Sep 19, 2018 IN Game Design
What does it take to create quality game content for free to play game? | Talks with experts
Welcome to the second edition of our fall series by Pixel Federation called Talks with experts. In the first episode, we were speaking about the importance of social media for our free-to-play games. Today we gonna dig more into the production process, more specifically into the game design. So let’s hear out Janči, who has been working as a game designer for 7 years and who is our senior game designer for free to play game Diggy’s Adventure.
Tell us Janči, how did you become a game designer?
It all started out with PC games, I fell in love with them through and through from the bottom of my heart. And as I played them I wanted more and more and always dreamt that maybe someday I'll actually make my own. Then I got into pen and paper games, which are very good for your imagination and for the whole creative process. Very soon I became a game master of Dungeons and Dragons. That’s the guy who prepares the adventures, all the obstacles and conflicts for his players and someone interacts with the group and actually creates the whole experience. Then later I got into LARPing, which stands for Live Action Role Play. You know those kids, running around with foam swords? Yeah, that was me! And very soon I became an organizer that tailored these experiences for the other players, somebody who prepared the adventures, wrote the script, characters, chose the place etc. And from this background, I actually got to know a couple of people from the gaming industry and bam! There I was, a game designer. The most important thing, for the people who hired me but even for me, was not only to love games but to always think of them as an interactive experience, to understand them from the other side, not from the side of the player but from the side of the creator. And that is a very unique perspective that you need as a game designer.
So can we say that Diggy’s Adventures is perfect for you?
Yes. It’s all about tailoring stories, puzzles, and obstacles for players that enjoy the story taking place in the real world with real levels, real characters. A lot of that stuff is very near to me.
What are the responsibilities of the game designer?
Game design is actually the one part that is not programming and not graphics, but still, as we like to say, it is everything. The game designer is the one who comes up with the base concept of the game- what will the players do, what is the fun they will experience, what are emotions they will experience. When you have this base matrix ready, you expand it further- what does it mean for the game mechanics? For instance, in Diggy’s Adventures, the mechanics are digging tiles, solving puzzles and finding tools needed to solve them. We are the ones that come up with what the tools are, how will player use them, where will he take his character, where will this lead the gameplay. That is the center of Game Design core expertise, but of course, we are also responsible for the story, quest line, special game elements that will be featured and so on. Game Designer is the middleman that works it all together. When he has the concept ready, he goes to the programmers, they make it move, like a functioning skeleton built of ones and zeroes. And then GD goes to Graphics designer, who wraps the skeleton in meets, flash, and skin. So you can actually see the stuff we want you to see and that the whole world where we want you to immerse in looks like you actually want to immerse in it.
Apart from that, we cooperate with sound designers, who add sounds and music that help us to build feelings and emotions. Every single part of the process gets through the hands of the game designer. That's why we say Game Design is everything, as a whole product, the game, needs to be designed from the scratch to perfection.
Could you tell us what does it take to create game content?
For us, it’s all about team effort as we have 12 people responsible for game design and level design. Since Diggy's Adventures is driven game, it starts with the event’s quest line, when we all get together and brainstorm on what the event will be about. Then we need to decide what we want to achieve with it. Is it content that drives the story forward or is it content that keeps the player busy for a while? Is it puzzle heavy, story heavy and most importantly what is the focus? (Because one thing that you need to take care about as a Game Designer is to maintain your focus. If you don't do that, it's all over the place, the player feels it and doesn't have a good scene of game flow.) When we have this focus, we think about by what means we can accomplish that- what puzzles, characters we'll put into the location and the event. It all needs to click together. Then we go one level deeper and create the locations that comply the level quest line, which in our case are always handcrafted, no automatization whatsoever, every single location in our game is made by hand by our level designers. This makes it more believable for the player yet with a little twist that will add fun, such as rewards, loots etc.
Interesting. And what is the most challenging for Game Designer?
To maintain the fine balance between entertainment and challenge. Because the player wants both, even though he doesn't admit the challenge part that much :) Then you need to keep the focus on your vision and still come up with the fresh ideas that don’t contradict the base game design and that's is quite challenging! This is especially true in F2P game playing, where we create a game as a long-term service.
And now it’s your turn guys, join the Facebook group called Free to play game developers and feel free to start a discussion about Game Design.