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Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: Young v. Old: Dev Debate

DanaDana Halifax, NSPosts: 2,415Member

Vanguard Technical Director Ryan Elam is the veteran, while Designer Derek McDevitt is the rookie. The two get together to expand on their opposing world views in this new monthly feature.

image Derek McDevitt: My name is Derek McDevitt and I'm a Game Designer at Sigil Games Online. I got my start at Sigil back in July of 2005 when I was hired as an Associate Game Designer. I've been in love with games for most of my life. When I was just a young lad in elementary school my dad found a perfectly good Atari and a couple of games in someone's trash (he was a trash man, not a garbage digger) and brought it home for my brother and I to play. Ever since those days of 'Pong' I have been hooked. As far as MMO experience goes, the one I've played the most is Everquest. I started playing in middle school, but playing became hard after my parents found out that I preferred EQ to homework. More recently I have played World of Warcraft and, of course, Vanguard.

At Sigil I do many things, including playing ping pong and being pretty much the ping pong champ of the design team. When it comes to Vanguard though, my main responsibility is that of overland population. This includes, but is not limited to, allocating creature types per regions of the world, planning out level progressions for the overland game world, designing and building overland camps, and meticulously documenting all of the things that I've already mentioned. Some people here at work think that I have a slight case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but they're probably just thrown off by my documentation and how I organize the copious amounts of Sobe bottles on my desk by the color of their caps.

The whole article is here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios



  • Distortion0Distortion0 Sheppton, PAPosts: 668Member
    Can you really call this a debate? It's more like a duel interveiw. It sounds like it would be interesting if it were longer though.
  • blacksheepblacksheep portland, ORPosts: 3Member

    How is it that this is not the longest running debate in Business history. The young is trying to make a name for himself, the old is trying to hold on tho the name he created in his years on the job. Hmmmm.

    So the problem, the young has good strong ideas that cost money and may or may not be the answer in the old guys eyes. The old is supposed to have, or thinks he is supposed to have all the answers, or is paid to have all the answers.

    So the solution to the debate is the balance. If they both understand their roles, and points of view, it is remarkably easy. Old timer, you are no longer the smartest guy in the building, you want to think so but it is not true, if it is true you have done a bad job hiring. Young guy you may be one of the smartest guys in the building, but not the wisest, unless you are truely elite, and there are probably parts of the picture you are not looking at.

    Old guy, you are supposed to manage your talent, part of that management is to explain why so he can use the information at a later date and refrain from asking a similar question in the future.( Oh and get them to wright the code cuz it will get done faster)Young guy, I know this will be hard but you have to listen to what the old guy is telling you, i know sometimes they dont always say what they mean and it seems like they change their minds allot, but so will you when you are old.Find the hidden code!!!!that will make you uber!!

    And young guy one last bit, sometimes the old guys no matter how wrong they are are still right, even if it makes no sense to anyone but the old guy, and even if later they realize they were wrong and change it to the way you wanted it to begin with, but just different enough not to be the same. You have to give them that because when you are old you will need it and the young guys will give it to you. Or you will fire them.

    Oh and young dude the old guy is not you peer, so dont talk to him like he is, it's rude and insensitive, old guys are sensitive.Oh and old guy watch out for the Aggro emotions of the young guy they still work on the FFE plan.

    Fight it, F*&k it, or eat it.

    PSSSFFFFTTTT!!!! Debate over I win.I take donations for my counciling services, too.Beta keys excepted.

  • RattrapRattrap ZagrebPosts: 1,599Member
    Yay! I am all for you Ryan!

    Teach that n00b Derek his place in the company!

    "Before this battle is over all the world will know that few...stood against many." - King Leonidas

  • DannypfernDannypfern MatlockPosts: 10Member
    If the devlopers can't agree...

    God knows how the game will end up :P.

  • SaerainSaerain Barrington, RIPosts: 978Member Uncommon

    Friendly Disagreement > Unanimous Agreement > Unfriendly Disagreement

    Debate within a development team helps the development. It breeds ideas. The best you can do for a game is bring as many major conflicting opinions as you can into a team and make them get along. If you can manage to do that -- and it is extraordinarily difficult -- you have a recipe for something great that will improve with age (see: EVE) rather than deteriorate (see: Galaxies).

    Like the gene pool.

    Favorites: EVETORVanguard | Playing: None, overtaken by VR | Anticipating: CUPantheon
  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,575Member Uncommon

    The title should be 'Vangaurd: Saga of Heroes: Arrogance v. Wisdom: Dev Debate'

    Real men don't have to puff up their chests and stand on their tippy toes to look big and manly.  When grasshopper learns this lesson, he will  have matured a little.


  • DannypfernDannypfern MatlockPosts: 10Member
    Fair point.

  • AnofalyeAnofalye Quebec, QCPosts: 7,433Member

    Well, they are also at opposite jobs.


    The tech guy has to make sure the game is functional, that it work.  If you listen too much to this guy, you will end up with PONG with maybe an extra feature.  It will run smoothly, very nicely, no lag, and the server will be able to support millions of players, lagfree.


    The Designer has to make these guys work harder.  They have to find the stuff that will make this game cool and better, they basically have to figure what features and what aspect they can manage to get the older folks to accept to program and make functional.


    Without the tech guys, I don't think the Designer can make much of a game at all, it will be all sweet and his head.  However, the best techs put together give results similar to what Microsoft do...and Microsoft isn't exactly earthbreaking in terms of interesting gameplays.


    Basically, if we have to sums it up, the Designer have to find/figure/design a way to make sure the tech guys make an awesome game that will be a great success.  The Tech guy, he is the very core of what make the game...however, he needs support, because techies despite having awesome qualities, often fail at understand how to make the gameplay more interesting, cool...


    To make the techies smile, the best designer on earth is prolly to drunk to care!  Which is a lot worser then the techies working for MS!  image

    - "If I understand you well, you are telling me until next time. " - Ren

  • RulanRulan Toronto, ONPosts: 19Member
    I laughed, that was a good article.

  • JonathJCenJonathJCen Galveston, TXPosts: 193Member

    This is too cuteimage

    Sounds like the Sigil team are having a ball of friendly teasing contests at work. The best working atsmophere is one where you can get things done but adopting the philosophy that life's ment to have some fun in itimage

    So this is Derek's FIRST job? that guys gotta be the luckiest SOB I've heard of. Got a ticket through college and a seat right in the industry he's been dreaming of. Others like myself however have gotta pay our way through college and cross our fingers that our 3rd or 4th job tittle invovles something in the industry we've been looking for. Congrats to him I supposed I must say

  • RattrapRattrap ZagrebPosts: 1,599Member
    Ok , this time no joking

    I myself am designer and work every day with coders. Some of which are older than me.( Hehe i am old sod i admit )

    But it is always the same thing with coders

    " It cant be done! " , " It is not in our road map " , " It will take to much time " ... etc

    When i request feature from them , i know exactly what they are going to tell me image

    They usually like to stick to what they know , and the old concept of how to get there. I cannot blame them.
    Their schedual is tight  as it is.

    The young coders on other hands , are very willing to try new things - because everything is new to them anyway.

    So old blood = efficiency and quality
    New blood = Not so efficient but  innovative

    In my oppinion developing companies should have team of youngbloods  that their  only task is trying to do this
    crazy undoable ideas. (and ofcorse other much bigger team , steady coding in good ol way)

    "Before this battle is over all the world will know that few...stood against many." - King Leonidas

  • Cry0Cry0 Danville, CAPosts: 44Member


    "...the one I've played the most is Everquest. I started playing in middle school, but playing became hard after my parents found out that I preferred EQ to homework."


    Lol same.  I started eq in 7th grade when it came out and my parents from that point on began taking away computer/power cables/blocking ip adress every time they got mad at me.

    At the same time i ahve to ask, how old is derek then? I started EQ in 7th grade and im 19 now.. did he start working at sigil when he was 20? lol

  • RrysRrys Greensboro, NCPosts: 5Member Uncommon

    Having been the 'old guy' in several Unix Sys Admin shops, it was great fun to read the article and the thread.  There are two more very important reasons for the mix of old and new.  The new kids keeps all us old farts on our toes!  And second, one of the greatest rewards I've ever received, while working, was mentoring the next generation and watching them grow up!  The new blood must come in and take up the slack!

    Sign me,

    Happily Retired!

  • EndemondiaEndemondia SalfordPosts: 231Member

    this made me laugh.

    As some one starting a 3 year degree in video computer games at the ripe old age of 37 it also gives me a glimmer of hope that I too will find my niche in the industry.

    More discussions like this please and sorry but I gave Vanguard a hard time on a post and feel a bit guilty now! Just fed up of class based fantasy games...but I am sure Vanguard will rock as big as WoW! }:)

  • DrSmaShDrSmaSh PtujPosts: 454Member Uncommon

    LMAO! Sigl is my fav. dev team now! I mean lol... I would love so much to meet those guys. Just check employee spotlight. If guys can joke like that... I'm sure Vanguard will be a good game.

    ::::08:: to all people that make Sigl

    Every time I read your post, I die a little inside...
  • achellisachellis Saranac, NYPosts: 542Member
    theyll end up agree in the middle of what they both said


  • VallenarVallenar Madison, WIPosts: 124Member
    That was a bit different.  Interesting, but not very informative.  It's like Desperate Housewives for the gaming world.
  • CleffyIICleffyII The Moon, CAPosts: 3,440Member
    Maybe they should pull some innovation in Vanguard instead of talking about how they can be innovative.  I admit the programming is very well done, but the game design looks very bad.


  • ScallawagScallawag king of prussia, PAPosts: 16Member
    I have to side with the old timers in this dialog, and not just because I am one.  I remember being that young pup with the bright ideas, but the bottom line is that there needs to be more HARD WORK for the young ones - HARD TEDIOUS WORK.

  • MESS14HMESS14H NottinghamshirePosts: 33Member

    Production costs money and the longer production go's on the more money it cost im not a geinius to point that out. I have see alot of great Ideas for games come along and then see them canned simply because they became too expensive to make or other games came out on the market that attracted players attention so that the great games that are still indevelopement simply got forgotten about or rushed through developement so that when the game comes out it's so buged and unplayerble people simply give up playing it. We can continiue to put lots of great features and content into a game untill the world ends but it has to be decided when you have enough of a game that is different and more inetevive enough than there is currently on the market.

    So its got to be considered even though something seems like a great idea youve got to decide " is this going to add too much time and money into the developement" , "are people going to wait that long for it to be developed ". I really like the look of this game and it do's have alot of really good ideas and i cant wait to play it . Which is what allot of people will be thinking also. There is always room for more Idears and content but I think it is best usesd in after sale's production in the form of monthly updates and expantions.

  • AltairsAltairs AthensPosts: 47Member Uncommon

    i am so much in favorite of ryan's arguments i could come over there to pull some ears myself!

    there is a reason  older programmers need to do things in specific ways. This involves stability, workflow, cost/time analysis and so much more.  A leading character in the industry will be of course able to analyize, estimate and if approved, implement a new idea,  safe route or ever re-design that a young puppy would suggest. In this way both characters would work exaclty "as itended" as far as their ceo manager mind is concerned.

    to younger ppl : be alerted, learn as much as you can and dont RUSH. when your opinion is asked, state your answer assertively. When you THINK you have a great idea and want to suggest it, try first an "inner debate" and then share it with your colleagues. Your skills and maturity then will be widely recognized.


    cheers all, anxious to start playing with your baby !!


    //altair arch engineer dplg.

  • Ad1hAd1h Summersville, WVPosts: 1Member

          Having a hard time understanding why Vanguard has this linked on their site... definitely not the kind of positive hoo-ha they throw around.  

  • mehhemmehhem chicago, ILPosts: 653Member
    This is a delicate subject.  For the most part younger people play the games and the older ones design/create the games.  Its tough to know what each wants out of a game and I think this is one of the main reasons games fail.  

  • airheadairhead Atlanta, GAPosts: 718Member Uncommon
    I don't exactly understand the stereotyping here... I'm old, and the lack of innovation in the gaming industry makes me sick... and makes me withhold my dime till I see something interesting and worth playing. So risk and innovation are a must; doesn't matter how old you are.

    HOWEVER... it's all a mute discussion really. Because the only person who really matters, is the person signing the checks... the boss. The programmers, designers, and developers who get paid for their labor, are not really taking any risk at all. So the young guy all excited about doing risky new innovative stuff is sort of irrelevant. His risk is limited by whoever is putting up the money. Sounds like the older guy has come to understand this a little, and knows how hard he can pull on the leash. And was the "happy puppy" phrase alluding to Pink Floyd's DOGS song? Kind of fits I think...

  • damian7damian7 middle-of-notsosmartPosts: 4,449Member
    just to point out... both of these guys seem to have played everquest, as in, one lists eq and wow and the other lists eq.

    could we please get correspondent writers and moderators, on the eve forum at, who are well-versed on eve-online and aren't just passersby pushing buttons? pretty please?

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