Lesson 1: Game Designer vs Game Programmer
In this video, we’re breaking down the jobs of game designers and game programmers, showing you how sometimes, they wear each other’s hats, especially in small teams. Tune in to get the lowdown on who does what and how the designer and programmer work hand in hand to bring big ideas to life!
Lesson 1 Transcript
So as you saw in the last module, the roles of game designer and game programmer can very easily mesh together, and this is very true in smaller companies where the designer and the programmer might be the same person or the designer might help out in programming to help things continue along.
Now I want to take a moment and just try to pull those two apart and make sure that you have a solid understanding of the differences between the two. For the most part, the differences are pretty obvious.
If you get into a larger company, a game designer is not going to be the one programming, the programmer is going to be the one programming. But in a smaller space where you have just a few people, it’s still important to understand the distinction between them.
At the end of the day, the game designer is the one who is going to keep the game true to the vision, whatever that vision is, whether it be the game designer’s vision themselves, or it’s handed down to them, or they found it online and they’re just trying to do something, whatever the vision is, the game designer will make sure that happens.
The programmer is the one who creates it and then goes to the designer and says, Hey, is this looking the way you want? Does this function and feel the right way? The programmer will bow down to the game designer in terms of choices and decisions made.
Now, that’s not to say that the programmer can’t influence the game because, like I said before, everyone on the team is going to bring their ideas to the table and a good game designer will listen to their entire team, pull the best out of it, and that will make the game even better than if they were just doing it from their own head.
But those two roles can very easily overlap, and it’s important to understand the difference between them. Now in a game development team, there are lots of other roles as well. So far we’ve looked at game programmers and game designers.
Now I want to take a few minutes to look at the other roles that are really common. These are going to be short videos just to making sure that you understand what goes into making a game and when you’re working on a team.
The other roles that you might encounter out there if you join a larger company. So let’s take a look at those next.
Lesson 2: Game Artist
In this video, we’re shining the spotlight on the game artists – the magicians behind all the cool visuals in your favorite games. Tune in to get the inside scoop on how game artists bring worlds to life, from crafting enemies and players to designing menus and items, and how their roles can change big time depending on the size of the company they’re in.
Lesson 2 Transcript
Now let’s talk about game artists.
Game artists are the people who are going to create pretty much everything you see inside of your game. They’re responsible for enemies, players, items, menus, the gooey level, all of it.
The only things that artists traditionally don’t create are actually particle effects. So things in your game like fire, smoke, fog, things like that, that are dynamically generated.
Oftentimes the artists don’t do a whole lot, and that’s because the game engine themselves has programming that you can call on, functions you can use that will generate that kind of effect.
And it’s a lot easier because particle effects usually need to be dynamic based on where they’re hit or how they’re flying. So it’s a lot easier for a game engine to generate them and render them efficiently if it’s done with code. But everything else you see in the game is going to be by the artist.
The artist’s role will change wildly depending on the size of the company. So if you’re in a smaller company working by yourself or in an indie team, the artist is going to be responsible for making all of the game assets and probably just doing that.
There’s not going to be a lot of extra stuff that the artist does, but when you get into larger teams and big companies, artists are going to be responsible for all of the microtransaction items that you can purchase.
And that means that sometimes after a game gets closer to the end, the artists are going to be cubed off and just told to draw one thing in 20 different colors or minute differences so that they can be sold inside of the game.
And I say sold, but sometimes the game itself, you can purchase them with real money or it’s just in-game money that you actually earn by playing.
The difference is that it doesn’t really matter. But what I’m trying to say is that sometimes at a larger company, depending on the game that’s being made, our current era uses artists to just generate tons and tons of content that is very similar, that can be sold either in the game or with money.
And so the role of the artist there can sometimes be a little more monotonous and boring compared to a smaller studio where what they’re doing is actually bringing the game to life visually in everything they do.
They’re not going to spend a lot of time making extra content for little changes here and there. The things they make are going to be placed right into the game, and they’re going to be part of the core content.
And so a game artist is crucial for making your game come alive. The next role I want to talk about is level designer.
Lesson 3: Level Designer
In this episode, we’re diving into the world of level designers, the geniuses who take all the cool stuff game artists make and arrange them to build the stages and worlds you love exploring in your favorite games.
Lesson 3 Transcript
A level designer takes the art assets that the artist created, whether that be tile sets for 2D games or 3D objects for 3D games, and puts them in the level so that the player can move around and explore and do everything that they’re supposed to do.
Now, there’s a whole lot more that goes into good-level design than just putting objects or placing the tile sets so that they look pretty. We’re going to have a whole design talk on that later, so I’m not going to get into it now.
But the job of a level designer is to make sure that the level looks good, it functions well, that it’s bug-free, and that the player only goes where they’re supposed to go. So if a player is not allowed to go too far to the left or go outside of this area, they have to make it look natural.
Games used to just put up invisible barriers all the time, so you’ve probably seen that in older games that you’ve played. If you weren’t allowed to go somewhere, there was just this wall that you were not allowed to go past and it was really unnatural.
Now, level designers instead block it off in a much more natural way. They’ll place an ocean there. They’ll put a line of boxes or a steel wall, or they will just naturally curve the level to go a certain direction. That way you don’t even want to explore over there.
The level designer does all of those things and makes sure that playing the game in whatever level they’re on feels good and fits everything that it’s supposed to. Next up, we’re going to talk about the sound engineer.