More than ever, the game development process has fragmented into nation states with theological and ideological differences, the three great traditional super-powers are joined by four smaller areas all jockeying for power and influence.

The nations

  • Artopa
  • Codeish Empire
  • United Designers of Gamerica
  • Soundan
  • Testania
  • Managerance
  • PRazil

The Codeish Empire is the oldest, with arcane practices and traditions the reasons for which, are long lost in the mists of time. It is by far the largest supplier of Code in the world, but other nations do sometimes provide small amounts. This precious resource powers the entire world, so gives them considerable influence. However the Codeish Empire struggles to maintain its prestige, as increasingly the precious resources of Performance and Memory it once controlled have become less important in the global economy.

Artopa appeared soon after the Codeish Empire moved into the game arena, at first a seemingly minor role providing small amounts of Graphics to the mighty Codeish Empire, this has now grown to be the dominant requirement in the world and with the power that comes from that. However much resources is spent skirmishing on the borders with the Codeish Empire, over the disputed border of Toolland and ResourceBudgtaina. This is especially fierce in the rich but wild region of Consolica.

The United Designers of Gamerica were once a part of the Codeish Empire, but split in the revolutionary war of the 90s. Since then they believe they have a mandate to rule the other nations as the keepers of the holy Gameplay. Often the power Artopa holds baffles them, with the value of Graphics trading much higher than Gameplay in many markets. This has lead to extremists, the IDA (Indy Design Army), who believe in a no Graphics future, however even with some notable successes, this has yet to have a wide ranging effect on the balance of power. Sharing the heritage with Codeish Empire, means close ties with many in the old land and indeed dual citizenship is not unknown, however there is often a feeling that the Codeish Empire wishes to re-absorb them, which can lead to some distrust and friction.

Soundan like Artopa is appeared at roughly the same time, however unlike Artopa never managed to grew into a super power. Land mass is much smaller, often only covering a tenth of the size of its bigger brethren, but its maintains a strong degree of power as the exclusive producer of the Audio resource.

Testania has a large low tech economy that the other nations frequently require access to on a seasonal basis. Even though required by the other nations, the value placed on it is low. Also it has a highly migratory population, with many citizens leaving after short stays, some emigrate to other nations which helps there local economies at the expense of the local Testania economy.

Managerance is a loose federation of the countries of Produceration and Managerance, with little natural resources, the economy is primarily taking the raw products produced by the other nations and amalgamating them into a better overall product. However the consumers of its goods are often fickle and demanding, which combined with the supply difficulties of acquiring the raw goods from the other nations leads to regular failures. However successes can lead to the highest standard of living in the world.

PRazil is a closed state that keeps largely to itself. Distrusted by most of the other nations, its hides its inner working from sight. Offset from the rest of the world, it has gained much power in recent years principally by asserting that only it really understand the worlds markets, and as such demands tribute to apply its magic hidden formula to the other nations output. Strangely its citizens do not often consume the products it works with. Its influence is felt world wide but a border with Managerance causes the most activity there.

The multinationals

Whilst most of the inhabitants are happy to live in the confines of a single nation, a few brave souls cross the borders, as diplomats easing the tensions between nations. Their ability to understand and work with two different cultures helps avoid many skirmishes and wars, and increasingly seen as a key method in a stable peaceful world.
Some peoples are born in one nation, but go study and work in another. Examples include (but not limited too)

  • Technical Artists, cross the boundaries between Artopa and the Codish Empire, providing code solutions for artists and translating the arcane language of the Coders into Artopian.
  • Technical Designers, make Gameplay directly in the language of the Coders without the confusion of the translations most designers work in.
  • Art Manager / Art Producers, try bringing order to the free process of the Artopian soul.

Perhaps the strangest and most confusing bunch are those who have no single parent nation. Happy and fluent in multiple nations cultures, they combine the best (and worst) of each nation. However with this great power comes a loneliness of never truly being accepted by any nation, a life of vagrancy never settling in one place for long. They are rarely allowed to be truly multinational at any one time, instead forced to flip and choose a single nation home at any one moment.

  • Designer Programmers are a breed that it fluent in both languages and cultures. One moment considering the implications of balancing the resource feedback loop to the difficulty level, the next wondering if moving from a tree structure to an array will be more cache friendly.
  • Art Designers bring an eye for the beauty to the rules of interactivity, producing work that often bring surprising game-play by virtue of artist quality.
  • Design Managers, the people use the constraints of management and balancing the books to enhance the design by knowing the limits instead of cutting features.

Final Words

Obviously this is a slightly humorous look at the tensions and interplay between the disciplines, but it does sometimes seem like we are at war with ourselves. As a Designer Programmer of more years than I care to remember, I’ve certainly seen frustration and opportunities missed due to bad communication, mistrust and sometimes open hostility between the groups.

At the moment we see a few Technical Artists and Technical Designers roles, but it is rare to see any for the deeper dual discipline people. I once was employed in such a role, and within days internal politics and fear about the carefully controlled departments, meant that I was asked to change to a Programmer helping designer role, the development structure simply could not consider someone who was equally at home, and wished to work in both departments equally. Literally the border between the nations was closed.

Huge amounts of talent and resources is IMHO wasted by the strict departmentalisation and specialisation that most companies use. Of course many people are happy to live in a single nation, but anybody who feels even the slightest inclination to see how the other sides live, I’d suggest to go for it. The more we throw off the labels and borders that we ourselves have placed, the more productive and higher quality games we will make!

So next time someone suggests a programmer can’t design, that an artist can’t be technical or a designer can’t manage