It’s been a while since we posted for our ‘Developer Interview Series’ but we wanted all of you to meet more of us who work here at Boomzap so we have a new post! Today we interview Luna Cruz. She was the first person from the Philippines to join the Boomzap team. Now, she is a Senior Game Designer and is responsible for starting new game franchises for Boomzap.
In this interview, she talks about her experience as a game designer and provides some tips to those who are thinking about going into the game designing profession.
What made you want to design games?
Luna: It was purely by accident. I wanted to be a screenwriter for film, and took a job writing for games after college to gain experience. I found that writing for games was much more rewarding. The challenge is not just to write a story that will entertain, but to create a complete experience that the player will remember. Designing games is just as challenging; building a world out of nothing is scary and fun.
As a Game Designer, what are the tools of your trade and what is your approach to designing a game?
Luna: Our tools may not sound very exciting: we use Microsoft Excel to script our rooms and puzzles, and Google Docs to create walkthroughs and manage tasks for the team. Personally, I write and brainstorm best away from the computer: I prefer pen and paper or (recently) the iPad.
When designing a game, I have a more collaborative approach. Sometimes, my ideas sound cool in my head, but in the game they’re actually terrible! I ask for feedback from the team a lot (artists, coders, other designers in the company); they’re a great sounding board, and will tell me if my story is bad or my puzzle doesn’t make sense. Better to catch that now than hear it from the players months later!
Where do you get your inspirations for your game designs?
Luna: Anywhere and everywhere. I play a lot of games (especially our competitors’ games; they do the same with us!) and look for trends that players like. I take pictures of things in real life that would make good subgames. I travel, I watch a lot of film and television, I absorb as much as I can. The more information and experiences you have, the more ideas you can come up with.
Which Boomzap game is your favorite and why?
Luna: Awakening: The Dreamless Castle is still my favorite. We made it in 2009 and it was our first time making a hidden object puzzle adventure. Games were much simpler back then; we didn’t have huge six-hour games or fancy animations. Awakening was a simple story set in a castle, and it was short and sweet and full of heart.
What do you think are the necessary skills for doing game design well and what do you have to say for those aspiring to be game designers?
Luna: You need to love to create. That includes the terrifying process of coming up with something out of nothing (in a short span of time).
You need to script your own stuff. Games are software, and you need to understand the technical limitations when you design. (That’s part of the fun, being creative with the technology.)
You need to be humble, and ready to scrap a bad idea, even if it’s yours. Especially if it’s yours!
You need to know your market and be able to think like a player. At the end of the day, you’re designing for other people, not yourself. Learn what they hate and what makes them happy.
If you want to be a game designer, it’s not enough to play a lot of games — you need to make your own. That’s the one thing we look at when we hire a designer in Boomzap. The only way to be a game designer is to actually get down and dirty and make your own game.
What do you do in your personal life to stay grounded?
Luna: Since Boomzap is a virtual office and I work from home, it’s important for me to step away and have a life outside of work. My big passion outside of games is krav maga, an Israeli combat system used for self-defense. I’ve been training with International Krav Maga Federation Philippines for almost a year now. Krav maga challenges me to improve myself physically and also trains my mind to stay sharp and alert. As a woman, it’s good to know how to defend myself and my loved ones, too.
Lastly, can you give us a sneak peek at the latest and greatest new game franchise that you are in the process of designing right now?
Luna: All I can tell you is that it’s a brand-new franchise — and it’s the most exciting one yet!
Thanks a lot for reading and for playing our games!