VIEWS: 17 PAGES: 80 POSTED ON: 11/5/2011
Teamwork Game Design Vishnu Kotrajaras, PhD Team structures in industry today Executives Marketing Team QA Producer Publisher’s team All contribute to design Developer’s team Producer Game Programmers Visual Artists QA Specialized Designers Media Publisher & developer Sometimes the developer will do almost everything but sell and market. Sometimes the publisher will do the developing themselves, only using the developers in specific tasks. Typical tasks are summarised in the next table. publisher Developer 1. Chooses the title to 1. Pitches creative produce ideas and demos to 2. Finances titles publishers 3. Provides QA testing 2. Uses money from 4. Market titles publishers to produce titles, 5. Distributes titles including game design, programming, art, audio Many publishers develop games internally – EA – We consider the internal team as developers too. – The internal team usually has to manage its own cash flow, profit, schedules, and staffing, just like a real company. Some developers are owned by publishers – Blizzard is owned by Vivendi Universal Games Publisher: EA Games Developer: Lionhead Studios Black and white Developer’s team We help each other but still have our own focus. Battle for Middle Earth Publisher: EA Games Developer: EA LA Game designer Gameplay linked with programming, art, music, etc. Game designer must collaborate with all teams. Brainstorms concepts. Creates prototypes. Playtests and revises prototypes. Writes concept and design documents, and updates them throughout production. Communicates vision of the game to the team. Creates levels or work with level designers. Acts as players. Not all companies have designers. A person from some team may take this role. But skill is important. And it’s better to separate the team. See example – If 1 man acts as designer and programmer, he may let 1 feature pass because he’s too tired to improve it. This will cause problem in gameplay. So it is best to do the design as a full- time job. CyberBoard is free Peter Molyneux (Black & White) Producer Deliver game to the publisher as promised. Create schedule, budget, resource allocation. There is one on the publisher’s team, and one on developer’s team. – Work together to make sure both teams are acting on the same assumption. – Make sure both teams communicate well. Mario Kart Double Dash Director Mr Mizuki Producers Mr Sugiyama & Mr Takahashi Producer’s responsibilities Team leader for the developer’s team. Main communication link between developer and publisher. Schedule and budget the developer’s side Tracking, allocating, and forecasting resources. – Hiring, firing, saying no to excessive spending request. Make sure the developer team finishes the work on time. – Some tough decisions on the way. Motivate team and solve production related problems. Often have to be a representative to appear in the press. producer Executive producer Oversee multiple productions or an entire development group. Assistant or associate producers – Help the producer. Game designer’s relationship with producer Sit down together at the start of any production. Talk through the design document. – Explain all the concepts, visions, and ideas to producer. – So he can craft realistic schedule and budget. This means a designer must also understand scheduling and budgeting. – Read the scheduling and the budget, and be able to understand and offer opinion. programmers Coders, network and systems engineers, database programmers, hardware support. Programmer’s responsibilities Drafting technical specifications Technical implementation – Software prototypes – Software tools – Game modules and engines – Structuring data – Managing communications Document code Coordinating with QA engineers to fix bugs Atari’s Tempest (this is a good prototype example) NeoEngine blender torque ogre Most reviewed Commercial Engine 1. Torque Game Engine ->hard to use, poor structure and docs 2. 3DGameStudio -> better than torque 3. TV3D SDK 6.5-> bad support 4. C4 Engine ->Good 5. Unity ->C#, good but hard to debug, no source. 6. Leadwerks Engine 2 ->all lang. support may be lacking 7. NeoAxis Engine ->from Ogre, ok 8. DX Studio 9. Esenthel Engine 10. Visual3D.NET Game Engine Most reviewed Open Source Engines 1. OGRE -> not easy to make game or to learn but best rendering effect 2. Irrlicht -> easier to use but ogre is better in rendering 3. Crystal Space -> a little hard to learn 4. Panda3D ->python, easy to start, graphics ok but not best 5. jME -> not sure about lastivity 6. Reality Factory 7. Blender Game Engine 8. The Nebula Device 2 9. RealmForge 10. OpenSceneGraph FREE-OPEN-SOURCE engines that you could play with for your projects.. http://ode.org/ http://www.crystalspace3d.org/ http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net/ http://www.talula.demon.co.uk/allegro/ http://oomadness.tuxfamily.org/en/index.html http://www.genesis3d.com/ http://www.devmaster.net/engines/ www.dimensionex.net/ (online servlet engine) http://lwjgl.org/links.php (java engine) Designer’s relationship with programmer Designer must at least learn programming concepts. – So you can do a better design. • Modular design is better for changes. • So programmers won’t have to change things much. – Can describe game concepts more clearly to the technical team. Ask programmers about his work if you don’t understand. Talk to the head of programmers first, do not cut corners. You must respect authority. – Have good relationship with lead programmer, so that he respects your idea and is ready to help you communicate with the rest of the team. tips Avoid making huge changes. Prototyping an playtesting can help on this. Don’t make them feel that the change is extra work. – Let the programmers do playtest too, so they understand the reason for any change. – Fun too, this will lead to good relationship. – Or, at least, share the results with them. Artists Character designer Illustrator Animator Interface designer 3D artists Art director Lead animator You can see there are many specific tasks. Artists will be good in different things. Tetsuya Nomura Alan Lee John Howe Artist’s responsibilities Characters Worlds Interfaces Animations Cut-scenes Designer’s relationship with artist Artist may condense features to make things look better. – You may tell them first to follow your specification exactly. – Or you may re-think your features, and compromise. – Just make sure the game feature does not change. If you want a medieval style, find artists that like the style. – If you get the people who love different style • Change your vision to utilize their skills to the fullest. • Or, communicate your ideas clearly, so they can implement them. A totally different art style by Ron Spencer Bring your own reference materials in to communicate. – Such as creating visual palette for retro- style game: • The artists went to a 2nd hand market to collect fabric textures. They may have already extended your concept towards something incredible or something you don’t like. – Talk, and listen. – Be specific on what you like and don’t like. Once the work start, designer should start giving criticism – Find things that you like and don’t like in the art. – “This is really nice, I really like it here. If we could expand on this…” Partner with the lead artist or art director. – work together to set the tone of the project. Allow artists to bring their own ideas and passions to the project. QA Engineers Bug testers On both publisher’s side and developer’s side. QA responsibilities Create a test plan based on the design and technical specifications. Execute the test plan. Record all unexpected or undesirable behaviours. Categorise, prioritise, an report all issues found during testings. Re-test and resolve issues once they have been fixed. Designer’s relationship with QA Designer must give all information necessary for QA to make a test plan. Only the design document is not enough, offer them any help you can. They may want to start by playing the game alone. Do not be surprised by this. They are “the last playtesters”. Designer should sit down with them and observe their process. – Go through the game element by element. – They are expert testers, they will have extra information other testers do not have. Tips – Let them see your design early. – So they will start helping you in this early stage and prioritise your game above other games. – They will be willing to put extra hours later. Specialized Media Writers Sound designers Musicians Dialogue coaches Fight choreographers Yuen Woo Ping Designer’s relationship with specialized media Define what you need from these professionals as clearly as possible before they start working. – Otherwise you will lose lots of money, since these people usually charge you by hours. Interact with them and give them direction and support. – They don’t know about games, so you must communicate with them in terms they are familiar with. Writers Creating bits of dialogue where needed. If you are good, you may not need the writer at all. If you are not strong in writing, you may bring writer in early and start working together. Sound designers Create special effects or music when the game is nearly completed. Or, lay out the plan from the beginning and make sure that the music support the gameplay effectively. – This is better. – Sound can reach player at an emotional level, so it is very important. Level designers and their responsibilities Use “level editor” to develop new missions. Implement level design. Come up with level concept. Test levels and work with the designer to improve overall gameplay. Clean game library for 2D GtkRadiant is a level editor that supports Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Jedi Outcast. Designer’s relationship with level designers Work together. Fostering creativity in your level designers, just like what you do with the artists. When they have freedom, they will work better. Publisher’s team: producer & responsibilities Leader of the publisher team. In charge of marketing and making sure the executives continue to support the game. Main communication link between publisher and developer. Responsible for schedule and budget on the publisher’s side. Tracking, allocating and forecasting resources. Approve work by developer so milestone payment can be made. Coordinate with all teams for the publisher’s side. Designer’s relationship with Publisher’s team’s producer Listen to them. Do not think against them just because they do not understand your game as well as developer’s team. If you can incorporate their suggestions – They will support you all the way. Publisher’s team: marketing Find ways to sell your game. Feedback on game concepts. Hold focus groups for character designs. You must learn the trend in the market from them. They know about PC hardware that consumers have. – They can estimate how many people will have 3GHz PC in 2006. Designer’s relationship with marketing team Bring in the marketing team early. Tap them for information. Invest them in the project. Give them credit for their insight. homework Design the game box. – Will it show screenshot? – Character?, artwork? – Write top four features. Executives Founders of the company. Or they used to be a designer themselves. Some may come from marketing or other industries. It’s good to know the background of your executives. If you still don’t like them, learn from their mistakes to improve your own management – Presentation? – Ideas? – attitude.? You must communicate your vision to them clearly. It’s not their fault if they don’t understand your game. – Invite them to participate in the brainstorm of problems. – You and him will be satisfied this way. – This game may not be to his liking much, but he’ll think you respect him, and work with you better in later games. Publisher’s team: QA They work the same way as QA in developer’s team. They decide if the build pass the payment point. Publisher’s team: Usability Specialists Control tests Mostly third party hired in the later stage. Microsoft has its own usability labs, thus they integrate usability testing from the start. Usability Specialists responsibilities Evaluation of interface. Creation of user scenarios. Identify and recruit test subjects from target market. Conduct usability sessions. Record and analyse data from sessions. Report findings and recommendations. Average team size SNES: 10 PS: 15 Ps2/GameCube/Xbox: 25 Next generation console: 40 Average development time (months) SNES: 7 PS: 15 Ps2/GameCube/Xbox: 20 Next generation console: 30 Team profile SNES – 1 designer – 1 producer – 3 programmers – 4 artists Playstation – 1 lead game designer • 2 level designers – 1 producer • 1 associate producer – 1 lead programmer • 3 programmers – 1 lead artist • 4 artists Ps2/GameCube/Xbox – 1 lead game designer • 4 level designers – 1 producer • 1 associate producer – 1 lead programmer • 2 engine programmers • 4 game programmers – 1 lead artist • 10 artists Next generation – 1 director of game design • 2 game designers • 4 level designers – 1 executive producer • 2 producers • 1 associate producer – 1 lead engine programmer • 3 engine programmers – 1 lead programmer • 6 programmers – 1 art director • 3 lead artists • 14 artists All should contribute to the design Everyone must feel a sense of authorship of the final product. A designer must make sure everybody’s input is heard. – Set up weekly meeting between leader of each group to discuss the status of the project. – Start a suggestion box. – Take time for 1-on-1 creative talks with key members of the team. – Have open brainstorming during the design phase for anyone who wants to attend. – If you get stuck, ask your coworkers. – Ask members of your group if they have hobbies, talents, or knowledge that may aid in the production. – Share authorship, use “we” instead of “I”. Building your team Examine their track record and talk to people who have worked with them before. Attitude: positive people with optimism. Experience: unless hiring at low level, you should use people with experience. Friends: hire your friend if he is the best person for the job. Do not hire a friend otherwise. References: talk to former employers. Phone call is better for you than recommendation letter. Diversity: combining people with different backgrounds will form a creative environment. Track record: look for people with history of success. Maturity: you want people who can control their emotions. Excellence: – school record. – Can they deliver under pressure? – What is their approach to problem solving? Creativity: yes we need people who ask good questions, curious, and always have ideas. Team communication Respect the chain of command. Understand resources, time, and cost that you request. Be open to requests of others. Communicate decisions and changes to the design both up and down the ladders. meetings You need to structure the meeting. There must be a definite goal. – Everyone knows the goal ahead of time so they can come prepared. If you are asked to join, make sure you prepare everything to contribute. If you are the leader, you lead the discussion and assign others to run certain parts of the meeting. – It is still up to you to keep things on track and lead everyone to the goal. No one should be left out of the conversation. No criticism of one another. If anyone makes a personal remarks, they should be warned. If it continues, throw them out. At the end, review the decisions and assignments given to each member (or team). Make sure everyone has enough time to prepare for next meeting. Send out notes and reminders of the decisions and assignments to everyone. Play games together Organize a game night. Forge stronger relationship with everyone. Pick a game which players can work together or express themselves. – Online game – Board game – Sport – Personalised game – Game you make Try new game each week. Everyone has a chance to try new game. Set up the atmosphere Everyone belongs – Especially new member. Fairness Cooperation Goals – Set mini goals – Publicise the success of these mini goals to boost confidence and re-energise the team. Make everyone knows how they fit in the success of the company. Make sure each group knows its tasks and deadlines. Break down walls between groups. Make sure everyone can track progress of everyone else. – So everyone can adjust schedule. Make sure everyone knows his or her role. Everyone should know who to turn to for various functions – Clarify overlapping duties. Set up evaluation process to evaluate groups and individuals – Involve managers – The evaluation rules must be clear, for fairness. Delegate – Delegate decision and monitor results. Diversity – Encourage everyone to be themselves – Find jobs that allow them to contribute most. Communication – Schedule weekly and daily meeting between and within groups. – Every group should know what every other group is doing and who to talk to if there is a problem. Support – Get technical and any support you team needs. Honesty – Make it an issue of pride to stand up and admit that you made an error. – Praise people who take responsibility for their actions. Reward – Small gift or recognition.
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