Sometimes, it feels like everybody wants to be a game designer… and why wouldn’t they? From outside the industry, game designers have the ultimate cool jobs. However, when talking to these aspiring game designers, I often find they don’t have visions of Excel sheets and rulesets, but rather a romantic view of playing games all day, of writing stories in games, or of being the one in control. Unfortunately, a game designer isn’t the equivalent of a Hollywood director. In any case, it takes a director of strong character to handle the push/pull, to adopt the suggestions that fit the vision, and reject those that don’t.
Not all game designers have the clout to control the project from beginning to end. It’s not hard to find a development horror story where investors insisted a team make design changes to make the game more like another game, thereby consigning the game to interminable feature creep. It seems to me it’s far easier to make a game suck rather than to make it shine, and the more people involved in a constant tug of war of wills will only lead to a muddled mess.
Understandably, if you’re spending $X million dollars, you want the game to NOT suck. Perhaps that’s why it’s even more important for investors to trust their team and let the designers do their job. Surrendering the creative process is never easy but ultimately, the game profits from a more collaborative spirit.
Anyone disagree? Should producers and investors have tighter control over designers?