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March 02, 2006


david jaffe

Interesting post...especially given my line of work. I do consider myself a game director but after reading your post maybe I'm a game director AND level designer? Cause while I don't get my hands dirty with much Maya, in between the work being done by the rest of the team, I often find myself focused on level design and tuning....so I guess what I'm saying is it's a rare day ANYTIME during production that I have nothing to do...but that may be because I am in the trenches...I don't think it would be fun to be a game director if you were not also one of the guys working on the level designs and mechanic designs...what would be the point? Then you may as well just be a producer from a publisher (a needed thing) giving feedback...



A brief timetable of my occupation while I was leading (or directing as the term may be) Praetorians:

- First 2 months: start up the team, work with everyone on establishing the basis for each area: programming (architecture and engine systems), graphics (style, rough limitations, techniques for art production), design (fleshing out main gameplay mechanics and overall game vision).

- Next 9 months: about 70% doing the above (with the emphasis shifted from creating to polishing), 30% programming UI system so it's ready to be used when the game engine is starting to mature and gameplay starts to actually appear.

- Next year: 10% recruiting, 45% working with the programmers, 25% with designers, 20% with artists. Most of that work involved making calls, solving problems, clearing up doubts, and figuring out where and how the production processes needed or could be improved.

- Final 6 months: 10% demoing, 20% helping with debugging and code wrap-up, 30% working with designers on tuning, 40% coordinating Marketing, QA, localisation and other publisher-related efforts.

I never had a spare moment, but besides the coordinating efforts, I made sure whatever concrete task I was doing, it was never a bottleneck. You could divide the work I did in roles of creative director (WHAT should be done), technical / development director (HOW it should be done) and producer / project manager (making sure it GETS done).


reading your comments it sounds like maybe you worked under bad game directors. I don't think I've ever worked under a game director who wasn't one of the busiest people on the team. I have worked under producers that thought they were the game director and did hardly any work at all including taking week long vacations during crunch because they are "oh so over worked" while the rest of the team slaves away. Maybe you were working under one of those types?


Playing the devil's advocate here, but I was under the impression that the animation in "A Scanner Darkly" was based on previously filmed actors. In that case, most direction was already done when directing the actors and the animation part was mostly giving the movie its unique feel. In that case I wouldn't have expected the director to have a lot of work during the animation part of the work, but in a traditional animated movie he might.

I wish I knew more about the job of the director in an animated movie though. I'm sure there would be great insights to be gleaned from that. Anybody knows a book or an article about the subject?

Christian Mogensen

Check out the extras on any Pixar DVD (Finding Nemo or the Incredibles for example) for info on how animation directors work (at least, how they work at Pixar).

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