Advice To The Aspiring

December 22, 2010 at 9:11 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 4 Comments
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My heart gave a little pitter-patter when I saw in my RSS feed that Arenanet had posted a new blog. Turns out it was all a false alarm, Eric Flannum just wanted to help out people looking for a career in game design.

I’m not particularly aspiring to that path, but I thought it’d be fun to answer the questions he proposes.

Do you find yourself analyzing the games you play, often trying to figure out what you don’t like about them as well as what you do like?

More often than not I end up analyzing why I bought the game in the first place. Did I just pay $50 for a game I bought when I was 16 for $50? What is wrong with me!?

Failing that, analyzing the games I play usually falls more along the lines of observing the people I play with. MMOs are more about the people than the (lets be honest) simplistic game design. Instead of comparing FedEx quest A to KillTenRats B, it’s more like gentleman 1 has no sense of timing and lady 2 needs to buy a mic.

I think I do a fair job in the analysis department when it comes to games, maybe not so much with myself. Do I eat snack cakes because I’m hungry or because I’m trying to fill a void only having children could possibly fill. I don’t know.

Do you sometimes find yourself playing with a game’s level editor more than the actual game itself?

They don't make em like this anymore

Only in the games where the level editor is better than the game. If I put this here and this there, maybe this game won’t suck so much! No wait, it still sucks. Copy, paste, repeat until bored.

I suppose we all remember spending way too much time with the Warcraft level editor or perhaps even as far back as Excitebike.

If you have a set of dice in front of you, does your mind start wandering to all the different game variations you could create?

Like everyone else on earth, when presented with dice, I think about rolling them. My first thought anyway. If forced to sit in a chair and stare at dice, sure, I suppose I might start to think of variations of games I’ve played or would wish to make up. Like one game where I’ve been kidnapped in my sleep, thrown into the trunk of a car, taken into a remote warehouse and sat in a room with a guard behind me. He’s forcing me to stare at a pair of dice, so I grab the dice and shove them down his throat until he chokes on them. I then make my triumphant escape. Now that’s a good game.

Do you find yourself making up stories for your character while playing games that lack story?

I can’t think of any situations off the top of my head where I would make up a story based on so little.

Do you walk around your town or the local mall and think about what a great game level they would make?

Mostly what I think about while walking around in suburban Nova Scotia is, why did they put that there? Why did they let them build that on that corner, it causes massive traffic problems! Why did they put that median in so close to the intersection? Morons! This town is stuck in the 1970’s! A roundabout!? WTF? RAGE!

That said I have done precisely what he’s suggesting. Mostly out of boredom while waiting for someone. How this would look in Grand Theft Auto, how this street would play in a racing game.

I’m not sure I’m fit for a game design career but if you’re interested, go read the post.

Even the game case was classic



  1. I was a bit sceptical when I read this blog post. It was written a lot so that it discourages nobody, while turning everyone who comments on MMOs, writes a blog or whatever into a potential game designer. Is there really so much of a market for AAA MMO designers?

    I found your answer much more interesting:
    “I think I do a fair job in the analysis department when it comes to games, maybe not so much with myself.”

    I can say the same about myself. So far I failed to answer myself why I play MMOs and don’t do something else. Sure, I found some explanations, but found them to be pretty shallow. 🙂
    I can tell you why I like GW’s mechanics much more than most other MMOs out there, but I remember that there was an initial dislike for the design on my part. Yes, GW is by far my favorite game, but I cancelled preorder during the preorder event. Fortunately I decided against that and voila, 50/50 HoM and years later I can say it was well worth it.

    I think a game designer must be able to design a game he likes – and be able to empathize with a lot of other players with often very different tastes to cater to them as well. Without compromising his core design idea by trying to cater to them all. Finding something interesting to people is the core of good game design. Applying the standard DIKU MUD MMO formula to every MMO out there is not.

    GW1 and GW2 designers for instance never really thought about MOUNTS which are actually quite superfluous giving fast travel. Nor was JUMPING considered critical. Often players rave about that a bit more than necessary, but they have a point. WoW has a blind spot when it comes to HOUSING, and that with Kalgan being a former UO designer who specifically worked on the Age of Shadows expansion with the facet of Malas where people were finally allowed to design their houses from scratch instead of taking premade designs.

    • Yeah they certainly leave the door wide, but I don’t think there’s any need to discourage people. Those who are motivated to get into the industry will seek it out no matter what.

      interesting points about compromising your game design to suit everyone. how many games have gone down in flames because of that?

  2. Huh. I wrote an article about designing dice games. Eerie.

    Oh, and ++respect for including Excitebike. Ah, those were the days.

    • it’s a sign! devote your life to gaming!

      who didn’t like creating their own levels in excitebike? nobody!

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