such as creating visual palette for retro-style game: • The artists went to a 2nd hand market to collect fabric textures. • They may have already extended your concept towards something incredible or something you don’t like. • Talk, and listen. • Be specific on what you like and don’t like.
Once the work start, designer should start giving criticism • Find things that you like and don’t like in the art. • “This is really nice, I really like it here. If we could expand on this…” • Partner with the lead artist or art director. • work together to set the tone of the project. • Allow artists to bring their own ideas and passions to the project.
QA Engineers • Bug testers • On both publisher’s side and developer’s side.
QA responsibilities • Create a test plan based on the design and technical specifications. • Execute the test plan. • Record all unexpected or undesirable behaviours. • Categorise, prioritise, an report all issues found during testings. • Re-test and resolve issues once they have been fixed.
Designer’s relationship with QA • Designer must give all information necessary for QA to make a test plan. • Only the design document is not enough, offer them any help you can. • They may want to start by playing the game alone. Do not be surprised by this. • They are “the last playtesters”. • Designer should sit down with them and observe their process. • Go through the game element by element. • They are expert testers, they will have extra information other testers do not have. • Tips • Let them see your design early. • So they will start helping you in this early stage and prioritise your game above other games. • They will be willing to put extra hours later.
Specialized Media • Writers • Sound designers • Musicians • Dialogue coaches • Fight choreographers
Designer’s relationship with specialized media • Define what you need from these professionals as clearly as possible before they start working. • Otherwise you will lose lots of money, since these people usually charge you by hours. • Interact with them and give them direction and support. • They don’t know about games, so you must communicate with them in terms they are familiar with.
Writers • Creating bits of dialogue where needed. • If you are good, you may not need the writer at all. • If you are not strong in writing, you may bring writer in early and start working together.
Sound designers • Create special effects or music when the game is nearly completed. • Or, lay out the plan from the beginning and make sure that the music support the gameplay effectively. • This is better. • Sound can reach player at an emotional level, so it is very important.
Level designers and their responsibilities • Use “level editor” to develop new missions. • Implement level design. • Come up with level concept. • Test levels and work with the designer to improve overall gameplay.