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A sit down with a gentleman

Cleb - October 13, 2015

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then consider this my autobiography.

I am the Lead Artist for CURE, but I am also the Lead Designer. I take game design very seriously, and devote much of my day thinking about various game mechanics and schemes. I have been asked to answer the same questions that Tony answered in his post. So without further ado, I present to you an interview with a gentleman.

 

How do you describe game design to people who don’t know what it is — say, when explaining your job at parties?

I would usually say I make video games, and wait to see if they give me the I love video games face, or the oh no is he going to talk to me about the computer machine. However I feel that game design is really about boiling down a game to its base mechanics and figuring out if that is fun. Many games have all kinds of bells and whistles, from graphics, storyline, all the way to the User Interface, and if a game does not have a strong back bone of game mechanics then all the other features will fall flat on their faces.

 

What are the best 30 seconds of game design ever?

This is a tough question. I would say my favorite 30 seconds of game design would be the first time I got an epic drop in Diablo 2, or any other loot based game for that matter.

 

Do you think of game design as similar to other forms of design (industrial, graphic, etc.)?

I would say you can certainly borrow from other disciplines to create a great game, but generally I think that great games have a strong center that does not really exist in most other mediums, which is the game play itself. Many games are great from the moment the base mechanics are completed. This means that the your FPS was great when you were just walking around a white room shooting red dots at a blue circle. However I don’t think you can enjoy a book that is just a basic plot outline for more that a few minutes, and even the best silly cat video on the internet gets old eventually.

 

What’s the biggest thing players just don’t understand about game mechanics?

I think the biggest mystery with game mechanics, is what is the actual fun part. Any one can say it would be great if there was a game that would let you run around with a flaming sword, summoning dragons that could shoot ice crystals from their eyes, and you just run around slaying enemies for gold. However you have to get beyond all of the details and hit the central core of what you are trying to achieve. There have been several amazingly built games that ignored the most basic aspects of their game, and failed as a result. My favorite punching bag is Diablo 3. There were so many design decisions that were made in that game that completely undermined why people play Diablo games.  Dont take my word for it look at how much content they have had to delete or add since its launch, and see how many players they lost in the first 3 months after its release. I think that players some times also forget that not all games have to do everything. Another great example of a game that was met with some apprehension is Destiny. I believe in the attempt to please everyone from fps gamers to hard core mmo players, Destiny made a game that does not hit either completely.

 

Deep down in your heart of hearts, which are you more partial to: simplicity or complexity?

Im sad to say complexity. I usually take it too far and it ends up biting me in the end. Some would say that designing and building video games is the ultimate game in and of itself, and I will tell you it is definitely complex.

 

Should you design for yourself, or should you design for your audience?

I would say you must design for yourself, while keeping the audience in mind. If you tried to make a game by committee you would never get finished and it would be a complete mess. Every game needs a vision and a drive behind it, to not only be finished but to be a great game. However there are times where the community has a better idea, or what you are doing is just not working with what your core mechanics promote. In these moments I think it is a good thing to be able to be receptive to the feedback you are getting.

 

Who do you consider at the top of your field, and why?

Its very hard to say. Others have definitely been apart of projects much bigger and grander than anything I have ever made, however I have no safety net. Other then Tony and James, I am the only one who can solve any problems that arise, or have that great eureka moment that will make the difference between something that is great, and something that is just mediocre. I am usually surprised with how well I can converse and keep pace with other people in my field who are much more successful than me, and have been around much longer. I think this is because I am never able to become lazy, I always have to be improving and learning new things, or I will get left in the dust.

 

What are the essential tools of your trade?

I am going to have to defer to Tony’s point on this one. I think that a good work ethic, passion, and determination are really the only things you need in order to make a game that you can be proud of.  Of course a computer helps.

 

How does the hardware or platform you’re designing for change your design? Does your work conform to its container, or do you find the right container for your work?

I think of the game first. and usually conform the work to the container when needed. I am always keeping game performance in mind when coming up with ideas and art, however I do wish that was a little better versed in the nuances that is releasing a game that can run on different systems, with different capacities.

 

What’s the most important game mechanic of the past 10 years?

I would say that the certainly most game changing mechanic that has developed has been the free to play model. I personal hate 90% of the game mechanics that are built around this pay model, but it seems to be gaining ever more traction, and more and more large companies are getting on board with limiting the amount of fun you can have behind dozens of pay walls, and making sure the game is not really that fun unless you give them money.

 

How does your office or workplace change your work?

First off you need a comfortable chair, and monitors lifted up to your eye level. I barely have both of these and can attest that it is completely necessary at a certain point. I find what impacts me more than my work space is the start of my day. I love to have a solid start. For me that usually a good cup of coffee, maybe look out the window, then sit down and really dig in to what I need to do. I really hate soft starts, or days when I have a bunch of random things to do that get in the way of my zen.

 

What non-game art influences you the most?

The star wars original trilogy, and the lord of the rings trilogy come to mind. Mainly because I want to find a way for you to genuinely feel like you are apart of one of those universes. I also really enjoy armor smithing , and other medieval activities.

 


 

Thank you for reading my thoughts. If you agree or disagree with any of my points I would love to hear what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment, or talk to us on any of our social media outlets. We also just love talking about game design so if you have any other questions or ideas please let us know.


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