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A Strength of a Designer

June 2, 2008

I was talking with one of my former students today who’s on his way to go work with an industry icon. In discussing a particular topic, he related to me something that I told him when he first started studying with me a few years back: “All I could think was how you said a good lead helps the people that are better than they are do their job.” I did say that, but I also think I heard someone else say it so am hesitant to lay credit to it. The point was this, though – that it takes a whole lot of people to make a game, and a lead designer might come up with some kind of master plan, but that designer needs to rely on people who are amazing at particular specialties in order to pull it off. I have been fortunate for the majority of my career to work with those kind of people.

The relationship between mentor and mentee goes two ways, though. This quarter I learned something that was worth its weight in gold (to me, at least): in going though the nine games that were handed in at the end of the quarter, I realized that the real strength of a designer is not the ability to come up with ideas for games. It’s to take those ideas and distill them down until they find the one, true game that is actually good.

(And yes, I’m still in proverbial crunch, but probably have about 24 hours left to go… though I think I said that 48 hours ago. It’s fun when you can fool yourself.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2008 9:06 am

    My very first intern ever starts on Thursday. While discussing the candidate, Jeff said something that I thought was really important: “He may not have exactly the skills we’re looking for, but he’s going to learn a lot from us.” And I never exactly thought about it this way, but that’s kind of what we’re doing: taking a promising student, working with him for 9 weeks, and then releasing him back into the wild a better game developer.

  2. June 4, 2008 8:16 am

    Absolutely, and good on you for taking an intern. That’s one of the best ways for our industry to develop the necessary talent.

  3. June 7, 2008 11:34 pm

    Absolutely refreshing! Thank you. The great ability of a good creative director is to trigger a creative chain reaction that would bring to much greater idea. Thanks again for triggering that reaction in me once.

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