Probably the most useful talk I attended. Basically nobody reads design docs, so it’s more useful to make a poster which will attract attention, and convey the core ideas/vision. Lots of thoughts on the presentation of information. (slides posted on his website)
starts off discussing design bibles.
They are really thorough if you actually bother to read them. the act of creating the document was very useful to the designer. They really hash out strange things and define the game. but probably best to keep to themselves.
most people nowadays use a design wiki. sometimes this leads to requiring one person be devoted purely to maintaining the wiki. easy access, easy to update. but requires constant maintenance. and leads to hiding design relationships (parts are too separated out). not great for art/design that is long and wide (has to fit above the fold basically).
eye tracking studies show that when people visit a webpage, they check headline and photos, then look at scroll bar. If it is too long they just close out. (w:which study was this?)
He wanted to be an architect. … covers the difference between blueprints and plan view for housing (different people need each). notes legos have great instructions (pictures only). notes how a car engine design (exploded view) can look awesome, but would suck if was separated out into discrete wiki parts. … talking about a graph (supposedly famous) of Napolean’s march. Tan is the march out, black is march back. (w:getting into Tufte territory…).
Some dude took his flow chart and placed it up on his office wall. because it looks cool. So he was inspired to make design docs that people would want to have on their wall.
He recommends the trick of using oversized paper to contain more information within one page. shows doc where every monster and level was shown. “see. if you get to winterfell, you should be level 13.” … he seeks to make docs that you would want to have as a placemat. (everything at once. and appealing)
worked on Diablo game (not 3), moved to EA and worked on Springfield (simpsons) in 2006. worked up giant map of everything in springfield, because EA has huge plotters. (he shows this huge map, and it’s only a 2mb file).
Elements: (w: i’m transcribing a slide which labels his usual layout approach)
– title and date. (if you can’t come up with title – give up there. )
-lots of whitespace!
– main illustration in middle
– detail illustrations, notes, and callouts all around it.
– description below main illustration..
– sidebar with bullet points. (like a legend).
shows storyboard approach (of key story progression points). and flow chart (of game loop).
spore diagram shows island, and has brain bar across bottom. it shows how you are leveling as you spread from left to right across the continent.
made a robot game module breakdown which has spiraling attention grabbing graphic in middle. it might take you a week of walking back and forth across this hallway before you’ve read it all, but at least it gets read.
shows example where robot types are along edges of triangle, instead of each at an end. this way you have sliding scale along each edge. Talks about making a matrix (top down approach). example: “character class” vs. “faction” – decided on 2 things per class, and 3 things per faction. builds itself. just fill in the blanks.
talking about design metaphor. spore paths (256 possibilities by time you get to space). original circle looked cool. but it was like a paper fan spread too wide. it implied pure green and pure blue paths were very close to each other.
(w: basically this is dataporn).
Appealing designs make it easy to share designs across the team. they tend to ask you for the document.
– print out and hand them to people. if you send links in emails, people won’t print them.
– bring pencils to meetings and encourage participation. ask them to write on them. when they draw all over it, you know they are engaged.
– really forces you as a designer to have a complete understanding. and forces concise design. you can only include the most important things.
– highlights the relationships in your system.
goal of any design(er) is to efficiently communicate ideas.
www.stonetronix.com – he will post slides in a week or two.