Given that I have now finished a month of work (well, not really, as I started on the 10th, but c’mon — polka with me, here), I thought I’d write a bit about it. After all, defining what a Game Designer does can actually be rather difficult at times.
Currently, however, it’s quite easy: I do a lot of writing.
I mean, a truckload of writing. A busload — wait! A speeding busload that will explode if it goes under 55 mph! And has to jump a bridge! Yeah!
You get the drift.
Pretty much since I started, I having been hammering away at the keyboard, building up the Game Design Document (GDD). This lovely clump of text describes, at a high level, how the entire game operates. It needs to basically be the equivalent to a TV series Bible. Every question needs to have an answer within; every detail needs to be cataloged; every nook filled with a delicious butter.
This is not as simple as it sounds, because what always winds up happening is that as you start writing up the details of one aspect of the game, you begin to discover ten new elements of the game that need to be addressed, ranging from the programming, to the networking, to the UI, to the actual game mechanics, themselves. And, of course, each of those elements leads to yet another ten things to sort out and settle, at which point you realize that having figured them out, now half of your original statements need to be revised and/or updated to keep everything in line, and so on.
Furthermore, when you write the GDD, you also have to keep in mind that probably about 25% – 50% of what you write is going to need to be adjusted and revised once Q&A starts, and people actually start interacting with the entire system. That’s when you get the explosions of bugs and features that need/should be added, and you suddenly understand why pretty much every piece of software made these days needs a series of patches and updates.
That said, I should note that I’m actually having a ball. I’m pretty much in charge of developing the system; there was some ground work in place when I started, but there has been a lot that has been since added and expanded. Others have been sounding boards and have definitely helped, but still, there are large chunks of the game which, as it currently stands, I can point to as pretty much my idea. That’s both really cool, and really scary. The game’s development time means it will be a while before we complete it, but I’m really interested in seeing this thing developed. It’s a really big project — not so big that it’s overwhelming, but definitely something that is honestly right in the sweet spot of “difficulty.”
This upcoming Thursday is my next big deadline; I’m feeling pretty confident about it, but just need to make sure I don’t get to self-assured. As I mentioned, a lot of new questions might need to be answered as we continue to pour over the GDD for completeness.
By the end of March, we should actually see some of the game in action, and I have this feeling that it’s going to be like when you work for days on a 2-second animation piece, and then see it for the first time. So much time spent for such a brief moment, but that moment is so incredibly awesome that you can’t wipe that idiotic grin off your face.
Well, that’s my gut feeling, anyway. Check back in about a month, and we’ll see!