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confused on the path

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#1 shabirDhillon   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:56 PM

K so I am in high school ending my junior year. I want to work professionally as a game designer preferably game play mechanics and am planning on making some stuff with unity engine this summer perhaps start building portfolio. I am going to be taking ap computer science next year as well I have basic c++ knowledge. I wanted to know is making games in unity a good place to start to get good experience. And from people I have heard if you don't go to a top college you have little to know chance of landing a job. I just wanted to know what should I do to plan out this career. And what other things I should do to get a job in this field.

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#2 Andy Gainey   Members   -  Reputation: 1844

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 01:18 PM

I've not worked in the games industry before, but looking at it from the general software development industry, I'd say that if you're relying mostly on your degree to land your first job, it can indeed be tough.  You'll probably have to settle for a job that is a substantially different from your ideal job, and then try to work you way up/over.

 

The further into your career you get, however, the less and less relevant your degree becomes.  Your past experiences, your portfolio, your professional network, and the ability to let all the knowledge and understanding that you have hopefully acquired naturally shine through in your interactions with potential employers become way more important.  And you can get a jump start on a lot of that by making games.  A lot of them.  By the time you get your degree, it might already just be a supplemental item on top of your portfolio and acquired knowledge.  Getting involved in game jams, conferences, and competitions can give you a jump start on networking also.

 

Given that your objective is game design, I'd strongly recommend learning only enough technology to enable to you make as many games as possible.  Knowing technology is good for a designer, so don't ignore it altogether.  But working through numerous failed designs and the occasional successful or promising idea along the way will be far more critical to developing your designs kills, and to prove to others that you're a capable designer.  Heck, spend some of your time simply paper prototyping, or designing board, card, and other non-digital games.  Maybe design a new sport.  A lot of the knowledge and insights gained will carry over to digital games, but the pace of development can often be so much faster.

 

I just posted this blog post for someone else earlier today, and it might be something for you to consider also:  "Game a Week:  Getting Experienced at Failure".


Edited by Andy Gainey, 31 May 2014 - 01:18 PM.


"We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves." - John Locke

#3 yellowsputnik   Members   -  Reputation: 508

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 03:47 PM

Obligatory link to Tom Sloper's FAQ about getting into game design:

http://sloperama.com/advice.html



#4 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19006

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 05:25 PM

I want to work professionally as a game designer preferably game play mechanics.


First, I'm going to quote the link above. Read the entire site:

Obligatory link to Tom Sloper's FAQ about getting into game design:
http://sloperama.com/advice.html

^^ Read it all.

Game design and game programming are different things. Since you mention some C++ and a CS degree, I'm going to interpret that as a game design as the goal, but game programmer as the method of breaking in. Programming is a fairly reliable way to break in, as are the art disciplines.

If you want to learn how to be a good designer, Unity can help with a few things, but also important is that you study and critically analyze other games and their mechanics. Unity is a good tool for quick prototypes, and if you are a designer with a bit of competency in programming, you can prototype quite a lot of ideas very quickly.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#5 SeanMiddleditch   Members   -  Reputation: 4049

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 07:25 PM

Game design and game programming are different things. Since you mention some C++ and a CS degree, I'm going to interpret that as a game design as the goal, but game programmer as the method of breaking in. Programming is a fairly reliable way to break in, as are the art disciplines.


It's not uncommon for game design degrees to include some programming work as well, e.g. DigiPen's BSGD program. This is relevant to actual jobs. Many shops greatly prefer designers who can at least write basic Lua/Python/C#/JavaScript/ActionScript beyond just "can tell the difference between a loop and a variable."

Designers with only a little script experience lead some shops to draw hard lines and ban designer scripts (because the scripts are so bad they do little but waste an engineer's time fixing them vs just having written them correctly in the first place) though others have started to explicitly want more technically-capable designers so they can iterate on crazy ideas and small gameplay features on their own (while engineers spend their time on tools, architectural/support code, performance, and major/complex gameplay systems).

People tend to forget that not every game designer is the guy who comes up with the main game theme or primary gameplay schtick; those come about via collaborative processes and not some rockstar designer's grand vision. Most game designers work on specific piece of gameplay, enemy design, level design, bits of story, etc. and are just one small cog in the machine (the same as engineers, artists, producers, etc). If you are a designer with a CS background, you have significantly more value than just being someone with ideas (if that's all it takes, everyone is a game designer).

Short version: designers can benefit from CS degrees for good reasons besides just getting a foot in the door.





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