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Member Since 02 Apr 2012
Offline Last Active Jan 19 2015 11:43 AM

#5188929 Game Design with a CS Masters Background

Posted by on 24 October 2014 - 10:05 AM

I am pretty qualified to give you good advice. I have a MS in Computer Science and I am currently a designer at a top of the line AAA studio. It's generally hard to go straight into design and honestly I am glad to have had a variety of programming jobs.


The key to making the transition to design is to always be improving your design skills. Listen to game design podcast, read game design books and most importantly, design games. In my humble opinion, having a MS in CS and a decent portfolio of games you created is 1,000 times better then any "design degree" or video game degree.


I've darted in and out of the industry a few times, do not let that discourage you.


Think about it like this, if you keep making games on your own, you'll eventually get good enough that you won't need a studio to work for because you'll be able to support yourself off your own creations.

#5178616 I want to talk to an indie dev for making one of my game ideas

Posted by on 06 September 2014 - 06:11 PM

...I dont want myself to make the game though...

What? Why would someone make an game for someone who doesn't even want to make it themselves?

#5173447 What's the industry like?

Posted by on 13 August 2014 - 04:56 PM

I've worked on teams ranging from 5-500 and as various programmer and designer positions. The hours vary honestly. I've worked 9-5, 9-7 and 8-6. Crunch can mean anything from 10 hours a day for a week to 80 hours a week for months. Things can get really depressing honestly.


Depending on the company you may lose your job at any time. Your team could get shut, the game could get canceled or the company could go under. Everyone has stories of awesome games that never saw the light of day.


The money has always been good to me, I have a MS in Computer Science. Comparing to my jobs outside the industry, it only trails a bit.


The atmosphere also greatly varies from a hanging with your friends feeling to a everyone getting drilled and turning on each other due to the stress.




The industry can be amazing but it can also be absolutely terrible. It can be creatively fulfilling and soul-sucking. I honestly wouldn't recommend it at this point. The high end of the industry is rough. If you are "considering" it then don't. Try making some indies games and get educated in game development that way.

#5153595 When to greenlight a GDD

Posted by on 14 May 2014 - 10:27 AM

I recommend not writing GDDs and just prototyping core gameplay loops with squares/circles/etc. There was a great video on the making of Journey, and it showed all the prototypes they created before it evolved into the game everyone loves

#5145465 How to get to AAA company ?

Posted by on 08 April 2014 - 01:59 PM

Having darted in and out of the industry a few times, and recently entered negotiations with a AAA company, I'll give you my take on it all. Getting to a AAA company is all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and with a dash of luck. Tom Sloper is the man and has a giant FAQ to explain everything about the industry.


First, acquire the skills needed. Sometimes people are skilled enough upon graduating with a BA/BS. Sometimes it takes a few years in the industry. Sometimes it never happens. AAA companies need a wide range of people, so master what you find most interesting. For example realistic lighting, ai programming, combat design, etc.


Second, prove you have the skills. You won't be proving to industry peers, but likely HR recruiters who may or may not know what C++ is and how great it is that you can optimize hashing algorithms. You'll need a personal website, portfolio, copious examples laid out so even the layman can tell you are a badass, and a playable game.


First is the skills, second (and much more difficult) is proof of the skills.


Things that help with proof:

Industry experience from other areas (mobile games, web games, indie games, educational games, serious games)

A resume with recognizable names (i.e. Zynga, intern for Peter Molyneux, presented at GDC, articles published on GameDev.net or Gamasutra)

Friends at big companies

Releasing a game that makes significant amount of money or wins awards

Being skilled in an area that has less competition*


* Wanting to be a character designer is WAY more sought after than a lighting engineer


Ok so you have the skills and can prove them, now what? You must be in the right place at the right time. Generally AAA studios do most of their hiring before a development cycle, and at the start of crunch before shipping (these are usually contract positions). So if you are eyeing particular studios, these two periods are key. Also, you should move to areas of interest (check GameDevMap for help). It is exponentially easier to land a job when you live within a few hours the company. Although, I've gotten job offers cross country, the best jobs I have landed were within driving distances.


The "luck" is a multiplier. Some people land amazing jobs out of college and that's great. But as your skills and experience go up, the amount of luck needed to land a AAA job go down. It goes from "I'm the student who, out of 3058239 applicants, got the entry level designer position at thatAAAcompany #baller" to "Sigh, AAA recruiters keep hounding me on LinkedIn #firstworldproblems". Just understand this takes years so enjoy the journey.


Now some random advice.

- Read industry websites everyday, mine are Gamasutra, IndieGames, GameDev, RockPaperShotgun, and GamesIndustry.

- Don't be put off by rejection. I've failed many o' interviews, some were embarrassing. I've also aced many, high fived everyone in the room to only get rejected a week later. Learn from every experience, interviews are great ways to find out holes in your skillsets (i.e. not knowing quaternion math).

- Make your own games. FINISH PROJECTS no matter what!!!! Enter projects into competitions.

- Do not get salty over other people's success. I use to get insanely jealous over people I unfairly deemed "not worthy" of their job positions. I was a whiny child. Don't do this!

- Always be professionally and friendly.

- Finally have fun!

#5144114 Estimating the revenue of a mobile game?

Posted by on 03 April 2014 - 09:07 AM

This depends on a lot of thing, monetization, game quality, accessibility of gameplay, accessibility of art, the icon of the game, the game style, and lets not forget advertising, etc.


Here are some hard examples:


1) Tower defense game, 3d cute art, $1.99 cost = $2-3k

2) F2P slot adventure game, cute 2d art, good animations = $200-$400 a day for first month then nothing

3) Ad support endless runner platformer, midcore art = Didn't make enough to mention


But like I said, it's the gameplay + art + monetization technique + accessibility/design + game icon/description = money * luck

It could go many ways but I would bank on making under $2k for your first game while you are working out the kinks (and likely under $500 if you don't know what you are doing).

#5142348 2d game engines/sdks

Posted by on 26 March 2014 - 11:23 AM

I use cocos2dx which is a mobile engine but also supports desktop. I find it easy to have one game be on iOS, Android, Win32, OSX and Linux all at once. Just abstract all the platform specific code out and use ifdef's when needed.

#5136420 Moving away from the games industry

Posted by on 04 March 2014 - 06:55 PM

I've left and re-joined. I left f2p mobile games and went to a 3d printing company. Now I'm going back to gaming and working with autistic kids making therapy video games.


I haven't found it hard to re-join the game industry. Having small indie projects on the side is more than enough to justify your passion and will lead to game companies actually coming to you. I recently turned down a technical designer position at a major AAA company after not being in the industry for a year (I can't work for a company in which EVERY glassdoor review says it's the worse job ever haha).


I think the archaic idea of "If you leave the industry they'll never take you back" shouldn't apply anymore. Some companies might think that but those are the companies that aren't going to pay you anything, work you to death, leave your names off the credits and lay off 90% of the talent. You don't want to work for them anyways. I've really enjoyed working a stress free 9-5 and working on my own games on the side.

#5132739 How good do you have to be for a job as a game programmer

Posted by on 19 February 2014 - 01:56 PM

It's a toss up. I've been at game companies where we wrote in C++ and the lead programmer barely knew any c++ and in general the code base was horrible   >_>

Alternatively, I've had two lead programmers who never went to college and were absolutely amazing.


Like the post said, it's all about getting through the interview and most of the time the interview isn't about how good of a programmer you are.

#5130696 Path to Game Designer ?

Posted by on 11 February 2014 - 09:00 PM

Everyone wants to be lead designer of their own IP. The good news is everyone can. Using Unity3d, GameMaker, Cocos2dx, UDK, etc. you can easily make your own games and be your own lead designer. As far as becoming lead designer at a well known company, it's a long and boring road. I honestly don't think you want to be a lead designer at a big company, it's more about marketing, sales forecast and push IAP's than creating a great game. Make your own games and then recruit some people to join you!

#5130418 Need help with right tools to use in a project

Posted by on 10 February 2014 - 05:56 PM

This is going to sound like I have a stick up my ass but honestly if you have to ask all of these questions, then you are not equipped to develop an MMO. MMO's are amazing but they cost a ton to develop and maintain, not counting the army of developers it inherently requires.


Your best bet is Unity3D (as a number of MMO's have been made using it and it has networking engines on its store) or HTML5. Using HTML5 you will likely need a network engineer at minimum if not a team of them.

#5122871 Moving within the industry

Posted by on 11 January 2014 - 12:08 PM

I have a decent amount of experience in this as a programmer. After working 1 1/2 in serious games, physical rehabilitation games w/ kinect, it was hard to leave or get any offers in anything other than more serious games. I joined a mobile and was there for 1-2 years. I am currently not in the game industry but when looking for jobs over all these years, the console/pc companies always looked down upon my experience. It's really sad but they snuff at you and say "oh, you were in mobile. Well I don't know if you have what it takes to cut it in console/pc". I honestly have had senior programmers say this to me during interviews. So be prepared for a big uphill battle.


My biggest advice is do some design and projects for pc or console to get your portfolio to show you are migrating towards those markets. So if you want to work on AAA fps's, you should make a FPS side project. If you want to work on PC rpg's, make a PC rpg on the side. It's much harder to sell yourself as mobile designer who wants to become a console designer. It's much easier to sell yourself as mobile designer who loves console design so much he makes them on the side.


Also I think this should be taught to people entering the industry. YOU WILL BE PIGEONHOLED TO WHAT YOUR EXPERIENCE IS. Judging from my extremely limited experience I would say it goes: First party developer (for console) -> AAA Console -> AAA PC -> 3ds/PSP games -> AAA mobile (if such a thing exist) -> Console/3ds/psp download game -> PC indie games -> regular or indie mobile -> facebook/flash/portal games -> experiemental games -> serious games -> education games

#5121312 Starting a small indie studio... mobile or PC? Freemium or paid?

Posted by on 04 January 2014 - 10:58 PM

My biggest advice to you, make the game that you wish existed but doesn't


for example:

I love "shadows of the colossus" and wish I could play 2d version on my cell phone.


Then go make that game. Trust me, you'll have so much more fun making a game you want to play and wish already existed. Chances are other people would want to play it as well. Since you're starting out PC or Mobile are going to be your main platforms. Just choose which platform best suites your game. Don't be intimidated  by other indies putting out graphical powerhouses or amazing featurefilled games. Just focus on your own vision and fun.


Most indies say you don't really turn profitable until your 3rd game so don't put a ton of pressure on your first baby. My general advice is work f2p if you can and it fits the design mechanics, it'll add to your exposure. If your game just doesn't work with any f2p model then go ahead and make it premium

#5115385 Completely overwhelmed - should I just give up?

Posted by on 08 December 2013 - 10:35 AM

Just think about it this way.


If learning C++ and OpenGL are your goals:

 - Set short term goals

 - Make these goals easily attainable

 - Understand it may take years to master or sometimes produce something worth selling


If making these games a reality is your goal:

 - Grab Unity3D

 - Go through tutorials

 - Learn game pipelines and the basic C# unity requires


Learnings C++ and OpenGL is EXTREMELY valuable but also can take years before you are a competent C++/OpenGL programmer. Learning Unity3D can take months and can deploy on any platform. Learning Unity3D is also valuable, just not as transferable as raw C++/OpenGL.

#5114718 This is why Modern Tomb Raider Games aren't good...

Posted by on 05 December 2013 - 05:59 PM


It's because business and marketing departments actually design games, and not the developers. Sad truth. And what do business and marketing care about? Money (Well we all care about money) To get the most money, you must appeal to that 14 year old male. Tomb Raider stars a beautiful women who kills and adventures and wears tight clothing.


We must make those teenage males feel empowered! Lets make them able to kill and conquer with pressing as few buttons as possible! Cool, now lets do some user testing. Oh no, the people we brought in to user test, who have never played a video game before, can't jump over a ledge. Metrics driven design to the rescue!!!! It seems these numbers go up if we make difficulty go down, oh man, I'm a hot shot producer and designer.


Ok I could go on and on. But yeah, pretty much the story of this generation. Rail shooters, QTE based combat, regenerating health, no game over state, etc. From the outside, I always wondered how such crappy games got made. But, after working (programming) on a crappy game, you see exactly how this happens. Most programmers, artist, designers who work on these games know the flaws and how to fix them. The problem is the producers and marketing teams hold all the power. Even though you may have a MS in computer science and more shipped games, some banker who got hired on his first game as a producer is going to be making most of the decisions. And those decisions will be made for monetary reasons based on numbers and projections provided by the marketing team, not fun/quality/community/making a great product.


I'm sure we have all experienced this. Anyways TL;DR: Make your own games that rock ;)


It's quite understandable that the companies investing their money into you hold the power. I'd also like to point out that the new Lara Croft is holding to the same consensus it always has, being hot. The only difference now is that the graphics level is to a point where you can feel outraged at this supposed 'specification to teenagers'. Are you saying adults are any more mature when it comes to women and their looks?


So let's get to the core of the problem, you hate that the people who are trying to make money, try and make money when designing a game? To me this makes no sense. It should be a given that a company investment will seek to maximise that investment, this includes pandering to a more casual audience that has no interest in playing a demoralising games.


Oh no I'm not saying that, I'm saying I hate when people in charge make short sighted decisions for immediate gains. This happens all too often in the game industry. For example, a F2P company sells amazing items for a discount and everyone buys them and the company makes a lot of money. But then a month later the MAU drops like crazy because the integrity of the game was compromised to make short sighted money. Now 90% of the game's items are worthless and the other 10% aren't worth their return in time investment considering you got these amazing items for doing next to nothing.


So for Tomb Raider it's the same thing. Instead of developing a well crafted game that is difficult, and challenges players; the producers wanted a super easy, appeal to the lowest common denominator, game with simple puzzles, non-challenging combat and tons of QTE events. It was lazy and just development by the numbers. What's selling? COD? Ok we're going to make Tomb Raider ala COD.


The game industry is just short sighted. How many times has DLC been released on a constant stream until players stopped buying it? I mean you can say "Hey, they made lots of easy money off DLC", but in reality they beat the DLC horse dead. Now players are left with a bad taste in their mouth and the franchise/developer lost a lot of fans.