Developing: A tale of unseen Heroes
Welcome to our second post in the Exposed: The Game Behind the Scenes series. Here we discuss about the journey of a game, until it reaches the hands of the gamers. In our first blog post we talked about pitching and gave some insights on what a designer should and shouldn’t do when pitching their game to a publisher. Today we will talk about the next step: developing a game.
Think about your favorite movie. You know the main actors and you probably know the director. Do you know the producer? Anyone from the rest of the crew? At the end of each movie you see an endless list of names scrolling in front of you. All these people were needed to make this movie a reality. And you just know the ones you see in this movie. It’s the same with the games. You know the designer, you know the publisher, and this is great. But there are so many people that have worked to make this board game a reality. And today we will talk about the developers.
Not a single definition
The developer’s job is probably one of the least defined within the industry. Different publishers have different standards for what they are looking for when wanting to cover this role. Some publishers want developers to use as playtesters. Some demand that the developers have knowledge of photoshop/ indesign and can do datamerging. Others just want developers who can tweak initial designs and make them better fit the company product line and don’t care for other technical qualifications. There is nothing right or wrong. But one thing is for sure, the developer is the one who is going to take the initial design and is going to work very hard to make it a fully fletched game.
Qualities not qualifications
The developer will take a game in their hands and it is their job to be the middleman between the designer and the publisher, the one who will respect the vision of the designer and abide by the limitations of the publisher. It is not an easy job. A board game developer must have several qualities. Good communication and negotiation skills, as they need to understand what the publisher needs and what the designer wants and magically make ends meet. A good grasp of the industry and its needs, as they have to deliver a game that fits in today’s standards. A good sense of maths, as they will have to deal with balancing issues and probabilities. An understanding of how one decision they make will affect different aspects of gameplay. Attention to detail and ability to work within guidelines and meet deadlines. All of these, and many more, are not qualifications that you can obtain through a degree. It takes lots of time and effort to get there.
Overall game developers are a game changer. They are the ones who can transform a mediocre card game that is broken to a state of the art game that will be discussed for months or years to come; the ones who can spot the one thing that can make the difference; the ones who take the mechanics that the designer has chosen, and balance them, without losing the fun factor of the game.
Developers are those unseen heroes, whose name you don’t know, but the game you hold in your hands wouldn’t be the same without them.