Ondřej Bittner — Warhorse Studios
Game designer and writer of Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
Prague, Czech Republic.
What led you to the game dev industry and how did you become a game designer?
Pure chance. I never pursued the career as there is no obvious way how to get into it apart from knowing the right people, which I did not. One day a friend of mine discovered an ad for a game designer position and since we were designing pen and paper games and live-action games together we decided to try video games as well.
What does a typical day look like?
Depends on the product cycle. In the early days I spend most of my day brainstorming and pitching ideas. Later on I write and review other work a lot. And in the implementation I play the game a lot, finding bugs and fixing the ones related to my quests or trying to come up with solutions for various unforeseen problems which appear during the implementation.
What's your setup?
I assume you mean HW. I have a i7-4770 processor, 24 gigs of RAM, gtx 760.
Which apps and services do you use most to complete your main tasks?
I use Chrome browser a lot, Word, Excel, PGadmin (UI for a PostgreSQL), Notepad++ (for editing config files) and a proprietary screenwriting tool Skald.
Where do you gain inspiration from?
TV, Books, movies the usual. KC:D is a realistic game set in Bohemia 1403 so I read a lot of history books.
When and how do you start working on a new feature? Could you describe the process?
First we pitch the idea in the design room. Then we assign it to someone to “own” that feature. This means that the person is responsible for the detailed design and for the way it looks after its implemented. After the initial draft is completed we pitch the idea to the involved departments. This is repeated several times until every possible foreseeable problem is solved in the design. Then we do something called kick-off where we gather everyone who is concerned with the feature and we start working on it team-wide.
Which games have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
I played a little bit of Frostpunk and I like it so far.
What achievements in your career are you most proud of?
Releasing Kingdom Come, I do not have any other game in my portfolio so for now it’s my only one and hence the best one 😉
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I would sleep a little bit more.
Which recent task turned out to be much difficult than you expected?
When I design a character I like to accompany it with a picture of a known actor/character to kind of show the way I want this character look. Sometimes looking up the pictures can be very time consuming because I know how the character is supposed to look but I am unable to find the right actor or character do visually describe it.
How are the disputes about variants of feature design solved in your company?
We have a creative director who decides these arguments.
What do you do to self-improve in game design?
I try to play games I don’t like (which is hard) and then think about why I don’t like them.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Everything from Jimmy Hendrix to Glitch Mob.
If a game designer would want to apply to your company, what would you advise him?
Be a good story-teller.
Any advice for game designers in general?
Try to look at a big picture. Great games are seldom build upon one important element but rather a network of cooperating aspects. These tying bonds between features, art, mechanics, UI … everything are sometimes really hard to identify. But once you can do it you start to build games as a whole thing instead of being obsessed about that one specific feature or aspect.