Difference Between Game Design And Game Development
This article will attempt to answer the question what exactly is game design?
By answering this question, it will give an insight on the differences between designing a game and actually developing one.
To begin with, I believe that most people who are not involved in the video game industry would probably think of both "game development" and "game design" as the same thing.
For most people, it probably wouldn't be an issue to conflate both of them together in the same definition.
However, since I am currently a student with a great interest in video games and game development, my research on this matter was far from satisfactory when I tried to answer this question myself.
I'm not claiming that I know everything about game design, but at least I can say that I know a little something about it.
What is the difference between game design and game development?
The question of what the difference is between game design, graphic design, programming, etc. has been around for some time now.
Game designers are responsible for just about every aspect of a game except one: programming
A good way to distinguish between these two roles is to say that a designer concerns himself with making decisions on paper while a programmer makes them in the computer.
This article will discuss some possible ways to combine all aspects of designing games into one cohesive whole so that there are no vague boundaries between titles like "lead designer" and "game director".
Some people might not agree with my ideas on how this can be resolved thus creating even more titles of clearing up confusion; most likely "senior designer", "lead game designer", "technical director", and "game director". I address this at the end.
Before continuing, let's discuss why this has become an issue in the first place.
As game production becomes more common outside of traditional game companies (many film production houses are beginning to make interactive games, for example), it becomes essential that individuals learn various aspects of game creation so they can at least speak intelligently about what they want their game to be like.
This way it is possible to communicate between industry professionals who know programming and those who don't.
The same goes for designers versus producers; if both know middleware programs like 3D Studio Max then there won't be any misunderstandings about how long something will take to make.
As games become more and more like movies it becomes harder to distinguish the roles in producing them.
A great example of this is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Kojima Productions 2002).
The "script" was written by Shuyo Murata, who wrote the story for MGS1 , but Hideo Kojima had a hand in writing all of the dialogue.
In fact, at one point during production he even took over from Murata so that he could have a greater influence on how scenes were played out.
This is where there can be so much overlap between the titles mentioned above: if a director doesn't want his script messed with then why did he write himself into it?
If a designer doesn't want to be influenced by so-called higher position individuals, what is he doing giving them ideas in the first place?
These are but a few of the many problems that arise when so many different types of people have an influence on one game.
This confusion can even lead to games being canceled because everyone has a different idea about how they want it to turn out.
One great example is The Getaway (Team SOHO 2002) which was originally supposed to come out for the Playstation 2 in autumn 2001, but didn't make this release date and had quite a bit of its content cut.
A producer from Universal suggested that it would be better released with its current amount of content rather than wait until all of it could be included; Team SOHO disagreed.
The reason why this game is important to mention here is because if there had been no argument between the two development teams it would've sold more copies, thus making more money for both of them.
Game design titles like "lead designer", "game director", etc. become meaningless when few gamers can tell who was responsible for what in a game's creation.
This lack of clarity might have arisen from not having enough experience in dealing with multidisciplinary teams nor knowing how to accommodate everyone's input into the final product.
It's similar to how writing a book with lots of authors doesn't necessarily mean that people will enjoy it thanks to each one putting his ideas into the text whether they are wanted or not.
So too can games turn out bad because so many different people have an influence in their creation.
Here's where I propose a solution:
The way to solve this problem is not by creating more titles, but instead by narrowing the differences in what one person does and another does in making a game.
This can be done by each person learning about everyone else's job on a development team.
Then there will come a time when someone with too much experience/expertise in one area is brought down to the level of others (like how Spielberg started out as an intern).
Moreover, such individuals would broaden their skills and become better developers for it; like how Miyamoto who was hired as Nintendo's first artist later became one of gaming's most prolific designers and producers.
This may seem like a utopian idea at first, but it isn't so far-fetched to think that this process has already begun in the industry.
For instance, someone might have started out as an artist and later became a designer because he wanted more creative input on his work.
Although it is true that some people are just born more talented than others, I believe that everyone can be trained into becoming what they want if they put their mind to it.
This way of thinking would not only broaden developers' knowledge of how games are made, but also create stronger connections between the people who make them together.
Game development requires strong interpersonal skills since one must know how to communicate ideas back and forth with each member on a team without alienating anyone.
Talented individuals may have a head start in being able to express their thoughts, but those who are less talented at talking to others will get better with practice.
So too does the process of becoming more involved in development produce better developers since these skills will always help one get ahead at his/her work.
Instead of having many different titles under "game developer", there should be just two: game maker and game player (where one is just at the bottom rung of the latter).
I think one of the main reasons people would consider designing and developing a video game as the same thing is because most games will have both designers and developers, and they usually work on the project together.
Although this may be true in most cases, this doesn't mean that designing a game and developing one are the same thing.
There are actually significant differences between these two.
Designing a game is not just an ordinary process in which you, well, design what the game will be like.
It's more complicated than that in many ways. For example, when you're in school and have to plan out your thesis, you usually draw up an outline or a schematic of what the paper will be like, which is sort of like designing it.
But this isn't exactly game design because you are not working with other people to make said proposal come alive for others to see and experience.
You are simply writing something.
Game design, on the other hand, is more than just planning.
When you're designing a game, you'll need to work with the developers of the project and provide them with all of your ideas on how you think the game should go.
You will also need to answer questions like whether or not certain features will be included, and what sort of roles different characters will play given a specific scenario.
For example, you would most likely need to provide the developers with key story points that form the backbone of your game's narrative structure, as well as how major conflicts will be established and resolved.
This may sound like a great deal of work, but this is only a small fraction of what designing a game entails.