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Takenoko

I'm new here

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Hello, I''m new here. Most of my life revolves around playing MMOs. I''ve always had ideas on how to "adjust" or "enhance" other peoples products but I never really thought about making something of my own. I have dozens of docuements saved, quest ideas, story ideas, game designs, short writings really, like doodling on your paper when you were in kindergarden. Recently I have decided that designing my own game is the only way I''m going to make it in this world. I have very poor math skills which prevents me from learning most things associated with game design, such as programming. I have some artistic skills but nothing on a professional level. The only thing I am good at and feel comfortable doing is creative content. I can''t land a job in a game company doing content because I don''t have a degree. If I''m going to do this, I''m going to have to do it the hard way. Many people have success stories that start out like this. Why I''m here.. I have commited myself to designing a MMO. I have some professional level experience, but only a sideline view, while doing Customer Service work for a game company. Currently I''m making a design doc for a base. Probably like most designers here I''m dangerously paranoid about giving my ideas out There are a few vague questions I wanted to ask. First, what would be an appropriate size for a game design doc? Second, once I have that design doc completed, what is my next step? Do I try to find a company that will buy my game? Do I want to find my own people and form my own company? This is a garage operation, I don''t think I could hire anyone except myself. I have heard of companies that scout for the next MMO to produce, but how would I prevent them from stealing my ideas? Does anyone have tips on how to focus on what you''re doing? I have a tendency to start writing in one area and then wander off to another. How can I keep focused and complete the entire doc? I believe making a game is my last hope. I hope fear of failing in life will keep me focused. Thanks for any replies. -Takenoko

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Im not a professional game designer or programmer, but here are my couple cents....

Firstly this topic is very prone to flaming, obviously to us regulars.

Now besides that it all comes down to providing some evidence rather then claims that you can do what you say you want to do. And just having a design doc (even if it is actually professional) isnt enough evidence that you will be able to accplish the task. You need to prove that your group or company has been sucessful in the past to whoever you want to publish your game.

Now if you arent prepared or capable to do that you need to find some programmer buddies in real life, internet buddies are much less reliable, people dont care as much about their ''virtual lives'' as much as they do their real lives. And try and stick it out an make a game, although the chances of pulling this off are very slim, even if you are a programmer.

The bottom line is that you need to be extreemly dedicated and be a very good leader to pull this off. And you will also need to take risks, if all you are doing is writing up a design doc and sending it to companies and hoping they dont throw it in the trash as soon as they get it it, then you arent taking any real steps to accomplish your goals, you need a demo.

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Thanks for the reply Anon. I think your cents may be too close to the dollar though.

"And just having a design doc (even if it is actually professional) isnt enough evidence that you will be able to accplish the task. You need to prove that your group or company has been sucessful in the past to whoever you want to publish your game."

From the information I have, publishing is one of the last steps that a game company has to worry about. I'm more worried about starting an operation, if I want to try to sell the design doc to an already established company, or make my own company. I remember PC Gamer having a contest where people submitted design docs and the best ideas were printed with their contact info for prospecting companies/publishers to review. I'm not sure if anyone got their game published, but I highly doubt anyone who submitted a design doc was dedicated enough to go through with it. Most of the ideas were probably done spur of the moment when they read about the contest rules.

"Now if you arent prepared or capable to do that you need to find some programmer buddies in real life, internet buddies are much less reliable, people dont care as much about their 'virtual lives' as much as they do their real lives. And try and stick it out an make a game, although the chances of pulling this off are very slim, even if you are a programmer."

Once the design doc is finished, and I try to find other people to help me, what stops them from stealing my work? One friend suggested I copy everything and mail it to myself, using the postage date as a way to verify when it was made.

Is there any professionals out there that have some sort of guidelines or the proper procedure for this? I mean, how do these companies get started? How does it go from one man's idea to a whole company?

-Takenoko

[edited by - Takenoko on September 21, 2003 5:00:30 PM]

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if you are going garage gaming
start at the lower level
keep the game so simple that even you can program it
then enhance when you learn
start making game for friends
end with mass market
it''s the slower and the most difficult path but if you acheive it''s the best

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
be good
be evil
but do it WELL
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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quote:
Original post by Takenoko
First, what would be an appropriate size for a game design doc?
200-300 pages is a good start, plus you will probably want some storyboards for key visual moments and character designs.

quote:
Second, once I have that design doc completed, what is my next step? Do I try to find a company that will buy my game? Do I want to find my own people and form my own company?
No one will buy your idea. The reson is explained here http://www.obscure.co.uk/faq_idea.shtml (yours is a very frequently asked question).

You will have to recruit your own team and make it, most likely as a hobby project. Actually doing such a project as your first game will doom you to almost certain failure because game dev on that scale is very, very hard. Far better would be to design a small game, build a small team and develop it. You will make the same mistakes and at the end the game will likely be rubbish but at least you will have a chance of getting it finished. You will then have a bad game but a core team (that has learned something) with which to attempt a bigger project.

Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions
Game Development & Design consultant

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You mention that your are working in customer service for a game company. This isn''t the ideal place to be, but it''s actually a pretty good start.

Try and get into QA. Once you''re there, make your interest in game design known - talk to the game designers, suggest your ideas etc. If a game design position becomes available, make sure you hear about it first and apply for it yourself. Most designers are employed from inside the company like this, often from QA or development positions.

Continue working on your design doc, so you can show your employers that you are capable of writing one. In fact, writing a couple of design docs probably isn''t a bad idea.

This is your best hope of getting into game design, in my opinion. It might take a while, but it is feasible. Developing the game yourself isn''t feasible. Unless you can learn the skills you need to be more than just an ''ideas man'', decent programmers are unlikely to want to be your code monkey and crap programmers are unlikely to successfully write something as complex as a MMORPG.

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I used to work in Customer Service, I don't work there anymore.

While I was there I was trying to get into the Apprentice Dev program but I was never selected. I didn't know the right people.

I realize that right now I'm just an "ideas man". I want to find something I'm good at relating to content, but content jobs are really far and few between, often requiring you to be a programmer also..

I'm really not good at learning things like this...I failed both my classes in second languages and my math is pre-algebra level. I taught myself some HTML so I could make basic personal websites but it's not anywhere near professional. PHP boggles my mind.

When NWN first came out I made a small module for it, haunted house kind of theme. I learned some things but I mostly relied heavily on the built in programming wizards. I couldn't figure out how to program my own scripts. I recently dug it up and played my module again and noticed a lot of things were wrong with it. I had thought about revising it, or making another NWN module..

WC3 I'm also interested in making a map for. But again, the scripting is so alien to me I can't make heads or tails of it without using the wizard tools. I have an idea of what it should do, and when I try to make it, it doesn't look like how it does in my head, and then it's just a bit disappointment.

There isn't such a thing as like a game consultant huh? Or they do and it's called Tester?

-Takenoko

[edited by - Takenoko on September 22, 2003 11:22:29 AM]

[edited by - Takenoko on September 22, 2003 11:23:56 AM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You obviously have a passion for games, and that''s actually not a bad start. But the sad truth is that passion without solid knowledge isn''t going to take you anywhere; the world is full of people who has both and still can''t get a decent job.
quote:
Original post by Takenoko
I''m really not good at learning things like this...

How hard did you try? Try again, and if that doesn''t work, try harder. Hey, even Mozart had to work his ass off.

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Ideally, a game designer probably should have a fairly decent working knowledge of some of the other aspects of the development--programming, art development, etc... if only to provide himself with a filter through which his ideas should be viewed. Is this feasible within the required time frame? Can that be implemented with current technology? Is this a good idea, or will the artists hate me?

As well, a designer is going to be called upon to actually implement his ideas. If you are a level designer, you'll need to be able to handle the level editor and the scripting required to make your level a reality. Given the budget considerations of most games, it is likely that members of the team will have to wear many different hats, and it is extremely unlikely that there will be room for an "ideas man" without a good, solid base of knowledge in other areas of expertise.

You indicate programming as your primary weakness, so I suggest you start there. Identifying your weakness is the first step. Now, do something about it.

Your attitude indicates to me that you made a few initial tries at writing scripts, were overwhelmed by the complexity, and gave up. Don't give up. Programming is not something that you will master with a few half-hearted attempts. It is something that takes constant work, practice, and experimentation. You don't have to reach the equivalent status of a kernel-hacking guru, but you should try to become at least competent.

In short, there is no easy way into the business; no quick and dirty path to making big-bucks as a game designer. Get some experience first in all aspects of game-making. Knowledge is your best friend.

EDIT: One other thing. You said your life revolves around playing MMOs. If you are serious about doing this, that needs to end right now. You will need to spend the bulk of your free time in development-related tasks, rather than immersing yourself in somebody else's creation for hours at a time, as MMO players are wont to do. Don't give up game-playing altogether; that is a bad idea, as you'll need to keep your enthusiasm for the business. But remember that every sixteen hour chunk of time wasted hunting squirrels in the Mountains of Mist in somebody else's game, is sixteen hours that nothing was accomplished on your game. Try to budget your time accordingly.

Josh
vertexnormal AT linuxmail DOT org


Check out Golem at:
My cheapass website

[edited by - VertexNormal on September 22, 2003 2:36:21 PM]

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Thanks for the support guys.

I''ll try to work on learning some programming. Can anyone recommend a good first language to learn that''s simple but would act as basic knowledge to build on? I have some C++ books it''s pretty confusing even after the first few pages. Would PHP be a good place to start?

Vertex - Well I''m not really a hardcore MMO player anymore, I used to be, but these days good MMO''s aren''t really available. Infact there''s a huge gap in quality PC games, not just MMO. Everytime I talk with my friends it''s always "What game do you want to play?", more or less what people go through when they try to decide on a pizza topping, and then you just end up getting what you always get. I''m tired of playing other peoples games, even if they have good points, a lot of them are unoriginal and have fundamental game design flaws.

The only thing I like doing is working on a computer, because I do multiple things at once.. When I get to something like programming, it forces me to focus on that one thing, and when I get stuck I get fustrated and stop working on it. Don''t some of you feel that way? or used to?

There are some people with a born talent for these things, I really had hoped that mine would be computer related but I still can''t find something I''m good at. I guess this is also a life crisis.

If there was a game out that disguised programming without you knowing it... like a word puzzle game. Maybe that would work. Hell when I played SWG I used more math calculating exp then I had in years.

-Takenoko

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