fbpx

Becoming a Video Game Designer Starting at Only 13 Years Old | Alexander Brazie | #2

Funsmith Fireside Chats Episode #2

Guest: Alexander Brazie (aka Xelnath)

Alexander Brazie has been a full-time video game designer for almost 20 years. He has worked on games that have sold hundreds of millions of copies, including World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Ori And The Will of The Wisps, and other titles.

Throughout his career, Alex has almost contributed to every major types of game genre, including many titles he cannot disclose yet. He would be what you call a “full stack game designer” if such a title exists. In addition, he’s also the director of SnackPass.

He has helped train professional game designers at Riot and on Activision’s Call of Duty’s design team, as well as consulted on games like Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, and Diablo 3.

In this episode, Alex shares the ups and downs of his journey starting from an excited gamer to a fully fledged game designer working at Blizzard and Riot.

Listen to The Full Episode Below:

Audio:

Podcast Platforms:

gds podcast listen apple podcasts min

gds podcast listen spotify min

gds podcast listen overcast min

Referenced Links & Resources:

Connect with Alex:

Twitter

Connect with Ari:

Twitter | Instagram | TikTok

Free Game Design Learning Resources:

What is Video Game Mechanics (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Become a Video Game Designer

How to Write Game Design Document with Examples

Game Design Portfolio, with Examples (Guide)

Topic breakdown (with timestamp)

0:00 – Introductions

1:31 – Alex Brazie’s experience with game design

2:07 – Alex’s journey to becoming a game designer and working on WoW

9:59 – Why some games fail to ship

10:48 – What are game sprites?

11:49 – Alex’s experience living in Japan

19:30 – The genius of Super Smash Bros

23:14 – Many roles on the path to becoming a game designer

28:00 – What is a midi simulator?

29:49 – Why is passion important when pursuing a career in the gaming industry?

34:09 – The Dunning-Kruger effect, and how to overcome it

36:08 – Events that led to Alex getting fired from Blizzard?

39:30 – How Alex went from being fired to working on League of Legends

46:15 – Why Alex created a course on game design

48:44 – Alex’s role at Riot

49:58 – The origins of the name “Xelnath”

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?

Please let us know in the comments below.

By the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways to help you start or level-up your game design career:

1. First Principles of Game Design: Skill Development Program: Join game devs who got hired or promoted across 51 AAA and Indie game studios including Riot, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and etc.

Improve player retention and word of mouth by learning to accurately diagnose why the players are losing interest in any game and how to adjust accordingly – one of the main skills studios hire for.

2. Game Design Mentorship – Get access to live weekly video calls and chat feedback support directly from veteran game designer with 25 years of industry experience (see example sessions).

3. Game Design Career Goal Strategy Workshop: A live workshop to help you figure out exact action steps to reach your goal, whether you aim to

  • Break into the video game industry
  • Get promoted (or pivot) from your current position
  • Ship a successful Indie game

Join the Funsmith Tavern to get exclusive game dev tips that I don’t share anywhere else

Each Friday, get a shot of 2-min TL:DR update in your inbox on the latest
Actionable tips, templates, or in-depth guides by game dev experts
— Entry-level Game design job listings(+ playtesting and internships)
— Private community workshops, events, and discussions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Funsmith Tavern

Weekly Game Design Newsletter

Level-up your game design knowledge, skills, career, and network

Each Friday, get a shot of 2-min TL:DR update in your inbox on the latest

All tactics. No fluff. Pro advice only. Unsubscribe any time

Get Exclusive Game Design Tips that I Share Only with Funsmith Tavern Subscribers

Weekly Game Design Newsletter

Level-up your game design knowledge, skills, career, and network

Each Friday, get a shot of 2-min TL:DR update in your inbox on the latest

All tactics. No fluff . Pro advice only. Unsubscribe any time

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