When we last spoke with him, he talked us through the day of a game designer. But the other perspective, focusing on the way how an idea becomes reality in the game, is also very exciting. So we sat down with him again and let him explain how features and gameplay elements find their way into Albion Online
How do you start?
„Some of my job is spent figuring out how to achieve certain things – anything from huge features such as our Hellgates to something as simple as requesting a reskin of a mob. The thing is“, he went on, „that this stuff takes time. We need to draw the right conclusions from community feedback and make decisions accordingly“.
So what do you spend that time on, then?
„It very much depends what exactly we are working on. Practical example: sometimes the task is extremely clear, like when we‘re creating a new mob or boss.
„There’s a few things to consider when designing a new boss. The first, naturally, is the environment he will be placed in. For that I need some information from the level designers on the theme of the environment, like, which faction does it belong to? What’s the predominant setting. Stuff like that.
„After I know where that boss is placed, I’ll come up with a concept that fits the setting and faction. I will jot down a few ideas on possible spells and abilities that would fit the theme I came up with for this boss. For example, a Necromancer in an Undead dungeon needs to summon additional mobs.
„I set up different phases within the fight to make the encounter feel exciting and varied. After that, it’ll go ahead and create a first prototype to test against. After this test, it’s usually back to the drawing board to overthrow some things and refine others.
Empa explains that this is mainly his part in the creation, the actual gameplay. Without artists, and sometimes coders, it’s impossible to create a new enemy. „We usually have a one page design reference where the skills and concept are outlined – as well as some reference material for the actual design is provided. It helps tremendously if you have some visual reference to talk about with the artists, so you can work towards the same vision."
„And you need that artistic power. A lot. You need a new model. Textures. Spell effects. An avatar picture. Animation. Usually, a total of four different artists are involved in the creation of the visuals of a new mob. Sometimes you also need a coder to enable you to make new spells that have never been made before in the game.
„Once all the things are ready and I am happy with how the combat phases are set up, we connect it and have our QA trying to rip it apart. QA testing is a crucial part of the design process. You want to spot possible flaws and errors in the design and the technical implementation early on. „If those QA tests have ironed out bugs and imbalances, the mob will go into the game and I’ll head on to the next task.“