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Getting your foot in the door

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I find myself in an infuriating position: I like to design games {and I feel I''m competent at it}, but I can never rally together any talent {due to a lack of any social skills, whatsoever}, and I''m not good enough to do it myself. So, I was wondering, how does a beginning designer, such as myself, get their foot in the door to prove their worth. I''m not looking for instant gratification, but would like some idea of where to start. If it helps any, here''s a list of skills I''m fairly good at: -Static object 3D modeling -MIDI clean-up {orchestration, dynamics, sound card consistantcy, ''oomph''} -User Interface design {mechanics and graphics} -Explanation {perhaps user manual writing} -Bug recording {though I''ve never Beta-tested before} Thank you, in advance! ----Sonic Silicon----

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Well, first off, if you haven''t read any game design books, I suggest you do so. Game Architecture and Design is a good one. I would say any designer worth their salt would be anxious to find as much info as possible about their craft.

Next, you could start out by taking a game you admire and trying to design some levels for it. The most likely way you will start off is by being a level designer or some type of script programmer. You will be responsible for small segments of the game.

I''ve heard both positive and negatives on this next one, become a play tester. Personally, I don''t feel that companies are going to get the best designers just by mining their testers. It''s like saying just because I like to watch movies, I''d be a good director. Not really. But that said, some companies are more prone hire from inside and alot of times that means starting from the bottom and getting promoted.

So if you want a checklist,
1. Read everything you can about your craft ( not just websites, but books too, and learn a little programming, it''s not that hard and it shows initiative )
2. Design lots and lots of levels. Throw in a game design document or two (5-10 pages?)
3. Try to find work wherever possible, even if it''s a side job.

Keep at it and something is bound to stick.

Ut

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Lemme'' just reinforce two obvious points:

1) A college degree helps. A BS in Comp Sci is good for programmers; I dunno what the ideal degree for a designer is.

2) Have a portfolio of demos/samples that showcase your various areas of skill. This is always good for artists/musicians/programmers, but again, I dunno exactly what a designer should have in a portfolio.

I have heard only negative about "getting in the door" via beta-testing. If you''re any good at beta-testing, they''ll probably want to keep you in beta-testing rather than promote you.

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In most designer related material it is said that the number one way to get into the design business is to start out as a level designer...

You should probably take some advanced writing courses since thats all you would be doing most of the time....even a business related major would be nice to fall back on.

Its hard to jump into a company as a designer in the US, since they are usually appointed from ground up, but in the UK there seems to be alot of opporunities to start in on that position right off the bat.
Strange but true.

But also a good point that if you were a good beta tester, they probably want to keep you there...but most say that is another good way to get your foot into the door.

It all depends on the situation. Try to do some net projects with afew others, and build up your portfolio with games that you designed (no matter how small)....include full design docs, stories, anything related to your writing talent.

Definately take Ut''s advice on reading everything. I also recommend Game Design : Secret of the Sages...pretty nice if you are starting off. Also read up on Gamasutra.com.
Best thing to do is get familiar with atleast alittle of all aspects, from coding to art...its essential to have knowledge in all areas.

Good luck!



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Mate, to bring it to the point:
THERE ARE NO GAME DESIGNERS!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok now that I said it let me explain it.

No single company out there will give someone less famous than Sid Meier or Peter Molyneux a game designer job.
Some will cry out now: "But designs the game then?"
The games are designed most times from someone with much experience (not necessarily famous though) - and now comes the point - that will get the job of the lead programmer (or lead artist maybe)too.
Yes, that''s right. No full time game designers except the really famous people.
Maybe if you are good in economics you can get a job as a producer/designer, but better get a master in economics then.

That''s why all those applications of people wanting to become a gamedesigner in my company are landing in the dustbin ASAP.

Btw this is not only my opinion, but EVERY single professional in the game industry I talked to (not that much, but more than I have fingers on BOTH hands) agreed. Hell, I even got this opinion by them.

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I dont know if the game industry really goes Hollywood. The business is getting tougher that''s right.
I don''t remember which famous designer (Warren Spector?) said that he doesn''t like games with movie sequences in them. He mentioned furthermore that he would be very happy if the day would come in which game industry wouldn''t even need rendered sequences and all cutscenes could be played within the game engine.
If one looks at games like the Wing Commander episodes, I would say that movies have no place within computer games. I personally liked Wing Commander 1 the most. Movies in games are limitting the freedom of design. For example you know you can''t give the player the Silver Star because you can''t make the movie scene new for each Silver Star, Gold Star, and-whatever-medals.
On the other hand rendered cutscenes can be something that motivates the player to "play only the next level before going to lunch", and then the next and next...

Yes! You need definately to be able to have programming skills like a little god, even if you don''t want to.

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Game designers do actually exist, but they generally fall under the level designer title nowadays. They know the behavior of the actors in the game better than anyone else and how they all fit together to make something that is fun to play. So I agree with Ut''s three points.

Going the testing route really depends on the company. Unlike most companies, the one I work for develops, tests, and publishes games inhouse. The testers are literally on the other side of a wall and there are many level designers and programmers who started as testers. This is an example where going through the testing route is ideal, whereas a company that doesn''t develop games internal doesn''t have any designer positions that they could promote you to.

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Yes. Level designer might be a third way to be able to do some core design. However, if you ask me and this is my personal opinion, level designers should keep to their level design tools and keep away from the core design.
Hmmmm...maybe I have a bit negative attitude against those pure design guys...ok...but I wouldn''t hire anyone writing a letter like: "Hey, I have a awesome idea. May I design the game and the team makes the rest?"

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