Friday we went to our final GDC session entitled "Attack of the Design Direcors". The talk was given by Brian Allgeier, the Design Director on the "Ratchet & Clank" games. While enlightening, it was also very entertaining.

Some of the things I brought away are summarized below.

A good game designer/design team needs to work like the "A-Team":

  • Hannibal - the leader, focus on the overall plan, is it cohesive?
  • The Face Man - the promoter, pitch concepts, a people person
  • B.A. Barracus - the mechanic, technical contraints, etc
  • Murdock - the creative aspect, think outside the box

Going with this idea, things to question about pitching design ideas:

  • Is it Cohesive?
  • Is it Feasible?
  • Is it Innovative?
  • Is it Marketable?

Some key things that he attributes to the success of their projects were:

  • Weekly design meetings to tighten feedback loops between teams and increase knowledge sharing.
  • Always find ways to measure work so an accurate perception of progress can be made.
  • Delegation is key to empowering team members and creating ownership. Find ways to keep the momentum going.
  • Maintain aggressive schedules.

One thing he stressed was that, to be successful, you have to "stick to the plan". The problem with working on a project is that, over time, ideas go stale and you begin second-guessing your design ideas. This can be a developer's worst nightmare and is one of the driving issues behind the saga that was John Romero and Daikatana (an excellent read if you have the time). Though I think the tragic flaw behind Romero was his ego, I think he might have been able to learn something from Allgeier about the role of the design director and management.

§66 · March 14, 2005 · Games, GDC, Software, Technology · · [Print]

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