On a recent Royal Caribbean cruise, I encountered countless parallels between game development and travel activities and professions. From operating a drone to designing a ship or a destination, game developers and travel industry professionals can learn a lot from each other. As I work on building a new video game at Inevitable Studios, I drew plenty of inspiration from my experiences at sea. Check out these three parallels between game development and travel that I noticed while traveling with Royal Caribbean.
Game Development and Travel Parallels
Documenting a Location via Drone
The act of documenting a location via drone fascinates me, but I had never connected the similarities between operating a real-life drone and manning a virtual cam for the many game trailers I’ve made.
During the inaugural sail of Wonder of the Seas, I attended a party at the port of Nassau. A drone operator and I spoke about optimal pathing, unique framing possibilities, and best practices while piloting a drone. It turns out that he was jealous that when capturing game footage, I never had to worry about a number of real-life issues. Drone-on-drone collisions, battery life, or random wildlife getting in the way are not part of game capture like in real life.
In a bizarre twist, I learned my former creative agency recently employed a cinematic drone operator to man a virtual camera in-game, adding real-world authenticity to each shot.
On that same evening, I had the pleasure of meeting a “destination designer” for the Royal Caribbean. We appreciated the fact that we were both “world builders,” crafting spaces to facilitate exploration, elicit fascination, and take advantage of human tendencies to create an intuitive “flow” throughout the entire space. Granted, my worlds rarely feature water slides, beach-side bars, or ziplines, but I certainly keep elements like fun factor, eye candy, and tangible player rewards in mind when constructing any playable space.
Unlike a remarkable real-world location like CocoCay, my worlds can be changed dramatically without the need for major construction, but building without purpose–or planning–is nevertheless discouraged, even when prototyping. No one wants to play an aimless game scenario that doesn’t know what kind of player experience it wants to deliver.
Cruise Ship Design
Lastly, I feel it’s important to point out the design of the ship itself. Like a level designer’s dream, it featured clear signage, expert use of color language, artistic and architectural landmarks, and countless other details conveying critical information to each and every passenger. I’ll admit I was overwhelmed at first, struck by the scale and beauty of the ship as well as the sheer awesomeness of being on a “floating city” for the first time in my life.
Within a few hours of exploring, Lesley and I felt right at home, ushering Max to our next destination with giddy excitement about all the fun things–and delicious boat drinks–we could enjoy along the way. If it was a game about making wonderful memories, we’d have posted the high score.