Design Talk 1/15/2014

NekochuNekochu REGISTERED Posts: 244 Developer
edited January 2014 in Design
Hello all,

Well I almost succumbed to too much going on but I'm back and here with another design talk! So for this week, I wanted to talk about more design specific items, since well that is my field of expertise! But let's take that last statement and expand on it, field of expertise. It's a common turn of phrase used to talk about a person's particular career or hobby that they have copious amounts of knowledge in. As I have stated before, designers almost tend to be jack of all trades or generalists in the industry, that's not to say that they may not be specialized in a particular field or subject matter but it is hard to say they have a field of expertise.

Now hold on, before I stir up too much anger over calling all designers non-experts, there is a bright side. The bright side of design is that you can easily become an expert on several different topics instead of just one! Well to a certain degree, the beauty of game design is that you only need to become enough of an expert in a subject for the game or project you are working on at the time. While it is admirable to strive to become that expert in a field, it is not necessary for a designer when creating game play or systems.

The one thing every designer needs to realize is that games are not real life simulators. Games like magic can benefit from a lot of slight of hand and illusion. The amount of effort you do put into understanding a subject does help to build that credibility in your design but it is okay if in the end you realize you have created an impressive appearance in your design without having the full knowledge of an expert backing you up. Writers, actors and other performers who appear to be something much more than who they are employ these techniques all the time and game designers can benefit from the same. A good author who wants to write a convincing novel about wartime heroism doesn't have to have lived through the event but through research, interviews and other knowledge gathering techniques they can become enough of an expert on the matter to take their true talent, writing, and using it to draw their readers along an adventure that sounds like it came straight from the memories of the soldiers who lived it.

So let's talk about some techniques designers can employ to bring them up to a level of expertise necessary to create riveting gameplay. Research is obviously the first and most often used. Nothing can beat reading up or watching informational videos on your subject. It is the game industry, so playing similar games that cover your subject is also a valid route for research. Be careful on this one as imitation can often come to haunt you if you are not careful about separating your ideas from the games you are researching.

Finally the last type of technique that I would like to suggest is hand-on experience. Nothing can beat actually experiencing what it is that you want to create gameplay around. Most developers will choose to send their designers, artists or coders out to gather hands on experience when working on a game that is based on real world mechanics such as firing a gun, flying a plane or riding in a race car. Most of these are obviously activities that require a lot more hours of dedication than is possible for a person to become an expert in over a short amount of time but for someone who has never fired a gun or even held one, it is a eye opening experience that gives far more information to a designer than reading about it.

So to bring this all back into TUG and what we're doing. I read a book by Neil Strauss a few years ago named "Emergency". For those not familiar with Strauss, he is an author that enjoys picking subjects he is very unfamiliar with and writes about his experience of becoming a pseudo expert in the field of what he is writing. So for this book, Strauss states right up front that he had never lived in the country, hunted for food or in general just learned any sort of skills to survive off the grid. As part of this, Strauss attended classes are Sigma 3 Survival school to learn how to properly use and survive with just a blade. This inspired me to try a survival class someday as well. Now I have grown up in the country, I have hunted and I have camped out on several occasions but the one thing that I have never really had much experience in is primitive survival. Well through a little bit of research, I found a Sigma 3 school near me that is offering a class in becoming a primitive bowyer! I'll be heading out tonight to camp in Arkansas for three days and experience what it is like to create a primitive hunting tool from experts in the field and at the same time becoming a little bit more of an expert in the area as well.

Thanks for supporting TUG and I'll join you next week with hopefully interesting stories on how to make a bow as well as more insight into game design. Take care everyone!
Twitter: @X_Nekochu_X
Tumblr: xnekochux


  • SigilSigil REGISTERED Posts: 678 Developer
    Wow! I'll be interested in hearing what you learn.
  • jon14ukjon14uk REGISTERED Posts: 782 Seed
    i like these post be careful lol
    The Military General for xandertopia :D .
    keepers of Balance
    the Fist of Glory
    Ars Arcanus
    Purus Aeternam
    Naturam Universitatis
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