Got cross-discipline? Why you need it in game development

Only a week or so ago, we had a designer/writer say you don’t need specialist writers.  But the fact of the matter is, everyone is somewhat specialized — few indeed can say they program, model, produce, and write.  And if you know anyone, send them our way 😉  To make a good game, we don’t need to roll up every talent into one person.  We do, however, need to find a way to get the various disciplines working together.  I’ve rounded up a few links on how game developers have been doing just that.

Inside Game Design: Media Molecule
Kareem Ettouney loves the small core team of different disciplines.  He sites other larger companies following the same model.  I’ve worked in a small core team of different types of designers and a programmer on staff — and I loved it!

Getting Coders and Artists to Communicate 
Chock full of great tips for building communication between any two disciplines — whether it be in person or e-mail.  These producers advocate getting out of the way of communication, especially if you’re a control freak, which none of our readers are 😉  Producers should create the opportunity to create, then reward it when it works.  These suggestions dovetail nicely with helping a writer “get it.”

Why Your Game Studio Should Practice ‘Shared Design’
Instead of putting experts from different disciplines, Crystal Dynamics’ Arnab Basu suggests putting your designers across different areas.  Put junior and senior together, let them get their hands on every project coming out of the gate.  This process includes interfacing with external teams, especially in “stunt” design — bringing someone on for a short period on a specific challenge.  Seems like you could use a writer in there who could flexibly move between projects.  I’m just sayin’.

The Secrets Of Portal‘s Huge Success
You know this panel had to show up somewhere.  Kim Swift saw the importance of cross-discipline here, saying there’s a story story and gameplay story.  We like to say they’re ideally the same, but we’ll give them a pass. Working these stories together created a game that was better than the sum of its parts, which is the result of any good cross-disciplinary work.

Sharing the Design
You can still share the design, even if you’re not playing well with others.  This article shows how the old ownership model can still play in in cross-disciplinary design.  Split the work based on strengths, develop a common vocabulary — especially with outsourcers, then keep coming back together to communicate.  A good model for a designer working with a writer whether on staff or on contract.

Found any other great cross-discipline success stories out there? 

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Published in: on April 8, 2008 at 12:03 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] game development is a collaborative process.  Large games need teams of specialized workers. As we discussed in our SXSW Interactive session, […]

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