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Subject: Designer and developers? Huh? rss

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Łukasz
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So, what is this story behind game designers and developers? How is designer different from developer?

I am of IT origins and in this genre everything is simple and straightforward - designer is someone who defines vague assumption, sketches the general solution design which generally may include database structure, classes and methods and so on. Developer is someone who does the dirty work i.e. sits and implements all the designer has come up with.

Who is then a game designer and who is the game developer? And how those relate to game author?
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Chris Cieslik
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grouchysmurf wrote:
So, what is this story behind game designers and developers? How is designer different from developer?

I am of IT origins and in this genre everything is simple and straightforward - designer is someone who defines vague assumption, sketches the general solution design which generally may include database structure, classes and methods and so on. Developer is someone who does the dirty work i.e. sits and implements all the designer has come up with.

Who is then a game designer and who is the game developer? And how those relate to game author?


Roughly speaking, the developer is similar to the editor of a book, where the designer is similar to the author.
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Pete Belli
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Any circus monkey with a computer can design a board game.

Good playtesters are rare.

A skilled game developer is worth his or her weight in gold.
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pete belli wrote:


Any circus monkey with a computer can design a board game.

Good playtesters are rare.

A skilled game developer is worth his or her weight in gold.


Plus, we get to crush stick figures in diagrams by making inverted pyramids tip over! Whee!
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Ted Vessenes
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Designers make the game fun to play. Developers make the game fun to play against.

In other words, a designer comes up with all the cool, interesting mechanics. A developer's job is to make sure the game doesn't have degenerate strategies and that everyone can participate for the majority of the game.

To use a metaphor, a designer's job is to figure out what a house should look like while a developer's job is to make sure the house can stand up.

For the record, I'd like to disagree with that pyramid. I find game design insanely difficult. It's easy to be a bad game designer, just like it's easy to be a bad developer. But coming up with new and clever ideas is very challenging. It's every bit as challenging as knowing the precise circumstances a certain rule needs to apply in order to make sure losing players have a shot at winning the game without making the decisions of the winning players meaningless.

And while we're on the subject of playtesters, most playtesters are really bad too. In general, gamers are great and telling whether they are having fun, but they have no concept of why or why not. When I develop games, I usually ignore the substance of a suggestion (unless I trust the person). I try to figure out what feelings would motivate them to make that suggestion, then come up with the change that best addresses their emotional reaction.
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Adam Starkweather
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Quote:
Roughly speaking, the developer is similar to the editor of a book, where the designer is similar to the author.


I don't think I would agree with this comment. I would say rather that the designer makes the game and the developer makes the game work...

He also needs to know his designer and know how to push and when to pull.

Just my two cents.
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In the videogame industry, a developer is a professional studio made up of a number of talented individuals, where a designer is one such individual.

From this, I assumed a developer is the operator or director of such a studio. Maybe this is wrong?
 
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adamant wrote:
Quote:
Roughly speaking, the developer is similar to the editor of a book, where the designer is similar to the author.


I don't think I would agree with this comment. I would say rather that the designer makes the game and the developer makes the game work...

That really sounds like editor/author to me.
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J C Lawrence
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The classic model is that the developer works for the publishing house and does whatever is necessary to maximise sales profits for the publisher of the game. What does that encompass? Anything that is is required to maximise sales profits. Standard examples include re-theming, rewriting the rules, changing the rules, adding and removing mechanisms from the game, recasting the art, changing the bits, inputs to advertising campaigns, changing price-points, etc etc etc. Anything that might increase sales profits is fair game and in general the game designer has little voice and even less involvement in that process, or what is done to and with their game.
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This sounds more like the relationship between producer and script writer in movie making than the relationship between editor and author in book publishing. One similarity would be that the editor draws a salary, while the writer gets a royalty cheque once in a while if they're lucky.

I'd like to see a drawing of two pyramids, each of them subject to Sturgeon's Law, their golden tips meeting in the middle to crush the playtesters.
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This is the first time I've heard anyone mention the word developer in the context of board games. The word developer comes from the computer world where the making of a program is called developing. Developer is not a specific profession it just means someone working with software development. Sometimes people use the term only to refer to programmers but both designers and artists are also part of a development team/company.

For board games usually the designer does all the development work, except for artwork. But people do not talk about board game development, people talk about board game design. It's the same thing really. If you where writing a book then you'd be called an author instead.
 
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From the book Wargame Design published by SPI:

"...it is not the designer or the design that makes a good published game; it is the developer. The designer will make the game come to life but it is the developer who transforms the game from a simple idea and a collection of facts to a finished, polished product."

"Development is the most crucial part of publishing a game. It doesn't matter whether the designer/publisher is a novice or experienced. It doesn't even matter whether the game is an exact reproduction of history or a virtual toy. If the development stage fails, the game will fail."


Written by Stephen B. Patrick, who knows a thing or two about the subject.

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pete belli wrote:
Written by Stephen B. Patrick, who knows a thing or two about the subject.


That is what I originally assumed.
 
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Awakening wrote:
This is the first time I've heard anyone mention the word developer in the context of board games.


In the rulebook of FAB: The Bulge they even had long, two column articles written by both, developer and designer.

I am not quite sure but I would risk a statement that developer first occurred in the context of real estate building and then it was adapted to IT industry. I may be as well wrong, mind you.
 
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Well, I can quite easily say that I'm doing all the design and development work on my own games, except for final artwork. I think that's the normal way of doing it. Z-Man didn't change anything in my rules for The King Commands, It just got a new look (even following my artistic design for the cards). You often hear about designers doing playtests and refine their games. It might be nice to be able to only focus on the design part but I'm too much of a perfectionist to let anyone else mess around with my game rules.
 
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Awakening wrote:
Well, I can quite easily say that I'm doing all the design and development work on my own games, except for final artwork. I think that's the normal way of doing it. Z-Man didn't change anything in my rules for The King Commands, It just got a new look (even following my artistic design for the cards). You often hear about designers doing playtests and refine their games. It might be nice to be able to only focus on the design part but I'm too much of a perfectionist to let anyone else mess around with my game rules.


This is not to say there's anything wrong with the games you design: in my opinion that strict separation of someone who provides a vague - compared to the final product - design of the game and someone who does the rest mostly regard games of higher complexity, like war games in which rules span over dozens of pages.
 
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grouchysmurf wrote:
This is not to say there's anything wrong with the games you design: in my opinion that strict separation of someone who provides a vague - compared to the final product - design of the game and someone who does the rest mostly regard games of higher complexity, like war games in which rules span over dozens of pages.

Well, I can definitely see it as a useful way to split up the work, especially in more complex games. People tend to be most suitable for either task, not both. But on board games as a whole I do not think it is common practice, development is usually part of the design process.
 
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