Sunday, September 11, 2005

Game Designers are Obsolete

Everyone thinks that game designers get to make all the important decisions about what goes into a game! WRONG! Marketing gets to pick. The marketing department really knows the gamer, understands the gamer, and knows what makes a quality game, so they should take even more responsibility away from the game developers! The marketing department should say exactly what features are necessary for a good game, and then programmers should implement them. Game designers visions just might conflict with the true visionaries in the marketing department, so we shouldn’t have them. They know that bullet points on the back of the box, not the quality of the game inside, sell the products!


Anonymous Morgan said...

Honestly mate, if you can't work with marketing, you're not much of a designer. At least, not in the commercial field. If you think games sell simply because they play "well" (in the opinion of the designer, anyhow) then you'd be wrong. Provably wrong. If you think as the designer you have a responsibility to make the game fun over making it sell, then you have no place in commercial game development.

But design doesn't have to be opposed to marketing. It's possible to work with them to deliver a top-class game that will also sell - but only if you get over the "design vs. marketing" double think and realise that everyone has to contribute in order to make an excellent game that sells well.

Games Industry. Industry. Work within the system to develop greatness, or get on the scrapheap with all the other people who are only making games for themselves and don't understand their audience (or who's audience is "hardcore gamers like me!") - there's enough games for the hardcore, and hardly any well built games for the masses. And that's because making games for other people is *hard* - too hard for most designers. Which is why they fight with marketing.

8:25 AM  
Blogger The BIG G said...

You are right. Making games that don't sell is pointless. But, marketers really understand what makes a good game. They know that you need at least 6 bullet points on the back of the box for the gamers to enjoy them. So, I'm just suggesting we take it a step further. They know what looks good on the back of the box, so we should let them chose what goes in the box?

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you think designers sit around creating game features all day, features that any good marketer could tell you should or shouldn't be in the game.

What about user interface design -- which buttons perform what actions, menu layouts, exactly how long your character should remain in the air? These kinds of minutiae and details aren't exactly the things they teach you in marketing school.

Better yet, what about content and level design? If a marketer had to spend time creating item lists and maintaining damage charts, he wouldn't have any time left over to actually market the game.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big G, I think you just killed satire.

1:12 PM  
Blogger The BIG G said...

Anonymous number 1, sounds like you are saying that game designers should concentrate on the minutiae and leave the vision to marketers? The BIG G can see that happening. Anonymous number 2, The BIG G is just extrapolating trends in the industry. Feel free to disagree with the conclusions, but The BIG G is inside the industry, fighting the good fight in the trenches.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Jubal_Harshaw said...

Look, it's clear that anyone talking about Art, Design or 'Creative Vision' is a godless Commie Anarchist without any sense of what makes a popular game.

They like to talk about 'new' and 'innovative' ideas, while spouting nonsensical words like 'immersion,' 'gameplay' and 'fun.'

Clearly they have no idea what makes an entertainment business.
It's obvious that the design of the product should be left to the marketing department. They know what the public wants, and the public wants more of the same. How is a game designer supposed to know what sort of characters are favoured by a given target demographic? What colour 85% of respondents said was their favourite for crates? What exact shape should the breasts of the token female character be?

The Marketing Department knows. It knows all. It knows all these things and more.
And, besides, it's worked for the movie industry.

3:28 AM  
Anonymous anonymous 2 said...

Satire requires a little subtlety, and thought. That's all I'm saying.

This comedy character you've created can work, but you have to represent the actual way industry shit heads think, and expose their stupidity. Otherwise, all you're doing is fighting their fallacies with strawmen of your own. If you misrepresent their arguements constantly, rather than properly representing them, and showing how they're idiotic, then all you're doing is unnecessarily polarizing opinion between people who want to hate industry schysters, and people who will side with them, because their reaction to your commentary is that you aren't actually supplying good enough reasons why these greedy, unimaginative bastards are harmful to the progression of this medium.

And no-one wants that.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous anonymous 2 said...

Fuck, that's a run on sentance. Clarification:

Know your enemy. Know the reasons why they choose to do what they do. Fight their reasons, not the people themselves. Misrepresenting their reasons does them, and you (as a comedian), an injustice.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous anonymous 2 said...

The people you rile against don't act out of malice. They act out of ignorance. It's a stark few who feel designers get in the way of their egos. Certainly, these people should be ridiculed, but it should be through analysis of their state of denial - the whackey reasoning they come up with to explain their simple petty mindedness, jealousy, and control freakism. Anything's better than "I'M A MARKETEER! ALL DESIGN IS BAD! I LIKE BABIES BLOOD! WHERE IS MY COMPANY BOUGHT PROSTITUTE err, err, I mean SECRETARY? I NEED HER TO LIE DOWN SO I CAN SNORT LINES!".

Oops. There I go strawmanning your approach. Sorry.

Everything I've said aside, your recent stuff is showing improvement, so keep at it! Also: sorry for being a patronizing cunt.

8:28 AM  
Blogger The BIG G said...

Jubal_Harshaw: Again, you're spot on! You know what you're talking about.
Anonymous #2: The BIG G is glad you like some of his more recent stuff. This blog isn't for everyone. It's for people who want to see the future! The BIG G just looks at current trends in the industry and extrapolates where they're going. It's hard to predict the future, but with all the industry knowledge The BIG G has, he thinks he's doing a good job.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous mvsmith said...

Anonymous #2:
I see very little wrong with the article to which you refer.

Perhaps you misunderstand; the article takes a percieved strategy and takes it to its logical conclusion.

The issue, here, is that games cost money to produce and publishers (like their counterparts in music and movies) do not want to spend money on games that are good but won't sell.

Therefore, marketing and research become more important than originality and design. It's the only way they can make a surefire profit. Or so they think.

The problem is that the research is culled from polling and sales figures. Sales figures give an idea of what will sell (but not why) and polling relies on people who only have experience of what they can buy - so ask for the same thing over and over again because they are not aware of anything more original. Because it's not available. Because there's a risk associated with it that a by-the-numbers franchise may not have.


Then, of course, people get bored. Hopefully this will cause an influx of new ideas, but the barrier to entry (the cost of development) may just be too high for those who have those ideas, leaving the entire industry at the mercy of lumbering, slow-witted, risk-averse companies like EA.
Just like what is happening with books, movies and music.

4:40 PM  
Blogger The BIG G said...

mvsmith: I think you understand the point of the article. Take Psychonauts for example. The game had a lot of potential, but was not a commercial success. Why? Tim Schafer uncompromisingly created his vision of a great game. Why didn't people buy it? Marketing. The marketing department didn't get to define the feature set, so they didn't/couldn't market it. If they would have instructed him on the bullet points they wanted to put on the back of the box, the game would have sold like hot cakes regardless of quality. It's not like marketing could have played Pyschonauts and figured out what was good about it and marketed it based on its strengths. That's not marketing's job. They somehow know exactly what the audience wants, and it's not quality games. It's features.

10:39 PM  

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