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Do you have what it takes to design games?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by imaginaryhuman, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    When I see the results that many game developers produce, it shows me a sign of a) what is happening in their mind/thoughts, and b) whether they have the ability to discern whether something is good or not.

    So it seems like to be successful in design/style, you have to have a sense of taste/style, you have to be able to know what is attractive and what isn't. It's kind of like if you want to sing but you're tone deaf, you're not going to produce nice sounds. So you need some kind of `talent` for being able to tell whether something works or not, whether it's a good idea or not, whether the style is right or not, whether it is easy to use or not.. you need to be able to make decisions about quality.

    So this seems to be an essential ingredient in being successful at making 'good games' - you gotta have some taste.
     
  2. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Wildly logical.
     
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  3. Kiwasi

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    Yes, taste is important. And it's only the beginning.

    Taste is what the noob dev brings. "I play lots of games, therefore I know what a good game is". This is true. A gamer has a leg up on my mother-in-law.

    But it's a long, long way from "knowing a good game when I see one" to "knowing what all of the bits in a good game are, and how they combine to make a game good".
     
  4. tedthebug

    tedthebug

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    I leave all visual design & code architecture to the artists & programmers respectively once I've gotten a prototype working (paper or code). Given the way I dress no one is going to trust my taste.
     
  5. Martin_H

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    I'm not sure if taste is the best way of phrasing it. But I think I understand what you mean and I agree. Imho an academic education in graphic design, architecture or product design will go a long way in "teaching you to have taste". It's not only down to talent, but for some it can be, if that makes sense.
     
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  6. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    As someone who struggles with the "talent" part, I agree.

    Luckily, talent isn't all of it. Passion matters, as does effort invested. Additionally, this is a skill - it's trainable, learnable. You can learn to make games of a certain quality, and you can experiment to learn new things. Going any further, requires talent, and passion, and a minimum amount of invested effort.
     
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  7. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Talent is a gift. And, research shows that 'natural aptitude' is generally overwhelmed by lots of deliberate practice. Of course, if you have natural aptitude AND you work hard ... well, rock on!

    Gigi
     
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  8. Steve-Tack

    Steve-Tack

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    Like the famous Thomas Edison quote: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
     
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  9. Master-Frog

    Master-Frog

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    I'm not sure what it's worth, but if you go based on responses I have gotten for my artwork, people have said very nice things. So, I guess I could be considered "talented", going on what people have said to me. I have received decent responses on my games, which have gotten better over time as I have improved. So how does this happen? Well, let me tell you first what it isn't. You don't just wake up one day, scribble on a piece of paper and have it look cool. I had a person say to me, once, after I scribbled a stick figure "wow, I didn't know you could even draw something crappy. I thought it was just automatic." No. It is not automatic. I can tell you stories about spending hours... literally hours... erasing and redrawing parts of a character until the paper had turned a deep shade of ugly gray and was frayed and no longer capable of being used as a finished drawing, any more. I have burned holes through paper with my eraser. I have depleted several ball point ink pens of all ink. I have erased down to the metal on more pencils than I can count. Broken more pencil leads than I care to remember. And you know what? I'm still no master.

    And working on games? The first game I ever made? "Not bad for your first game." Man that was a blow to my ego. "not bad for a first game". And you know what, one time I showed someone one of my games and all they commented was that they liked the music... which I ripped from an NES game, it wasn't even mine. In other instances, I got compliments on my animations but not on my games.

    The point is, it is all about hard work, it is all about training, learning, studying, mastering the craft, failing over and over again, working tirelessly while all of your friends play League of Legends. Want to know who has what it takes to be a master game designer? Show me the 12-year-old kid with a pair of headphones on, F***ing around in GameMaker until 1am and I'll show you.

    Talent is nice, but the best talent is the ability to work your F***ing ass off.
     
  10. Prototypetheta

    Prototypetheta

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    @anslemo.fresquez very true, persistence is perhaps the best talent.
     
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  11. AndrewGrayGames

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    Just don't let persistence edge over into that particular patch of stubbornness where you don't listen to other people.

    Put differently? Bullet-resistant vests have a little bit of give to them for a reason - namely, taking bullets.
     
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  12. theANMATOR2b

    theANMATOR2b

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    This is a cool thread -
    I think persistence increases the chance to improve.
    Ive also found adaptability to be a valuable asset in increasing the ability to identify quality in our own creations.
    I think this is what Id consider "taste".
    Kind of -
     
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  13. tedthebug

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    Isn't that the basis of all evolution? Adaptable persistence.
     
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  14. Billy4184

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    As an engineer, I can't help but believe that everything must eventually surrender before science and logic. To understand art, you have to understand emotion, and emotion when all is said and done is supposed to be a useful and logical abstraction of certain principles of reality in order to speed up response time. Emotions are supposed to guide us toward good choices, to clarify the complex world into simpler symbols (feelings) but not to have some special significance of their own. Therefore I think that if you understand the development of emotional reflexes, and why they are formed, you can understand what makes a player respond positively toward your game. However whether or not you want to take a Phd in psychology and human development is up to you.

    That said, some people who are very familiar with emotional symbols and how they can fit together, can accurately draw in the emotions of their audience and manipulate these emotions even without fully understanding what these emotions are for. These people would be in the category of 'talented artists'. Usually these people have the ability to model the effects of their work on themselves, through a high level of empathy.

    Now the funny part is that evolution made emotion and logical thinking in some senses mutually exclusive. I believe this is to allow people to fully rely on emotional responses in certain situations. This makes it hard IMO to be a successful solo game developer because you have to be both an artist and a code engineer, and switch between emotional and logical thinking. I can't remember if I mentioned before but I read somewhere in an interview with the boss of a big studio that what he called 'good technical artists' are very hard to find. That is, people who can create emotionally stimulating art, but also who can do things like engineer their own tools/rendering engines etc.

    Also I don't believe in the idea of talent in the sense of it being something 'extra' which other people lack. Talent IMO is a convergence of general intelligence, personality type and the low-level effects of life-changing events that make a certain path in life something of a general necessity as it satisfies very deep subconscious needs. Without psychologically reengineering themselves, most people probably cannot change the direction of their 'talent' although I think it is certainly possible if they really want to do it.

    So in conclusion, you have two avenues. Try to become a more emotional person (probably not as good as it sounds) or try to understand the science of emotion without letting it make you feel as if you're devaluing your audience. The last part is crucial, there's a lot of antagonism toward using psychological engineering in games but every good psychological experience is well-engineered, even if not consciously so, so it's up to you. And just remember that a lot of engineering principles, such as symmetry, functional complexity, ordered patterns and many other things have a lot of relevance to the emotional sense of beauty.

    Sorry if this was long and boring, but then again, I'm not really sorry :)
     
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  15. imaginaryhuman

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    For me I think I have SOME taste/style... I can sort of critique things and have a sense of... well, this looks good, but that doesn't, and this needs to be better somehow. However I definitely don't necessarily start out on some kind of highly polished talented footing, I always start out kind of basic and rough and then I can tell that it's basic/rough so then I guess I iterate a lot to polish it up and improve it and ask myself how it can be better. Maybe over time the entry-level bar for new stuff is gradually going up but I think it's more down to my ability to discern `good from bad` that eventually leads me to a more polished end result than some super talent that lets me knock out really great stuff immediately. Kind of like, "I'll know it when I see it", or "I don't know what I need to do to make stuff look good but I know this isn't it".
     
  16. Billy4184

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    From this thread, and the other threads you've posted before, I think the problem has mostly to do with you not really having motivation, or a message, rather than ability. If you haven't got anything to say, and someone hands you the microphone, all you can do is polish your ums and ahs.
     
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  17. frosted

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    Honestly, I don't think that taste is particularly important.

    The word "taste" kind of implies that there is a 'right' decision, and that "taste" will help weed out the 'wrong' choices, or at least help you pick out the 'right' one.

    There are certainly better or worse decisions that can be made in game dev, I'm not saying that all choices are equal. But a tight game design is about understanding how the design choices work together to create a game that fills the niche it's targeting. Different games will offer differing amounts of depth or complexity or immersion, and the choices here will alienate or embrace different kinds of players.

    I believe that what matters more than 'taste' is consistency, a clear, firm grasp on your goals and an understanding of how the different tools and techniques work to achieve those goals.
     
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  18. Atzig

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    Taste is completely subjective, style as well. Anyone can tell if something looks good. And "b) whether they have the ability to discern whether something is good or not.", is completely bogus. If a bad, poorly executed feature makes it into a game, or even if a game has a disagreeable style, there are far more factors involved than the "ability to discern whether something is good or not.".
     
  19. Billy4184

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    Don't forget that everything has utility in some respect. All these things such as 'taste' and 'style' that people would like to think are special and mystical all have an underlying utility that we are probably not aware of. However I don't know if approaching the question of what makes attractive art or gameplay is best done by trying to break down its utility, as it might be so abstract and indirect that it isn't really useful to know the specific reason. But I would say it is useful to keep in mind that all the instincts that we have regarding good or bad art are part of a logical psychological system (not necessarily universal) that has utility in a real sense. And that means that it is possible to discern good and bad art without being an 'arty' person.
     
  20. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    If you only use science and logic, then you may as well teach a computer a sense of humour. Can you?
     
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  21. Gigiwoo

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    Why not? We can start by breaking down humor this way - it's an interesting story that takes an unexpected twist. Then, you can add layers like call-backs, how often to change topics, and other sorts of things. You tie that in with a mix of culturally relevant topics, such as politics, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality. It would take years to hone it to reasonable effectiveness. And ... that is kidn of exactly what comedians do.

    Within the next 20 years, computers could easily be joke creators, tellers, and possibly, our primary form of comedy.

    Gigi
     
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  22. Martin_H

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  23. Billy4184

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    I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. The issue would be determining whether the computer really thought it was funny or whether it just decided that now was a good time to laugh.

    Edit: but then again, how do you know if your own response to something funny was not the same thing?

    Edit2: What @Gigiwoo said is interesting, and I would take it further by saying that humor (in part) is a release of tension that forms between the subconscious being confronted with something unexpected or contradictory, and the conscious realizing that the lack of ability to resolve the issue is not threatening/simply part of the 'game' of humor. Have you noticed that a lot of comedians have slightly threatening body language when delivering a joke?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015
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  24. hippocoder

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    Jokes are what I laugh at least, funnily enough.
     
  25. TenKHoursDev

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  26. J-Cewp

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    This is rather hard to say. You can't initially base someone's worth off of their initial attempts. If Disasterpiece's early creations weren't as "advanced" or "interesting" as those of his time, and he gave in to the inhibitions that he didn't "have what it takes", he may not have continued on to be one of the most recognized indie VG composers.

    Like, you may not have what it takes to make a successful game (i.e. Bastion) right now, but that doesn't mean it is impossible.

    Hm..does a talent have to fulfill a need? When I was younger, I played basketball with a kid who was EXCEPTIONALLY good. He never went out and played on basketball teams, though. He played it because it was common in his neighborhood and it could be his being athletic allowed him to catch on rather fast. Despite having that "talent", though, it did little for him. He didn't feel the need to play basketball outside of recreational usage and he did it because it was easily accessible and what everyone played. It just so happens that he ended up being very good at the sport.

    I guess, for me, a talent is a skill or characteristic, that is naturally easy for a person to master, compared to other actions. For example, I'm talented at sports, but when it comes to arts and crafts, she owns me. Not saying that I will never be a good artist, but the amount of effort I would have to put in to be on the same page as her, naturally, is exceedingly greater.
     
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  27. hippocoder

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    OK I'll explain since it's probably the same for you as well. You will laugh more at situations, surprising events for interesting characters and so on, basically we as a race, laugh more at things that aren't fabricated jokes. If you think about it. And that's important to observe since you can't just tell joke after joke in a game.
     
  28. Master-Frog

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    And you can get more.laughs by not trying to make people laugh.
     
  29. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    I make people laugh a few times on these forums, but I'm quite dry so it appears I'm ultra serious :)
     
  30. tedthebug

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    People appreciate a sophisticated joke but laugh more at slapstick & fart/poop stuff.

    Edit: & women laugh more at guys getting hit in the groin
     
  31. Billy4184

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    I was referring to talents of the mind, not the body. The body of course comes with a wide range of performance capabilities.

    And so does the mind, to some extent. All I'm saying is that IMO and for all intents and purposes you can do what you want with the mind that you have, such as it is. However our personality, formed through our worldview and life experiences, dictates a lot of what we are capable of achieving - under normal circumstances - in a certain area by governing how much that area 'compels' us, how much motivation and subconscious satisfaction we get from it. And that runs so deep into 'who we are' that we can hardly expect to control it, although I think it is possible. The conclusion being that someone who is not 'talented' at art might possibly learn to be compelled by art at such a deep level that they are able to excel in it to the extent that they have the physiological tools for it. Although I have no idea what it would take exactly.

    I do think that for an 'engineering type' trying to become more of an 'art type', it is better to focus on areas that are at least close to being common in those two areas. I find designing semi-realistic sci-fi art to be orders of magnitude easier than designing fantasy art simply because the design is easily informed by engineering principles and is less driven by emotional symbolism. That said there is certainly some real metric that could be used to judge good fantasy art but I'm not sure what it is.
     
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  32. Billy4184

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    That's a good point, I think sophisticated jokes produce more of a smile and a sense of pleasure while slapstick jokes are more of a semi-hysterical release of tension. I think if you could teach a computer how to be anxious, you could teach it to appreciate slapstick. Although I find it very hard to imagine exactly how to make a computer feel pleasure or pain, even on a simple physical level. I'm sure it's possible though.
     
  33. happywheels

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  34. Tomnnn

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    No. It's a fruitless hobby that I enjoy. My ideas are usually suited to only me, save for when I pop out a horror game that terrifies my friends.

    Hello new member. I believe you should check out your profile settings to properly set that signature :p Enjoy your permanent residence on the forums.
     
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