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Breakdown of the Design Disciplines

by | Apr 23, 2012 | Creative management, Game design, Level design, Narrative design | 1 comment

Design disciplinesMy article Lifting the Designer’s Curse proposed a breakdown listing skills of the field of game design, but voluntarily left out other design disciplines like level design and narrative design. Here is a short post that aims at detailing the different disciplines, the related skills and pointing to reference articles whenever possible.

Please note that they are mainly setup with AAA game development in mind, and could probably be adapted for different needs.


Also read: Lifting the Designer’s Curse – The game designer’s job is largely misunderstood.

Game Design

  • Motivation design: Maximizing player engagement, reward systems, ensuring the player learns, balancing reward and frustration … Psychology and neuroscience are you friends here. Read John Hopson’s Behavioral game design.

Level Design

Narrative Design

  • Screenplay writing: Writing good lines and good stories. It is pretty much a discipline on its own that is very widely studied, with tons of literature on the subject.
  • Narrative Interface: Designing the tools that will allow the story to be told, walk and talks, audiotapes, interruptible cinematics…
  • Player-Centric plotting: Creating a story that the player can play and be part of, instead of just hearing/reading it. Don’t tell, don’t show, let play.

DogDontKnowI’m really not the right person to recommend anything on the topics of narrative design, so I would rather point to different people that would be way better fitted to talk and write about it. See the blogs of guys like Clint Hocking and Patrick Redding for insight.

Once again, this is just a framework to propose actual skills to the different disciplines of design, don’t hesitate to adapt it to your need, and to share your opinion, findings, as well as links and references.

Other articles you might like:

Video: Tips on Game Balancing

Game balancing is key for game design, but we often approach it from a number-driven angle which distract us from the big picture, the resulting dynamic.

Article: Pleasure without learning leads to addiction

The difference between addition and motivation comes from personal development.

Video: Meaningful game systems

How to convey meaning through game systems.

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