We recently sat down to talk to Fortnite Systems Designer Anders Howard about his role on the Fortnite team and what drew him to want to work on the project. Check it out!
So what does a Systems Designer do and why does Fortnite need one?
Systems designers are that “special” breed of designer who consider the game as a series of related systems: if one part of a system is out-of-whack, it could have consequences for other systems down the line. “If I pull this lever over on this side of the machine, how will it affect this other part of the machine?” For a game like Fortnite that features persistent RPG mechanics, shooter combat, crafting and more, there are tons of interrelated systems that we have to get right. My day-to-day job might see me solving problems as wide-ranging as, “Is the player receiving resources at the correct rate?” to “are the mobs at the right power level at this point in the game?” We want the player to receive a great experience at all levels of play, and coming up with an appropriate progress scheme is a large part of what the Systems Designers on Fortnite do!
You’re somewhat new to the Fortnite team. What made you want to work on this game?
I’m gonna tell it straight here: Fortnite is an unusual game. When it was explained to me and even when I saw video of the game, I didn’t quite understand what I was looking at. This is an exciting feeling as a game designer! I’ve spent tons of hours building stuff in Minecraft, days upon days in UO and WoW, and some unquantifiable amount of time taking out Heavies, Tangos and Shazbots. So naturally, I could imagine wanting to build, shoot, and RPG all at the same time, but it didn’t make sense to me until I actually got the game into my hands. You get it immediately. I’m super-stoked to be on a team that’s taking a risk on a new idea, and I think people will really like it.
What type of Fortnite player are you? What is your favorite play style? (Building, Looting, Combat, etc?)
I’m a Constructor. Or at least I think I am. I get made fun of for building poorly when we’re testing the game. In one of my early playtests I had built a very fragile vertical tower to capture an airborne gate, and the vital support column was taken out by some Flingers, causing us to immediately lose the game. Oops! But in theory, I like that the team depends on the (hopefully competent) Constructor to take care of building, upgrading, and repairing over the course of combat. It leads to a great feeling of teamwork.
How do you think our community can help you build better systems in Fortnite? What kind of feedback are you hoping they will provide during the Alpha?
I’m hoping to be able to look at analytics data to check that our systems are behaving the way we think they will. This will help us check for things like combat and economy balance. Other than that, I think our community members could be on the lookout for things that seem out-of-whack, or the community could provide suggestions for high-level features or end-game content.
What are you most excited for about the Fortnite Alpha?
I’m excited to see how people receive our game. I want to see what creative things people do with the toys we’re giving them, and I want to see in what creative ways our players break the game or do things that surprise us. But also being the geek that I am, I’m excited to see what we can learn from the data that will come pouring out from our tests!
We can't wait either! Thanks for chatting with us Anders.
You can find Anders on Twitter at @andershoward.