Multiplayer Game Designer

  • Multiplayer Game Designer

Since the rise of online gaming, most video game studios need talented designers who specialize in multiplayer gaming. Multiplayer game designers develop the online and offline components of MPGs, including mapping out the levels, play modes, and character models available to players.


Duties

Multiplayer games have become the focus of many of the biggest video game studios, and the duty of an MPG designer is to make sure that their games create an enjoyable multiplayer experience within design constraints far stricter than those of single-player games. It is important to figure out these constraints in the earliest stages of design, including the different requirements of player-versus-player gameplay and cooperative or team gaming. The multiplayer game designer will be engaged in developing the entire content from conception to completion, working initially with a team to develop a design document detailing all the steps of the game; defining the interaction and communication between players and the game; determining the game structure, scope and premise, and any tokens; as well as its interactivity, style, and implementation details. Once this document is developed, the multiplayer game design team can begin the implementation process. Far more than single-player games, multiplayer games create social interaction, and the multiplayer game designer must keep this in mind; creating balance in gameplay is crucial to multiplayer game designers, and uniformity in maps, game modes, and player capabilities is important. Often simpler is better, and creating learnable maps for players will make the game experience more enjoyable. The multiplayer game designer will work closely with the creative director and design team, face tight schedules and deadlines, and often be asked to manage play tests with QA technicians to discover and subsequently work out any issues or bugs. Some of the more established multiplayer game designers will be asked on occasion to give discussions and seminars, as well as write game documentation and manuals.

Skills & Education

Multiplayer game design is a highly technical career in video games, and as such usually requires a four-year degree or more in computer-related subjects. In addition to education, a great amount of experience is often required by studios for the position, and years in the industry, previous work on shipped games, and a deep understanding of multiplayer systems is required. As with many careers within game design, the multiplayer game designer will often work with teams, so presentation and communication skills are paramount; the ability to multitask and work coolly despite strict deadlines is also advisable. Math skills are extremely important, as well as a high level of creativity. On the technical side, knowledge of the programming languages most widely used in the gaming industry, as well as knowledge of animation, physics, artificial intelligence, and graphics rendering is required, along with a good understanding of the different systems and networking concepts required to build multiplayer games; a multiplayer game designer will have knowledge of Java applets, C and C++ graphics applications using OpenGL and DirectX, Maya and other design packages, and multiplayer games on PCs, consoles, mobile phones, and other portable devices. After all the education and experience, the multiplayer game designer’s greatest asset is enthusiasm for video games and a passion to create the ultimate multiplayer experience.

What to Expect

A career as a multiplayer game designer can take years of working your way up the ladder, so compile as much industry experience as you can. You should also be comfortable with working closely with teams and encountering design issues far more complex than those for single-player games; multiplayer game designers will often refer back repeatedly to the design document and continuously tweak to improve gameplay and interactivity. Long hours in the office will often be made easier with snacks and meals, provided by the more conscientious studios. Multiplayer game designers are also commonly asked to man booths at conventions and speak at conferences about the games upon which they have worked, so be ready to socialize and speak in public on occasion. The social aspect of the multiplayer game designer can never be ignored; in the end you’re creating games not just for the person that spends all day sitting in front of the television playing, but also for every one of his or her friends, as well as all the friends they will make online. In a strange way, the multiplayer game designer is the matchmaker of the video game world.

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