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magnawiz

Should I ignore programming and focus on design/art?

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I've taken a JAVA and an Oracle Databasing class in high school and although the teacher wasn't too good either, I found the subject to be kinda hard to me. I'm a pretty good artist and I'm still practicing and I've already come up with some game ideas. I know part of being a game designer is writing up a design document. Anyway, sometimes I feel like I won't be able to make games if I don't know how to program. It's kind of sidetracking me because I find myself looking at programming books off and on as if I'm going to try to learn it. But I think in reality I'll only be able to come up with ideas and that's it.

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Original post by magnawiz
I know part of being a game designer is writing up a design document.

It's a very small part.

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Anyway, sometimes I feel like I won't be able to make games if I don't know how to program.

Not necessarily, but at the same time you don't have to be a great programmer to make a game. Just a persistent one.

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But I think in reality I'll only be able to come up with ideas and that's it.

Everybody has their own ideas, and the capacity to come up with ideas. How would you differentiate yourself, considering that there are some people out there with ideas and tangible skills?

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Original post by Oluseyi
Everybody has their own ideas, and the capacity to come up with ideas. How would you differentiate yourself, considering that there are some people out there with ideas and tangible skills?


Indeed. It's akin to asking "do I need to be able to act in order to be a film producer?" Of course you don't. But you need to do a whole lot more than just come up with movie ideas.

Likewise, some understanding of software engineering would be extremely helpful, and doesn't require any specific coding knowledge. The ability to effectively *communicate* your ideas in the right way is crucial, which means being able to understand where the programmers, artists, etc. are coming from. This might sound trivial or easy because you're not doing the grunt work, but it's not. There's good reason why people like that get paid the big bucks.

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Original post by magnawiz
I've taken a JAVA and an Oracle Databasing class in high school ... I found the subject to be kinda hard to me. I'm a pretty good artist ...
Should I ignore programming and focus on design/art?

Yes. You should. You should not try to become a programmer.
FAQ 34: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson34.htm

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Original post by magnawiz
It's kind of sidetracking me because I find myself looking at programming books off and on as if I'm going to try to learn it.

For what it's worth, I didn't think I would ever be able to figure it all out, either. I had no idea back then that I would have the capacity to understand what I now understand.

Here's the short story. Game development is a bitch. Programming is probably the most challenging part of it. Some left-brained geniuses out there may disagree and believe the art to be the most challenging, but I'm more creative than logical, so that's the way I see it.

If you go through with it, it will likely only take you a few months to learn enough programming to slap something that could be called a video game (or demo) together. But even during the first few days, you'll be playing around with application programming and console windows, which can be equally fun when you're first getting your feet wet.

It's not a boring mathematical nightmare, as some might assume. I didn't even have a solid grasp of algebra when I first began learning C/C++. The book I was using just taught me to use tools - programming concepts, and I starting building programs out of those tools. The math came later, very gradually.

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Original post by Oluseyi
Everybody has their own ideas, and the capacity to come up with ideas. How would you differentiate yourself, considering that there are some people out there with ideas and tangible skills?

I think there are actually a lot of people out there with tangible skills and no ideas. It's just that none of them are here trying to make games.

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Well, if you have a hard time using the more advanced languages, there is always programs like Gamemaker or for more power (but more expense and a bit harder to use) Adobe Flash.

If you really don't want to program, feel gree to PM me ideas :P

~Blackviper91

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Yes, good advice abound in here. tsloper's page is probably a good read for what you are after. Pick one discipline and stick to it. If you are good at art, become great at art. That is how you make yourself marketable. Get a good portfolio put together. Don't try and become a jack of all trades.

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One of the things I say a lot is:

"When I was nothing, I saw the world needed artists and writers. So, I became a writer. When I was a writer, I saw there were too many writers and not enough artists. What happens if I also become an artist?"

I agree, stick with what you like doing. On the programming side, it seems like there are a ton of good programmers, but not a lot of good artists. On the artistic side, you'll think there are way too many artists and not enough programmers. That's perfectly normal. If you have that urge to do stuff for nothing(i.e. give it away), as a lot of programmers seem to have, then do what Lost Garden (http://www.lostgarden.com/) did and give away some game artwork and have fun with the design.

Putting it another way, it takes a while to get good at something. I've been programming for 26 years and writing novels/stories for 17. I'm good at them, but I'd be so much better if I just did one or the other, not both. I try to add artistic arts (like my web comic) every once in a while, but it is so much harder after the writing and the programming.

That said, if you do both, realize that you may not be the greatest compared to you focusing on one. In my case, I choose to be a programmer/writer because it is what I like. Yes, I might not be as good, but I'm choosing not to specialize, knowing that I limit myself by that choice. I also love programming and writing equally and there is enough of an overlap in my case that it is worth it.

So, figure out what you want in the end, then go for it. :)

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Thanks everyone. That's what I mean. I don't think being a jack of all trade will be very healthy for me. I do consider myself more artistic than logical. If it were up to me, I'd just want to come up with an idea for a game, write the document, make concept arts and show it to my team. But of course I'll need to understand programming in order to communicate.

I think I'll choose to focus.

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I guess what it really comes down to is what do you enjoy doing?

If programming isn't really your thing don't worry about not being able to break in to the gaming industry, it takes a large number of people from a wide variety of disciplines to make a game.

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I believe that some programming knowledge will help you in your designing, as you will be able to understand how programmers work and exactly what they do. That'll be helpful because programmers and designers work very closely and need to understand each other.

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I know it's been some time since the last post but I thought one more opinion on the matter wouldn't hurt.

I think that, you should learn programming only if you like programming. If you don't like it, then don't try to learn it just because you think it'll help with design.

Will knowing programming help the design? I think this may be dual-natured, meaning it might help, or it might deter. If you know how to program,
then you can assess the design that you come up with - eg. how hard is it to implement this? how much time will it take? is it even possible to do this?
This will make sure that the design will you do come up with will be quite implementable without review by programmers. However, on the other side of coin knowing what (you think) is possible, and how hard (you think) that is will restrain your creativity, so the potential of your ideas is constrained by your programming knowledge.

Choosing to not learn programming, once you have your design document, you can have it reviewed by the programmers to assess its viability, and you can modify the document accordingly. It will be an iterative process and once you go through the process you'll have a better idea on what is possible with what amount of resources. And you get this knowledge without formally learning how to program - you just need to get feedback from the programmers. So, your next design will be more implementable from the get-go, but still you have the freedom to be creative, and not constrained. As saying goes, ignorance is a bliss.

But am I saying that you shouldn't learn programming if you want to design? No, but you should learn it only if you like programming. If you don't like programming, you probably wouldn't know enough to attain the insight of seasoned programmers in assessing viability of ideas anyway.



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Oracle is different, but not too dissimilar compared to programming languages...

But Oracle is very easy. If you're having trouble with Oracle, you'll probably have a lot more trouble with a language used to program a game at first. It's all about keeping with it and trying to find different ways to look at the problems you're having though.

But don't give up on programming. It's still way early for you, and if you keep working at it, things will eventually click because you're young and your brain is not working the same way it will not far down the road.

If you like art, and you're good at it, I'd suggest becoming a game artist. That's an easy field to get into because of the extreme shortage of them out there.

I don't think you can have a game design and have anyone look at it with any seriousness without having some proven skills in the game-making field. Everyone has ideas.

So my advice would be to keep working at programming. You'll get it soon enough as long as you don't overwhelm yourself. Also, if you're artistically inclined start working on game art. Work on PhotoShop skills. Read tutorials on sprites, and try to work with some programmers around here who have zero art skills (there are tons of them). You'll build a portfolio and library on top of a new and greater understanding of games and game development.

Especially keep up with Oracle. If nothing else, that one has potential to net you an extremely cush job while you work towards what you really like.

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