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The path to becoming a game designer.

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Recently, I've been seriously considering redirecting my professional focus from pursuing a career as a content artist and animator to expanding my area of skill development to include game design as a writer, level designer, concept artist, and a tools designer. I know all of this is probably more than one person can handle, but I don't want to limit myself to just one discipline. More importantly, I want to have the ability to convey my vision and concept for a game including story, visaul style, gameplay etc., which can't be accomplished from any single role except perhaps a director/game designer position. I'm confident in my ability to perform in each of these roles, but unfortunately I will always have time against me as any one of these disciplines can demand full-time dedication. As someone having little game-industry experience is there any advice that I might need to pursue a career that will give me the greatest chance of getting into a director/game design position? Currently, my greatest skills are in level design and content creation, followed by my creative storytelling and writing abilities. If I were to get a position as a level designer at a known developer and get some published titles under my belt does anyone think that I would have a chance of moving up to a more creative director role? I don't want to get pigeon-holed into one position. I used to believe that my greatest asset was my creativity as an artist, but over the past several years I've realized that it's not really my artistic abilities that really set me apart, although I definetely have a design style. There's a lot of very talented artists in the industry who only focus on their visual creativity, and I know that my passions are too diversified to compete with these individuals. I've come to realize this isn't where I want to end up because I have such a broad range of interests that lie outside of visual creativity. I have a passion for design, art, games, architecture, mythology, science, math, history, literature, writing, tools design, design document creation, etc. I've concluded that someone having all these interests would be better suited as a game designer/director, but this is a very competitive role to get into. Is there a path to becoming a game director/designer/overseer? I've read in several reports on the industry that many designers start out as beta testers or game reviewers, but for someone who already possesses applicable development skills this to me seems like a step backwards. Any advice?

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I'm not in the game industry, but things I have read indicate that essentially all paths lead to game designer.

If you are say, an artist, you start out on an art team. You get a few titles under your belt, and you eventually become the art team lead. You design the entire look of the game, and direct your team to implement that. A few titles later, you might be the game designer. That is a very simplified and condensed version of information in articles I've read about folks in the industry.

Game Designer seems like a position that people from any of the disciplines work up to if they continually improve themselves and keep their eyes on the larger picture.

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Thanks das otto. I figure that anyone in development; a programmer, artist, animator, level designer can eventually become a game designer. I guees I'm just impatient and hope that there is a more direct path to this role. By the way, thanks for reposting my thumbnail images in the "People. People. Stop making large worlds" thread.

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I've only briefly dabbled in a career in the game industry, but from what I've seen and read I agree with das otto; with determination any path could lead to designer.

I'd just like to add that a designer is usually also a management role, as you have to communicate your ideas to the rest of the team and most often coordinate the development. Also in my opinion it helps if you are a jack-of-all-trades type, knowing a little bit about all areas, as sometimes there are communication difficulties between programmers and artists due to the different backgrounds there. Usually a writer or artist who knows a little bit of programming (or a programmer who is also a little bit of an artist), who is also a good manager and communicator, would be ideal designer material (sorry if that's a little convoluted!)

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From the fine folks I talked with at the GDC, the best route is to make a mod to either an fps engine or neverwinter nights (if you are applying to a company like blizzard or bioware). Prepare a resume with this demo, and apply for a level designer position. This is the best route to game designer from my knowledge. Your artistic skills would be best served to make unique models to give life to your mod, but make something that would catch the eye of a developer. I know at least one person who now works at Bioware because his fantastic neverwinter mods caught the attention of the developers.

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