My Conversation with Ken Lobb
The other day, I had the opportunity to talk with Ken Lobb, creative director at Microsoft Game Studios. In case you’re not familiar, Lobb was involved with such classic games as Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark, and more recently, a number of popular XBox 360 games. This is the guy for which the “Klobb” of Goldeneye 007 was named.
When I asked him about his design process for new concepts, he said that new designs generally revolve around a single innovative game mechanic. Today, I would think of games like Portal and Braid in these terms, but it doesn’t have to be that mindbending; it just has to be fun. One example he gave went back to the days of developing Super Mario 64. The unique mechanic of the time was simply running around in a 3D world of hills, climbing trees, jumping and doing flips, and it felt “fantastic.”
If you have a big idea and you’re looking to pitch it to a big studio, Lobb had something to say about that too. If all you have is a design, get back to work. These days, if you don’t have a working prototype of your idea, you really don’t have a shot. It might sound harsh, but there are good reasons for this. If you only have a design document, even if it’s very specific, people will begin to imagine it in terms of games they have already played. Instead, they want to experience, play, and enjoy the game the way the creator meant it to be. The best way to achieve that is to actually create it the way they mean it to be, and present that exact experience rather than an approximate description.
Thanks to Ken Lobb for taking the time to speak with me.
Any thoughts or questions about our talk? Leave a comment!