Thursday, March 31, 2005

GDC 2005: Brian Allgeier and the Attack of the Design Directors

So here is my last GDC Summary! Woo-hoo, I'm finally gone through all my notes. I know CJ still has some more to go through, but for now I will revel in my completeness.

Attack of the Design Directors
Brian Allgeier

Brian detailed his job as Design Director at Insomniac Games and how that company realized they needed someone to lead the design team without being a strictly-defined manager. He presented an interesting analogy, using the A-Team as an example of the qualities a design team needs. Each team needs:
  • Hannibal – The Planner - Someone who keeps the big picture in mind, is the organizer and keeps his eye on the core gameplay
  • Face - The Promoter – Someone who can speak the language of the other disciplines and management and is great at pitching ideas.
  • Mr T - The Mechanic – Someone who keeps the technical in mind and makes sure that ideas can be implemented.
  • Murdock – The Creative/Crazy One – Someone who thinks outside the box, can visualize an idea and tends to innovate.
If team has all those qualities, then the Director must always be weighing each of these aspects of a design and keep them in balance. How does he do this? Communication was the obvious answer, but he realized you have to structure this and build it into the schedule.

The key point was that a design lead has to empower his designers to review and critique each others work. He believes by making them get up and go over each others work, it elevates everything. So a lot of his job is making sure the team’s feedback loops are tight and that the weekly reviews get done.


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