Marlena Abraham (they/them/theirs) is an advanced game designer at Schell Games, where they work on client and internal projects in VR/AR, educational games, and location based entertainment. Most recently, they worked on I Expect You to Die 2 as a narrative and level designer.
They are also the owner of Bonfire Blueprints, a game design consulting business, and President of Bit Bridge LLC, a community organization for indie game creators in Pittsburgh, PA.
On a game development team, a shared vision is crucial for success. If a team is having trouble seeing eye-to-eye, it can become a complicated problem to fix. In this talk, designers Jessica Fiorini and Marlena Abraham will walk the audience through a series of techniques that will help get their teams moving in the same direction. They will discuss the value of instilling interdisciplinary teams with the agency, ownership, trust, and most importantly, joy that will ultimately produce a better game. As Jessica and Marlena are at different stages of their careers, they’ll tackle this problem from two different perspectives: as a game industry veteran and as a designer whose responsibilities are still relatively new. From these vantage points, they’ll discuss communication tactics, documentation, software tools, and processes involved in building design consensus. They’ll explore how a combination of soft skills (e.g. how to receive and deliver feedback) and hard skills (e.g. documenting and testing assumptions) can produce a more engaging game. Using real projects as case studies, Jessica and Marlena will model the challenges a designer might face when building consensus, then use these examples to outline solutions ranging from playtesting and prototyping to new forms of communication. The audience will learn both the warning signs that stakeholders are facing disagreements and the ways to troubleshoot miscommunication. They’ll explore techniques that can solve issues that arise when leading or working with engineers, artists, sound designers, producers, and clients during various stages of game production.
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