8 Tips for Making Good Game Designs
A good design is essential for a video game. It is the foundation on which the rest of the components are made. That is why being a game designer is such an important and responsible job in this industry. So, what is worth considering when creating your first project?
In this article, you will learn:
Who is a game designer?
A Game Designer is a person responsible for the overall game design. It is them who come up with general concepts, mechanics, and all other elements necessary to start the actual production at all. Their task is to select ideas, prototype, pitch the game write a GDD, and finally, to constantly communicate with the team and make important design decisions.
Depending on the size of the video game studio or production company, a game designer's daily tasks will include different responsibilities. In indie companies, which cannot afford to hire many specialists, video game designers may also work as concept artists, art directors, or lead-level designers.
How to Become a Game Designer?
Unfortunately, a head full of good ideas is not enough. Firstly, to design games, you need to know a little about their production. It is extremely difficult to accurately estimate the scale of a project and adapt it to the team's skills if you have no idea how long it takes to produce one level or a set of animations for a playable character.
Even if the production team is given enough time, they may simply run out of budget. In addition, you need to possess the ability to express your ideas concisely and clearly, as well as you have to have a massive dose of criticism, to be able to separate good ideas from bad ones.
The games industry is booming, and companies need more staff: from artists and programmers to skillful managers. More and more talented people are trying to get into the industry every year. The supply grows with the demand, so it is not surprising that you can find university courses related to game design as well.
Is a degree necessary to get a job? Absolutely not, but if you have an opportunity to study computer science or studies directly related to game design—it will be a huge plus for your future employers. If you cannot find or afford a university degree, try to look for independent courses. Recruiters value more your portfolio and skills than diplomas and certificates.
Remember that a bachelor's degree in game design will not guarantee you landing a job, but when you combine it with practice and a strong portfolio, you will quickly find your way into the gaming industry.
Good Knowledge Base
The best way to learn is to practice. How can you practice without a job? You can design your own games, but you need to have a good knowledge base before that. Great news—there are plenty of sources where you can easily find exactly what you need!
Learn From Books
Learning from books is the most traditional way of gaining valuable knowledge. If you like reading ebooks, you can even find the most popular textbooks in digital format.
For a start, you can check out titles like The Art of Game Design: A book of Lenses or A Theory of Fun for Game Design. You can find book recommendations and reviews online. Remember to check out descriptions and summaries—books that cover only the basics will not teach you anything new if you are already at a higher level.
How to make the most of reading? Make notes, highlight the essential ideas, and write down questions or an author's recommendations for further research.
Learn From Masters
Meetups, conferences, webinars, YouTube channels—there are a lot of places where you can meet (either online or face to face) experienced game designers. If you are in a video game design or game industry-related group on Facebook, you can start looking from there. It is easy to find information about incoming meetups in such places.
Conferences are an excellent opportunity to learn more about a game designer's job and also about the game industry in general. The only con of conferences is that in most cases you have to pay to attend.
Learn From Video Courses
Many people like to learn new skills using platforms such as Coursera or Udemy. Short clips can positively impact more efficient processing and memory recall. A combination of audio and visual components appeals to a wide audience more naturally than, for example, textbooks. Videos create an engaging experience which makes them a great learning source.
A game designer knows a lot about game design, has played thousands of games, and can quickly come up with a solution to every problem. But what can make you a good game designer? A mix of soft and technical skills is the key to success.
Do not forget that making games requires teamwork. You need to have strong communication skills and the ability to explain your ideas to others. You also have to understand what other teammates are talking about it. That is why you should be familiar with programming languages, software used in the company, and both the design process and game publishing process.
You do not have to be an expert in computer programming or in any of these fields, but the more you know, the better.
Design Your Own Game
Practice is the best teacher. You can only test your skills and learn a lot of new ones if you design your own game. Game companies are more interested in hiring employees with experience, but it does not have to be experience with working at commercial games!
If you are advanced, it is a good idea to team up with programmers and artists to make your ideas come true.
Look for a Job
So you studied a lot, have a strong portfolio, meet a few people, make sure that is your ideal career path, and can answer all questions about the industry. What is the next step? Look for a job!
Start from websites dedicated to working in the industry. It is more likely to find the most actual job offers in one place. You can also visit the websites of the companies you are interested in. If they have not listed the right position for you, you can send them an email with your CV and portfolio.
During the job interview, do not forget to present yourself as a reliable professional. Dress casually, be polite, and don't forget to smile, even if you are stressed.
How to Make a Good Game Design?
Identify the Unique Features of Your Game
In the production of each game, one of its elements is given the highest priority. It can be a deep storyline, satisfying shooting, or the use of new technologies such as virtual reality. Determine what matters most to your game and give it your own creative twist that will make it stand out from thousands of other games.
Fun Comes First!
Whatever decision you make, you must never forget about the gameplay. If the game is too realistic, it will become a frustrating simulator. If it is pretty but walking around is the only thing to do, the player will quickly get bored. If it has an intriguing plot, but a cutscene starts every two steps, we'll get a movie, not a game.
Don't Bite More Than You Can Chew
A frequent problem with designing games is too much ambition. There is nothing wrong with aiming high, but you need to be realistic, especially when you are just starting your adventure with game dev. Discuss your ideas with the production team - this way, you will better assess their doability.
Sometimes Simple Ideas Are the Best Ideas
Indie games are the best example of this. Many titles rely on a relatively simple concept with an exciting twist to make the gameplay more attractive. Thanks to this, the whole thing is simple and easy to learn. Too many systems introduce a lot of dependencies that are obvious to you as a designer but may discourage a new player who has their first contact with the game.
Don't Get Overly Attached to Your Ideas
Game development is an iterative process. Changes are an integral part of it. If you see that your idea is simply dull or does not work - do not hesitate to rebuild it thoroughly or even scratch it off completely.
Sometimes the only way to evaluate an idea is to take the controller into your hands and play. At the conceptual stage, good game prototypes are worth their weight in gold: they allow you to see how the game will feel, they are the proof of concept proving the feasibility of invented mechanics, and they may also help to pitch the game to investors.
Know Moderation in Adding Features
It's fun when games offer a lot of content and interaction. However, it is essential that the existence of this content makes any sense - any changes and new elements are additional work. The extra work means more time needed, and more time means more money spent on producing the game. Make sure the change is good for the quality of the game and that your team can afford it.
When you spend months with your product, it's easy to lose track of its quality. As the creator of a game, you know exactly what your vision was and what needs to be done in order to proceed in the level - the player has yet to learn the rules, so they may do something completely different than they are supposed to. So send out test builds to your friends and family. Their fresh perspective will surely provide you with valuable feedback and allow you to identify potential problems that you would never have run into yourself.
Creating games is often more complicated than it may seem. It all starts with a good design, without which it would not be easy to create anything - that's why game designers are so important. They have to define the form of the game, adapt it to the team's capabilities, and at the same time make it original. Look at the solutions used in other games, search for references, and find your own ideas to refresh the existing trends!
Don't be put off by the amount of work you need to do before even a single line of code is written! Watching how your idea slowly takes shape and then entertains others will reward you for all your efforts! This is the magic of creating video games! :)
What would you like to achieve. Our experts will answer on your all questions.
Do you like the article? Join our newsletter for more content about games, technology and development! Just enter your email below and we'll take care of the rest.