[Article] - Most game designers just suck

edited in General
Link to article here: Here



  • I'm not convinced by the opinion of Richard Garriott. The reason I say this is that I don't think that Innovation and Design are the same thing. It seems to me that he is saying that Game Designers are bad because they are failing to innovate. Which is bad for me too, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are bad. Lazy maybe....

    On the other front I totally agree with the "I'm a designer" syndrome he's describing. To me a designer is someone that understands the product their trying to make the better than most other people. That means understanding just about everything about the product. If you want to make games you have to understand code, art, sound, psychology and a lot of other stuff. I don't think you have to be an expert at everything, but you need to be able to communicate on an intelligible with experts in the field. I'm always a bit skeptical when someone says "I'm a pure game designer". Also, I think you need to know a lot of stuff that is totally unrelated to creating games.
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    I just have to throw this out there


    Hasn't made a decent game in ten years

    Also the people he says are good game designer are really an old vanguard, and a really thin selection at that.

    No Jenova Chen, Jonathan Blow, Jason Rohrer, some other Indie designer whose first name does not start with a J.
  • This is what I've come to understand from the term "designer" and "director" and whatever.

    I started as a designer because I thought it was about making things without having to actually make them. Ie. I was lazy.

    Now I'm a designer because I've stuck with it and learned to make things by actually making them, then taking that experience and hopefully making it again, better.

    "It" is as big as anything in the universe, so my laziness is the only hurdle between me and actually making things.

    I've forgotten that I wanted to be a "designer", because the me that wanted to do that realised that I couldn't design without being able to make.

    The design part however comes from... There's only so much I can make by myself. So I try to design, and hopefully communicate the making to as many people as could be involved, myself included.
  • Well he's definitely talking about game designers of AAA games, which are presumably the sort of game designers he meets.

    I can imagine a lot of those AAA designers being hired as designers, as people who don't have development skills but think they have ideas and can talk the talk. I imagine it's super hard to become a good game designer in the AAA field (because you're only releasing a game every two years).

    In the indie scene game designers are often the creators of their games or are hired because they have created good games. The also make a lot more games, so possibly they learn faster or learn to find other careers faster.

    But even so, the failure rate of indie games is staggeringly high (have a look at Greenlight for reference).

    And while the success rate of AAA games isn't much better, AAA games as a whole are lot tamer with their innovation. Innovating in the AAA space is much much harder than with Indie games.

    So if innovation and original holistic design in large scale, expensive games is his criteria for being a good game designer, yeah, then most game designers suck.

  • Well, most game designers do suck, me included. We don't really have criteria to judge game design as a skill very well at all. "How well your game did" isn't really a great metric, plus it's not very representative of great game design either. Otherwise a whole bunch of amazing games would do a hell of a lot better.

    I do think the article is aimed at people who are "game designers" in traditional game industry companies though. Indies have to be everything all the time anyway.

    Conclusion: Shhh, man whose most recent games were terrible, I'm trying to get better at making games over here.
  • Also relevant "Innovation; Gamings Snake Oil": Link

    I swear once I get home from work I'll add my 2c :)
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    Also: Shhh, PCGamer.com. Richard Garriott is entitled to his opinions, and I even think there's a core of truth to them, but PCGamer is the entity elevating Richard Garriott to the position of doyen.

    Also, @Karuji, Richard Garriott saying he does like Peter Molyneux's work Richard Garriott saying he doesn't like Jenova Chen's work. He was giving examples. Or are you saying you don't respect Derek Yu's work by not mentioning him?

    Regarding Jim Sterling's innovation talk. I usually agree with the guy, and I do here as well but with one caveat. I feel Innovation can be synonymous with a new gameplay experience and so I think innovation for innovation's sake is (often) valuable (though appreciated by a more new-experience-seeking audience than Jim). Though innovation alongside quality (as Jim uses the term) is truly great (which is where both he and I agree).

    Also Jim seems to lose sight of the process of innovation and refinement as it happens in a creative field: often failed experiments lead to successful ones. Jim stating that developers not be praised for experimenting (when the experiment fails) isn't particularly good advice for the industry.

    Of course I'm seeing this from a developer's point of view and Jim is seeing it from a player's point of view.
  • @BSFtS: It would be completely illogical to assume that saying one likes something implies that dislikes other things. That like assuming by saying I like dogs I dislike cake, because cake is not mentioned.

    But this is not who he likes but who he thinks is great. This is also given the pretext of most game designers suck. Ergo those not mentioned suck.

    I gave no implication that any designer other than Jenova, Jason, and Jon are terrible. There are many designers I hold in very high regards Terry Cavanagh, Zach Barth, Christine Love, and Derek Yu all make games that I absolutely love and should be mentioned as well. I think I alluded to this when I realized that all the developers I listened first names started with the letter J, and said "and some other Indie designers whose first name does not start with a J." As I realized I was giving a rather odd selection of designers.

    I can probably spend the rest of the afternoon listing of designers, since I don't think they are generally crap.
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    Karuji said:
    But this is not who he likes but who he thinks is great. This is also given the pretext of most game designers suck. Ergo those not mentioned suck.
    Richard Garriott said:
    “I think there’s really very few great game designers. I think Chris Roberts is one of them, Will Wright’s another, Peter Molyneux is another. They clearly exist, but on the whole, I think that the design talent in our industry is dramatically lower than we need, as an industry. It’s a very hard skill to learn,”
    He's specifically saying there ARE great game designers, and these are some of them off the top of his head. And he qualifies the list by saying these are some of them HE THINKS are great. As in, other people might have a different list of great game designers. His point is not that Peter Molyneux is unsurpassed, but that great game designers are few and far between.
    Karuji said:
    I can probably spend the rest of the afternoon listing of designers, since I don't think they are generally crap.
    If you did that you'd only prove Richard Garriott's point. Even if you listed a couple thousand game designers you thought were great you would only have listed a fraction of the game designers in our industry.
    Karuji said:

    I just have to throw this out there


    Hasn't made a decent game in ten years
    If we're going to be attacking people's credentials then: when did you last release a game?
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    Yeah, I'm still not seeing it as a wonderful point... I mean, for lack of a better word: Duh.

    Game design is hard. I don't see how you're supposed to get good at game design if you're not trying to design games. You can't be a good musician if you don't try to play music! If you're dead set on learning some sort of crazy instrument that you only have access to for 1 hour a month, it's going to take you a huge amount of time to be any good at all - in fact, to an outside observer who suffers through your monthly hours of shame, you're going to look completely terrible... It would be much easier to learn an instrument that you can take home and play at all hours of the day.

    Large companies and large teams build games much slower than small teams. Someone whose only exposure to game design comes through these incredibly slow, bureaucratic processes isn't going to spend much time actually making the mistakes they'll need to make in order to become a better game designer.

    And that's my (rather labored) point: If someone ISN'T designing games continuously, they're probably not going to be a good designer at any point in the future. If someone works at a game company on large games and isn't constantly designing little ones because they can't bloody help it then, yeah, they're shit designers. Stop hiring shit designers, Richard.
    Thanked by 1hanli
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