Game design with Noah Falstein, part 1: The game designer

Last month I took a very interesting course of Game Design with the professional game designer Noah Falstein, fomous for working at LucasArts (formely Lucas Film Games), DreamWorks Interactive, and now his very own game consultant company: The inspiracy

I asked Noah for permission to share my personal notes about this course, so, here you have them. The stuff presented here may be the basics of game design, but I really learned from them.

In this first part I collected my notes about what is a game designer, his role, and the types of game designers.

Game Design with Noah Falstein:

How to spot a game designer:

  • Obsessive game players, moviegoers and readers. Be in the popular culture!
  • They easily get mistaken for the standard programmer and common nerd
  • Wonders how things work and why: Rules!
  • Smart but quirky
  • In-depth knwoledge of many different areas


    • Know a lot of things: If you only specalize in one thing, all your games will be the same
    • Story & design should support each other: they both will become stronger that way
    • Reuse characters, that will add more to them
    • DON’T make your first level first! Always start designing at the middle of the game
    • Don’t stay in the kwnon landscape, explore!

      Game designer types:

      • Lead designer/Design director:
      • Combination of managment and design
      • Assistant designers/co-designers
      • Take charge of subset, may share vision
      • Level designers
      • Often hybrid of artist, architect, designer
      • Playtesters
      • Separated from QA (PT = fun, QA = bugs)

        How to become a game designer:

        • You need experience
        • The chicken and egg problem (do something else)
        • Specialize in different areas (if you only know a subject all your games will be the same)
        • If you only want to be a game designer, probably you shouldn’t become one

          Game designer fundamentals:

          • Clear overall vision
          • Keep the audience in mind
          • Consider the player’s experience
          • Concentrate on the decisions made
          • Chris Crawford says: “Verbs, not nouns”
          • Do stuff, don’t show it

            The next part of my notes are about game design in general, I’ll post them soon.