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advice for a beginner?

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I'm kind of in a weird position here. Basically i want to design games, i have ideas for games that I'd love to see developed, but the impression i get from this forum and other forums alike is that you HAVE to know something (programming, animation, modeling etc) to really get a team going and maybe making a mod or a new game. The problem is i don't know any of that stuff, I've dabbled in 3d modeling but it didn't really go past tutorials, same goes for photoshop, i don't know any programming, but i love games and i want to design them. What exactly should i do?

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Basically it's kinda easy. You have to learn one of those things or become involved in testing or promotional business, but i don't think you want to do the last two things.

You have to learn how to write, before you can make a book too.

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First figure out what you want to do in video games. Do you want to model? Do you want to be a skinner? Design levels? Do programming?

IMO the best place to start is to mod an existing game that has good mod support. Most of your FPS are good places to start cause they usually offer the chance to try everything. Most good games also come with instructions on how to do the stuff. Then you just hang out on forums and ask tons of questions and read some material.

After you get some skills you have 2 choices. Join a team or start your own. If you want to do a small game then you can probably get 1 or 2 other people and put out a simple game like tetris. IT is small but will require you to do everything that is needed for a game. If you want to work on a huge game that involves the latest in graphics you are better off looking for a team that needs a member with your skills.

As for designing, who ever owns the company or is the head of the team usually designs the game. However on my team we brainstorm as a team and talk about the pros and cons of adding or changing stuff and come up with the best solution.

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Basically what i want to do is design how the gameplay will work (with words, not tools), the storyline, the characters, i want to write the story. Heres my question, is it relatively easy to assemble a team or join a team as a writer? And how do i go about getting a team interested in making my game with me. My main worry is getting a team making my game, to me it just seems weird because its basically getting someone to work under your instruction and I'm not sure how realistic is on the internet

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Original post by OzzyStar
Basically what i want to do is design how the gameplay will work (with words, not tools), the storyline, the characters, i want to write the story. Heres my question, is it relatively easy to assemble a team or join a team as a writer? And how do i go about getting a team interested in making my game with me. My main worry is getting a team making my game, to me it just seems weird because its basically getting someone to work under your instruction and I'm not sure how realistic is on the internet


Not realistic at all, I mean if your dream of 'designing' games involves telling people what to do and seeing them do it, well lets just say no one will put up with it.

Personally I think a major level designer who does every aspect of the design process is a bit over the top. For instnace Half-Life while having designers working on it under went a major change during development when they started getting the people working on various parts of the game to provide input on how it should play and feel. The rest is history.

I just don't see how a dedicated 'designer' could possibly exist with a small rag tag team. Sure when you're making the next halo you'll have severel designers but those designers won't be people with 'good ideas', they'll be people with qualifications and degrees and whatnot.

So in short, if you really want to design a game learn something hands on in terms of making a game otherwise you don't really stand a chance to ever design your revolutionary MMORPG or whatever else.

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Bottom line, you're going to need a skill to contribute. Nobody in the world is going to put hard work into creating somebody else's vision unless they're being paid.

I suggest learning some coding. From there you can put some basic things together on your own and then you'll be in a much better position to find people who are willing to help you. Its probably not as hard as you think and there are lots of free resources online to help you get started.

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Hi;

What you ask is a hard toppic. First of all, Do you want to be a game designer as a profession? If your answers is yes then I'll suggest you go to college. Nowdays there are many escellent colleges that focus on game programming.

While you study you can find a job as beta tester in a quality assurance department in a game company, is a hard job and isn't funny. But there you can learn a lot about the game development and design and with time, you can climb positions inside the company.

I also suggest you to study a lot even if you just want to be a producer, is not an easy task and when you talk about a team for a comercial game there is also a lot of money involved.

So, start studying, keep reading and play a lot.

Good luck.

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Original post by ejele012
Hi;

What you ask is a hard toppic. First of all, Do you want to be a game designer as a profession? If your answers is yes then I'll suggest you go to college. Nowdays there are many escellent colleges that focus on game programming.

While you study you can find a job as beta tester in a quality assurance department in a game company, is a hard job and isn't funny. But there you can learn a lot about the game development and design and with time, you can climb positions inside the company.

I also suggest you to study a lot even if you just want to be a producer, is not an easy task and when you talk about a team for a comercial game there is also a lot of money involved.

So, start studying, keep reading and play a lot.

Good luck.


thank you, im currently exploring the education options around me. So far ive only found one place that has a course for game design and project management...i just really dont want to have to move to toronto so i thought id atleast get my foot in the door with a small internet team but that appears to be unreasonable.

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Original post by OzzyStar
i cant learn something im not interested in, i guess this option is dead, thanks for the answers


Ha. That dream was short-lived.

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The dream isn't dead.

Simply earn, say, 10 to 50 million dollars doing something else entirely.

Then hire yourself a team of developers, artists, etc, to make your dream game.

Odds are without experience your dream game won't work, but you will be able to try out your dream.

...

TANSTAAFL.

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Yeah, I agree that the dream isn't dead. However, my recomendation is that you practice a lot. For my opinion, you don't have to be a programmer or a modeler or a level designer... BUT you need to know how those things work.

As a designer you just don't write how the "Look and feel" will be. You somehow need to know how the inner mechanics will work at some level or the audio-visual experience. I'm not telling you to have a solid grasp of those things, but to know something at least about it...

I would recomend this book, I haven't finished it but as far as I have read it's very good. And it gives some basic knowledge about several things, I mean it takes you from system mechanics, to what is a game, to how to make your own business. However, I must tell to you that it's an introduction, it won't go "in depth" of the chapters, but will give you some basics

The book is "Introduction to Game Development" by Steve Rabin


I hope it helps, and you can PM me if you need something else... :)

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Original post by jorelmb
Yeah, I agree that the dream isn't dead. However, my recomendation is that you practice a lot. For my opinion, you don't have to be a programmer or a modeler or a level designer... BUT you need to know how those things work.

As a designer you just don't write how the "Look and feel" will be. You somehow need to know how the inner mechanics will work at some level or the audio-visual experience. I'm not telling you to have a solid grasp of those things, but to know something at least about it...

I would recomend this book, I haven't finished it but as far as I have read it's very good. And it gives some basic knowledge about several things, I mean it takes you from system mechanics, to what is a game, to how to make your own business. However, I must tell to you that it's an introduction, it won't go "in depth" of the chapters, but will give you some basics

The book is "Introduction to Game Development" by Steve Rabin


I hope it helps, and you can PM me if you need something else... :)

thanks alot man, im very interested in how the development process works so im gunna have to buy this and get some reading done. Thanks for all the answers guys you've saved me months haha

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Alright well. I've accepted that my dream job isn't the most reasonable. So now im exploring what exactly about game development may interest me. Im not fond of programming because frankly it scares me, but im gunna read some beginners guides for C++ and just try it out and see if i can get a grasp on it. I've also been exploring animation options in colleges around me however they all seem to require drawing, and im REALLY bad at drawing, but im guna phone tommorow to see if your drawing skill is going to be graded, or if you just use drawing as a blueprint.

i appreciate all the help you guys have given.

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I find it funny you say that your scared of programming yet are prepared to look at C++ as an entry point. In my opinion its perfectly reasonable to start out with a more beginner friendly language (a BASIC variant is where alot of people seem to start out, but I hear python is quite nice to use). By learning a less 'scary' language first it will ease you in to programming and you'll soon realise that the skills you pick up in one language are very transferable into other languages.

Just my 50p,

Jon

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Original post by OzzyStar
Basically what i want to do is design how the gameplay will work (with words, not tools), the storyline, the characters, i want to write the story...


I have a couple of friends like this. If your which is to desing a game and have fun, without desire to make it a profession, then don't learn programming, I really don't recommand it. What would suit YOUR needs is a game maker program. Like I said, I have a couple of friends who've never written a single line of code but have created great games. I would advice you to look for the two following program, by ClickTeam :
-> The Games Factory (1 & 2)
-> Multimedia Fusion (1 & 2)

Both program can help you create any kind of 2D game you want, it's easy to learn and fun. You will be able to quickly prototype and create original gameplays, experiment with all of that. If you want to have fun, that's your best bet. Even a programmer like me likes to create a quick game with those tools just for fun :D.
If you, however, want to desing a 3D game, get that idea out of your head. You won't be able to join any kind of team if you cannot contribute to a project (except maaaayyyybe a mod).

Now if you have the motivation to get seriously involved in game designing/writing as a career, you might want somethng more than those user-friendly softwares.

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Original post by OzzyStar
Basically what i want to do is design how the gameplay will work (with words, not tools), the storyline, the characters, i want to write the story. Heres my question, is it relatively easy to assemble a team or join a team as a writer? And how do i go about getting a team interested in making my game with me. My main worry is getting a team making my game, to me it just seems weird because its basically getting someone to work under your instruction and I'm not sure how realistic is on the internet


Not realistic at all. Not on the internet, and not in the "real world" [wink]
The "problem" is that everyone has great ideas. And everyone would like *their* games to be made.
You're right, getting people together to work under your instruction is weird (and unlikely, for the obvious reasons. Why should they work for you?
What can you add to the team that they wouldn't get otherwise?

Basically, it comes down to this: I'm a programmer, I program. I also have lots of (good) ideas for games. So why should I work on your idea rather than mine?

There are two reasonable answers to this question.
One is "because I can also do the graphics, and if you work on your own idea, you won't benefit from that". In other words, you can contribute with some skill other than "merely" coming up with ideas. Depending on how professional the team is, valid skills might be programming, modelling, texturing and maybe a bit of sound stuff (for a small hobby project), to also include project management or handling the business side of things (for bigger games targeted at actual commercial release)
The other reasonable answer is "Yeah, but my ideas are better". If I could choose between working on my own idea, or one of Sid Meier's, for example, I might consider it, even if he's going to do nothing other than come up with ideas. Simply because I know that his ideas are good, and I know his ideas tend to end up as finished games, whereas my own project might be abandoned halfway through. The problem is that you're not Sid Meier (yet), you have no way to convince me that your ideas are better than mine.

In other words, to begin with, you're probably going to have to go with the former. Learn *some* skill in addition to game design. Learn to program or model or maybe just draw concept art. Learn how to run a business, perhaps, if the other options aren't your thing, or learn how to manage a team professionally.

All of this is on the assumption that you want to make "big" games (games that require a team to make, and maybe, one day, you want to make commercial games and sell them).

If you simply want to try out your ideas and try to make games yourself, tools like Gamemaker (as mentioned by Trillian) could be the answer.

Quote:
Alright well. I've accepted that my dream job isn't the most reasonable.

I wouldn't put it like that. It isn't the most reasonable to *start* with. Over time, you can certainly become a full-time game designer, doing nothing other than thinking up ideas and writing storylines and whatever else. But you'll probably need to learn some other skill as well to get you there.

Quote:

Im not fond of programming because frankly it scares me, but im gunna read some beginners guides for C++ and just try it out and see if i can get a grasp on it.

Don't start with C++. It's just going to drive you mad. There are plenty of better options. Consider Python or C#.
Apart from this, what scares you about programming? Just that you don't know much about it?
I think you're on the right track. Look around, take a peek at everything, and see what you find interesting, and don't rule anything out yet. You may be surprised... [grin]

Quote:
I've also been exploring animation options in colleges around me however they all seem to require drawing, and im REALLY bad at drawing, but im guna phone tommorow to see if your drawing skill is going to be graded, or if you just use drawing as a blueprint.

I can't answer this one, but I'd assume that you'd learn a bit of drawing there.

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What I would suggest is to start networking with people who DO love to code and do the development side of things. Pitch some of your ideas to some people you talk to. There are a lot of programmers/artists around that have great skill in their area, but are unsure of how to use their talent to produce a game that plays well and is most importantly fun.

A similar example that comes to mind is id software (don't want to start a debate, but want to show a point ;). In my opinion their games were great when the major players were John Carmack (who had great technology knowledge) and John Romero (who knew what was fun in games) but when Romero left, id's games became more like tech demos of what Carmack could do with the newest GPU etc.

Much like a writer may need to hunt for a long time to get someone to publish their book, if you put in the effort in networking and getting your ideas around I believe you could very well end up with a team that works well together.

Like all careers, it wont be easy and wont happen over night, but as long as you persist and make things happen, it is very possible.

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Nowadays, it is difficult to get into a designer position in a games company because they are not in high demand and usually occupied by experienced designers already.

They are designer related roles that are entry level and do require you to have some form of skill, usually either scripting in a programming language and/or level editing. Once your foot is in the door via this method, then you can start working your way up to a more senior position.

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Original post by OzzyStar
I'm kind of in a weird position here. Basically i want to design games, i have ideas for games that I'd love to see developed, but the impression i get from this forum and other forums alike is that you HAVE to know something (programming, animation, modeling etc) to really get a team going and maybe making a mod or a new game. The problem is i don't know any of that stuff, I've dabbled in 3d modeling but it didn't really go past tutorials, same goes for photoshop, i don't know any programming, but i love games and i want to design them. What exactly should i do?

Actually, making a game in C++ is simple. All you have to do is start the entry point of it and put the type of game into parentheses.... Something like...



int main(){
automate();
make_game(RPG);
quality = good;
creativity = high;
}



---------
Okay, now seriously :)

If you're going to learn a language anyway I'd recommend Pascal (and its standards: Unextended, Extended, Object Pascal or roughly Delphi). It's designed for teaching, is safe, is better readable, is more elegant and easier than C++, and it's powerful as well. You'll probably learn good programming habits without losing your sanity.

And since C++ is more or less mainstream, you could switch over later, keeping the good programming habits from Pascal. That's my suggestion IF you're going into programming.
Personally the Pascal language is perfect for me (and makes me nostalgic), and recently I can hardly even look at C/C++ code without twitching. Both Pascal and C/C++ have a place in my heart :)


EDIT / ADDITION:
But what I really want to tell you is that the language in the end doesn't REALLY matter (though one like Pascal will definitely ease you out) -- it's more about thinking like a programmer, solving problems USING a language which could be any one of them.

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ive downloaded python, im currently going through their beginners sections, following an introduction they have right now, hopefully i can make some decent progress in the next few months. Im thinking of learning as much about programming as i can to see if its something i could take seriously in college.

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If you want to learn basic language programming, here are my suggestion:

- Visual Basic.Net.
- Delphi.
- Python.

Not in order or anything. Those are great languages and you can get results in a very few time.

Another one and powerful language to develop games is Fenix, is free and open source. Take a look here:

http://fenix.divsite.net/index.php?opcion=1&lang=en

And of course, learning C/C++ is also a very good option, a little more harder to learn but one of the best languages for game development in my opinion.

Here is an excellent tutorial with C/C++ and DirectX:

http://www.directxtutorial.com/Tutorial9/tutorials.aspx

Good luck.

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well i kind of disagree with most of you guy's .

I am in the same position ..
I am filling the position of a creative director/designer in our open source group Ättic Evolved"

Basically i started out on my own making NWN2 modules and when more people came along we wanted to give Open source a shot . Now we have talented people that can make great artwork (we just lack the programmers )

I designed the world and setting and write the stories/scripts and dialog's and through pictures and flowcharts i give people the plan on how the game should work which fighting system to use skill structure and everything ..
I know the very very basics of programming.. "what can be done and maybe a little how" i just can't craft it into a syntax because i lack the C/C++ experience and skill .

So i draw up the system in graphs flowcharts and calculations that need to be made by the engine in order to work .. This way you don't need any programming skills just be able to explain your idea's into a good concept.
And later when programmers have made the system you have drawn up test it and work together to make slight adjustments ..

Maybe this way of working sounds a bit different than the professional approach , but works none the less .

Too bad our project has only 2 half active programmers who can make the system... so we need lots more . but even if you cannot code,model,skin. you can still create the designs for a game and give it creative input from which everyone on the team can work .

(you don't think peter jackson made his own clay characters in the Studio's for concept did you? while working on LOTR)




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Original post by razoorsharp
(you don't think peter jackson made his own clay characters in the Studio's for concept did you? while working on LOTR)


LOTR was his ninth production, roughly. In his first well-known production, he did the production, direction, editing, cinematography/camera-work, makeup, and special effects. Plus a little acting.

In other words, don't expect to have a team doing everything for you if it's your first production. Learn some practical skills and actually do some work.

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Original post by Kylotan
Quote:
Original post by razoorsharp
(you don't think peter jackson made his own clay characters in the Studio's for concept did you? while working on LOTR)


LOTR was his ninth production, roughly. In his first well-known production, he did the production, direction, editing, cinematography/camera-work, makeup, and special effects. Plus a little acting.

In other words, don't expect to have a team doing everything for you if it's your first production. Learn some practical skills and actually do some work.


Yes in the beginning you do the work but not all of it. not all of us have the time/resource to go back to collage.. (in my case a family that requires an income)to have a 4 year full time education in programming.
Whats wrong with contributing the entire story and writing the quests dialog's and tweaking the system with the help of programmers.. although i can't do it myself i can however work together with people who can, to fine tune it .

If they work with me they are definably now doing all the work themselves.. I still need to create every story dialog etc etc Quest.
The slight difference is that the things i make can be used in Pen&Paper roleplay games but i need someone else who digitalizes it . So you both work hard on it .

I find it a bit odd that some people think you will need every kind of skill to make a game in order to design it . That is not true in my book, you can still make the concepts and work together with the programmers and do other stuff like dialog's Quests designing skill systems and everything. The programmer just puts it into code what you already did on paper .
If the programmer who wants to work with you likes the system you put on paper he won't mind helping you to put it into code with you . or thats how i see it .

However.... I am going to do a speed course in October 3dsMax modeling + animation so who knows i am able to contribute more than.. but without programmers.. hell no .. My project will be stuck at Design phase for a while longer

You can't expect someone to create the game totally on his own. at least not in the magnitude we are planning . oke some simple java games and 2d games or mod's can be done ... but not a professional looking game that needs a good mechanism for fighting quests and progression and such .

I think some underestimate the work that goes in to writing dialog's and the entire world and setting in which the game is set.



Maybe this is a small consolation, i do make the quests that need to be put in the game in NWN2 so the programmers know how is construction is .
If we get through the phase where the D3D engine works and i can import stuff in it in an easy way by a toolset and get to script the thing .. than i do know enough about programming to make it .
It's just the engine part i cannot do. and not even a course in C/C++ wil teach you how to code an engine ground up or code Direct3d. It's very specialized or so i view it..
If the engine is done in a waty i can code things in a way you code things like in the Aurora toolset (NwScript , C++ based) than i can also code but before that.. naah)



(Sorry if my post seems a bit chaotic... I am at work and had to write the post in 20 parts in a rush )

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