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What is Game Design Skills?

Gamedesignskills.com is a growing game development knowledge base and community specializing in sharing knowledge on game design concepts, craft, and profession with a deep focus on how the players control and interact with the game world, including gameplay mechanics, systems, and balancing.

Our mission is to help support the upcoming game designers and developers through the rough stages of learning their craft by sharing the hard lessons accumulated by professional game devs who had to discover and build through years of trials and errors.

If this is your first time visiting, please start here.

To make sure all the insights and perspectives are credible, all knowledge is shared by active practitioners with corresponding first-hand professional experience and insights either through guest author contributions and expert interviews.

If you’re an established professional interested in sharing your knowledge, contact us here.

Who am I? Why did I start this?

gds alex brazie vintage pic 3 cropped

This is me, signing World of Warcraft game boxes during the Cataclysm expansion pack launch.

I’m Alexander Brazie, a game designer who has been blessed by the feedback of a million strangers, a thousand friends and a few great mentors, whose knowledge I want to pass on.

There’s a flood of information now, some of it credible and much of it speculative by people who haven’t done the work, particularly on Youtube. Furthermore, many studios are still just grinding directionless iteration cycles without understanding the guiding principles that can make their games great.

I believe that the knowledge of how to create strong gameplay is a part of the craft that should be shared.

I believe in putting the player’s experience first because, ultimately, when the players are satisfied:

  1. They will be happy with the exchange of value and support you.
  2. As a result, the studio will retain and sustainably profit.
  3. At the same time, the team is fulfilled for having delivered their vision in its best form.

(I’ve witnessed many instances of established studios losing their loyal player base by prioritizing short-term monetization goals over the gameplay experience.)

As AI technology matures, design will continue to be essential in guiding the vision of the product, no matter the tools used.

Most importantly, I believe the best gaming experiences are yet to be created.

For the above reasons, I want to create a place where my colleagues and I can share the useful and practical lessons of the game design craft distilled from the past design challenges we’ve worked on.

And if you’re wondering about my game design background, below are a few things I’ve done:

(These are the ones I can legally disclose)

Triple A:

  • Riot Games:
    • Worked on League of Legends
    • Trained Junior developers with my methodology and post-mortems.
  • Blizzard Entertainment:
    • World of Warcraft, for expansions:
      • Naxxramas (Classic)
      • Burning Crusade
      • Wrath of the Lich King
      • Cataclysm
      • Mist of Pandaria
    • Provided design feedback during prototyping and development for
      • Starcraft 2
      • Diablo 3
      • Overwatch

Indie:

  • Studio Pixanoh: Train designers and helping shape combat for upcoming title.
  • Moon Studios (Microsoft): Ori and The Will of The Wisps
  • Snackpass: Creative Director on the Tochi project
  • Tencent Studio
  • USC (University of Southern California)
  • RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • US AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
  • UFIEA (University of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • West Gaming Foundation
  • Kyoto Computer Gakuin – Kyoto, Japan

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EXPERIENCE & BACKGROUND:

[STUDIO] Blizzard Entertainment: Content, mechanics, and systems designer

(Creator of Apex Legends & former Creative Director at Respawn)

[GAME] World of Warcraft: MMORPG with 8.5 million average monthly players, won Gamer’s Choice Award – Fan Favorite MMORPG, VGX Award for Best PC Game, Best RPG, and Most Addictive Video Game.

  • Classic:
    • Designed Cosmos UI
    • Designed part of Raid Team for Naxxramas
  • Burning Crusade:
    • Designed the raid bosses Karazhan, Black Temple, Zul’Aman
    • Designed the Outlands content
    • Designed The Underbog including bosses:
      • Hungarfen, Ghaz’an, Swamplord Musel’ik, and The Black Stalker
    • Designed the Hellfire Ramparts final bosses Nazan & Vazruden
    • Designed the Return to Karazhan bosses: Attumen the Huntsman, Big Bad Wolf, Shades of Aran, Netherspite, Nightbane
  • Wrath of the Lich King:
    • Designed quest content, events and PvP areas of Wintergrasp
    • Designed Vehicle system
    • Designed the Death Knight talent trees
    • Designed the Lord Marrowgar raid
  • Cataclysm:
    • Designed quest content
    • Designed Deathwing Overworld encounters
    • Designed Morchok and Rhyolith raid fights
  • Mists of Pandaria: 
    • Overhauled the entire Warlock class – Best player rated version through all expansion packs
    • Designed pet battle combat engine and scripted client scene

[GAME] StarCraft 2: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Diablo 3: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Overwatch: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Hearthstone: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[STUDIO] Riot Games: Systems designer, in-studio game design instructor

(Former Global Communications Lead for League of Legends)
(Former Technical Game Designer at Riot Games)

[GAME] League of Legends: Team-based strategy MOBA with 152 million average active monthly players, won The Game Award for Best Esports Game and BAFTA Best Persistent Game Award.

  • Redesigned Xerath Champion by interfacing with community
  • Reworked the support income system for season 4
  • Redesigned the Ward system
  • Assisted in development of new trinket system
  • Heavily expanded internal tools and features for design team
  • Improved UI indicators to improve clarity of allied behaviour

[OTHER GAMES] Under NDA: Developed multiple unreleased projects in R&D

Game Design Instructor: Coached and mentored associate designers on gameplay and mechanics

[STUDIO] Moon Studios: Senior game designer

(Former Lead Game Designer at Moon Studios)

[GAME] Ori & The Will of The Wisps: 2m total players (423k people finished it) with average 92.8/100 ratings by 23 top game rating sites (including Steam and Nintendo Switch).

  • Designed the weapon and Shard systems
  • Worked on combat balance
  • Designed most of the User Interface

[GAME] Unreleased RPG project

  • Designed core combat
  • High-level design content planning
  • Game systems design
  • Game design documentation
  • Gameplay systems engineering
  • Tools design
  • Photon Quantum implementation of gameplay

[VC FUNDED STARTUP] SnackPass: Social food ordering platform with 500k active users $400m+ valuation

[PROJECT] Tochi: Creative director (hybrid of game design, production and leading the product team)

  • Lead artists, engineers, and animators on the release the gamification system to incentivize long-term customers with social bonds and a shared experience through the app

[CONSULTING] Atomech: Founder / Game Design Consultant

[STUDIOS] Studio Pixanoh + 13 other indie game studios (under NDA):

  • Helped build, train and establish the design teams
  • Established unique combat niche and overall design philosophy
  • Tracked quality, consistency and feedback methods
  • Established company meeting structure and culture

Game Design Keynotes:

(Former Global Head of HR for Wargaming and Riot Games)
  • Tencent Studio
  • Wargaming
  • USC (University of Southern California)
  • RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • US AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
  • UFIEA (University of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • West Gaming Foundation
  • Kyoto Computer Gakuin – Kyoto, Japan