A Day in the Life of a Game Designer
My name is Sara Jensen Schubert and I’m the design lead of Pirate101. That means that I manage all of our talented world, systems, and UI designers. I allocate tasks and bug fixes, and keep the team informed. I’m also the primary contact for people from other departments when they have questions. I make many small decisions every day!
My typical day at KingsIsle goes something like this:
- Arrive at the office.
- Check my email to see if any problems have arisen, or any other issues that deserve a reply.
- Check our bug tracking program to see if any design bugs have cropped up. If they have, I make sure they’re valid design issues and route them to the appropriate designers.
- I drop by the designers to see how they’re doing.
- A producer comes by to ask about the design team’s tasks for the week.
- Throughout the rest of the day, there’s more email and more bugs. It’s the same procedure as before – keep an eye out for emails that need a response, and review incoming bugs to be sure they’re valid before assigning them out to the right people.
- I read the forums to look for interesting conversations and bug reports.
- One of our UI designers calls me over to review a feature he’s prototyping. It looks good! We discuss options for improvement and he gets back to work. We take a screenshot to send to the management team to make sure we’re on the right track.
- Lunch time!
- Return to yet more email and bugs.
- One particular email is from a designer who’s having trouble redesigning a boss fight in game. I play the fight and offer suggestions. We exchange a few ideas and settle on a solution.
- Another email is from a designer with a game design document. I read it and offer my feedback.
- A designer comes to me with a great idea for the next update, but it requires new art. We discuss it with the art lead, and it turns out we have time to do it! It’s officially on the schedule now. A good idea goes from a thought in somebody’s head to a real task in the space of an hour. I love it when stuff like that happens – it demonstrates how much we value individual creativity here on the P101 team.
- A design document is ready to go to art and tech for implementation, and I revise it to ensure it includes all the information it needs.
- A programmer drops by my office to ask a question about a feature he’s implementing. It turns out it’s a bigger problem than we thought, so we rope in a few other people and turn it into a mini-meeting. After getting everyone’s input, the problem gets solved.
- A designer drops by with a question about a bug fix.
- A few bugs arrive that I can fix! I update my game editor and get to work.
- Email, bugs, and office visits start to slow down, so I get a chance to play the game!
- Time to go home.
My days are busy, but satisfying. It’s fun to keep the team running well and to manage so much information. And it’s great to be a part of the effort towards making a fun game better!
Sara Jensen Schubert
Design Lead (Game Systems)