I'm going to ask for some advice here. I'm currently working as a software engineer for a robotics company, but I'd like to eventually break into the game industry, and as I'm nearing my 30s I think it's now or never.
For a little background, a couple years ago, I have solo-programmed the engine of a 2D RPG very similar to Final Fantasy VI in C++, complete with a RPG Maker-like editor and all that jazz, and I really enjoyed it, but I realized that my favorite part of building that game was not programming the core engine with the graphics code and all that stuff, instead it was when the engine was done and I was creating the actual content, the skills, the items, the enemies, the maps, the story and characters, programming the gameplay (battle system, etc.), balancing difficulty with rewards, balancing characters and builds, etc, etc, etc. I hold a Google Docs where I constantly write new design ideas for new game mechanics, new game systems, new skills, etc. to implement in my game, so yeah I'm really passionate about that stuff. (I probably have over 200 pages of random gameplay and skill ideas with that Google Docs and a couple of txt files.)
However, I often read some game programmer AMA (like this one http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/11mz4k/i_am_a_programmer_for_guild_wars_2_amaa/) and from what I understand, it seems that all programmers do in big companies is building the game engine and the core systems for the content designers and artists to use, and that's not exactly what I have in mind. I have a programmer background but I'm far more interested in the designer kind of jobs. (Level, content, enemy, AI, gameplay, etc.)
So I guess my question is how much are game programmers usually involved in the content creation process? Do I have better chance just postulating on level designer jobs? Or to postulate on programmer and software engineer jobs and then try to work my way "from inside?"