Day at Work: Video Game Designer

Day at Work: Video Game Designer

November 18, 2019 100 By Peter Engel


Designers have to be gamers if you don’t play video games you’re not
going to be able to make it as a designer uh, it’s just the way it is. Like, in my last job I played World of Warcraft, right. Everyone knows what World of Warcraft is. So, I’m uh talking about it one day and my boss goes “Oh yeah I play on this server” and I was like really? And he was like “Yeah, I raid. Want to come raid with me?” And I’m like, “Awesome.” So here we are, it’s like,
11:30 at night one night, our raid decides we’re going to continue going for another hour and I’m like, “Man,I’m going be late to work tomorrow.” And somebody goes, “Well, call your boss.” And I was like, “Hey boss, do you mind if I am late to work tomorrow?” And he was like “Nah, it’s alright.” (laughter) which of course, I mean, how is that at all fair to anyone else
who has a job, ya know? Most days I spend my time building levels. I go into our editor which is our
program that we used to actually build the levels and I go in and I place objects. I make racetracks. Everything that’s in the world is put there because, you know, I’m the one that puts it there. The best design process actually always starts on paper. Its always a good idea to start a paper
because you just kind of think things through and you plan things out better. Plus paper’s really cheap, right? This idea that you you do something on paper it doesn’t take very long. It’s very quick. Ah, and, you can even throw it away and you don’t care. So if it comes out bad you’re like “Oh, okay I wasted like an hour.” Once you have a fairly decent idea on paper and that fairly sure is going to be good then you start building in the editor, but you don’t build it pretty. You build a very ugly, very quick fast, you know, as as quickly as possible. And it’s called blockout stage, and so, then once you
have blockout and you put it in the game, then you play it. And you have to keep playing after every single step you have to play. Because things that you think are great and fantastic will play horribly. (laughter) And at the in end of day
gameplay trumps everything right? I mean, I…. you can have game looks abysmal ,l but if
it plays really well it’s going to play really well and people are going to enjoy it. And then I get other people play it and say, “Hey, tell me what you think?” And uh, if it’s a good idea then we keep building it and keep making it prettier. That’s polish, right? So you just keep polishing it up. I graduated college with a liberal arts degree and I was actually going to be an English
teacher. Like, that was my goal and I got into a a
very prestigious uh, English, um, program with a full
assistantship and everything. The only thing that I ever was more interested in while in college than class was video games. Like, that was the only reason I ever skipped class was to go play a video game. And it happened more than
I’d like to admit, ya know? And so, literally I was browsing
the web and I saw this thing it was like oh the Guildhall SMU we have a 95 percent hire rate. And I was like, wait, ninety-five percent of their graduates get
hired and, wait, wait, wait! I could be making video games, and like, at that point there was almost no discussion, like, my mom was so sad. ( laughter) So went to visit the school to meet
these professors, and so like, I went in and the level design professor at the
time he goes, “Well, name some of your favorite games.” And at the time I was very engrossed in
this game called Morrowwind. And I was like “Morrowind, I love it. It’s a fantastic game!” And he went, “Oh, you know why the dark elves are
blue?” and I was like, “No, I don’t.” And then he goes, “because I wanted them to be blue.” (laughter) I’m going… ah….(laughter)…. I’m going to do this. And, the first Mother’s Day after I
graduated actually happen to grab a t-shirt at a convention, at a game convention that says, “My mom said playing video games would
never pay off.” And she wears it religiously. Like,
every time she’s, uh, like there’s like a family event or something,
she wears this this video game t-shirt.