The role of the director / lead designer
This is the first week where my teammates and I started doing heavy brainstorming for our capstone project. We are tasked to create a text-based adventure game. I was very excited to start working on it because I have been a fan of video games and adventure stories since childhood. Even though most games already had 2D or 3D graphics already for me growing up, I still have played some text adventures on my father’s old computer back in the day.
As my team started discussing and deciding on what to do with the project, it became clear that everyone had a different ideas. I have worked in teams before on other projects and classes, this was the first time where our project goals were unlimited and not held to specific requirements. In these previous teams, the directions of the assignment were clear enough that most team members started off on the right track.
This was something different though. It was the first time I experienced team members having very different interpretation on the project goals than what I had. While not a bad thing at all (my teammates were very nice and eager to discuss), it became clear that we had to have a clear direction set in stone. This was the first time I realized how important and powerful a director/lead designer is, whether it be software development, game development, movies, etc. It was something I never really thought about before.
The director is the one who decides where the project is going to go, and makes sure everyone is working in that direction. Without the director and a set vision, the team would not function cohesively. Everyone would have differing ideas on how things are. This is how my team meeting felt the first hour as I realized everyone had varying visions of our adventure game. I can now see why the director is always the one praised when the project succeeds.
From another perspective, I now understand what it means to “have too many cooks in the kitchen”. Often times I would hear that about sports teams that under perform, despite having all-star talent. The media would say that there are too many coaches on the staff. I can see now how this would be a problem when too many “leaders” are trying to push the team in multiple different directions.
While my team of 3 ultimately all worked out the theme and direction of our game and are in agreement, I can see how much more difficult it would be on a huge project with dozens of team members. While we didn’t appoint anyone as the “director”, we agreed to always have a discussion on major ideas as a group.