A day at work as a Video Game Designer

Most designers would agree that in order to make great games, you should really have experience playing great games, and to that effect, being a gamer yourself.

Game designers often end up wearing multiple hats, but they generally follow the same 9 to 5 schedule as most other employees. Before a game has begun development, planning and design research must be done, this generally falls on the game designer, a team assembled of team leaders, product owners, and producers.

Game designers have their own sets of tasks, which might involve pitching new and transformative features for an upcoming project, or even working within the companies internal toolsets to create a low fidelity mockup. Many designers feel most comfortable working with pencil and paper even in today's high tech ecosystems.

It can allow you to think more before applying your ideas in ink, and paper is cheap, quick, and allows the designer to express themselves in ways not necessarily possible without complex rendering. You can also just throw it away.

After an idea has been settled on, the game designer and some level artists may begin to create very low fidelity prototypes, which allow the team to iterate quickly on ideas, in this phase, generally called the grey box or block-out phase, no real art assets are generally used.

Example of Greyboxing

After every single iteration, the game designer is playing the game, thinking of new ideas and improvements whether is broken, just a bunch of cubes, or highly detailed.

It is important to keep playing the game throughout its entire development lifecycle because features and activities that might have been fun initially could play very differently even with a simple level, enemy ai, or stylistic change.

At the end of the day, gameplay trumps everything.

— Kim, Mind Control Software

Even if the game looks terrible, it can still be extremely fun if the designers did their job well enough.

Designers should not only be constantly playing the games themselves but should be getting others to play as often as possible and taking their experiences as insight into further game developments. This is also a way to validate game ideas early and cut features that players may not actually be interested in.