Clearly, every development team is unique and everyone involved will have lots of opinions about what should or should not be in the game. However, opinions and ideas donâ€™t run the show. While every company or team structure is different, there is always a chain of command. Having a hierarchy is necessary, as Iâ€™ll explain.
At the top sit the management. Itâ€™s always best if someone actually calls the shots. Usually itâ€™s those investing money or those with legal responsibility for the company. The ones that have the most responsibility are generally the people who steer the process.
Regardless of the way a team or company is set up, a system absolutely must be put in place in order to settle any disputes. There will always be disputes but they should be resolved quickly and cleanly, in favour of a common goal.
Disputes and unresolved issues will damage the project if they are allowed to linger. Having management to make executive decisions is vital. They make those decisions for various practical reasons, taking a broader business strategy into consideration, beyond the goals of the project, department or any individual.
Next in terms of authority, comes the director. Just like movies, the director is the one who carries the vision and has the role of ringmaster in the development circus. Ultimately, what the director says is what happens although the director must answer to the management.
We move on down the line to the producer. In the movie industry, there are many kinds of producer, so itâ€™s important to note that video game producers are not the same thing.
The producer at a game company is a project manager, keeping the team on track. Producers usually have qualifications in scheduling and both team and project management. They coordinate the various aspects of the project and liaise with everyone, within the team and outside.
From this point on, the power to influence the game disseminates amongst the different disciplines. There is usually a lead artist, a lead programmer, lead tester, etc. These guys are in charge of their respective teams and their respective areas of the game. All are of equal importance.
Which leaves the designers and there are many kinds:
- Game designer
- User Interface designer
- Character designer
- Level designer
- Monetisation designer
- Sound designer
- Puzzle designer
Each has a different task and not one of them is entirely responsible for the overall project. The designers have their parts to play, just like everyone else. For the game designer, one important part is the role of book keeper.
Custodian of the magic book
A game system is like a clockwork machine, with many intricate, technical pieces all clicking around each other in unison. Implementing the technical elements of the directorâ€™s vision and keeping a record of design decisions is a demanding job. Thatâ€™s what a general-purpose game designer does.
If everyone can change the game design, or if everyone keeps their own notes, the project quickly turns to mush. So a game designerâ€™s first job is to maintain the central design document, implementing requested elements while making sure the gameâ€™s logic system doesnâ€™t get broken.
In Japan, game designers are more commonly known as â€œsoftware plannersâ€. This term is both modest and accurate. Designers must combine an artistic or inventive flair with far more practical skills, such as logical organisation, clear communication and detailed planning.
REQUIRED VIEWING FOR ALL GAME DESIGNERS:
And for extra points:
In the next phase, weâ€™ll look at incorporating the game design into a production plan.