What does a gameplay designer do?
Gameplay designers are responsible for the central part of the game experience – how it plays. They design the mechanics of the game - how high a character can jump, how long it takes to accelerate to maximum speed or when you can gain points. They plan and define the game’s structure, its rules, characters, objects, props and vehicles and think about different modes of play, like story mode or multi-player.
Gameplay designers are a bridge between the technical and arts teams. If the gameplay is too difficult to achieve technically, they figure out what’s possible and re-write the specification accordingly. Likewise, if the programmers develop the game engine in a way that means new, exciting things can be done, the gameplay designer works out how to incorporate those into the game. They also train testers to play the game, making sure that they understand what’s expected of the finished product.
What’s a gameplay designer good at?
- Knowledge of gameplay: imagine the best gameplay or game mechanics for the experience
- Diplomacy: know when to compromise in the face of many different opinions about how a game should develop
- Knowledge of game engines: understand games engines and their abilities and limitations, have some programming skills and knowledge of UX and UI
- Collaboration: work closely with the lead designer, gameplay programmer, AI programmer, art department and other programmers
- Communication: explain how the game will be played in a way that everyone understands
- Project management: plan the production of the elements of the game