GDC 2014

GDC 2014 Session Scheduler

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No Sabotage Allowed: Operating within an Inherited Design on Counterspy

Ed Kay  |  Lead Designer, Dynamighty

Location: Room 130, North Hall

Format: Session
Track: Design
Vault Recording: Video

As a designer you don't always have the luxury of developing a concept from scratch. More often than not you are presented with a partially complete game or feature and are tasked with taking it to completion, working within the constraints of the original design. This talk will describe how to evolve an inherited design, by fixing its weaknesses and leveraging its strengths. It will describe universal design principles applicable to any game, using Counterspy as a case study to provide concrete examples. It will cover step by step how the games structure was adapted to take it from a linear campaign to a dynamic procedural system, providing the player with greater agency. The iteration process will be described to show how the design was moulded to create more depth and strategy without steering away from the initial vision.


Attendees will be presented with a number of practical techniques for inheriting a design and making the most of it, with real examples drawn from the design of Counterspy. There will be tips for how to set goals, prototype effectively, use focus tests, create good tutorials as well as several recommendations for tools.

Intended Audience

This talk is relevant for designers as well as any game developer interesting in learning the best methods for adapting to and improving an existing game design.