Online Game Designer
Online game designers are hired to lead a team of artists, programmers, and other designers in the development of online and social games, but also serve as the project leader on the continuing improvement and management of existing titles.
In the creation of new titles, the online game designer is involved in every phase of production, including pre-production planning, build, and launch. He or she participates in the initial brainstorming sessions that birth the original concept and contributes to the delivery of prototypes, wireframes for levels, and design documentation. As the product continues to evolve, the designer will become more involved in the development of systems, mechanics, and economics, working with the leads of those respective departments. As new art assets, animation, and code are produced, the online game designer supervises the implementation of those features into the game and gives feedback on quality and stability. This person will also coordinate with the quality assurance staff to test the game and be a liaison between game testers and the development staff.
Upon launch of a finished product, the online game designer is responsible for continuing management of the game. This is partly accomplished through the review of live game data to constantly improve upon systems and deliver a more exciting user experience. The innovation and addition of new features is led by this designer, who will again repeat the process of guiding the studio staff of artists and programmers toward the implementation of upgrades. It will be the online game designer’s task to provide clear reference material and mock-ups that will serve the staff in their efforts, describing the user experience through storyboards, concept screen art, and level flow charts.
Skills & Education
Employers prefer candidates with a college degree in game design, with coursework supplemented by classes in computer science, statistics, advanced mathematics, and economics. Specifically, an online game designer must demonstrate proficiency in designing combat and system mechanics, including player control. You must have a firm understanding of game production, programming, and art, as well as the prevailing theories of viral design, player retention, balance, and monetization techniques for a virtual economy. This jobs demands an individual adept at clearly communicating abstract ideas to others and able to critically analyze data concerning player statistics and game performance.
What to Expect
The online game designer is a senior-level developer who is responsible for supervising employees across every segment of the development staff. This person must be comfortable communicating with both artists and programmers alike, as well as demonstrating a clear creative vision and providing effective leadership. Experience is required, and before seeking this role, you must have prior employment within a game development studio. At least three years of work experience in a lead role is necessary. To start plotting your career path, the game job you first land in is less important than knowing where you want to go. From any job in a game studio you can work toward advancement as an environment designer, level designer, or mission designer. From there, you will want to build your credits in pursuit of a promotion to a lead role. Once you are in a game studio, it is much easier to move around between art, animation, programming, and design.
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