I was recently asked the question, “What makes a good quest designer?” I’ve got a lot of experience in quest design, but I had never sat down and actually thought about what skills or traits made me good at what I do. After thinking about it for a bit, I came up with an answer: Communication, creativity, and the ability to be receptive to feedback.
Quest designers are the multidisciplinary focal point of the team, so being able to concisely and accurately communicate the design vision to others, especially to people working in different disciplines, is extremely important. Without good communication skills, a designer could have an amazing design in their head, but the rest of the team would likely be working on an entirely different vision of the game, causing the experience to not feel cohesive. Games are made by large teams of people, and being able to effectively communicate the vision of the game is often the difference between making a unified experience and having an amalgamation of various parts that don’t fit together.
Most of a quest designer’s job is to provide new and exciting opportunities to the player, which is where creativity comes in. Creative designers will come up with innovative new ideas that players haven’t even dreamed about. Having a creative mind also allows them to breathe new life into old concepts, making them feel fresh and novel again. In addition to the content they make, creativity can help designers come up with different workflows or ways to solve technical problems that less creative people would just accept as the way things are.
Designers are constantly bombarded with feedback from all sides – Leads, other designers, team members from other disciplines, playtesters, or even the community. It’s easy to be overwhelmed or to take feedback personally, but a good designer knows to accept even negative feedback as a positive thing, as it’s a way to strengthen the design. Additionally, knowing which pieces of feedback to act on and which ones to disregard is an extremely valuable skill for a designer. Sometimes this means not listening to the vocal minority, especially when a game has a huge online community. As an example, players might say that a certain attack is underpowered, but maybe it’s mathematically balanced and simply needs to feel more powerful with added visual or sound effects.
So there you have it, the three traits that make a good quest designer. Focus on communication, creativity, and receiving feedback and you’ll have a solid foundation for any quest design role.