System Design Jobs
When searching through job applications for the role of System Designer the requirements was very consistent between each application. Apart from the normal “work well in a team” and “highly motivated” the emphasis was on the ability to ideate your own mechanics/features from scratch and polish/balance them into a shippable state. As the role does fall under the “Game Design” title, the need for secondary skills such as art or programming isn’t required but still would make you a desirable candidate for the role. As the main skill that is talked about in all the job applications is regarding the Systems/features aspect. The project I end doing will be heavily focused on that.
My Current Portfolio
When looking at my current portfolio, I have 3 playable games each of a different genre. The most recent is a Shmup called Midnight Zombie Massacre. In this game I designed 4 weapons which helps the player navigate from wave to wave. These 4 weapons being: A pistol, a shotgun, a machine gun, and a rocket launcher. During playtesting I was able to gauge power of each weapon through the eyes of a naïve play tester and balance each weapon accordingly. While I did design these systems in game, the game itself didn’t require you use all the weapons, and you could easily reach late waves maining just one weapon which I wasn’t overly happy with. The next game in my portfolio is an Applied Game called Catchment Hero without breaking the project brief (more information on the game can be seen on the games page of my portfolio), this project was done in a group, and I was in charge of the systems and a lot of the programming. The core loop was that you would plant/water trees each day and once they were fully grown, they would attract a specific animal. Once the tree was fully grown and kept alive it was passively generating money each day to allow the player to buy more expensive seeds, as well as cosmetic items. During playtesting for this game, I noticed players would only grow a couple of trees and then just spam the next day button to quickly generate money to buy expensive things. A system I then created what that passive income (without trees) would be capped at a certain amount, and I then increased the amount earned while having trees growing making the player need to interface with the content more. With these 2 games I overall was happy with the systems I created however I felt more could have been down to make the player interface with the content as I assumed they would. My best example of this would be the final game currently displayed in my portfolio (also the oldest) Grouse Platformer . This game was made in the space of 2 days (actual dev time displayed on the game the page) . This was a 3D platformer which required the user to use items previously picked up to navigate through the level. This sort of game design is popularly seen in Legend of Zelda games where you receive an item and for the rest of that dungeon you use that item to navigate the level. Out of all my games currently this is the one where the player needs to use all the items to beat the game and not just “cheese” one broken item.
After reflecting on my current portfolio, when it comes to system design, I felt I would need to create a game like Grouse Platformer in that the mechanics are required to complete the game. Because of this I am choosing the create another platformer (2D space). Another thing to note about my previous works is that they are all single-player games. Although there is nothing wrong with this, I felt that it would be a good idea to have a multiplayer/co-op game in my portfolio. Combining the platformer idea with this, I have decided to do a 2-player co-op platformer. Where the 2 players need to work together to navigate through each level. By creating a co-op game this will give me more knowledge on the C# code needed from multiplayer games, as well as, creating mechanics that can only be achieved through teamwork/cooperation. Apart from the multiplayer aspect which I don’t have anything in my portfolio, the question can be asked is this filling a hole in my resume (as I’ve already got a platformer and have shown that I am able to create mechanics). Yes and no, however I feel when it comes to system design, having a large amount of games with varying mechanics in your portfolio showcases that you are able to come up with multiple ideas that are different and able to balance them into a shippable state. Another benefit of creating a platformer is that it will also work on my level design, this works hand in hand with the system design as a level must created in a way that allows the mechanics to shine. Level design typically has been one of my poorer skills and hasn’t really been showcased well in my portfolio, so this game will give me a good chance to show skills in that area.