Can you summarize in general the Lead Designer’s role in the videogame development process?
One of the my primary roles is to ensure the game is fun and maintains the overall vision of the Game Visionary. It is my job to worry about the smaller details and how they interact while ensuring that all departments are on the same page in creating a fun game. While production ensures that everything is scheduled out and the resources are being correctly used, Design figures out what is wanted and makes sure that everything comes together and is actually useful and fun to play.
What does the typical work day look like for a game designer?
A lot of checking with other team members (especially in other departments) in order to ensure everyone is on the same page and no issues have arisen. Now that the game has actually released, this also includes reading through all of the forum posts to see what the community is talking about to help plan for patches and future features and seeing if any questions need to be answered. A typical day also includes a lot of working in Excel and XML to balance and implement new features and hopefully getting in a few games both on live with the community and on internal builds to play what is coming next.
How do you know which new design ideas that pop up mid-development will make the game more fun and which will potentially make the game less fun?
A lot of the mid-development ideas usually come for trying to solve known problems and trying to increase “what is already fun” about the game while removing “what isn’t currently fun.” While a lot of discussion is put into the ideas before actual code/art is done, sometimes what might sound fun on paper gets into the game and just isn’t as fun as it seemed to be or needs simple tweaks, which is why we are constantly playing the game at all stages of development to ensure it is still fun.
Can you highlight the most rewarding aspect of working on Battle Battalions?
Seeing the initial concepts and builds end up as a released product and seeing people spend so many hours already playing it, enjoying it, seeing the passion in their discussions and how helpful they are to each other!
Can you identify a specific challenge you ran into while working on Battle Battalions, and how you addressed or overcame it?
Early versions of the tactical combat just had the 3 primary objectives and healing zones and while this was a lot of fun, it lead to a lot of circular gameplay with groups just roaming around between points in a round-robin style of gameplay and didn’t require as much team strategy or changing of strategies as scores increased. One of the things we added to help solve this problem was the idea of secondary objectives and objective locking.
Secondary Objectives not only give teams something else to worry about, but their importance changes a bit depending on the map and how the match is going. For example, the Comm-Link may have less value at the beginning of the match when scores are low and slowing point gain isn’t as important, but near the end of the match, owning it can allow for comebacks and the preventing of the other team locking objectives. Along the same lines, the helipad can be the difference between losing a unit or safely extracting at the beginning of the match, but becomes less useful as the scores get closer to 250 and players begin to extract less often since all the matters is contesting the points for a few more seconds even if it means losing a unit or two.
The ability to lock objectives also gave teams more to think about during a match since they could no longer leave objectives alone for extended periods of time, and Players had to weigh if it was worth the time to stay and lock the objectives (especially secondary that grant bonus rewards) or if they were needed at a nearby location to help a teammate.
What is your favorite Battalion in the game and why?
I actually enjoy all of them since they all have different roles and playstyles depending on how I want to play that day. One of my favorites is the Skirmishers since they are very adaptable and can be played in a variety of different ways depending on what my team needs. In one game I can split them up and multi-task in order to contest multiple points, while in another game I can keep them mostly together and go after enemy infantry groups (especially Hornets and Enforcers) or even use them to harass Enemy Tanks by targeting their rear armor and taking advantage of infantry only cover to get around the map.
If you could counsel young people aspiring to pursue a career in videogame design, what advice would you offer?
Play lots of games, especially the smaller ones, since there are a lot of great ideas out there and it allows you to see different solutions to problems. Also take some time to learn other aspects of Game creation (either Art or Programming Related) since it really helps with getting ideas across and communication with the other departments (and looks great on a resume).
In terms of actually getting into the industry, starting as a developer side tester is a great way to learn things since you end up interacting with all departments seeing how things are done and lot of companies promote from within.