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Is there another way to use my game design skills than creating games?

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questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Something to consider

You may also see if you can get monetary subsidies for Non-Profit organizations around "Board Game Design". In Quebec we have a three (3) person led society/legal entity than "oversees" the industry in Quebec. I have contacted them for potential Publishers in Quebec ... And they provided me with a short list of local Publishers... They try to help designers find their way with the local Publishers.

That might be a LOCAL business you could implement and get monies from the Feds or State for running a Non-Profit.

I'm just saying there are other avenues other than having the "LAB". These people get paid well for their resources, time and investment in the development of the industry LOCALLY.

Could be another avenue for you to explore. Cheers!

Joined: 02/11/2015
Excellent question

I would have no intention of micro managing. My manager at the engineering firm where I work used to do that (a lot). We've butted heads a few times over the years. As the company has grown, both he and I have gotten better. Me with taking more initiative to progress work beyond what he requested and him with not constantly looking over my shoulder or setting deadlines without consulting me.

My management style would be to work with the individual to develop milestones toward the end product. Then have them set their goals and a timeline to reach the each milestone (targeting a date for only the milestone we are on at the moment and maybe the next one). I've read from several management resources that by allowing them to define the targets, they are more likely to meet them and to maintain a better working relation with the manager. It has certainly been true for me and my manager in recent years. It's a psychological thing where they are making a commitment to me and don't want to let me down rather than me dictating to them and adding stress or resentment toward me to their life. Obviously I would have to adjust some for different personalities.

I would provide grace on the first few deadlines or on any new task that the individual isn't familiar with doing. I understand it is sometimes difficult to predict how long something will take, especially if they have little to no experience on that task. But I would also set the expectation that with repeat tasks they should become better at setting their deadlines as I would need to coordinate work for multiple people. (If we were to try this experiment, then I wouldn't be dealing with multiple people. But would still want to try out various tactics such as this to learn and grow.)

I would then be generally hands off unless they ask for direction or until we get within a few days of the deadline to see if they still plan on meeting their self imposed deadline. If they seem stressed or don't think they'll meet it, then I'll see what work of theirs I can offload to help them meet that goal. This is to build trust and hopefully some loyalty by showing I care about their success.

I have to work on myself through this process as well. I tend to be blunt and am always honest (often without regard for feelings). This comes across as cold or abrasive to many other personalities. I've gotten much better in recent years, but still catch myself being to direct rather than empathetic with people.

As far as my fellow millennials go, there really seem to be just two types. The ones who haven't truly had to sacrifice and are more prone to belief in heavy social policy and collectivism (act more on feeling). And then their are those who prefer strong personal responsibility and individualism. There are very few in between, it seems. It sounds like you are more familiar with the former @quest (and they seem to be more common right now, or at least more vocal). I would be looking more for the latter. Besides, by the time I am ready, Gen Z and some of the next gen after Z (what comes after Z anyway?), will be working age. And from all the things I see and hear, Gen Z is more conservative leaning than millennials. So I might have a more preferable pool to choose from with them.

I appreciate the inquisitiveness @quest. It helps organize my thoughts. I also really appreciate the insight into your experiences. Very informative. Thank you.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote: I will review your

I will review your projects and select one to help you focus on to finish.

I have very little time right now since school has just started again (yes I am still going to school). In the past, I was loggin my ideas on this website but many recent ideas did not made it and many ideas are not up to date.

There is a game idea section.

Since I want to focus more on my lifetime projects, the big design job on my hands is WizCiv, a remake of master of magic using Unciv (a civ 5 clone). So if I design something, it will be this game. There is a private website with the design information so far (an online design document). I can give you the access if you want.

I also have a small stock market game which should be easy to complete. I have a digital prototype accessible online, again with a password that I can give you. I made many game simulation with the computer to make the stock market behave the way I want. It was more work than I thought, but it was relatively fun work. I want to improve the prototype as it strangely does not run on my friends computer and because you must manage your own assets. The objective if to make a game crafter game.

So this should be my focus right now.

A random idea, maybe I could make a thread about it

How about collective design?

I remember doing so with dune express. I added massive variants on a game that has been modified already by other. Then other reused some portion of my variant and integrated it in their version. It was messy if you consider all the iterations and the braching, but there could be a way to design a work flow.

What If I could design a game idea until I hit a wall. Then leave it there for somebody else to take it and bring it somewhere else. Then another designer do a portion of the work, and later I could take the idea where it is and move it further. I am not sure what kind of rules or guideline we should follow to make it work. There should be a collective interest to design an idea, and maybe there should be a rule of not scrapping what the previous designer did unless he agrees to it.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Collective =/= Effective

larienna wrote:
How about collective design?
I submit the following with the understanding that you're not talking about a "design team" or co-designer arrangement, where more than one person collaborates with another at the same time to design and develop a game from concept to workable prototype.

Rather, you mean that a person works on a game idea up to a certain point, then passes it on to another. That second person works on the idea up to a certain point, and then passes it on, and so on. Eventually the passing stops, and what has come out of the process is a game that has had discrete input from several different people at different points of the development cycle.

If I'm wrong at the outset on this, I apologize. Assuming my understanding is correct, here's my opinion.

Personally, I think it would be more interesting if you gave several designers the same components, then asked them to design a game that uses all of them. At the end of the design period (weeks, months, etc.) you allow everyone to present and showcase their works in their current state of completion.

Sure, this sounds like a normal "game design contest" with specific component restrictions. This would be almost like a piece-pack game design contest. But to me it sounds much more interesting than an "exquisite corpse game design process." Not to say that the end product would be necessarily terrible... But I suggest that the likelihood would be pretty high.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
It's exactly what I mean. Yes

It's exactly what I mean. Yes working with a co-designer or as a team could help bumb a stuck idea out of the mud. What I am proposing is like an exquisite corpse.

I know that I am OCD, so having people bring "chaos" to my design would be annoying to me. But better have an imperfect game than no game at all. And there are some ideas that are interesting but you are not in complete love with it. But it could still do a great game.

So yes people could start project get stuck and post in on BGDF. Then other can look at the project and if they have ideas to make it progress, they do. And then the cycle continues until the game is complete and fun.

In the end there could only be 2 or 3 designer working on the same game, while other games could have a dozen of designers.

There will need a way to define how to leave a game. Maybe dumping a rulebook at every completed step. Not sure yet I would allow multiple branching in different direction then with some merging of ideas. It could also be a possibility, but could become more confusing and might end up with too many games in the end.

Joined: 02/11/2015
Civ 5 is Awesome

larienna wrote:
Since I want to focus more on my lifetime projects, the big design job on my hands is WizCiv, a remake of master of magic using Unciv (a civ 5 clone). So if I design something, it will be this game. There is a private website with the design information so far (an online design document). I can give you the access if you want.

I love Civ 5. I would be willing to test WizCiv and help you get unstuck with ideas. Let me know what your expectations would be and we could start there.

First I promised Juzek a review of his game (I am having trouble finding a person to play it with since Covid is discouraging any of my game friends from getting together). So I would not start this until I can give Juzek the respect he showed me.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Right now, you can play Unciv

Right now, you can play Unciv for free on android. Not sure if the PC binairies are available, else you might need to compile the game. I could try to compile it for you if necessary. This will give you an idea of how the engine looks like.

Then you need to play master of magic because my game will be a readaptation and there are differences with CIV. This is why it's more than just a mod.

It might be harder to find it as abandonware since Slitherine got the rights. It's available for cheap on GOG games ... else PM me. You can also check the MOM wiki, which will be my primary source of information for my adaptation.

Then I will PM you the access to my site. It's currently only in design phase. Nothing has been coded, so it's just some rules, data and ideas.

For now, my expectation is feed back and validation. Having a different point of view always help. It could also be management of priorities and eventually playtesting.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Things that came to mind

Things that came to mind while reading this very long thread:

Where to work full-time as game designer

Video game studios that can hire designers make games with significant budgets. They are very reluctant to risk that budget's well-being on a novice designer. Designing tabletop games doesn't count for enough, generally (Knizia is an exception - though he is freelance, not salaried). No, they want someone who's already worked in the industry for a long time, as (usually) a programmer, perhaps as an artist, before they become an assistant designer. There's often a "creative director" above the designer(s), who is the real designer.

Many people who work as programmers in video games, really want to be designers.

Generally, mass-market publishers may have (or had) in-house designers. Non mass-market games don't make enough money. (M:tG and D&D count as mass-market here.) Further, many TT hobby game publishers began as self-publishers (even FFG, practically).

To look at hobby game publishers, it's not ideal even then. Rob Daviau (Hasbro), Kevin Wilson (Fantasy Flight) left their companies. (I don't know why.) FFG's designers were paid poorly, according to ads I'd seen.

There was a tradition that publishers did not value designers much. That most of the value in a game came from the publisher. That may still be true, for mass-market publishers.

"Creatives" find it harder to make ends meet these days. There is a great deal of competition. The idea that the web is "content" goes a long way to minimizing the contribution of writers. Even in film, who gets the credit, the director not the writer. Individual games suffer from a commodity market, selling far fewer copies than in the past. Most of the video games on STEAM or Apple/Google Play lose money (almost all of the mobile games). To use a comparison I like, with novelists, perhaps 50-100 SF/F novelists make a living at it (all freelance, of course).

(Note: There are game designers guilds in some areas with enough populating, e.g. North Carolina Triangle. Montreal ought to be large enough! They meet, talk game design, and playtest. My area (250,000 in entire county, no other population centers nearby) proved to be too small in the long run.)

(Another note: I have many hundreds of ideas salted away over many years. I may have more than a hundred actual prototypes. Novelists also have far more ideas than they can ever execute. This is normal.)

(Reviewers don't make enough money to day so, compared with the time it takes to do a good review (mostly, time playing the game). Reviewing used to be much more important, because there was no Web. Now we have sort of "crowd-reviewing" and formal reviews and reviewers are much less important.

Given that most games are not good these days, harsh reviews would not be surprising, provided you can explain WHY.)

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Hmm... Not sure about that!?

lewpuls wrote:
...Many people who work as programmers in video games, really want to be designers...

This sounds to me like "dreaming". Programmers are OFTEN "technical" people and many of them work on coding in a pre-defined and structured manner. They are NOT "creatives". So while I agree that being a "Creative Director" is the proper role for a "Game Designer", the position should be occupied by a "creative". Granted if you've had a LOT of exposure to games throughout your life and you have both a technical and creative side... This could be possible. But I think it is FAR from the norm.

Most GOOD "programmers" DON'T want to switch positions. They (the Good Ones) want to REMAIN programmers and get paid higher salaries or earn profit sharing or other job-related perks. I said "Good Ones" because usually coding is very technical and if you are very proficient at it... You'll probably want to do a job you are very good at that matches your talent set/skills.

I was an Integration Developer since 2001. I had no interest in becoming a Project Manager or Architect, etc. I just wanted to continue working as a Developer because I LIKED the job. But the market has shifted and the opportunities are now far and few in between. I turned to "Game Designing" about 10 years ago. And what I've got as a "back-log" seems very promising.

But I DOUBT that "programmers" are looking to become "Creative Directors", it's like saying a Shoemaker should become a Tailor. Different strokes, for different folks.

Note #1: I can tell you know very little about "programming"... It is a very intensive and focused job. Requires a huge amount of knowledge about your the Language, the Syntax, the Classes or Procedures/Functions, etc.

Once you master one language, it is much easier to learn new ones. Again each Language having it's own specific particularities.

So if you know JAVA, learning C# for example is easier that not knowing any language. But the difficulty lies in knowing the objects and methods.

I know HTML, JAVA, Javascript, PHP, and the connecting technologies like XML, JSON, JQuery... Or storage sources like MySQL or Oracle Databases (SQL). And I also know how to code in 5GL languages specific to the platform that I was experienced with.

But the industry is continually CHANGING. And what USED to be a 1 person effort (consulting) is now a TEAM-oriented job (3 to 4 people).

Anyways... I'm just explaining that "Programming" and "Game Design" are not even close in terms of skill sets. No offense or anything like that. When I am designing games, I am NOT using the same knowledge or skills that I used when coding.

Note #2: That's not to say that a programmers job is not "creative". It's "creative logic"... Or sometimes Mathematical when it comes to all that 3D transformative logic in an FPS. There is a lot of "creative freedom" in coding, however with re-iteration, the optimal code usually gets revealed when trying to "tighten" the code.

I don't want to say compare a Programmer to an Artist (for example).

Like I said a lot of Mathematical Logic such as matrices and understanding 3D transformation like projecting 3D images into a 2D space (this was in the older days -- because PCs video cards were NOT 3D...)

Note #3: That reminds me of one of my University professors. He was working on a Mathematical formula for "Car Herding". It was all mathematical modeling about how groups of cars "travel" together like animal herds. He was a "scientist" first and foremost. That's why I don't classify Programming as a "creative" function. It's mostly SCIENTIFIC. And Then (Science != Art)...

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Just focus on the school for the time being

That is constructive on life.

Make notes of what you want to do.
Make lists of what belongs together and reconsider things.
Also consider time consumption of whatever you wish.
Eventually something will draw you closer, more strongly than the other lists.

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