Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Freeplay 2012 - Games & Design


The Freeplay Independent Games Festival 2012 could not have happened without the hard work of all its organisers, sponsors and volunteers, they deserve many thanks. All work and words are copyrighted their respective owners and effort has been made to accurately record every speaker and the content presented. These notes are not from any official channel associated with Freeplay and are for the purposes of providing information.

All notes are available in full via: Dropbox (PDF Download). The PDF will be updated in the next few weeks so check back if you need updates.


Ben Dawe, Media Designer at Firemonkeys & Ivan Dixon from Rubber House

Discussion of design and games and the ugly process there in.

- You have to rationalise design choices to the team otherwise your choices may be "incorrect"
- Style = visual vocabulary
- Everyone trying to attain realism?
                - This is not necessarily true
                - Triple A games are synonymous with hyper realistic
                - Design should be real to its idea (internal logic and narrative)
                - Consistency is key
- Obsession may be too focused
- Be able to step back from a project
- Know your audience
- Unity between all elements allows suspension of belief
- Design choices can be subjective
- There is a divide between indies (interesting) and AAA
                - Not yet a middle ground
- Design = sum of all elements
                - The more you play, the more you learn
                - E.g.  Learning to play Spelunky, teaches you how to play the game
- Visuals and narrative help enjoyment
- E.g.  Nitrome games
                - At its core, each game is interesting and has novel gameplay
                - No Nitrome game has the same mechanic
                - Has a quirky pixel art aesthetic
- Design feeds off influences of others
- Design requires good foundation
                - E.g.  Draw well, not draw like X
- Videogame culture has become mainstream
- Workflow may influence design choices and vice versa

- How to steer production division?
- It is situation based
- E.g.  Client work has strict deadlines
                - Some clients may allow for creative control
                - Commercial works has a lot of conditions and guarantees that need to be fulfilled
                - Have to fulfil design requirements/criteria
- Collaborate with team's strengths
                - Play to your team's strengths
                - It is good to challenge your team members' skills

- Designers develop a bag of tricks which can be used over time
                - Being challenged teaches new things and skills
                - Relying constantly on the bag of tricks can be limiting and can lower your standards
                - Conceptual ground work is important
- Concept development can be difficult especially when applying innovation

- Creativity = finding solutions and then turning off the creative mind so you can work on the solution (attributed to John Klees)

- Designing for an audience or for yourself?
                - You can alienate audience if you are designing for yourself
                - Look for a happy medium that can help reach audience without compromising visual integrity

- Try to be clear and detailed when talking to the team
                - Use aids like sketches and style boards with art team
- Focus on openness and clarity
- Be willing to communicate at any point in time
                - Over come time and place
- Use examples if describing complex things
- Feedback is important
- Allowing freedom can be liberating

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