Did you know that almost 10% of Social Point employees are game designers? Every project has at least 2 or 3 game designers and their contribution is key to the development of the game. But do you know exactly what a game designer is? You can find out more about this profession in this interesting interview with Ignacio Montes, our lead game designer, who has been with us for over 4 years. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the game design world in the next few pages!
How long have you been working at Social Point? Explain your professional journey while working here.
I’ve been at Social Point since September 2012, so that amounts to over 4 years!
I started working here on a Facebook game called “Dark Warriors”. It was an Action RPG similar in style to Diablo.
After that, I worked on Monster Legends, launching the game on 3 platforms up to the beginning of the LiveOps stage. Then I worked on the prototype of Champions Arena, before moving to Dragon Land, which was launched in March this year. My next assignment was to work in the R&D teams. Currently, I’m devoting my energy to improving the vision of World Chef.
How would you define game design?
It’s the art of defining how a game works. It’s not just imagining and writing what comes to your mind. I said “art” because it really involves combining the needs of multiple clients, from your head of product to your audience and players, into a single design proposal. And later on, communicating that proposal to everyone on the team and making them part of the creation process.
In which steps of the development of a game are game designers involved?
Practically from the beginning of the process (prototyping) until the game is live and beyond. Tasks and responsibilities are different at each stage. But we contribute to all of them. At the beginning, adding and creating. Later on, keeping them interesting, alive and profitable.
What are the essential skills of a game designer?
Communication is at the core of the profession. A Designer cannot create a game alone. He needs to work closely with the head of production of the game and also very closely with the team that is going to implement it. You need to be an excellent communicator and clearly understand what the different people are wanting from you.
Beyond that, you need to be able to synthesize ideas in a very clear way. This includes describing the feature, preparing what the interfaces will look like, how the players are going to use the feature, and how to balance the numbers used by the feature configuration.
In terms of game design, what is the most original game you know? Why?
Originality is a poorly understood concept. There are games that are not completely original, but that are brave enough to give some ideas a try in front of the masses. In that line of originality/bravery, one of my favorites is Covet Fashion. It’s a clear example that games based around player content creation and voting can work. There are people who love to express themselves and evaluate other players’ expressions. All this while being part of a community of like-minded players. For the same reasons, I would also like to highlight games like Episodes.
How do game designers find inspiration?
At the end of the day, one of the biggest payoffs is knowing your references. To understand what others are trying out there and what works for them and what doesn’t. As Picasso (and later Steve Jobs) said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” You need to be in touch with the types of games that we want to create. Because you need to understand what your audience, the players, really want.
What is the most difficult part of your work?
Letting ideas go. As communicators and being at the center of the creation processes, we need to learn to negotiate and reach agreements. And sometimes that involves letting ideas fly. It’s very easy to fall in love with our own ideas. It’s hard to be a good critic of your own work.
And after that, I would say that the next most difficult part is cancelling a project. We always invest part of our soul in every project. And seeing them cancelled, it’s really really hard.
Which mobile games do you play? Why?
Usually I play mobile games to learn from them and to get to know the market. That said, from time to time I fall prey to some games way beyond the call of duty. Currently, I’m playing a lot of Township and World Chef, for obvious reasons.
I have still found some time to play Game of War each day. This game is unique in its approach to deep mechanics and social interaction, and unique in its monetization approach. I started playing it as a reference game to study and have kept playing it because of the planning and social elements.
Some other games that I have loved to play in the past are CSR, Heroes Charge, and Monster Legends (I was a hardcore competitive gamer in this one XD).
How do you see your future as a game designer? What are the next challenges?
A Game Designer’s life is one of continuous improvements. I see myself improving my knowledge about how the F2P business works and learning to better understand our users. The challenges are precisely that. Offering our players something that they will love, so they will want to stick with us for years!
Game Design team
By: Ignacio Montes
Lead Game Designer