Game Programmer vs Game Designer

I came across a list of game development positions from the internet the other day. There were 36 positions and each one came with an accurate one-line description. It took me a while to scan through all of them and understand what each one actually does. But let’s talk a little about the team we have behind Twelve Floors. Designers and programmers.

Game designers and game programmers. These sound like they should sit at both ends of the spectrum and truthfully, they do. The creative side of a game is supposedly handled by the game designers and the technical aspects like the code, or basically the backend side of things are handled by game programmers. But many times we see small studios and indie teams tend to blur these lines a little bit. Obviously, it’s because they lack manpower and each member of the team tends to take on every possible position on that list.

Put aside whether that’s the right thing to do or not, there’s a significant difference in a game studio between a game designer and a game programmer. A game designer’s role is to curate the storyline, design how the game moves forward, decide on what’s the best method to attract players to continue playing, and the characters’ back story etc. In larger studios, there are multiple design teams such as character design, sound design, art design and many more. Typically, in small studios, these lines are blurred too. If you are a designer in a team like this, you tend to wear a couple more design hats. Essentially, the creative side.

A game programmer, on the other hand, develops and writes code that the game developer, or himself, can use to bring to life the design provided by the game designers. This involves a lot more coding, maths to understand and calculate the physics and dynamics of things, and other technical understanding behind computer graphics and computer science. To bring the two together, a game designer provides a blueprint or visualization of how the game should be and the game programmer writes code to turn it into the final product.

So, these two roles are enough to make up a team to develop a game and this is exactly what the team behind Twelve Floors is like — game designers and game programmers. But like all small studios, each member of the team behind Twelve Floors is more than capable of what they could and should accomplish and I am extremely proud of them. I’m keeping this team. :)

What are some other roles in game development that you probably know of but didn’t make the list? Lemme know!



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Embedded Software Engineer and Indie Game Developer