Game Directing

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Game Directing

Postby synthetic » Thu Dec 05, 13 7:32 am

There are various levels of quality in the world of entertainment - certainly applies to all other fields as well, but here the thoughts are on games specifically.

There are certain directors that manage to produce a high quality product, be it a movie or a play, or a game. We notice that mainstream television for example tends to have lower quality entertainment products than, say, cinema. With some famous movie directors taking a step towards episodic television material, or with others outshining the competitors in that very medium, I have to wonder why we cannot have really decent directors in games development.

PC games in particular have their roots in the nerd scene and hobby coders, single creative individuals with limited resources. Truly captivating entertainment masterpieces are generally the product of a hardworking team, under the supervision of various professionals, and the director. If the director wants an actor to forget about the script and improvise, the script is thrown out of the window and the actor will improvise. The responsibility will lie with the man behind the 'face' of the entire product.

Directing is the art of pushing work that just needs to be done, but seeing hidden possibilities in otherwise straight forward production scheme. It also means working with the material rather than just working the material.

So why cant Tarantino make a shooter game? Or why cant Lynch make isometric adventure rpg? How about Cohen working on open world game, or Ridley Scott trying his hand with rpg FPS hybrid?

Why can we not have multi-talented game directors who can make a decent movie as well as a game or a play, and have proper training/talent in the very field?

Why is Deus Ex good? In spite of the massive hype behind the company responsible for making the game, they had only limited resources to put in Deus Ex as parts of their team (AND company) were developing other games at the very same time. Limited resources, limited time, perhaps even limited skills (to some extent). It is because they discussed whether there should be a forty bottle on the table, whether inventory and skills system should have been one way or another. There was a man responsible for the overall quality of the game. And he got it right.

In retrospective, Deus Ex did not have awful much in it. Limitated by hardware back then more than by the engine even, it was optimised rather than over-developed. And it provided a fantastic experience with so little. On another hand, although many people were excited about HL2, I found that game awfully boring. Sure, a lot of skill was involved in making the game look and work the way it did, but god damn did it feel pointless.

Or too long; didn't read: need proper directors plz
Last edited by synthetic on Thu Dec 05, 13 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Psychotic » Thu Dec 05, 13 8:41 am

Calling someone a "director" is the same as calling someone a "designer". We break up the terms into sub-categories like "film director" or "game designer" because they're two distinct positions that are based around the general concepts of directing or designing.

Designing a film and designing a game are two different things. I'm a web and graphic designer, does that mean I can not design both a film and game using the same principles? Of course not, and that's why we differentiate them.

Directing is about management of a product and making the wheels turn in the proper direction, but a director isn't the wheels themselves.

Film is a far different medium to games, regardless of how similar the roots might be. I don't want Tarantino or Ridley Scott making my games if they have no sense of what makes a game good, for what makes a game good has nothing to do with what makes a film good. Likewise, would you want Romero or Harvey Smith making a film when their knowledge is in games?

Design has core philosophies which is why we call them "web designer" or "interior designer" just like directing has core philosophies, but they're not the same. Would you argue a music director and a film director are the same? They're both directors, have similar roots and have similar connections with each other.

Don't fall into the trap thinking that anyone can do these jobs, either. You and I are both gamers, as are millions of other people in the world, but that hardly means we all have the skills, knowledge and experience to design our own games. Same for film, writing or composing.
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Postby synthetic » Thu Dec 05, 13 9:40 am

Director may or may not design, but primarily guides and is responsible for turning a vision into an experience. If Deus Ex had only designers and no directing, it would've been a boring albeit smart game.

Designer is responsible for creation, but game, movie, theatre requires many a designer to become an experience. Likewise, design for a larger product happens under supervision, call it head designer if you will, but such decisions and control is indistinguishable from ie movie directing, if done right.

You break them into two distinctively separate categories based on medium not experience, does that mean you expect less of an experience from a game just because it is a game? Pure design is rarely entertaining enough, although advanced design aims to manipulate emotions and behaviour within its restrictions.

You downplay the importance of directing. Harvey Smith was essentially a director of Deus Ex rather than a mere art or playfield designer; he went to the university to become a film critic and got MA in radio and film field. Available information about his role in the DX development team provides further evidence of that.

My point admittedly may have brought the roles of the director and producer together to a point, but I vehemently reject the notion that games can not be supervised in such a manner. With pure designers a game has higher chances of being a failure than a success, even coming from a capable company. And yet with certain movie directors we are guaranteed a decent experience even when every additional release doesn't always out do the previous masterpieces. Looking at what is going on in recent years game market, or perhaps from the inception of computer games, I believe you are indeed right and games are made by designers. Shovel the shit to find a grain of gold.
Precisely why it needs someone in charge of not specific design but the overall experience. And that is called directing. If Tarantino cannot MAKE a game, he will ask designers and producer to take care of that. Understanding of arts, space and interaction, can be applied to all mediums, and that is precisely my point.
Last edited by synthetic on Thu Dec 05, 13 9:55 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Siva » Thu Dec 05, 13 9:55 am

Designing a game is a lot of work, I know because I've tried. Might have actually finished if I could pay my team but I digress, I daresay directing a film and directing a video game are two completely different experiences.

For example, due to the autonomy teams have in creating assets, overall vision is compromised. Storyboards are harder to control, and in some games nigh-on useless to even draw up. Its not just one director a game needs to be successful, it's a team of directors. The art director has to know what the game designer has in mind and his 'vision' for the project -- even when it seems wrong, and problems arise here too.

I'm talking disjointedly because this is a big topic. There is so much that goes into developing a video game, especially big budget video games, that I'm not surprised that quality is a rare achievement.
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Postby Psychotic » Thu Dec 05, 13 12:03 pm

My point was that the job of a film director and the job of a game director are similar but not the same. I'm not "downplaying" their position at all for I never said directors aren't necessary, I merely said a film director should not be hired for a game director position unless they are skilled and have experience in video games.

All roles are necessary, whether it be a director, designer, developer or community manager, but they also need to be specialized. Multi-talented crew-members are great, but you don't hire a film director and hope they know something about games, that's just not wise. You hire a game director and hope they know a bit about something else.

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Postby synthetic » Fri Dec 06, 13 6:54 am

You've been wrenching around my entire point of the opening post for sure, missing what I was saying by focusing on whether Tarantino can code or create textures. I never went to details as small as whether he'd have to aquire additional knowledge of the medium - of course he does, that goes without saying. In the end of the day you'd still be hard pressed to find a game that isnt a complete joke, while many movies represent true art. No, that is not due to the restrictions of the medium. In many ways, games could have the upper hand.
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Postby Psychotic » Fri Dec 06, 13 7:46 am

I'm not sure what you're on about then. Viewing games as art isn't a new thing, it's no longer revolutionary. Many people think games can be art just as they think music and film can be art.

You didn't talk about art in your post, nor question the validity of games as art or the potential of games being used more for art. You asked why certain directors cannot or have not made games, such as Tarantino making a shooter. You argue that I am caught up in one piece of your post yet said post explains nothing about "art" except where you imply directing is art.

There's no reason these directors can't push into other fields, they simply don't. The reason could be anything, from a lack of experience to a lack of interest. I am multi-talented but I don't pursue all the talents I have for money or fame.

Video games are a young medium, give them time to grow. In another 20-30 years I doubt this will even be a question people will ask. We'll have seen games used as nothing more than questions without answers, alongside the ones we play for fun. To some, we see that in many now.

Deus Ex is as much a piece of art as it is a game. We play it interactively and enjoy it, but it asks us questions we might have never been asked before, much as traditional art has done before it. If that's not your point then I have no idea what you're on about.
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Postby synthetic » Fri Dec 06, 13 5:30 pm

I described clearly the idea (or hope) of bringing higher quality from theatres and specifically the cinema industry to the gaming.

Viewing artform within a game medium was not supposed to be a revelation but a fact, a statement for the unexplored possibilities we all can see, but what we cannot see is a truly good game.

I talked about experience the visionaries listed are able to bring to the audience, what they do is art. You tell me I did not talk about art, but are you to say that neither cinema nor theatre represent art forms? Even if you do, that is not the subject of this thread.

It is a published fact that some movie directors have played with the thought of working with the games, whether viewing it positively or negatively.

Whether the games and gaming is young or not, it does not excuse it still being discarded as a childs toy. Significant amount of population does not view games as even part of the culture, while other select authors have to argue that point of view.

It seems to be that you missed the idea of how a good film or a game is finalized, and jumped straight into technicalities that may not even fall under the directors duties. Unnecessarily mixing the concepts of a director and a designer just derailed the thread further.
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Postby Psychotic » Sat Dec 07, 13 3:45 am

As a precursor I'd like to apologize for what I think is a harsh and frank tone in my previous post, and in the following. I am not particularly diplomatic or "politic" about how I say things, preferring to being extremely blunt and frank.

If my post comes off as offensive or as a personal attack to you please tell me so I can learn from this for the future. It's not in any way designed to insult or humiliate in any way.


I think films and games can be as deep or as "childish" as the directors want them to be and I do not feel an incessant need to push a person in one direction or another.

Games as "toys" is equally as important as a game designed for a mature audience. You don't explicitly state that "toys" and "games" can't exist together, but I feel you heavily imply it. All I get from your rant is that you feel a desire for a deeper connection to the games you play, and I understand that since I want that too, but I do not feel you understand why the industry hasn't delved deeper and I think most of it is "technical".

I am arguing that games being young does excuse the perception that games are nothing more than wastes of time. Why? Because both film, music and reading were all considered that at some stage, and more than a hundred years on many people no longer feel that way. They needed time to grow and evolve before people started taking them seriously. Games need more than a handful of deep games to be considered viable for the task, and people need to want to make games for this purpose rather than for mere money (look to indie games for groups who are making attempts at meaningful games).

You are asking for the world to speed up and act in a way it never has. The world has never been a quick leaner, even in the face of what you might call "technological advancements". We've simply adapting to a changing environment, and people will take games more seriously in the future as they already have been now.

I feel you would be better fighting the people who think games aren't art or cannot be construed as art rather than asking why people treat games like toys and not as the meaningful products they could be. They do it because they either don't understand they can or they do not want to, for whatever reason, not because we think games are an inherently bad medium for displaying meaning. Instead of complaining about these people you should be trying to educate them, and realising some people still don't care for it, and why should they? Because you have a passion for it and demand they do?

I have a passion for design and yet some people still don't respect my knowledge of it or the purpose of design. I get contracts among contracts of people who don't want to pay me because they feel that writing a few lines of code or drawing is not worth their time, that "anyone" can do it and that I only do it for "fun", and art and design aren't new philosophies, just the digital side of it is.

The people who believe that there is no culture in gaming will likely "die out" in years to come. They will be introduced to new technologies and new ideas related to gaming that might change their entire perceptions of it. Have you thought that the people who think these thoughts come from an era far out of touch with gaming? My father doesn't even understand the depth games can go because he doesn't play, so he chooses to have no opinion on them.

You blame me for derailing the thread but I failed to understand your post and it's intentions. It's not my "duty" to make sense of your post, it is your duty to make sure I do. The point of a debate is making each side understand your own perspective.

I understand that even I am not too good at explaining things (I honestly suck at it), but I don't blame others for misrepresenting my points, I blame myself for not articulating myself clear enough, as it is I who wishes to "enlighten" them, so to speak. If you want people to see things from your side then it's your responsibility to make us see that, not ours.
Last edited by Psychotic on Sat Dec 07, 13 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mr357 » Sat Dec 07, 13 6:50 am

Although Spector gave us Deus Ex, I have to say that my favorite game "director" out there is Chris Roberts. Those who haven't heard of Star Citizen should check it out.
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Postby synthetic » Sun Dec 08, 13 7:36 am

Star Citizen is not even out yet, even if it is shaping up to be a strong title in the long-neglected space roam niche.


On the discussion: I find it pointless to debate on whether games are, can be, or have been toys. Entertainment industry has just about always provided for all age groups. The opening post itself listed plenty names that are not precisely Disney level creators.

That aside, it seems that we are not talking about the same things, and while the the bulk of my post may lack certain fluency, its key point would be simple enough to understand. You just took it up to nag about irrelevant specifics that largely appear as common sense and did not warrant going into further detail. In general, I spoke of arts and the experience the talents in the movie industry can provide for the audience, and of the significant contrast with the generally poor experience that games provide in comparison. Should the medium as such persist (which it likely will), we'll get there. In this thread I emphasised the lack such development right here, right now, when I am not 75.
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Postby Psychotic » Sun Dec 08, 13 8:32 am

So the problem here is you're simply impatient and can't grasp the concept that new things take time to grow. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither were games.

I get it, you're frustrated because games as an artform isn't moving as fast as you want and that's great, but your post didn't explain that to me and I tried to understand it but you know what? Fuck it.

Frankly, this was more a rant than anything which would have been fine had I figured that out sooner. That's not the issue I have, however.

I mean, why have a legitimate discussion when it's easier to be a fucking asshole, right? It's not as if I didn't make an attempt to understand your point through numerous posts questioning numerous circumstances that I tried to make as clear as possible.

But nah, fuck all that. It's so much easier to just sit in front your monitor with your fingers up your ass and your delusions of grandiosity, right?

I tried to be nice but the next time you want to talk try a fucking mirror, asshole. I'm fucking done.
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Postby Mr357 » Mon Dec 09, 13 3:47 am

synthetic wrote:Star Citizen is not even out yet, even if it is shaping up to be a strong title in the long-neglected space roam niche.


Although I love the decisions he's making with Star Citizen, I like Chris Roberts because of what he did with the Wing Commander games and others such as Privateer and Starlancer. He has proved to me time after time that he simply wants to make great games, and nothing comes before that.
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Postby synthetic » Wed Dec 11, 13 6:36 am

Magniir wrote:So the problem here is you're simply impatient and can't grasp the concept that new things take time to grow. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither were games.

I get it, you're frustrated because games as an artform isn't moving as fast as you want and that's great, but your post didn't explain that to me and I tried to understand it but you know what? Fuck it.

Frankly, this was more a rant than anything which would have been fine had I figured that out sooner. That's not the issue I have, however.

I mean, why have a legitimate discussion when it's easier to be a fucking asshole, right? It's not as if I didn't make an attempt to understand your point through numerous posts questioning numerous circumstances that I tried to make as clear as possible.

But nah, fuck all that. It's so much easier to just sit in front your monitor with your fingers up your ass and your delusions of grandiosity, right?

I tried to be nice but the next time you want to talk try a fucking mirror, asshole. I'm fucking done.


You turned it into a rant by taking my discussion topic apart bit by bit as if it was a debate - I intentionally did not post this in rants section; it does belong there now, however.

Quality post, though, fingers up the ass and everything.

Mr357 wrote:
synthetic wrote:Star Citizen is not even out yet, even if it is shaping up to be a strong title in the long-neglected space roam niche.


Although I love the decisions he's making with Star Citizen, I like Chris Roberts because of what he did with the Wing Commander games and others such as Privateer and Starlancer. He has proved to me time after time that he simply wants to make great games, and nothing comes before that.


Yeah, thats why I've been following its funding updates and general newspieces. If I have time, I'll give it a go. Might turn out to be my kind of "Eve".
Last edited by synthetic on Wed Dec 11, 13 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Psychotic » Wed Dec 11, 13 2:49 pm

synthetic wrote:You turned it into a rant by taking my discussion topic apart bit by bit as if it was a debate - I intentionally did not post this in rants section; it does belong there now, however.


If you don't want other peoples opinions then don't open your mouth.

The internet is not the place for your own self-reflection without debate. If you want that go buy a fucking diary.
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