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Rick Goodman Interview Part Two

March 17, 2003 by Stainless Steel Studios

Rick Goodman talks about what its like to work in the game industry

What are the most important skills to posses for the role of game designer?
The game design process is one of creativity and communication. Creativity is required in order to devise the game mechanics and communication is required so that all other team members can implement the design. You must communicate the look and style of the graphics to artists. You must communicate every tiny detail of game play to the programmers who will implement the features. You must communicate precisely how features will work to the test team so they can verify that the game is working as intended.

What sorts of teamwork and meetings are required on a daily basis?
I create design documents on a daily basis. These are as detailed as possible, so that little room for miscommunication is left. Much of the rest of the communication is done through constant meetings. We have weekly meetings with various departments to discuss issues and company meetings to discuss broad issues. Steering Committee meetings allow management to discuss strategic issues. We have an open door policy, which allows any employee to walk into my office and have a meeting with me, if they feel it necessary. We also perform employee surveys which enable employees to provide feedback to management on our performance.

Does a game designer need excellent writing skills?
Writing skills are important. Technical writing skills, to be precise, are needed in order for you to communicate with detail and precision. You also need to understand the importance of constantly communicating the vision of the game to other employees through email, design doc.s meetings, presentations and slide shows. When developing a game, it is, in fact, unfinished until the very end of the cycle. Therefore, you need to be able to communicate what the game is "supposed to look like", since, you are the only team member who has a good picture of the final product in your head, during development.

How important is it to communicate the design of the game with other departments? With the publisher?
Both are of great importance. Internally the goal is this: To have everyone be knowledgeable about the latest design decisions at exactly the same moment in time. If you could achieve this, then, employees would rarely have differing interpretations about the intent of game designers. However, often, people in the organization believe different things about the game design and therefore, confuse themselves and others. Publishers and developers typically have a contentious relationship, since they have different values. It takes a great deal of communication between these parties to keep the relationship healthy and intact -- its a full time job.


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