Whether you’re new to game development or a veteran with plenty of years already under your belt, it never hurts to hear what other designers have to say.
Of course, if you’re going to take advice from other game developers, you can’t go wrong with listening to the ones that have actually created games that appeal to a large audience.
The following are three golden nuggets we’ve dug up that every aspiring game developer should check out at least once in their career.
Quotes may not help you suddenly come up with the next Minecraft, but they could certainly be the small bit of inspiration or wisdom you’ve been looking for while struggling with your latest design.
Be A Designer That Stands Up For Creativity
This is the entertainment industry, so game designers have to have a creative mind and also have to be able to stand up against the marketing people at their company – otherwise they cannot be creative. There are not that many people who fit that description.” – Shigeru Miyamoto
If there’s one developer that can offer a treasure trove of game design wisdom, it’s the creator of some of the most successful and iconic game series in the industry. Suffice to say, video games would not be the same today if a certain Japanese man had not been hired by Nintendo nearly four decades ago.
At first it seems he’s stating the obvious in the above quote– “game designers have to have a creative mind.” But he then goes on to urge designers to confront marketing people, essentially anyone not involved in the game development process, by not giving up on their ideas so easily.
It’s nice to know that even Miyamoto-san is growing tired of big-budget titles releasing on a yearly basis, often delivering near-identical gameplay as last year’s edition and with plenty of bugs to boot. Only until game designers have more control over their own projects will we see a surge of creativity in the triple-A market like we’ve come to know from the indie scene.
Be A Designer That Finds Innovative Solutions
“90% of what is considered “impossible” is, in fact, possible. The other 10% will become possible with the passage of time & technology.” – Hideo Kojima
Hideo Kojima ended one of his Game Developer’s Conference keynote presentations with this quote, stressing how important it is for game developers to think outside the box when confronted with a problem. Any time you play a game that feels derivative or shows promise but doesn’t live up to its true potential, it was probably the result of someone taking the easy route when facing a tough design decision.
He went on to emphasize this idea but using the metaphor of a wall that people get stuck behind because it’s too tall to climb over. A good game designer learns how to look at a problem from different perspectives so they can navigate around the wall in a new, uncommon way.
Due to the hardware limitations brought by the NES/Famicom, Kojima’s own MSX 2 (known in the US as Metal Gear) ended up serving as the start of the stealth game genre simply because he tried various methods to solve certain challenges.
If other game designers can make innovative experiences despite running into problems and limitations, why shouldn’t you?
Be A Designer That Makes Players Think
“A game is a series of interesting choices.” – Sid Meier
One of Sid Meier’s favorite expressions is only eight words long and yet serves as one of the most important pieces of knowledge when it comes to making good games. And as the creator of many popular strategy and simulation games, including Civilization, Meier knows a thing or two about designing a good game.
As a designer, your ultimate goal is to create an experience that both entertains the player and fills them with joy for most, if not all, the time spent played.
By constantly giving the player meaningful choices to consider, you keep them engaged and feeling like they’re actually affecting the virtual world they’re currently venturing in.
The same holds true for any game genre and not just strategy or simulation. Whether you’re talking about a big-budget FPS title like Destiny or an indie puzzle game like Monument Valley, designers should strive to give players a set of choices from which they can choose the best one.
If you end of making a game that people call boring, perhaps there isn’t a consistent set of interesting choices being presented to keep them hooked.