I wanted to talk about a unique part of game dev: access to developers, and the expectation therein.

Fandoms, and particularly game, have an insane relationship to this - something not really in other industries.

Some tips, also, from someone who's been in the public eye a lot.
This might be a tempting topic to oversimplify, but as with nearly everything in game dev, it's nuanced.

Often I think the problems with this subject come from extreme takes on some very understandable issues, so hopefully this will color a more complete picture.
People who play video games get *very invested* - moreso than most other entertainment forms. There's a deeper passion, connection and meaning for people who play video games.

The experiences matter to us. That's part of the magic after all.
Developers also care a great deal; most of us are really dedicated to making stuff we really want people to like! The play is fueled from passion, as is the creation.

This in and of itself is great. This is the wonderful part, at least on paper.
The dark side is something most of you are familiar with; the expectation and entitlement that comes with a passionate fanbase, with people who care * alot* about something, and have their own opinions on what that thing should be.
Combine this level of care with the level of conduct people find acceptable on the internet, the additional visibility of developers who are often seen as celebrates , and you get a level of desired access that looks more akin to the paparazzi than people who love a product.
This is where things are toxic.

An unhealthy amount of players (and even some companies - more on that in a minute) think developers should be available - nearly anytime, anywhere, for any reason.

That to not be is ingratitude, thin skin, or ego. Or a lack of commitment.
These expectations have terrible outcomes, full stop. Never does it do anything positive for players or devs.

If they meet these, it allows abuse and burns them out.

If they turtle, players get much communication about legitimate issues that are worth discussing.
I'll also be clear; these expectations are absolute insanity.

It's what insane people would do or think. You don't even have that kind of access to *your friends* usually.

If you recognize you have this expectation, *take a hard look at yourself.*
I don't deign to feel I can wash these expectations away with some words on a page. Instead, I want to focus on a couple tips for managing a frankly *insane* world if you're a passionate dev who is stuck between wanting to communicate and does not want to be 100% available.
1) Set firm boundaries

Only you can choose how and when you talk to people about work - whether at work or not! Maybe you choose a method, like "Reddit only" - or times to do it - 9am on Mondays, or after major releases.

Even if you have broad rules, have them and be *firm*.
I've made this mistake a lot. The stream for Valorant was the last straw. I'd try to leave my DMs open, do Q&A, everything.

While I was happy to help some folks and speak to the game I was proud of, I also mostly just burned myself out and robbed myself of emotional energy.
2) Keep it focused

Only dive in for topics you have a direct interest and impact on. This is especially true for people who have a more specialized role or function.

If there's a big issue that is being spammed (queue "WHERE RANKED" or "INDIAN SERVERS" - don't discuss anything.
Companies and orgs need to help. If spamming every thread with the issue of the week gets a response, it'll continue.

Closing up comms shop will help the community do more of this work upfront - and with people like mods in bigger discussion areas make this possible.
3) Only engage when you want to

Unless part of your job is community-facing comms, don't do it unless you have the energy and desire. You do not "owe" anyone anything here - you're being paid to do the job you're doing, not run damage control on Reddit.
It's someone's job! But probably not yours. Even if you're a designer, leader, or involved in the feature - talking about how to deal with the issue with the right folks internally might be the extent of your responsibility.

This leads me to...
4) Hold your ORG accountable

Abuse can be permitted or even enabled by your org! If you engage make sure they have your back, and if you choose not to, make sure they have your back.

A lot of our desire to communicate comes from "well someone needs to!" Maybe it's just not you.
Do inform the teams that do with your expertise as needed. Do help your company work through the issues. You just might not have to run into the mortar fire personally when you didn't sign up to.
I have some thoughts - good and bad - about Riot's role in this.

They do a lot of things well, and then a lot of things get internalized and warped in a weird ass way that then sort of makes the players expectations around access *more toxic*.
They let people speak pretty freely, use "normal" language, and are transparent about things - I love this and it's what drew me there in the first place.

But they also turn a blind eye to players being abusive and expect you to be thankful for it. Or at least willing to take it
Combined with sort of an all-or-nothing view of "you have to either take it all or none of it, and we're not the kind of company that doesn't listen to player feedback" and you get an insidious multiplier on the expectation set.

I think that silliness matches the player argument
That there are two things you can be:

* Closed off corporate people like a traditional publisher (bad)

* We're grateful for players and will take any abuse because they love the game (also bad)
This part has turned into a sort of evaluation of that, but I think the right approach is balance; you speak clearly, honestly, and treat people like adults.

You get to be a person with boundaries and not tolerate abuse.

"They're the same picture"
This was a bit of a rant overall, but something that's been on my mind a lot - working for a unique org like Riot and now scoping being with a traditional publisher is like again, so I wanted to share what I have.
*Much less communication* gdi Twitter :D

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More from @MorelloNMST

21 Jul
Constraints are a constant in design, and while they can sound like a bad thing, I'd suggest that I think they're not just inevitable, but beneficial to a strong, focused game design.

We don't talk about this a lot, so let's dive in a bit.
To clarify, constraints are factors that put pressure, requirements or challenges on the design that aren't just the design itself.

Each game has its own, unique constraints. While we can't prepare for everything until we hit it, let's categorize a few places they come from:
* Technical.

A few examples would be the memory budget, how many characters can be "active" at once, database space for inventory items, rig bone counts, or AI behaviors.

(AI is generally really expensive on performance).
Read 20 tweets
11 Jul
Let's discuss game design education and post-graduate programs. I have a bit of a dour take, but I hope it can be useful - and maybe we can even find the silver linings.

It's something I've spent potentially too much time thinking about.
While I have not experienced these classes first hand, I have been a hiring manager for about 10 years. I've had the opportunity to review a *lot* of candidates, resumes, and conduct a lot of interviews.

My experience is from an "I want to find good junior designers" POV
I'll start with generalizations, then we'll move onto exceptions, and then potential things you can do if you find yourself in a bad spot with this.

I don't think there are any blistering-hot takes in here - this isn't an uncommon convo - but I want to make sure new folks see it
Read 31 tweets
10 Jul
Today, let's talk about design "subclasses" - that is, what sort of type of skills outside of game design responsibilities do you want to pursue?

A lot of designers have a subclass or two, making the shape of an individual designer sort of unique!
It's another reason design is harder to "grok" what it exactly is - there's so much variance. That's not a bad thing, though!

It speaks to what roles are more or less attractive, and what unique skills you can offer your team.
These should be defined by interest and background, I think. As a new designer, these can be nice to leverage for being more qualified or useful, but you'll still be very focused on getting the designer part right.

This is more a long term thing to think about.

Let's go;
Read 24 tweets
9 Jul
Let's talk about being "well-played" in design. That is, having a rich background of gameplay experiences.

This is a critical qualification of all Game Designers, in my mind, but there are(as usual!) a lot of misconceptions around what it is, what it means, and why it matters.
First, let's define what it is (to me):

Being well-played is about having not just a lot of experience in playing games, but looking at those games analytically, too.

Now, a lot of people meet this qualification, which leads me to the first misconception.
* Well-played is required, but it is not sufficient.

This misconception comes from a lot of armchair designers, and usually ones who are, uhm, let's say not always generously-minded.

It's important to have a wealth of experience, but it doesn't make you a designer.
Read 22 tweets
8 Jul
Let's do something more upbeat tonight; I want to talk about passion in game design a bit.

I tend to spend a lot of time with more buzzkill-style topics (in a bit of an effort to take the glamor out of design), but passion does matter and play a role!
I've mentioned before that your engagement in a title doesn't equate to skill and ability, and that a healthy distance from that can help you have a clearer head. This is true, but (as most things) it's nuanced.

Just as job functions have different roles, so do types of passion.
When building a design team, I think about these aspects - in how they offer different, important perspectives. While my experience is primarily in "enthusiast" type games, I think it's abstract enough to apply anywhere.

Here are 3 buckets of passion (..?) with "stat-sheets!"
Read 21 tweets
7 Jul
Let's talk about a subject near and dear to my heart; the *emotional skills* of game design.

We talk a lot about psychology, and the nuts and bolts of "engagement" - but we don't often talk about how emotional awareness and skills are critical to being a great designer.
(Also tbh the design process from execution forward is interesting in practice, but I kept writing boring things that didn't feel super useful beyond what we've discussed already.

If there's a huge demand, I'll come back to breaking those down.)

OK, on to it.
I've seen a lot of designers, usually implicitly, think that being the biggest brain or the "most right" are what we really need in design.

You do want to hone your analytical skills, sure, but without the emotional ones, you'll find yourself having a really tough time.
Read 17 tweets

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