Delivered at Casual Connect USA 2018, David Rogers, Lead Designer of inXile Entertainment spoke about the problems inXile discovered while building the core mechanic of The Mage’s Tale, that is, throwing fireballs in VR. While they initially thought this would be relatively straightforward, it turned out to be much more complicated. David would like to help others avoid the long iterative process they had to go through before getting it right.
David Rogers is Lead Designer and Creative Director at inXile Entertainment and is currently working on The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep, overseeing all design work on the game. David said that he will also be presenting their first ever hands on demo of The Bard’s Tale IV (which shares the same fictional universe at The Mage’s Tale) at GDC next week.
David grew up gaming. With his father working at a university, he had a computer in his home from a very early age. David was gaming on a DOS PC, playing games like Mech Warriors, Command & Conquer and Duke Nukem. By middle school he was spending time after school and on weekends at the local game shop playing every game from D&D to Magic to Pokémon to Warhammer.
Something Fun and Interesting
He was inspired to become a game designer because he wanted to spend his work life doing something fun and interesting. Since he had always loved making games, the choice was clear. He started as a Dungeon Master and quickly began making his own game systems and trying them out on friends.
As he suggests, if you want a career designing games, you must first be making games. So you should learn a tool such as Unity and get started in creating.
David’s first job in gaming was at the Army Games Studio where he set out immediately to find his own niche, a project no one else wanted to work on so he could own it. This turned out to be building trainers using Virtual Battle Script, a training simulator engine based off the Arma engine. He describes, “The source code was written mostly in Czech, which was really annoying to work in. But I knuckled down and became an expert VBS scripter.”
When You Know It’s Special
America’s Army: Proving Grounds was David’s first design credit on an entertainment gaming product. He was understandably proud of the work he did as junior designer on the product, as well as the game itself. This is a game David still enjoys playing for fun with friends, and admits this can be unusual, since you can become so invested in a game you no longer enjoy it once it is released. If you do still enjoy it, you know you have created something special.
David’s biggest challenge in his work at inXile is time. There is always more work than time so you must work smarter and prioritize, but you can never get everything done and you will never be ahead of schedule. He emphasize,s “Games have a way of growing as you work faster. As you solve one problem, it’ll reveal ten more ways you could improve the game, and all that can be done is identifying how you and your team can spend their time most wisely to do the most good.”
On the other hand, if time and resources were not limited, David would choose to make an online, competitive, free-to-play game. He strongly believes that the free-to-play model is the most beneficial for both players and developers if it is correctly done.
David is always on the lookout for new mechanics and adventurous ideas. Often these are found in the indie scene. As well, he plays a lot of board games and finds inspiration there. As he points out, board games today are undergoing a renaissance and have never been more varied and creative.
Not surprisingly, when David has free time it is often spent playing board games! And he also plays a lot of Warhammer, especially enjoying painting and creating terrain. And he regularly attends Warhammer tournaments.
David believes the next few years in the game industry will continue a trend we have recently seen with League of Legends on PUBG: Match made short session competitive play is appealing. He expects this to be a trend for the foreseeable future.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.