[Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

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112103
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[Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:57 pm

Okay so here's my claim: Gamelab would produce considerably higher quality games, if there was a pre-production phase in small teams before the entire team is ensembled.

I'm sure all of you had this experience in at least one of your Gamelabs: It's day 1, you are busy assembling a team and then suddenly start brainstorming a game. At the end of the day, or at the end of day 2, you democratically decided on a game that everyone agree's with but which has no really unified vision behind it.

Then, 12 weeks of work later you have a game, and if it does work, it's mediocre at best. The few gems that came out of Gamelab were games that a small, motivated team of people had worked on in there spare time, and which probably would have come to be without Gamelab being there.

So what I would suggest: D&P and IGD students can participate in a voluntary 3 credit class every block B and D, which creates a prototype for the next Gamelab. Those who finish a prototype get 3 credits, thus have to participate in only one block of the next Gamelab.
When Gamelab starts, teams are formed around existing prototypes, and team leaders are students who did not take the prototyping class, thus will be in Gamelab both blocks.

This gives the following advantages
-Prototypes exists to show the team what is being made
-Game are actually interesting ideas that can work, conceived by one person who thought hard about it for 2 months
-To many designers spoil the broth, so trading in one designer at production time for an already produced prototype is almost always a win.

I'd like to hear your opinions :)

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 130034 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:08 pm

Well for one thing 3 credits for a prototype? That's more than completing a game :P

In year two you actually make a prototype the first block, and than if it works you carry it on in too the next block.
Samuel Gilbert - 130034 - IGD11

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:14 pm

Which I consider quite a waste of time and energy... that prototype could probably be made by one or two people, where the rest of the team is working at 30% productivity.
Well for one thing 3 credits for a prototype? That's more than completing a game
Not sure what this means. Gamelab is a 6 credit course, so one block of working one day a week on a prototype would be 3 credits.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 111759 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:17 pm

Isn't this also taking artist and programmers out of the conception phase? I definitely like the idea of doing pre-production before gamelab, as I always tend to feel that concept art/early-playtesting are things you don't really need a physical loctation for with 10+ people. The first few weeks, half of the production team is being kept busy with arbitrary creation of placeholders anyway. A usefull process obviously, but Gamelab would be more efficicient indeed if you could hit the ground running.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:29 pm

Yes, taking artists and programmers out of the concept phase is exactly the point!

Of course it's always useful for a designer to consult a specialist, but that's occasional and can be done without one of them having to sit next to the designer 8 hours a day. I think it would be much more rewarding for designers to not have those stressful first week where they have to keep everyone busy without having any idea what the game even is, and much more rewarding for artists and programmers to not have a Lead Designer who has no idea what the game even is.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 130108 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:07 pm

I completely disagree with you and see this as a waste of time.
I am a programmer myself and love game design. This meant that I will be involved in the complete design process as well.

The problem with the Gamelab projects that I see is not that the design are too weak, it's the scope of many projects. Especially right now in the first year everyone has a way too big of a scope. They expect to be making FPS' and RTS' as their first game.
The solution is, and this should be thought at the beginning of Gamelab (and elaborated on in DP and IGD lessons), to learn how to keep the scope of your game within range of your skill level.

Also, you mentioned that this "pre-production prototype" should be a DP and IGD only thing. I also disagree on this one. You said yourself, usually at the end of the first or second day there is a democratically decided design which doesn't have a unified vision.
What if I, as a programmer, completely disagree with the "pre-production prototype", think it's boring and think it will never work. Then I am stuck with this design because they just spent a shitload of work on it and probably got 3 credits for it. Meanwhile I am working on a project that I hate.

Last thing, if you have a solid team leader, even on day 1 everyone will have more than enough work to do and no one should be working at 30%.
Jim Hendriks. PR.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:44 pm

Since there would be a number of prototypes to chose from, I would expect you to chose to join a team the concept of which you agree with. In this case at least you have a choice - if the concept is made after a team is founded you really are stuck with it.

And if you have the slightest aspiration to work in a studio with more than 4 people, you will soon have to let go of the idea of being involved into the entire design process. Never, ever, in the game industry, will a publisher throw 20 developers in a room and say: "Okay now come up with something and pitch it next week." Unless you go Indie, everything you will ever work on, will be a concept someone else made for you. A good developer is creative within these bounds.

As much as you probably laugh at a Designer's attempts to understand how namespaces work or what the hell delegates are, we laugh at your game designs. Unless you go Indie, game development is a highly specialized field. And developers who can not recognize the skill set other specialists bring to the table, waste a lot of potential.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 110177 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:18 am

In order to understand where you are coming from, I'll ask you this:

What, exactly, is preventing designers/IGDers from doing this themselves? Don't you think it is kind of the designer's job to come up with an initial plan, and therefore kind of unnecessary to lure them with 3 credits? (Which - I might add - artists and programmers artificially seem to get absolutely no right to obtain)
112103 wrote:As much as you probably laugh at a Designer's attempts to understand how namespaces work or what the hell delegates are, we laugh at your game designs. Unless you go Indie, game development is a highly specialized field. And developers who can not recognize the skill set other specialists bring to the table, waste a lot of potential.
Don't you feel this is kind of an unhealthy attitude? Someone is trying to come up with an idea next to their own work, and your first instinct is to laugh at it?

I would appreciate a designer trying to understand programming, regardless of the fact that they are probably going to have a harder time of doing so than us programmers. That is no reason to just laugh at you guys, now is it? Or should artists also laugh at all of us who actually create temporary art so that others actually have something to work without it having to look good? If anything, the artists should be grateful they won't have to spend their time exporting a truckload of cubes and spheres in the first two weeks, in my honest opinion.

Might be that I am missing the joke here, feel free to enlighten me if I am. But I will be honest here by saying that I find the above statement hard to take seriously.
Rick van Miltenburg
3GA-1PR

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 112103 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:39 am

As indicated above, I think that game development is a quite specialized field, and as a result of this people tend to be very good at some things, and much better at those things than other people.
I am obviously not suggesting that you should actually laugh at someone's attempt to contribute to whatever your specific field is. In fact it would be a very poor designer who ignores a programmers often insightful input.
What I am trying to get across is, that while everyone understands that programmers are much better than other people at programming, and artists much better at creating 3d models than other people, somehow it is often not understood that designers are much better at designing games than other people.
Don't you think it is kind of the designer's job to come up with an initial plan, and therefore kind of unnecessary to lure them with 3 credits?
I think this is severely underestimating the amount of sweat, blood and tears go into creating a working prototype of something. You can no more expect a designer to do that for free than you can expect a programmer to spend every Sunday working on the game code.
The 3 credits are exactly on block of Gamelab. So all I am suggesting, is that designers could pull their gamelab one block forward, instead of starting at the day where 5 artists expect a list of assets.
Last edited by 112103 on Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [Discussion] "Gamelab needs a pre-production phase"

Post by 110157 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:45 am

What I am trying to get across is, that while everyone understands that programmers are much better than other people at programming, and artists much better at creating 3d models than other people, somehow it is often not understood that designers are much better at designing games than other people.
I think this is severely underestimating the amount of sweat, blood and tears go into creating a working prototype of something. You can no more expect a designer to do that for free than you can expect a programmer to spend every Sunday working on the game code.
If you're really good at designing games, I don't see why you could not spend your free time on creating a prototype. Don't know about you, but I spend most of my 'free' time researching and programming, which contributes to all of the projects I work on. I don't think it is too weird to expect the same from people with other specializations.
Sam Hardeman
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