Unlike it’s established in the movie or music industry, the video game industry doesn’t have that many original creative roles, where people are likely to become famous. Of course, artists, composers, and producers may get some fame, but it can hardly be compared to the fame of the same roles in music or movies. But there’s still one creative and very important position in game development companies, where creativity and uniqueness can bring professionals to celebrity status.
What does unite Peter Molyneux, John Romero, Hideo Kojima, Neil Druckmann Sid Meier, and Hidetaka Miyazaki? They are famous for the games they made. In general, they all may be applied to one role — Game Designer.
But should you have someone that famous in your game development team to bring good games to life? That would be nice, but not necessary. Game Designer is a widely developed profession in the industry.
Read on to find out where and how to find game designers for hire.
Just like with the rest of the game development roles, game designers can be found on freelance resources, professional networks like Linkedin, and also in external development studios. Any of these has pros and cons.
Working with freelancers is great in terms of the variety of available professionals and the simplicity of including them in your project. Resources like Toptal and Upwork are great starting points to discovering the available freelance game designers.
The freelance game designer will start working fast and may deliver fast. But the hiring company should take a special look at the legal terms, controlling, onboarding, teamwork success, and specialty of a freelancer.
In case you’re interested in long-term employment to the team for your game designers, take a look at the professional networks like Linkedin or your regional talent searching resources, like DOU in Ukraine or HeadHunter in Russia.
This approach usually means way deeper engagement in the project and the team. The designer becomes an essential part of the team, which means more responsibility both for the project and the personal development of the game designer. But it may not fit well for companies that develop big games on their own because of the risk of a bench time for the game designer.
Employing the game designer from an external studio is a little bit like working with the freelancer, but more serious in some ways. Legal issues are usually way more established at the external studios, just like the inbound operating processes. Unlike working with the freelance game designer, the professional from the external studio is likely to be familiar with the rest of the development team, which means better performance.
Game designers are involved in multiple stages of the project, from the brainstorming sessions on the idea stage, concept creation stage, and mechanics development to documentation and game updates.
Their work is quite different from what programmers or artists do. That’s why you’d better use a slightly different approach while hiring a game designer. Here are some things we recommend taking a special look at when you consider adding the game designer to your team.
- Take a look at their past: how many titles brought to life, how big were they? Pay special attention to the number of finished titles;
- Mind the genres, game types (multiplayer), and platforms:
- Check the success of titles they were working on
- Soft skills matter: try your best at figuring out if the designer in front of you is a decent team player with good communicative skills.
The main purpose of a video game designer is to create the game’s core features in order to make it engaging and entertaining for users. The characters, game goals, engaging mechanics, and sometimes even a story is where game designers actively contribute. Another huge piece of work for game designers is a collaboration with the development team
According to our experience here at Pingle Studio, a good game designer should have the following expertise to make a good product :
- Creating the design documentation: from pitching to design briefs and balance;
- Having a high level of technical skills: prototyping, mechanics creating, and parameters settings on the chosen engine
- Developing the game logic
- Fine-tuning the balancing and enhancements of game mechanics and economy.
Being a good game designer is a mix of creative, communicative, and technical skills, and also a very special mindset. Here’s the list of things we found in every good game designer we ever met:
- Deep knowledge of the game development industry: genres, platforms, history;
- Passion for gaming and extensive gaming experience;
- Good grammar, perfect knowledge of the languages for interacting with the team, partners, and clients
- Ability to express ideas clearly and correctly, both in written and spoken form
- Deep understanding of the design documentation ad design principles
- Knowledge of the technologies required for the game: engines, rendering software, editors, version control systems, and task trackers
- Good understanding of scriptwriting principles. Experience with creating scripts is a great advantage for any game designer
Video game designers may also develop the code necessary for the game to work. They would document their code and share their progress with the team on the project. Ensuring the code works and limiting bugs in the game is vital in this phase. These designers may still recommend engagement elements for the user to ensure the game is challenging enough to keep them interested but not too easy to want to stop playing. Once users are able to play the game, video game designers will also collect user feedback to fix any bugs people may catch or make revisions to the game if able.
A video game begins with a concept. A proposal is drafted by a team of game designers, who address important details such as target audience, requirements, deadlines, and budgets. Video game designers make that concept of gameplay and layout come alive, often through experimentation with several themes and genres, as well as developments and improvements on existing games.
This can include:
- Plots and storylines
- Characters Maps, scenarios, and difficulties
- Methods for winning or losing the game
- User interface creation
All of this is created through computer software in which the designer will input computer scripting, which is then processed by the software to generate commands, events, objects, and characters that players interact with.
There are many types of game designers who focus on a particular aspect of gameplay. Most designers will spend at least some of their time as testers, where they can experiment with coding and watch others’ mistakes firsthand. Lead designers are the coordinators of the team and are responsible for communication inside and outside of the design team, as well as making important decisions. A game mechanics designer works on the balance of the game and its rule system. Lastly, an environmental designer is responsible for creating the different scenarios and environments of the game.
A game will undergo millions of changes throughout its making, and game designers are required to constantly recheck and recode thousands of lines of code. A designer can also be called upon to develop a game to focus on a particular aspect, such as market, design, technology, or art.
Games that are market-driven are designed to make a profit, and therefore their progress is limited to consumer demand. Most games are developed in this manner. Games that are design-driven allow the designer to take full reign of the game and its aspects. Many games are not developed in this manner because of monetary restraints. Games that are technology-driven are created in order to highlight a technological achievement or to market gaming consoles and engines, such as high-quality graphic displays. Rarely, a game will be art-driven, where a game is focused on visual effects and impressive designs created by artists.
Game design is indeed as important as it sounds. The game can still be good with imperfect programming, arts, or story, but it’s hard to imagine a successful game with poor game design.
We at Pingle Studio know that and put the highest quality game design as our priority. Contact our expert and let’s get your game the design it deserves!