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(UK) College, A-Level's, Btecs, and it seems i've made a fatal mistake too soon


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#1 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 10:57 AM

Hey guys, I just joined the site and hope to be an active member, but however through reading the posts I've discovered that getting a specialized qualification in Games, Isn't such a great idea.

Knowing this too late, I left school at 16 knowing exactly what I wanted to do with an unrelenting passion to do a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media studies (Game Development) in which to learn the basics and what I thought would be me getting ahead in the game (No pun intended.) The qualification is directly equivalent to A Levels, and whenever I finish this course in May, I will be getting a AAA. It's allowed me to find out what i'm good at, and it appears I have a knack for game design and level design.

But anyway, back to the point. Once I complete a degree, I will come out with a full long list of game specialized qualifications, Because now it's my only choice to really do a Game Design oriented degree as that's what my portfolio suits. So now i'm panicking at the fact of what I thought would be a great idea to build my portfolio and skills up more has just royally screwed me in the future.

Would you find my education more unsavory, Or would it be a good thing to have double whammy? I know if any potential interviewers ask why i did that course at 16, it's because I had such a passion already and knew exactly what I wanted to do. (Which is a good thing, I think (I hope) for a 16 year old.)

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#2 Destin Bales   Members   -  Reputation: 116

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:41 AM

Hi Semiz,

Personally I think the most important thing you can do to help promote yourself as a games developer, regardless of which educational route you decide to take, is to make a quality mod or game that shows your skills first hand. Modding a popular game like Skyrim or building and launching an iOS game will do more for your chances of getting a job in gaming than the exact configuration of education / degrees.

Best,

- Destin
www.ineedtomakegames.com

#3 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:48 AM

Hi Semiz,

Personally I think the most important thing you can do to help promote yourself as a games developer, regardless of which educational route you decide to take, is to make a quality mod or game that shows your skills first hand. Modding a popular game like Skyrim or building and launching an iOS game will do more for your chances of getting a job in gaming than the exact configuration of education / degrees.

Best,

- Destin
www.ineedtomakegames.com


I agree with you. I'm making a demo currently now on UDK. The demo will be released then on my blog. Over the summer I'm planning to put together a small project with a few of the talented guys in my class. It just worried me whenever I read the countless suggestions about 'Don't pick this type of degree!' etc.

Thank you for the response.

#4 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:02 PM

I agree with you. I'm making a demo currently now on UDK. The demo will be released then on my blog. Over the summer I'm planning to put together a small project with a few of the talented guys in my class. It just worried me whenever I read the countless suggestions about 'Don't pick this type of degree!' etc.

Thank you for the response.

Generally the advice not to take a game degree is related to the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are trash compared to related degrees outside the field. That's the largest problem.

Game/Level design is also a very tricky position to break into. It's not really an entry level position. I'd work on establishing the skills you need to create a game on your own or at least be helpful enough to gather a team of people with those skills around you to make a game. The latter being difficult because, to be quite honest, a lot of artists/programmers don't really want to work with a designer with no experience who's generally just telling them what to change while they're up all night working. Just make sure you bring tangible skills to the team.

#5 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:40 PM


I agree with you. I'm making a demo currently now on UDK. The demo will be released then on my blog. Over the summer I'm planning to put together a small project with a few of the talented guys in my class. It just worried me whenever I read the countless suggestions about 'Don't pick this type of degree!' etc.

Thank you for the response.

Generally the advice not to take a game degree is related to the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are trash compared to related degrees outside the field. That's the largest problem.

Game/Level design is also a very tricky position to break into. It's not really an entry level position. I'd work on establishing the skills you need to create a game on your own or at least be helpful enough to gather a team of people with those skills around you to make a game. The latter being difficult because, to be quite honest, a lot of artists/programmers don't really want to work with a designer with no experience who's generally just telling them what to change while they're up all night working. Just make sure you bring tangible skills to the team.


I've thought about doing some sort of psychology related degree, as that's the reason why I love doing any sort of design work, I love figuring out people and how they react, as well as having artistic visions. But then, I doubt i'd into a decent degree of that subject.

I have been building up my skills surrounding the game design part of it, I can model averagely, I know my way around a good selection of engines, the only thing I struggle with is code. I also read as many books as I possibly can on the theory behind it.

I understand what you are saying about the rest of the team not wanting to work with someone who has any no credit, It seems i'm in a sticky situation then if I want to gain any merit.

#6 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:18 AM

I have been building up my skills surrounding the game design part of it, I can model averagely, I know my way around a good selection of engines, the only thing I struggle with is code. I also read as many books as I possibly can on the theory behind it.

You shouldn't worry about modeling at all unless you want to be an artist, not a designer. Even though you struggle with it, you need to know scripting/logic flow. If you don't like specifically coding, try doing some creative things with kismet in UDK. It's more graphical, so you might have an easier time with it.

#7 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 840

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:20 AM

Writing games in your spare time such as Windows or Symbian is a good way to practice your skills, as well as something to talk about in your interviews. On the flip side, in my interviews they seemed more concerned about good academic qualifications than actually looking at any portfolio I'd made...
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#8 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:53 AM


I have been building up my skills surrounding the game design part of it, I can model averagely, I know my way around a good selection of engines, the only thing I struggle with is code. I also read as many books as I possibly can on the theory behind it.

You shouldn't worry about modeling at all unless you want to be an artist, not a designer. Even though you struggle with it, you need to know scripting/logic flow. If you don't like specifically coding, try doing some creative things with kismet in UDK. It's more graphical, so you might have an easier time with it.


I'm not too bothered with modeling..Doesn't really appeal with me, Just I know how to model average things, As I was taught a section of it in the course I've been doing, Which I guess helps with understanding the artists.

And I'm totally fine with learning scripting, I find kismet actually quite fun when figuring out stuff. It's just hard lines of code, I can't really function too well with it, as for visually based things such as Gamemaker, I find a lot more easier to handle. I guess that's just the way my brain works.

#9 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 10:58 AM

Writing games in your spare time such as Windows or Symbian is a good way to practice your skills, as well as something to talk about in your interviews. On the flip side, in my interviews they seemed more concerned about good academic qualifications than actually looking at any portfolio I'd made...



That's my worry.... Did they look long and hard at where you got educated first before even touching your portfolio?

#10 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 03:26 PM

Semiz, if you don't mind me asking how old are you and where are you at with regard to choosing/starting/completing your degree? It sounds like you are still deciding what degree to take, but from your posts I’m not too sure.

Either way, bear in mind there is no defined degree for game design. There’s no defined degree for game programming or game art either, only more generally accepted routes. But there really is even no generally accepted route for design, so don’t be too worried about your past choices just yet.

Generally, most designers I know of took one the following routes:

Computer Science Degree -> Game Programming - > sidestep to Game Design
Art Degree –> Game Art -> sidestep to Game Design
Game Degree -> Game Design
Seemingly Random Degree -> Game Design
Seemingly Random Degree -> QA -> Game Design
Off the street -> QA -> Game Design

You can mix these up a bit. Most would have got into some sort of hobbyist game design at some point (such as modding for example) and would have had something to show for it. Make sure you do that.

The seemingly random degrees…I’ve known people who’ve taken English, History, Film and Media types of degrees, all of which might be held up to have had some relevance to the eventual career path. An English degree for example, where the person has plenty of talent for creative writing is entirely relevant and useful...if you can show it as such.

Without knowing your exact position, but knowing you don’t want to program or do art…have you considered going through the ‘foot in the door’ routes such as QA? There’s a lot of competition down those routes, but those who are good at QA, demonstrate a knack for game design and are keen gamers do generally make it through to either junior production or design jobs, even if it takes quite a few years.

#11 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 03:29 PM


Writing games in your spare time such as Windows or Symbian is a good way to practice your skills, as well as something to talk about in your interviews. On the flip side, in my interviews they seemed more concerned about good academic qualifications than actually looking at any portfolio I'd made...



That's my worry.... Did they look long and hard at where you got educated first before even touching your portfolio?


Bear in mind they'll do that if you have no prior experience other than hobbyist. Hence why coming in from a sidestep route, or by a self-improver/foot in the door route such as QA can be a good one for design.

#12 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 04:00 PM

Semiz, if you don't mind me asking how old are you and where are you at with regard to choosing/starting/completing your degree? It sounds like you are still deciding what degree to take, but from your posts I’m not too sure.

Either way, bear in mind there is no defined degree for game design. There’s no defined degree for game programming or game art either, only more generally accepted routes. But there really is even no generally accepted route for design, so don’t be too worried about your past choices just yet.

Generally, most designers I know of took one the following routes:

Computer Science Degree -> Game Programming - > sidestep to Game Design
Art Degree –> Game Art -> sidestep to Game Design
Game Degree -> Game Design
Seemingly Random Degree -> Game Design
Seemingly Random Degree -> QA -> Game Design
Off the street -> QA -> Game Design

You can mix these up a bit. Most would have got into some sort of hobbyist game design at some point (such as modding for example) and would have had something to show for it. Make sure you do that.

The seemingly random degrees…I’ve known people who’ve taken English, History, Film and Media types of degrees, all of which might be held up to have had some relevance to the eventual career path. An English degree for example, where the person has plenty of talent for creative writing is entirely relevant and useful...if you can show it as such.

Without knowing your exact position, but knowing you don’t want to program or do art…have you considered going through the ‘foot in the door’ routes such as QA? There’s a lot of competition down those routes, but those who are good at QA, demonstrate a knack for game design and are keen gamers do generally make it through to either junior production or design jobs, even if it takes quite a few years.


I'm 18 currently, However I have been studying a range of skills under Game Development since I was 16.

This course is the same as the last 2 years of high school you would get, and an equivalent to the UK's A level qualification. So I have been educated formally in a most aspects of it before I have even touched a degree. Some of the things we've looked at is Story writing, Modeling, the GDD, We've made a 2d and 3d game, We've worked in group projects, Worked to a brief and then pitched it to a guy in the industry and currently I'm doing my final year group project which will feature a 5 minute demo of a game. This year however i'm looking to do a university degree, because I've only scratched slightly above the basics, and I want to get into the advanced stuff.

So pretty much now I only have a qualification in Game Development, I can only get into game specialized degrees, So the only route for me to go is the Game Design degree route.

The more and more I read about QA, It would be something I would consider doing after I get all my qualifications. I would learn a lot from it either way.

Thank you for your time Posted Image

#13 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:21 PM

If you are 18, bear in mind there's plenty of scope for backtracking a little bit if you feel you've made the wrong decision (thread subject mentions a fatal decision) and your only option is a game design degree.

You could easily study for the same 'other degree' qualifications that everyone else does, A-levels. You may even find places which accept your A-level equivalent qualification. Is it a BTEC diploma? You mention that in the title thread, but unless I've missed it I see in the thread it doesn't mention BTEC. Plenty of people I know went from BTEC to Computer Science degree and although I know that's not what you are looking for, I point it out to suggest you may not be limited to doing just a games degree if that concerns you.

#14 Semiz   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:41 PM

If you are 18, bear in mind there's plenty of scope for backtracking a little bit if you feel you've made the wrong decision (thread subject mentions a fatal decision) and your only option is a game design degree.

You could easily study for the same 'other degree' qualifications that everyone else does, A-levels. You may even find places which accept your A-level equivalent qualification. Is it a BTEC diploma? You mention that in the title thread, but unless I've missed it I see in the thread it doesn't mention BTEC. Plenty of people I know went from BTEC to Computer Science degree and although I know that's not what you are looking for, I point it out to suggest you may not be limited to doing just a games degree if that concerns you.


It's not a fatal decision about my career choice, It's more about what my qualifications will look like to potential employees, I've read in posts that it seems a specialized games degree may not look the best, and because my a levels are pretty much, Game Development, so i'm going to have game dev a-levels, and a game design degree. I mentioned what my BTEC was in the very first post, (Sorry if it's unclear, bad wording on my behalf then)

I love what i'm doing currently, I'm just trying to figure out if what I've done so far is a bad choice for future jobs in terms of first appearance.

#15 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 08:39 AM

And I'm totally fine with learning scripting, I find kismet actually quite fun when figuring out stuff. It's just hard lines of code, I can't really function too well with it, as for visually based things such as Gamemaker, I find a lot more easier to handle. I guess that's just the way my brain works.

If you are ok with working complex things in kismet all you should need to learn about coding is language differences. If you switch to a CS degree you'd probably be able to handle it once you have a professor guiding you through the nuances of the languages.

A good thing about a CS degree is that you can actually make your own games too. I think the easiest way to break into game design is to have a hefty amount of games under your belt. To my knowledge there's no better/simpler way to get involved in making games at your age than to make games yourself.

That said, I'd take a liberal arts degree over a game design degree. There are only really 2 programs atm that I think are really solid game degrees; those being Digipen and Guildhall (only masters programs I believe). Even then, I can't say that those will make you a well rounded individual; just that those two programs meet my standards for quality of coursework. I definitely found Digipen to be lackluster in developing the social skills that will most benefit you long term, which is part of the reason I left.

A note on switching directions. I went to Digipen for a bit for animation and felt it wasn't a great fit and switched to a standard applied math and computer science degree in my home state and did very well. Dedication to your studies will overcome a lot of shortcomings you might have switching focuses. You may also want to look into schools that offer standard degrees with concentrations in game development; that way you get an accredited program with a handful of classes focused on game design and development; you don't have to worry quite so much about the quality of what you are being taught as the programs have probably been around for years.

#16 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 09:16 AM

It's not a fatal decision about my career choice, It's more about what my qualifications will look like to potential employees, I've read in posts that it seems a specialized games degree may not look the best,


I don't think I can really say much here without repeating what you seem to already understand...but just for the sake of it (and because I can follow it with something a little more useful)...yes, a game degree can seem a little more like a ‘not so serious degree’ next to something more traditional, which also provides more fallback options if you don't like games. Plenty of people talk about this around here, so you’ve been paying attention.

I will add that BTEC’s also have kind of a stigma with them, so you sort of have a double whammy. It’s not that they are bad, it’s more the case that people don’t understand what they are and they are generally thought of as a weaker stepping stone to a degree as a regular bunch of A-levels.

The important thing is that BTEC’s can still work. They are maybe not as strong, but they still work. As I mentioned before…I know plenty of people who obtained a BTEC as the stepping stone to their degree or career. For some people, this was simply the idea they didn’t want to stay on at school but wanted to go elsewhere. For others, it was just a matter of the local polytechnic being more convenient.

If you were looking for a programming career and/or degree, I would say try and find a Uni which is happy with BTEC and resume normal study. But you’re not looking to do programming as a career and correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to want to avoid programming at that level, even as a path to design.

As you’re looking to be a designer, I would say you should just worry about this a whole lot less. With there being no recognized degree, having one at all matters less but it’s better to have something than nothing and further education either way is still very important to show. Going for an alternative degree (if that were/is an option) would be fine and certainly it is something you should consider, but I would also say you are okay with what you are planning.

To be clear, I’m usually the first to say consider getting a regular degree before going to a game school but usually I am talking to programmers when I say that. With no standard education path for designers, generally I think the game degree options are not so bad for that path and actually make more sense. Plus, as much as we say ‘don’t get a game degree’…it’s certainly not the case that game degrees disqualify you from employment. Plenty of people succeed via this route, as will you if you work at it.

Probably what’s more important is what you are doing as you take that degree. Make sure you do design work and mod things, not just as part of the course. Build up a portfolio of ideas. Analyze other games and write/blog about them in a constructive manner. If you can find people you can trust, work remotely amongst a group and have the group develop and publish a small game. All this is meaningful anyway and when the time comes, you’ll have something to show.

See if you can find summer or intern type work that might involve something related to design, QA or games in general. When you complete the degree, focus on the ‘foot in the door’ method – do QA, do very junior design roles and consider temp/contract work – consider whatever you need to consider, even if it involves making tea. The most important thing for you will be to back your game degree up with some game related work experience, even if it is not directly in design.

The bottom line…game related BTEC + game degree + other activities is valid qualification for designer.

I mentioned what my BTEC was in the very first post,


Just to clarify, I saw BTEC in the subject and then 'diploma' in the body. I just wanted to be sure I was adding these two things together...to be sure you had a BTEC and your diploma wasn’t something else.

Finally,

Do focus on learning more about scripting and level layout though. I've tried to bear in mind what you said about code being an issue something you struggle with) in everything I've mentioned above, but there is some grunt work in junior design and it often involves either of these things. You do not need to be a programmer to script, but you will need to have some grasp of programming at a scripting level. Being able to get your hands dirty in that sense is too valuable of a skill to not have and it will be difficult for employers to take you seriously without it.

I assume your games course will cover some level of scripting and level construction, but you might want to tackle it a little more head on outside of academia.




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