In this episode, we’ll focus on the team makeup going into the development of the currently-stalled Archimedean Assault. For a general overview of the project, go read Part 1 in this series.
I mentioned we had about a half a dozen people that thought this was a great idea for some reason. For a hobbyist, “Hey, who else wants to go get stuff done this weekend?” project, we ended up with an all-star cast of game development awesome.
The Game Designer
nguyenn1 leveraged some awesome connections from a local Soul Calibur Game Night and roped in an honest-to-goodness, gainfully employed game designer from a local game studio.
This was awesome, and we were quickly shaping up to be a legit operation (!!!).
Having a designer on-board for the first time, one thing we quickly learned was that an hour of game designer time could quickly translate to hundreds of hours of development time.
Even though we settled on a general design early on in the project, gameplay evolved as soon as people got their hands on something playable. Evolving design meant more requirements during development, which equated to more time producing art/audio assets and development.
On the plus side, having a game designer allowed others to focus on their work. I could fire up a build of the game, enthusiastically shout “This isn’t fun! Who cares, not my job!” and then toss it over the wall like a good and/or bad engineer is prone to do. Being able to lean on the game designer was certainly handy for maintaining focus in the face of a game that wasn’t immediately fun.
Of course, in order to be able to toss it over the wall, we had to expose a bunch of levers to allow the game designer to tweak core gameplay mechanics. Keep in mind that we started with the game jam format, which roughly translates to producing code that only looks like it works by Sunday.
Letting the designer muck with game mechanics is a data-driven concept, and the game jam schedule is on the opposite end of that particular spectrum. That got us in a bind where virtually everything was hard coded and needed to… not be.
Exposing gameplay mechanics for the game designer ended up taking just as long as the original game jam schedule. Whoops.
Lesson learned. All roads lead to data-driven content. Got it.