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Starting a team as a Game Designer?


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#41 Brobot9k   Members   -  Reputation: 106

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:32 AM

You might be already doing it, but modding existing games is pretty easy and can get you noticed.

For example, the mods on HalfLife like Counter-Strike as an obvious example. Other less obvious examples would be Oscuros Oblivion Overhaul for Oblivion, which got the creator a lot of attention, he was even interviewed by a games magazine and had his interview and mod linked on a Bethesda blog.

Modding requires very little programming experience if any. But you'd have to learn to use their SDK, which shouldn't be that difficult.

Why not get Skyrim and the Construction Set and start making some Skyrim mods?

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#42 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 900

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:11 PM

Scale and ability at the moment. I am working on one of my own game designs (prototyping at the moment). A lot of the ideas I don't have the capability of implementing by myself at the moment. This wasn't a question of "what should I do?" it was about how can a game designer showcase his game design ability.


To showcase your game design ability, you need to do a project from start to finish. Then use the game to showcase your design ability.

You need to run a project from start to finish, and produce a game because Game Design is an iterative process. As a Game Designer, your skill is to be able to output useful design at all stages of production, not just at the start. Without a track record of producing a game from start to finish, no one knows how good of a Game Designer you are at, for example, the very last stage of production.

Working within constraints is also a vital Game Design skill. You need to showcase that you are able to make use of limited resources (current programming skills), to produce a fun game. When you join an indie or even commercial team, you're not going to get unlimited resources to produce your design. This will show that you are resourceful and is able to design in a practical, constrained environment.

I would personally suggest that you design a very simple flash game, code it (flash actionscript can be picked up in a few days via online tutorials), then upload it to Newgrounds or Kongregate.

#43 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:26 PM

To showcase your game design ability, you need to do a project from start to finish. Then use the game to showcase your design ability.


I am working on a game that I have designed, as I said at the moment it's in the prototype stage, but I will finish it and get it distributed somewhere. While I'm doing that, I'm studying to improve my ability with a new language. If I can I'll move on to one of my more advanced ideas, if I can't handle those I'll design something which I can produce at the time.

#44 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 900

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:02 AM

I am working on a game that I have designed, as I said at the moment it's in the prototype stage, but I will finish it and get it distributed somewhere. While I'm doing that, I'm studying to improve my ability with a new language. If I can I'll move on to one of my more advanced ideas, if I can't handle those I'll design something which I can produce at the time.


Sweet. I look forward to playing your game. Good luck!

#45 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 900

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:20 AM

A thought just occurred to me:

It is almost always the case that a game developer, or indie team, is full of ideas that they want to realize but requires a lot of programming work. However, it is almost never the case that there are excess software lying around waiting for game design ideas. The bottleneck is always the programming.

E.g. We hardly see people asking: "I programmed a 3D MMORPG engine and its ready to launch but I don't have a game for it. can anyone please help design an MMORPG for us?". On the other hand, there are a million people asking: "I have these fantastic ideas for an MMORPG, can anyone program a 3D MMORPG engine for it?".

In my humble opinion, because of the forces of supply and demand, pure game designers will have an incredibly hard time, especially in indie game development where everyone is resource strapped. In other words, there is simply little demand for pure game designers.

#46 passwordalreadytaken   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:18 AM

let's form a team dude..

most schools in the field of game design look for a portfolio of both freehand and computer generated artwork, as well as experience.

#47 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 09:40 AM

It is almost always the case that a game developer, or indie team, is full of ideas that they want to realize but requires a lot of programming work. However, it is almost never the case that there are excess software lying around waiting for game design ideas. The bottleneck is always the programming.

E.g. We probably hardly see people asking: "I programmed a 3D MMORPG engine and its ready to launch but I don't have a game for it. can anyone please help design an MMORPG for us?". On the other hand, there are a million people asking: "I have these fantastic ideas for an MMORPG, can anyone program a 3D MMORPG engine for it?".


I would say that the bottleneck is usually programming, occasionally artwork. I think that you do get people looking for teams to join - in all roles. Programmers and Artists looking for a project to work on to further their experience, or to widen their expertise. For a designer, this would mean effectively acting as a project manager (I would expect this to be true of most people looking to work as a dedicated designer) - having a GDD, and gathering these people looking for a project, to work on your project collaboratively.

I agree that this is rarer than the usual case of programmers making their own engines/games based on their own ideas. But I don't think it's impossible.

#48 vigilantcoog   Members   -  Reputation: 95

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:13 AM

The only proof i would see that you would need to show is that your great at "designing" for example if you would like to use my services of helping you "design" a plan to achieve the goal of starting a group without knowing how to program I could assist with that and use my judgement to determine if i think you would be a great game designer and could go from there. I have a few solutions but want to see if I ask you the right questions if you can see a way around it yourself. It basically boils down almost like a craft to be able to ask the right questions or to ask them the right way to find out an answer that an extremely low percentage of people can do good. Hope that makes sense not hear to say i'm better then anybody by any means i just have a different branch of the tree of intelligence that outweighs the other branches

#49 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2344

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 01:09 PM

I recommend reading this
http://newcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf (especially page 40). It's Valve's internal New Employees handbook. Definitely not a standard industry appoach to things (but maybe that's why they are so profitable as a company).

Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (BETA)


#50 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 01:50 PM

I recommend reading this
http://newcdn.flameh...book_LowRes.pdf (especially page 40). It's Valve's internal New Employees handbook. Definitely not a standard industry appoach to things (but maybe that's why they are so profitable as a company).


Heh, already read it. It definitely sounds like a great place to be working.

#51 VReality   Members   -  Reputation: 431

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:40 PM

lt;dr. A couple of random thoughts:
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  • If you have a game concept/design and would like to assemble a team to build it, your worth is shown in the draw exhibited by you concept/design. For the purposes of finding people, your worth is augmented by your connections.

    Ultimately, if you have the concept, and you have the design, and you're building the team, then it seems like you're not the one who would need to demonstrate your worth. I'm not envisioning someone thinking, "I'd like to work on that project, but I'm not sure the designer is bringing enough value per body to the mix."

    Demonstrating value as a designer seems more like something to worry about when you want to get hired. With that in mind...
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  • If you don't have a body of work to show, then you aren't likely to get hired as "game designer". Level design is a much more realistic goal for breaking in. As I have posted in a previous topic, the primary skill you need to demonstrate for that position is the ability to execute a design concept within given constraints. So level/scenario construction is the more relevant skill, especially if you can show how your examples support a story arc, and deliver on various design goals.
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  • Keep in mind that, for legal reasons, existing teams do not want to see your game designs. And if they do hire you, they'll generally own any design you show them.
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  • While being an engineer implies some attributes which happen to be invaluable in a designer - as an engineer, I do not have all the talents of a good game designer. If you do, then allow me to apologize, on behalf of engineering, for any lack of respect for your skills conveyed by the more sophomoric members of our fraternity.

    Everyone seems to think they can design games, and engineers who are particularly proud of themselves for tackling a very challenging trade, are clearly not immune to this sentiment.
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If you really think that potential contributors might pass your project by, for lack of respect for your past accomplishments, then maybe you could start by focusing on a person or two who you think would have the draw that you don't.

Best of luck to you.

#52 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 14701

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:58 PM

Ultimately, if you have the concept, and you have the design, and you're building the team, then it seems like you're not the one who would need to demonstrate your worth. I'm not envisioning someone thinking, "I'd like to work on that project, but I'm not sure the designer is bringing enough value per body to the mix."

In my experience, many skilled developers think exactly that line of thought when considering joining a hobbyist or indie team. Anyone who has either participated in or even simply observed a number of development projects will likely have noticed that the overwhelming majority never reach completion, and so both the skills of the founding team-member (whether they're a would-be designer or otherwise) and the idea itself are often very important in deciding whether or not it's worth the time and effort of contributing to a project.

If just anyone will do then proving yourself isn't important; if you want skilled, experienced developers then you should absolutely be trying to prove your abilities when looking to form a team. From years of running the now discontinued Help Wanted forum, I can tell you that whilst almost any project with a half-interesting idea will gain some interest, the ones that really attracted interest from capable developers and went on to be completed were the ones where the OP went out of their way to prove their abilities and dedication by showing previous projects, prototypes of the current project, detailed designs rather than simply an idea, etc. Previously completed projects especially caused a huge boost in interest -- "finally, a chance to work with someone who can definitely finish a project!" -- as they show an increased chance that all the developers efforts won't simply be wasted.


Note that depending on the amount of funding available, actually paying your team members can completely invalidate the above -- although you likely still won't get developers who really have a passion for the project if they're just doing it for the money and don't really believe in the capabilities of the team founder.

#53 Bigdeadbug   Members   -  Reputation: 173

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:10 PM

Creating levels in a game editor and going for level design positions seem to be the most direct route to get a design esq role (and then moving to the position of game designer at a later stage). Having said that I don't think they're the best way to show off game design skills. They're more showing that you could design to a brief.

Mods seem to be a better route to take when showing off design skills. SC2 is great if you want to make a semi conversion mod, basically a new game using Blizzards assets. What may be a more viable option are rebalancing mods, these seem to be especially common for grand strategy games. They do require some sort of coding though, but they can be a fairly simple way for a designer to showcase themselves.

I wouldn't personally use game design courses to base what you should or should not be showing/doing. That is primarily because they are academic and as a result they focus on the research/theory side of games. That is if they aren't really programming/art courses masquerading as game design courses. Although valuable in some respects I can't see most Indie teams seeing the value in your 5000 word essay on the apparent use of game theory and behavioural psychology in a modern RTS.

Previously completed projects especially caused a huge boost in interest -- "finally, a chance to work with someone who can definitely finish a project!" -- as they show an increased chance that all the developers efforts won't simply be wasted.


That is so true. From personal experience I was always attracted to teams/leads that had at least some complete project under their belt. When joining a team it seemed to play less of a part though, in those cases it wasn't to much completed projects, but examples of work (even from uncompleted games). I was never attempting to join a group as a designer though.

It is almost always the case that a game developer, or indie team, is full of ideas that they want to realize but requires a lot of programming work. However, it is almost never the case that there are excess software lying around waiting for game design ideas. The bottleneck is always the programming.


There is definitely an issue with supply and demand. I'm not sure if its actually real, i.e. there really are less actual programmers than actual designers, or if we just perceive it that way, in part because of the large number of "fake" designers (if it's even possible to make the distinction). It certainly seems to result in a world were amateur designers feel they have to go above and beyond to prove themselves. Although I can't help but feel that's also in part down to people viewing them as an "ideas man" and how (at least western) society values those people.

A similar thing also happens with 3D modellers/artists with heavy conversion mods. I.e. an apparent lack of artists compared to the number of projects needing them.

Edited by Bigdeadbug, 29 April 2012 - 09:19 PM.





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