15: Collaboration

15: Collaboration

If you were to collaborate with another designer, what role would you take? What skills or characteristics are you most looking for in your collaborator?

 

 

For me, co-designing is only a question of friendship. I like to alternate solo designs and co-designs. And I’ve had the chance and opportunity to collaborate with a lot of different game designers. It has always been a question of friendship, and always led to different ways of working. My role has been different in each collaboration!

Bruno Cathala

I’d want to work with someone with a lot of experience designing strategy games. I love party games and am primarily a party game designer, but I am currently collaborating with a designer who has a lot of experience designing heavier games and we balance each other out very well. My focus is all about social interaction and the experience, and I’d like for my co-designer to suggest mechanics that make the game more thinky and give the players interesting choices to make.

Pam Walls

Often times, I tend to be one to do rapid development: testing, tweaking, and re-testing to hammer out all the issues in a game. Historically I’ve had the time and capacity to do that where others may not. Currently, I don’t have that luxury. Right now what I’d love to have is someone to take one of my more promising designs off the back burner and run with it for a bit — do the thing I historically have done to get a game from draft to near-final form.

Seth Jaffee

I’ve collaborated a few times, and it’s always different. Right now, I’m switching off designs with one collaborator (he does a draft, then I do a draft, etc), lead designing (with my codesigner functioning more as a developer) with another, and for one design I’m doing most of the design, he’s doing all the playtesting. It’s always different!

Peter Hayward

It has always been a question of friendship, and always leaded a different ways of working. My role has been different in each collaboration! — Bruno Cathala

My role is organiser and product honing. I adore design and have found my strength paring away excess to streamline designs. What am I looking for? Passion. Passion for creating. It’s exhilarating to bounce ideas off someone and watch the ideas take on a life of their own. It’s also wise to pair with someone who has complimentary strengths or enjoys parts of design that you do not, like mathy balancing, or developing the game into a product.

Adrienne Ezell

I’m pretty good at finding where the complicated mechanics need to be smoothed out, and I have a pretty good network of publishers and designers who can open up opportunities when the game is ready to be pitched. I can make a functional prototype (maybe not quickly or beautifully but it works!) so what I’m looking for is someone who can take initiative and can test the game more often than I can due to my work schedules and fill in tasks that I can’t cover. Also idea generation cause that’s always useful!

Christopher Chung

This is easy. My job would be to push the design somewhere uncomfortable or broken and get my partner to fix it. Repeat. When one of us gives up, it’s finished.

Andrew Sheerin

Nearly all of my games are the result of collaboration these days and I can’t imagine ever going back. Who wouldn’t want someone to sense check their ideas, to help them overcome hurdles, to share in their successes and commiserate in their failures? Of course you need to find someone with shared sensibilities, and someone you can count on, but that’s true of most endeavours!

Trevor Benjamin

It’s exhilarating to bounce ideas off someone and watch the ideas take on a life of their own. — Adrienne Ezell

I prefer collaboration to solo design 95% of the time. Solid collaboration will get you a better product, period. When collaborating, I prefer to be the visionary that holds the holistic weave of the game together. I like to focus on the psychology, tone, and experiential narrative design. I like being the raw creative that starts from ground zero, and hands some things off for polish. I look for people who can spot weak design, who can riff back and forth with me on a mutually chosen creative wavelength, and who are very good editors.

Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

The ability to compromise; to be constructively-critical; to be even-handed, fair and honest. To have a villa in a sunny place with an excellent wine cellar. To be patient and realistic; self-deprecating. To have a good sense of humour.

Tony Boydell

It is different for every project. I am an organised, driven person. I put many hours into my designs, and into the business of forging publisher relationships. Sometimes I want a second person to bounce ideas off; to challenge me; someone who can help me develop my own ideas. Sometimes I recognise a brilliant concept in a prototype produced by someone else, but they are floundering. I may have value to add there, so I might propose to assist them in developing their game. I’m always looking for promising ideas; new directions for my own ideas; new relationships and methodologies.

Adam Porter

I do almost all of my games design in collaboration with my friend and colleague Dr Paul Wake, and I think we make a pretty good team. Working with Paul is great as we have very complementary skills, and having someone to bounce ideas off and playtest designs with from a very early stage helps to effectively streamline the design process.

Sam Illingworth

I like being the raw creative that starts from ground zero, and hands some things off for polish. I look for people who can spot weak design, who can riff back and forth with me on a mutually chosen creative wavelength, and who are very good editors. — Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

As I am terrible at mathematics and calculating statistics, my dream collaborator loves to do that and is good at it! While designing, I like having someone to ping-pong my ideas with, to test, challenge and enrich them. I also need enthusiasm and playfulness to enjoy the process.

Doria Roustan

For me the most valuable skill I have seen (which my closest collaborator has) is the ability to describe and objectively assess their own emotional reaction to a game. I’d look for that in any potential collaborator in future. Other than that I’d be looking for someone that had strong domain knowledge of the kind of game I wanted to make. E.g. If I wanted to make an RPG, I’d want to collaborate with someone who knows the format/genre. They could check my instincts and fill knowledge gaps.

James Naylor

I don’t have the time to design solo and, even if I did, I don’t think I would – I gain great value from co-designing with friends. I think we make better games because of the partnership. The skills I bring to the table include idea generation, problem solving, wordsmithing, organising and networking. I have difficulty doing repetitive mental tasks and staying on track, so co-designing helps me to focus and not get distracted by all of the shiny new ideas that pop into my head at random! I value collaborating with strong communicators who are able to articulate their ideas.

Sen-Foong Lim

I have developed some skill in finding the core of a game and working out the simplest version that might work. I love brainstorming, but that’s something I’d expect us to do together. Though I’ve finished things, I am massively disorganised (e.g. I sent this reply in late) and so would hope that my partner would be someone who’s a bit better at keeping things on-track and pitching things if we plan to not self-publish.

Ultimately, everyone has a unique perspective and I suppose that’s really the benefit of 2 heads. A new viewpoint. New skills. New possibilities.

Bez Shahriari

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