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ExPlay 2012: Metrics shouldn't be the 'be all and end all' of game design, argues Boss Alien's Alex Trowers

#ExPlay12 Intuition and feel still important

ExPlay 2012: Metrics shouldn't be the 'be all and end all' of game design, argues Boss Alien's Alex Trowers
Kicking off the first day of sessions at the ExPlay Festival 2012 was Alex Trowers, a game designer at Boss Alien and industry veteran of some 22 years.

In a session titled 'I've got an idea for a game', Trowers explained that "there has never been an easier time to make a game than now."

"When I started out, you could buy a computer, and when you bought a computer, it came with everything you needed to make a game," he started. 

"But once you made the game, there was bugger all you could do with it.

"Nowadays, you can get everything you need to make a game for free. Unity is free. Gimp is free. Audacity is free. And you can actually do something with that game once you're finished."

Passion for play

Trowers' talk was an energetic and enthusiastic overview of the industry for students and indies, and contained advice for those starting out as well as game design rules for those already working on titles.

One such rule was the 'Wouldn't it be cool rule.'

According to Trowers, "the more conversations you have that start with 'wouldn't it be cool if…', the better your game will be."

Indeed, he was keen to stress the importance of enthusiasm. Paraphrasing Peter Molyneux, Trowers explained that while programming can be taught, passion and enthusiasm cannot. And if you're not passionate about your game, "how can you expect others to be?"

Celestial spanner

Trowers also touched on the difference between games deisgn that's informed by metrics and informed by intuition.

"A lot of people making social games, who will do it entirely based on metrics," he said.

"It's a really useful tool, but it shouldn't be the be all and end all of making games."

Intuition and feel are still important, says Trowers, and he emphasised the dangers of designing by committee. "You need a strong vision," he explained.

And if you're looking for inspiration, "look no further than the indie games scene."

"The big boys will listen to their marketing department. The indie guys will say, we want a spanner that can fly through space. With a laser. Brilliant."

A way in

As for routes into the industry, Trowers' advice to attendees was simple. "Make a game. If you make a game, you're in the games industry. It is as simple as that."

If you can't make a game, you should make a mod for an existing game. If you can't do that, make a level for an existing game. And if you can't do that: "Go away," says Trowers.
Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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