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#1 MidniteDesign   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:05 PM

So, i'm actually new to the forum so if i'm stepping out of line or if this is in the wrong forum section, feel free to rectify.

The question itself is pretty vague but it boils down to what the name of my 'role' would be given the skillset i have. I've also taken a look around the forums and i just get a vibe that seems to put designers in a dull light. If i'm wrong then let me know but i get the impression that the designers are seen as.. I really don't want to word this unjustly but, 'valued less' is the term i'm going to go with. From the topics and posts i've seen, designers seem to get cut out of a team first and they seem to be cookies in a very large cookie jar, very accessible and thus not very highly valued.

Why is that? I understand programmers put a hell of alot of time into getting good at what they do but ultimately, wouldn't you need a high-caliber designer to bring the asthetics of the game to the same level as the coding?

Anyways, on to the main subject. I'm a designer and i've been in the (call it) design world since i was 12 (i'm currently 18). In that time, i've started with Flash mostly messing around with assets that could be used in web design. I then moved onto Dreamweaver and started to get familiar with web-based code and then after being around the coding used for websites and flash i, somewhere along the way, decided to focus on the design aspect alone.

So i have years of experience that was all spent learning the core and polishing a skillset which isn't limited to anything in terms of design. It's pretty much raw knowledge, if you put something in front of me -i can do it. For me it's not really a question of can i do it, it's a question of what opportunities can i get to make something great. Recently (and yes, i know that makes me a noob and i'm completely respectful of anyone with more experience than me) i've headed towards the game design route. I, fortunately, managed to get into a team of guys who are currently making an FPS game and i'm doing any 2D designs the game requires. That includes everything related to design, art or graphics or anything synonymous with those words.

As lucky as i am to have found a small corner to do some designs for games, i'm slowly starting to realise that i'd be much better suited with a team that's more mature. Currently, the oldest in the team is 16 and out of the 5-8 (some are infrequently active), only a minority are actually mature or can articulate themselves to a point that makes them easy to communicate with. I'm sure you get the jist of what i'm saying there but the what it really boils down to is i'd like to try and find something else (whether it be a new team or otherwise) and knowing which role i suit would definitely help me alot.

Does 'Game Designer' mean a designer who does designs for games? Does it mean someone who actually designs a game (design the idea, the structure, etc etc). 2D Artist vs Graphic Designer vs Visual Designer. It seems there's alot of lingo for things that seem to be very closely related.

Some help, advise and direction would be greatly appreciated. If you really don't have all that time, i would atleast be very appreciative to someone answering the last, direct question.

Thanks in advance, i'm willing to give any extra information needed. (That includes examples of design work, etc.)

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#2 jfulmer   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:28 PM

People have this unfortunate concept that designers are 'ideas guys' when in fact, to be a good designer you need a very robust skill set. The reasons that designers may seem valued less or cut first is because it is much more difficult to be a good designer than it is to be a good programmer or good artist. (This is entirely opinion based but that is my thoughts.)

The entire team can contribute to the 'ideas' part of the project, however what makes a good designer are:
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to receive and relay information. Designers need to be able to talk with both programmers and artists, and be able to both understand what is being said, as well as have the ability to relay that information in a way that makes sense.
  • Extensive knowledge of game systems with the ability to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • The ability to refine game concepts based on this knowledge.
  • The ability to take constructive criticism, and to apply it to their work.
  • Excellent documentation capabilities.
  • And finally, a designer needs to be more than just a designer. You will be much more valued as a designer if you are also a proficient programmer and/or artists. Designers that are simply just 'designers' don't tend to get very far unless they are extremely good at what they do.



I hope that helps!

Edited by jfulmer, 02 May 2012 - 04:31 PM.


#3 MidniteDesign   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:06 PM

because it is much more difficult to be a good designer than it is to be a good programmer or good artist


I'm not sure i completely understand this part. So designers are valued less because it's more difficult to be a good designer? Wouldn't it make more sense to say that something that's more difficult to excell at be valued more?

When it comes to communication, i'm familiar with the logic of a good amount of coding languages and i've been around other various roles a game design team would include so i'm not sure if it's a hugely significant advantage but it definitely makes it easier to communicate in a mutual logic.

Excellent documentation capabilities.


I don't understand this part, what kind of documentation?

As for not just being a designer, i'm capable of concepting to a certain extent, more for communication purposes than to be a work of art to show to consumers. So right now i'm starting to get the impression that concept art and being a designer could make me more of a valuable asset. Although i'm confident that my design skills alone would be enough, i'll work on concept art more.

What kind of 'extremely good' are we talking about here? What's the extent of skill a designer needs to have to survive and be valued for design alone?

Thanks for all the help, any replies would be appreciated!

#4 jfulmer   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:49 PM

I'm not sure i completely understand this part. So designers are valued less because it's more difficult to be a good designer? Wouldn't it make more sense to say that something that's more difficult to excell at be valued more?



Sorry I should elaborate. I think that designers are valued very highly when they excel at their work and have the varied skill set. The current reason, in my opinion, that designers are less valued is because most beginning designers believe that their sole purpose on a project is to provide 'ideas' and tell people what to do. For that reason the best designers usually come from different backgrounds, such as programming and art. So I guess it's best to say that ONLY being a designer is less valued, because there is only so much you can contribute to a team. A game designer has always been a vague and hard to define profession.


I don't understand this part, what kind of documentation?


I think this is a pretty good example of a game design document: http://www.runawaystudios.com/articles/chris_taylor_gdd.asp

A game design document should be the 'go to' place for any development questions, as well as game concept questions. Theoretically, a programmer or artist should be able to build the game completely based on this document alone. Obviously this isn't necessarily possible as the documentation for a game is constantly evolving and changing. But you get the idea.


'extremely good' was a very vague metric, sorry about that. Basically my advice would be to build up your experience, because that will be your saving grace. If you have skills as a concept artist, then by all means use that skill to help convey ideas and to refine them as well. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to make sure that during a game's development you ALWAYS have something to do and contribute.

Let me know if anything I said didn't make sense and I'll try to clarify.

#5 MidniteDesign   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 07:10 PM

Thanks alot for the help jfulmer, i think i may just start to carve out a spot for myself somewhere between between concept art and 2D design (UI/UX, to start with). I'll see where that takes me and hopefully i get to be the kind of designer that teams actually want.

Thanks again.

#6 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2091

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:15 AM

When we talk about a game designer, we're usually talking about someone who develops and refines the ideas, rules and mechanics that make up the gameplay.

From what you have described you sound well suited for an art role (2d artist, ui artist, possibly technical artist). That's not to say you can't be a game designer as well. In any given team, many people (perhaps all) contribute to the game design. Of course, it's a good idea to have one person in charge of bringing it together and filling in the gaps to make a coherent game, (a lead designer) there is nothing to stop that person contributing to the final result in a more tangible form, as an artist or programmer. This is usually the case for small, independent or hobbyist teams.

#7 MidniteDesign   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:07 AM

When we talk about a game designer, we're usually talking about someone who develops and refines the ideas, rules and mechanics that make up the gameplay.


Seeing this, i've definitely decided to stay away from the 'Game Designer' role. As much as i'd love to advocate, build the structure of the game and generally help to form the game, i'd rather it not be my sole part in a team. I see now how the 'Game Designer' role is valued less, it's an intangiable role that really doesn't need a singular person when it would probably work better if the whole team contributed to that role.

From what you have described you sound well suited for an art role (2d artist, ui artist, possibly technical artist). That's not to say you can't be a game designer as well. In any given team, many people (perhaps all) contribute to the game design. Of course, it's a good idea to have one person in charge of bringing it together and filling in the gaps to make a coherent game, (a lead designer) there is nothing to stop that person contributing to the final result in a more tangible form, as an artist or programmer. This is usually the case for small, independent or hobbyist teams.


This was really helpful, a tangiable role is definitely what i've wanted from the start, it's the actions that interest me, not the philosophy of game-building (as much as i enjoy it, i don't see it as a valid career path). 'Technical Artist' was something that i looked up and being the bridge between the programmers and artists sound great but i'm not sure i would enjoy going through the programming education in order for it to be on par with my designing education for me to really excell in a role like that.
UI Artist for now seems like a more pheasable place to start, albeit somewhat limited but small beginnings and all eh? Thanks alot for the clarification Sandman, much appreciated!

Thanks everyone

Edited by MidniteDesign, 03 May 2012 - 06:14 AM.





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