My Disclaimer: I do NOT have a cold, nor am I medicated. I HAVE, however, spent the last 4 hours chasing children with my name around while they go crazy collecting candy. Now I have all their candy and they are asleep. You have been warned.
“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” – Harvey MacKay
My friend Andrew Meade posted about the necessity of designers learning to code/script. You can view his post here. While I most certainly agree that this is a necessary skill for any designer to be able to express their design abilities, at which point does a designer’s design skills become secondary to his scripting ability?
Certainly, it is great for an artist (lets face it, designers are artists they just use words, script and spreadsheets instead of a canvas and paint) to express their own ability with their own hands. Michaelangelo most certainly did not dictate his works at the Vatican to some scribe. Also, before anyone grabs a torch and pitchfork, I am NOT calling programmers scribes. Although, in Michaelangelo’s day, scribes did do a lot of artwork and calligraphy, but I digress.
Designers need to be able to communicate, not just with programmers, but with everyone on the team. Sure, learning scripting is certainly a must if you will be doing a lot of level or mechanic design. This will help you to work with the coders to effectively streamline your design process. But what if you work in storylines, quest development, or even character development? In that case, scripting will probably only be useful during your off time projects. For example, if you are creating a storyline and the main character, the concept artists and sound designers could care less if you can make him jump in Unreal, Unity and Away 3D without a hitch. What those people want is someone who can communicate the ideas and necessities of the job effectively.
I am noticing through the multiple job postings, industry elders and the common wisdom being passed around today is that the core designer skill of communication is slowly taking a back seat to scripting and programming. While back in the days of Atari and Commodore64 a designer could easily create their own game from start to finish, that luxury has gone away. Being versatile will always be a hallmark of design, and we need to remember that a specialized Swiss Army Knife is nothing more than a miniature buck-knife with a corkscrew… in one word, awkward.
Of course, being overly generalized has its drawbacks as well. If a designer cannot focus on an individual area then their ability to focus, plan and create will be wasted. Even the Lead Designers have to concentrate on specific areas to avoid too much confusion due to over generalization. Basically, there is a fine line between being versatile and becoming stagnant. I believe that as designers we are required to ensure that things stay versatile. If things become stagnant, then we are not performing at our real basis for existing.
Design == Communication! For each designer, he or she must choose their own path based upon their beliefs, abilities and skill sets. Never settle for a level design job if you really want to be a writer. Of course, if you cannot spell without a spell checker, then you might want to rethink design in general, let alone writing. Last but definitely not least, the #AltDevConf only has ONE design track proposal. That proposal is mine. I know I can be long winded, but there is no way I can talk for an entire weekend. I need some fellow designers like @CGaspur, @br or even @theromero to give us a shot! Until I miss my next posting date by five or six days! *fades into the background*