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Ask Me Anything

This page is where you get to ask me anything.

I’d gladly take your questions about designing games especially, so if you’ve ever wondered how to go about getting into the games industry, or what being a designer on a project entails, here’s your chance to ask someone who knows.

Other questions are, of course, most welcome too. Just use the comments field below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

6 Comments
  1. Anton permalink

    Hey Odious!

    I got hooked on your first part of letter to an aspiring designer. I am about to step onto similar path, looking into getting into QA from where I hope I can work my way up. Would it be too much to ask from you to tell in short how your path looked after what is described in your letter article?

    Regards,
    Anton.

    • Absolutely. Basically, I was doing QA of more than one kind, and eventually wound up at a company that didn’t know as much as I did about localization. This happened twice, in fact. The first company was happy with my work in setting up the localization pipeline as I’d learned elsewhere, after which they went bankrupt. The second company fared better though, and after I’d basically saved their asses on the localization front I was given a chance to write a few game concepts and mechanics designs (where I shamelessly had to steal formatting and even some methods – nobody had trained me to do design after all).

      They liked the end result and hired me as a designer. Had that not happened I probably would have ended up as a producer of sorts, because of the administrative work I’d done. The trick is to not try to get out of QA by doing more and better QA work. If anything, you should try to identify and fix systemic issues within the QA department, or even better other departments. Find the job that nobody is doing (but that somebody should be), and then do it – while also doing what you’re actually paid to do. That will get you noticed for sure. Especially if you end up fixing procedural errors that affect more than one project. That’ll end up saving them hundreds of thousands of moneys, which is always appreciated.

      Just be careful when fixing other people’s processes. Sometimes they don’t take kindly to having their failures brought to light. Your manager, however lovable, may end up proving to be a neurotic, precious little princess… so be careful… and be prepared to accept having some credit stolen on your way up. It happens.

  2. Gruess OdiousRepeater.

    (Mein Deutsch is zu rostig und schlim….so besser aus English). If you can please comment on a game development issue for me I would be very thankful. (I am not a gamer myself although both of my adult sons are enthusiasts but they are not developer professionals like your are and cannot answer my question. I am an old dog myself and gave some game development money to help a past employee of mine move his video game project forward. He is close to having a functional game product now but I do not know if the graphics “realism” will be “pretty enough” to sell in the market so I am asking for some comments. Here is the background information. This engineer and I worked together for many years on my design Teams for advanced automotive engine controls when I was an electronics R&D manager. I have been involved in new product development most of my 64 years but not software development, and this guy I mention was one of the 3 smartest persons I ever worked with here in the USA (and I have worked with hundreds of technical people in my life ……..he is from a family of ethnic pure German villagers driven out of Soviet Ukraine to the USA after the big war). I am not so intelligent myself but I just like to work and guide and assist people on Teams who are smarter than me. Well he is a good man and I wanted to help out and maybe get a win-win for us both. Since our past work days together he has since worked with a history of being employed by very large corporations to solve problems of software that runs too slowly. This guy was always able to rewrite software code for my automotive projects that operated 10 or 100 times faster than so-called state of the art software offered to me and so he was able to get our little company out ahead of huge competitor companies like Siemens, GE and Honeywell. Well since that time, after years of his own private work as a sort of “hobby”, he now has debugged software that makes moving through a 3D game environment go 5 or 10 times faster, and get much closer to buildings and obstacles without “false” crashes into those virtual structures. With the help of his son, who is an serious enthusiastic gamer, they have made their first game for me to review and comment upon. Well to my eyes, this first attempt at a sort of demonstration video “trailer” for the first version of the game seems to have graphics that are a bit better than a cartoon quality, but the quality seems much less “realistic” in aesthetics than many of the games I see offered and advertised on the internet such as some of the newer combat games. My own gamer sons still like to play games that are visually very simple graphically ….even rather crude graphics……At this time my friend’s new fast action game is not that simple in graphic appearance, but not extremely realistic either, so is this new fast game of his a “dead idea” for the marketplace if they do not go further with learning to write code to lift it up the appearance to extremely realistic graphic appearance?…….or are there still a lot of gamers like my sons who like the visually simpler stuff if the game goes very fast and fun???
    Lars in Indiana

    • Hi there Lars.

      No worries, my German isn’t all that good either.

      It’s difficult to answer your question; the market is kind of fickle like that. There does seem to be a wide range of viable aesthetic “styles” though. I think to a large degree it comes down to which target audience the game is for, and what the gameplay is like (is it a shooter, a racing game or what?). The best way to get a quick answer, in my opinion, is to try to expose it to end users in some form as soon as possible, and to get directed feedback. Using something like Steam Greenlight could be a way to go to gauge overall interest. But just writing a thread on a games forum might work just as well. Ask targeted questions like “how do you like the premise” and “do you think the graphics are appropriate for this type of game”. In the end, my opinion isn’t nearly as useful as that of the end user.

  3. Hey!

    I enjoy your blog a lot, due to the excellent topics that you are bringing forth and your style of writing. I do however believe you are unnecessarily mad about some of these topics and this really picks my curiosity as to your situation. I’d love to debate with you (but I am not verbose online much :) ).

    However, my question to you for the AMA section is this: what is your take on Producers? You’ve mentioned them in this post: http://odiousrepeater.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/3-reasons-cool-ideas-are-damaging-video-games-2/ and I got the feeling, in between the lines, that you don’t like them much. So do you think they fill a necessary role in the industry, or are they not needed at all? If you believe they are needed, can you describe to me your ideal producer?

    Thank you!

    • Hey, and thanks.

      As I wrote in that post, I really don’t like the idea of a producer as some sort of “manager” type. I would argue that their merit in the industry overall is pretty non-existent. People don’t respect them, and the responsibilities for the role are ludicruous. Why anyone would want a generalist autocrat in charge of anything, let alone games, is beyond me. I’ve never seen them do anything impressive.

      I do think that there is room for pure “Project Manager”-style producer; Scrum Master types whose mandate is to get the team to work at their most efficient level possible. But these people should have very limited authority, and definitely no creative authority.

      Hope that answers your question!

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