Quisnam Partum Intentio?

Let’s get this right out of the way, and then I’ll get into my post (It seems that my absence hasn’t taught me how to start one of these things correctly, oh well). The bit that is keeping me from laying down sweet, sensual Paper Zeppelin code is still in effect. Which burns my insides with a sickly fire.
Further, I have 2 things I want to talk about, but can’t. The first is that maybe, I may be onto something approaching Exodus. If that makes no sense, it’s a continued theme that I use when referring to a very specific circumstance. Read the other posts and come back. This one probably won’t be going anywhere. Probably.
The second has to do with Thief. I’ve recently received an offer regarding certain aspects of the project. Mostly having to do with an unlikely amount of infused talents. I think terms like, “Full force,” and “studio,” may have been tossed around. The caveat is that these forces could not be mustered until November, which would torpedo IGF. It’s an odd position to be in.

Alright then, the titles. It’s Latin (duh) and means, “Who Creates the Designer?” I’ve been doing some talking recently with game types, and its an almost common thing to say, “Nobody does design.” “Why is that?” I wondered. I mean, in my mind, who wouldn’t want the Captain’s Chair? So I got to thinking about it, and I was thinking that people don’t want to be designers.

The reasons it seemed, are easy. A designer needs to understand everything. All aspects, all mechanics and how everything fits together just so. The other jobs have an easier time, they only need to understand their part of the game. An artist can focus on making sure that their art is the best that it can be. Sure they need to understand how what they are building will affect the theme of the world, but that’s the extent of it. A programmer needs to understand how the code functions, and even how the entire codebase is structured, but that’s all they need.
It is this view that leads many non-designers to argue that “Everybody is a designer.” I hate that to death. I call it the Syndrome Argument. To paraphrase, “If everybody is a designer, nobody is.” If you made a painting and had a dozen painters paint their own part the way that they wanted to, you would have a painting that made no sense at all. The designer is the person that makes all that work.
However, I don’t go so far as to argue that a designer is an auteur. That’s stupid. The designer is not an “Artiste” and they certainly shouldn’t be a tyrant. Show me a game where the Designer-That-Would-Be-King ruled with an iron fist, and I’ll show you a game with no features and magnified flaws. No, the role of the designer (and the reason that we need on in the first place) is to be a giant filter of ideas. Consider them a Blue Whale, swimming through the ocean of pop-culture, retro love, classical works, history and the millions of other ideas that float on by. Now imagine that they strain all of that zeitgeist through their massive baleen teeth thingies. Picking out the sweet sweet candied ideas and spitting out the Dorys. Considering how those new ideas could function and discarding them if they don’t.

So it seems it takes a special kind of insanity to want to do that. I am beginning to understand people that say, “Oh I don’t want to be a designer.” What still makes me want to kick guts are the people that say something to the effect of, “Oh, being a game designer would be so cool! You know what would sell a billion copies? Make Halo, only add jetpacks and flamethrowers! Oh, and give it cool stuff like Call of Duty for multiplayer. Wow, game design is easy, I’m going to go sit by the pool and drink Mountain Dew.” If raw loathing could be harnessed, I could provide power to the entire West Coast from one such conversation. Provided I didn’t go all Nitro first.

Anyway, I seem to be getting off track. Here’s the more difficult question then, why in the seven hells would anybody want to be a designer? For me, it’s the same reason that so many specifically don’t. I like it when confronted with a large interlocking system. I like it when the parts interact and adding something in just the right amounts can change that fundamentally. I like pushing buttons and doing thought experiments. I like constructing entire worlds starting from nothing. I love discovering an interaction that I didn’t plan for. I adore that what I do is create fun.

I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…

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