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Lord British: "Most game designers really just suck"

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by Morgoth, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Morgoth Arcane Patron

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  2. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    RPG Wokedex Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    This isn't the first time he says this: http://www.industrygamers.com/news/game-industry-legends-richard-garriott-de-cayeux/


     
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  3. evdk comrade troglodyte :M Patron

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    Codex 2012 Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign
    Now the only thing missing is for him to understand that he has become the very thing he despises and we might get some proper Ultima spiritual sequel out of the catharsis.
     
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  4. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    RGC: I consider myself a student of the Tolkien style of fictional development, and yet virtually no one even in my own company, having heard me expound on this for years and years and years, will put in the long nights and weekends of study in order to come up with something that is of similar power.

    IG: Tolkien was very methodical about how he developed his works...

    RGC: As am I. For instance, I wrote a whole electro-pop-rock opera for Ultima IX, before I even started designing the game.

    IG: That's incredible. Do you still have it ? Can we listen to it ?

    RGC: For a private cassette session, you'll have to buy the $10.000 tier of my new Single-Player-MMO(c), Shroud of the Avatar. Here's a sneak peak, only for you :

     
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  5. TalesfromtheCrypt Arcane

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    Well his point is kinda valid. "Game Designer" sounds like a "knows a bit of everything, but isn't good at anything" kind of profession. I don't think it makes sense to get into an academic program in order to "learn" to become a designer. It's nothing that can be taught, because there will always a few exceptional individuals with exceptional ideas who will be good game designers, but this isn't the kind of quality that a university or game design school can churn out at a constant rate. Having good game design ideas is just the result of pure luck and talent.

    Designer is the perfect position for lateral entrants, many legendary designers started out as play testers or something like that didn't they (I'm thinking of Harvey Smith right now)? I imagine that someone starts as programmer, artists, writer, bug tester or whatever and during his work it turns out that he has good design ideas and he is then given a new role. When you try to turn a lateral entrance job into a standard career, the results will be terrible.

    As with every other professional field, not only gaming, it's better to acquire a set of concrete skills (like programming or art design) instead of getting into "general" and "interdisciplinary" studies.
    "Designer" programs remind me a bit of Journalism studies at universities. They mostly don't produce any good journalist. It's much better to specialize in an actual field (be it humanities like History or Literature or technical sciences) and if you have a talent for writing, it will come naturally to you and you will learn most of what you need to know on the job.

    Perhaps the decline both in games and journalism today is also caused by this model, where people want to go straight to the "cool" jobs without bothering to learn the skills associated with it (I can't program and I can't draw and I can't write but I have great ideas and I wan't to become a game designer!)

    Of course Garriot has become such a hack that it's difficult to take anything he says seriously, but what he says isn't flat out wrong.
     
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  6. abnaxus Arcane Patron

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    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

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    “I’ve met virtually no one…who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am.”


    This from the guy who directed Tabula Rasa? Fucking outstanding. :5/5:
     
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  8. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    It's a kind of generational arrogance. An 80s era industry veteran who looks down upon down the 90s/2000s generation of designers and doesn't realize they left him in the dust long ago.

    Reminds me of this conversation I had last year: http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/inde...unt-ultimas-corpse.74084/page-24#post-2329595

     
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  9. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

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    As I opined in the primary Shroud of the Avatar thread: I strongly suspect that Garriott was a man in the right place and at the right time, with some basic qualifications (programming ability, dweeby inclinations) necessary to help everything come together for him. Yes, Akalabeth sold, and yes, the Ultimas in which he was deeply involved sold—quite well, actually. Yes, Ultima Online was successful and is considered a classic sandbox MMORPG by enthusiasts.

    I've played most of the Ultima games, and I've never glimpsed any particular genius in Garriott's game design, except that they (before Ultima VIII, of course) are competently executed. Castles, kings, swords, runes, portals, a self-righteous prick protagonist, basic fantasy plot lines... and? What's the punchline? I was born in 1982, so by the time I'd developed the ability to form original thoughts—at about the age of 20, in 2002-2003, being slightly generous of course—the simple game design devices that Garriott is lauded for seemed pretty humdrum.

    It would be one thing if he hadn't been constantly fucking up his projects for the last decade-plus, but he has. Lineage and Lineage II were financially successful, but are Korean grinders, and the original Lineage was fucking AWFUL (tried it back in the day, was an ill-advised venture). City of Heroes/Villains was also successful, but was a shallow MMO for casual gamers. I'm not even entirely sure how much involvement he really had in the aforementioned games. Ultima IX and Tabula Rasa were the projects of his that really mattered, and he completely fucked them up. Just totally screwed them the fuck up beyond redemption.

    There are regulars here on the Codex who, if teleported into Garriott's shoes in the late 70s, could design a far better Akalabeth and Ultima series (or whatever) than he ever did. I'd bet the bank on it. That's not entirely fair, since those were different and simpler times and people were still figuring out what was possible and pioneering certain ideas in games, but the thing is... that's ALL Garriott's ever done well.

    TL;DR Infinitron's right, Garriott has been smoked by his successors and is eating their dust. He just has the honor of having gotten in on the ground floor and not totally fucked it up.
     
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  10. MetalCraze Arcane

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    Garriott's Ultima games play like shit today.
    Even U7 which for some reason people fap to.

    Non existent combat mechanics. Shitty inventory. Working journal? That's for faggots lul.

    And what do they offer in terms of quests? Nothing. It's always some straightforward bullshit.

    If the faggot is so awesome as he says why none of his games, old or modern, can be considered as having a good design?


    Can it be said that best Origin games are the ones that had no Garriott? :M
     
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  11. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

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    That is still vastly more innovative than any of the shit console shovelware they make now.
     
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  12. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

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    That's pretty much the Wing Commander series/spin-offs and a handful of others, so absolutely.

    I think Chris Roberts has the superior approach, to wit, posting loads of informative details about his game—a game for which he already had plenty to show at time of pitch, and which holds strong appeal for his old fans and space sim fans in general—and comporting himself in an open, friendly, and rather humble manner, rather than... well, acting like a douche.

    Well, yes, but that's not saying much. Volourn and Morgoth would be preferable to your average AAA developer.
     
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  13. Machocruz Arcane

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    I've been saying for a while that I believe the majority of project leads in the AAA sector have no talent for the game part. They couldn't make a Tetris or Civilization, or Thief. So they make interactive movies with meager mechanics and challenges. But games are a programmer's medium, or were. As Sean Malstrom likes to say they're engineering problems, not "creative" ones. It is suspect when everyone involved in the making of a game is interviewed except the programmer(s), which happens often in the AAA space. The results speak for themselves. Except for RAGE. No amount of Carmack chatter seemed to matter.
     
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  14. MetalCraze Arcane

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    Games were a nerd's medium.

    A lot of people working at LGS were MIT graduates ffs.
     
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  15. sea inXile Entertainment Developer

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    All I will say is that Richard Garriot is one to talk.

    Game design is a valid profession and there are many great designers out there. Many of them do not have well-known names. I've played games that are built without solid design behind them (and run games where many ideas are created without any sort of design sense or forethought) and I can tell you the results are usually not pretty. Now, whether it is a "valid" profession really depends on what you are doing, how extensive your work is, etc. A core team of designers can really turn what is just a good idea into something fun and memorable, expanding upon it in ways that explore the concept entirely.

    I think dismissing something because it's interdisciplinary is dumb. You need people who are able to form connections between fields and different schools of knowledge. Although it's true that a designer will not necessarily be a "master" at any one thing, trying to get your typical programmer types to relate to your typical art types can often require a bridge. Furthermore, it's the job of a game designer to have exceptional knowledge of games, including what works and what doesn't, to efficiently and effectively create and develop new ideas and then put them into practice - that's a background or critical capacity your average random artist or coder might not have. There's this idea that "anyone can do it" but you can say that about anything - anyone can code with a few months of reading C# tutorials, anyone can draw if they have Photoshop and a tablet, etc. The difference comes in whether you can do it well, and even if you are a programmer/artist who can, the needs of production demand that there are dedicated people to take up that role for the sake of efficiency and organization.

    That said, there is a certain group of people out there who do have the title of game designer, but don't really know much about games. Rather, these people are less interested in designing interesting mechanics and systems, gameplay scenarios, etc. and more concerned with coming up with "cool shit" that they want to see realized in game. You see this especially at some big studios, where networking and personality etc. will get you very far even though you may not have a whole lot of talent. But it's not just restricted to big studios on big budgets either. I have literally seen articles written by game designers who are upset because they feel that their indie status will be undone by their desire for big production values, and they completely miss the fact that game design is about creating games and not just cinematic experiences.

    Modern games are such that many people get into the industry thinking that game design is all about deciding what sort of setting a level should take place in, or what guns would be cool to go shoot-shoot with, without actually understanding what and why setting is important to the context of gameplay, or what the guns they want in the game are representative of (interactions between various mechanics and systems) - and sadly it seems at least at some studios there is a place for those people. That's also why you have so many games coming out that are just "me too" and don't have any creative ideas of their own - without understanding why something works, it's impossible to come up with truly new gameplay ideas that are actually fun, and you're stuck copying everyone else's ideas.
     
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  16. J1M Arcane

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    He is correct, the vast majority of game designers are terrible at their job.

    Considering that he thinks world-building is important, he is probably also correct about being better than most of them.

    That doesn't mean he doesn't also suck. I believe a number of recent projects have had circumstances that make it difficult to judge his current ability. For example, in Tabula Rasa he made a new language to be used in the game and I'm assuming some story development, but I doubt he had any involvement in the social or combat design.

    Let's judge his design merit based on this kickstarter. Something he has full control over.
     
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  17. raw Arcane Patron

    raw
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    many people agree that TR was actually an excellent game and it's all NCsofts fault.
     
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  18. Curious_Tongue Larpfest Patron

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    I haven't played any of the Ultima games, so I can't comment on his genius.

    Todd Howard loves the series, so that would mean... generic and grossly overrated?
     
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  19. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

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    Well, yeah. If Shroud of the Avatar turns out to be amazing, I'll line up to eat crow and welcome him back into the pantheon along with everyone else.

    That said, if Tabula Rasa had been a runaway success, it's fairly evident that he'd have taken credit and bragged about it from the highest mountaintop in the land, rather than pretending it never happened, as is the case now. It's therefore a bit of a double standard to claim we shouldn't judge him by his recent failures. Also, his involvement in the design of TR was manifold, and involved much more than just the language and story development. It wasn't called "Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa" for nothing.

    Still, judging him by Shroud of the Avatar is the best yardstick. I hope it turns out to not suck, despite every indication otherwise.

    Honest question: Are you being completely serious? I played the open beta for its duration (or most of it), and the game was wall-to-wall shit. Story, combat mechanics, class mechanics, quests, enemy variety, gear/armor design and customization, world design, animations... straight-up, wall-to-wall shit. I believe the most-used term for TR on MMO forums I frequented after open beta hit was "a steaming turd".
     
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  20. raw Arcane Patron

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    i have never played TR. I am just repeating what I was told. I never played any Garriot Game except Ultima Online.
     
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  21. made Arcane

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    Ultima sucks balls brah, don't bother. Imagine ArmA, but take out all the badass gunz and tankz and all teh shootan - what's left? NOTHING! LOOL! There's nothing to do in those games except walk around and... whatever lol I can't even tell without a journal.

    Seriously if we could teleport skyway to the 80s he would make better games on his casio calculator than this fag LB lol.
     
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  22. Blaine Cis-Het Oppressor Patron

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    raw

    Ah. Sounds like apologism, a complete lack of taste, or both. I'm fairly sure TR holds the all-time record for how quickly it was canceled among AAA MMOs that actually saw public release.
     
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  23. TalesfromtheCrypt Arcane

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    sea I wasn't dismissing the job of game designer, I think it is a very important one. I just don't believe "game design" is something that can be learned at school or university. In theory it could work, but in practice it will produce mostly shallow and average designers with a fable for QTEs and cinematic "gameplay".

    I think game design (like journalism) should be a typical lateral entrance profession for exceptionally gifted, creative and imaginative people. Turn it into a standard career, and all you get is uninspired mediocrity.
     
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  24. Shadenuat Arcane

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    Note to self if ever become a known game designer: check on Garriot daily to see what's an arrogant prick is and how not to become one.
     
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  25. sea inXile Entertainment Developer

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    Ah I see what you mean.

    Yeah in that case I do pretty much agree with you in that it's not something that can be so easily learned. Practiced, yes, but the only proper education comes from playing a fuckton of games (especially bad ones), practicing your critical ability, learning how to communicate effectively with other people in both speech and writing, how to form cogent and coherent arguments, and so on. That's something not everyone can do so easily and not something you are going to learn by taking a 2-year class at your shitty local college.

    It's a shame because there are only about 2-3 schools in the world with truly good game design programs (DigiPen, Full Sail), and the vast majority of them are really more "game production" classes than anything else that teach you how to use tools rather than how to think properly. Yet now to get into the games industry as a designer it often takes a "game design" degree to even have much hope of being considered for a job. So not only do you have a degree that is basically pointless from an education perspective being sold to thousands of hopeful kids around the world that's basically just a giant money-making scheme for educational institutions, you also have that degree being taken seriously because human resources people need something easy to quantify talent with, and if degree works for everything else it must work for game design too, right?

    Not that I'm trying to stroke my own ego or anything, not like I've accomplished all that much... I'm just saying that a loser nerd like me with little to no professional experience is often completely appalled by the things he sees coming out of the mouths of "professional designers" not because I disagree with them, but because their statements betray the fact that they have no idea what they are really doing and no coherent, logical basis for their ideas. And then they go and waste years of time and millions of dollars of resources due to their incompetence, and get away with it because they are good at socializing and sucking up to the right people, while casting blame on others for their own mistakes. coughjaywilsoncough
     
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