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The_Pope

Writing and Designing...together?

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Hey all, I've been lurking on the forums for a while and I've finally decided to post. First things first, I love writing. I love creating stories that my friends like to read, ones that can make you think and really get a feel for the characters in the story. Recently I've been researching on what it takes to write games and how people break into the industry. I've found out that it's significantly harder than say a programmer. This should be no surprise to many of you. When researching on what it takes to be a designer I found that their the ones who come up with idea, and follow it through. Before boring you all to death I'll get to the point. What I'm wanting to know is whether there is a designing job that works closely with the shape of the story in a game. If so, than I'm also wondering if it's useless to try and get into a game design college for that. Thanks for reading! Any advice will help! -Pope

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I only fly solo, so I'm not an expert on the industry. But I think most designers start out as decent artists or programmers. It's probably easier to land a job when your skills can be easily confirmed, and it's not easy to confirm a game designer's skill. Probably slightly easier to confirm a writer's skill, though. Personally, I would think an artist would have the most opportunities to sneak into a writing or designing job.

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Of course there are positions for such things, but usually the positions are hand in hand with others. Look at what areas of game development that require story telling. Obviously the original design, but also cinematic direction, character dialog etc etc.

Also keep in mind that in most cases there is a design TEAM and not a single designer. In this case you have a group of creative enthusiasts each with valuable skills. Artists of all sort, programmers, level designers, interface designers, audio producers and of course writers.

I pride myself on technical game design, I am the guy who writes and maintains design documents, in addition I have a production background that I utilize to make sure projects are completed and goals are reached.

I would recommend to you to look at what other skills you might be able to bring to the table while expanding your writing skills. You might want to practice converting your linear stories into dynamic game experiences with multiple paths and possibilities. Or break down your writing into sections where you feel players should watch the story (cut scenes and cinematics) or play the story (game play).

Phew, I could go on but I think this will help. If you would like to talk more directly about developing your stories for game, check out the Writing for Games section of the Forums and/or you can send me a personal message and we can chat.

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"The" wrote:
>What I'm wanting to know is whether there is a designing job that works closely with the shape of the story in a game.

Of course there is. Wouldn't most game designers need to work closely with the writer in shaping the story? One is responsible for the overall game, and the other is responsible for the exact words, and maximizing the emotion.

>If so, than I'm also wondering if it's useless to try and get into a game design college for that.

For what? Working with writers? Please think carefully about what it is you're trying to find out, and ask us a question that'll get you the answer you seek.

BTW, have you read these:
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/designprep.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson14.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson32.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson44.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson51.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/entry65.htm

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Thanks for the great advice!

Tom-
"For what? Working with writers? Please think carefully about what it is you're trying to find out, and ask us a question that'll get you the answer you seek."

Yes I did mean working with writers. I guess I should have worded my writing in an easier way for people to understand.

I've searched around on your site for quite a while but at the time I was looking into only a job in writing for games. But now that I'm looking into designing as well I have broadened my horizons.

Again, thanks for the great input and keep it coming if you have any more.

-Pope

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The Pope,

First of all, I don't think there was anything wrong in your question. I understood what you meant :) Anyway, my advice to you would be to write, write, write...and revise, revise, revise. You said that your friends like some of the stuff you have written. That's great! Keep writing and let them read more. See if you can develop anything from the stories you write, and work on the character development. Also, when your friends read your work, gauge their responses. See if they think it would make for a cool story for a game...usually if it will then you won't have to ask, they will tell you. Also, it's great to have friends and family critique your work, but unfortunately they won't always be completely honest with you (which is probably why it is so nice to have them read it haha). So find other people to read your work. Have an English/Literature professor read it, which brings two good things: 1. an honest opinion and 2. free proofreading for grammatical errors! Post it in a blog and allow for comments. Any negative remarks that may arise, you should take into consideration, but know that you can't please everyone.

As for game schools vs. traditional schools, it's really all up to you! I went with the traditional school, but I might get my master's from a game school (or I might not...not sure yet). If you do decide to go with a game school, you should definitely check out UAT (University of Advancing Technology). I was going to go there but wasn't able to get the funds together in time to go, but that is the school I might go to for master's. There is a debate that developer's won't take you seriously with a degree from a game college, but that all depends on the guy who's hiring you. Anyway I hope this at least will get you started in the right direction. GOOD LUCK!


Tom Sloper,

Hey I was over on your site and you really need to update some of your information. When was the last time you updated the site? I mean your salary info on a game designer is from 2001 and 2002! It's 2008! I know you give your readers a link so they can check the latest figures for themselves, but wouldn't it be easier if you just kept it updated on your site, especially since you are constantly pointing people to it? I mean I'd understand if you were getting some kind of monetary compensation for having a link to gamecareerguide.com and Game Developer Magazine. And no, Tom, I'm not being lazy. It just doesn't make sense that you would point people TO your site just to point them AWAY from it.

Also, your info on game schools needs to be updated too. For instance, I believe that a lot of the "typical" game schools have made the switch to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree program. Also, why are the majority of the game school boxes filled with 'Y?' or 'N?'? I'm assuming, since it isn't clearly stated, that those mean that you don't know for sure. My question is that if you don't know much about the game schools...why are you giving advice on them?

Don't take this as a personal attack against you or your website, because it's not. I'm just curious as to why you are pointing people to your site when it's information needs to be updated, or at least parts of it. Anyway, I'll see you around.

-JackKnife-

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Quote:
Original post by JackKnife
I'm just curious as to why you are pointing people to your site when it's information needs to be updated, or at least parts of it.


Because 90% of it still applies, perhaps?

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Jack said sharply,

>When was the last time you updated the site?

I make frequent corrections and updates.
There's a log of updates at http://www.sloperama.com/advice/log.htm

>I mean your salary info on a game designer is from 2001 and 2002! It's 2008! I know you give your readers a link so they can check the latest figures for themselves, but wouldn't it be easier if you just kept it updated on your site,

No. Duh!

>especially since you are constantly pointing people to it?

When people ask for current salary info, I do not point them to my site. I point them to the latest salary survey. The main gist of that article (let's say for discussion's sake that you're talking about FAQ 14) is to clear up the myths as to what a game designer's job is like - not just to give up-to-date salary info.

Maybe you'd be happy if I just removed all the salary info from my site.

>if you don't know much about the game schools...why are you giving advice on them?

Because it's the general concepts that are what young school deciders need to know. I have no intention of giving specific info on schools, especially since that's changing all the time.

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No you should definitely keep salary info on the site, but I'm just saying that to a newcomer that comes across your site and notices that you are talking about figures from a 2001 and 2002 survey they can tend to not see you as a very credible source. And I know you have the link to find the most current information, but let's face it...in today's society we want instant gratification...we don't want to be given the run around. Do you understand what I'm getting at? I'm just saying that I think you should just post the updated info every year when it comes out. You seem to be taking this as an attack, but it's NOT! I was just trying to be helpful. I wasn't trying to sound sharp or rude, and if I came off that way then I apologize.

See you around,

-JackKnife-

[Edited by - JackKnife on March 7, 2008 1:50:05 AM]

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If you're interested in writing for games and developing the stories, characters and other concepts I'd suggest possibly steering clear of colleges that offer game design. It'd be a lot better to get a traditional education in something like writing, history or something else that interests you so you have something to fall back on in case things don't end up the way you plan. I think the average life span for someone in the commercial game industry is somewhere around 10-15 years; it's usually not a life long job because of the high stress and demands, so consider that. You'll also want a good amount of knowledge in subjects other than just game design to draw upon, which is about the only thing you're going to learn if you go into a school specifically for design.

My opinion on game design schools and game design jobs:

You aren't going to come out of college with a degree in game design and get a job designing games for your favorite company. Most game designers are veterans and have been in a company for years, and they've usually worked their way up from the bottom to get where they are, they usually have a couple of titles under their belt, and most of the time you've probably played those titles to death. There are occasions where a job might open up for a junior designer position, but those are pretty rare. I'd suggest sticking with what you feel you are good at (writing) and work the hell out of that to get your foot in the door.

There will be plenty of opportunities to move up once you're inside. The hardest part is getting inside.

Also, I'd suggest getting outside input on your writing, from complete strangers or people you don't know well. No offense, but friends and family are always going to pat you on the back and enjoy what you do, because they are friends and family. If you're going to work with games 99% of the people playing your story aren't going to know you and are going to be brutally honest.

Hope this helps :)

EDIT: Of course most of Tom Sloper's articles cover what I'm talking about, so I guess I'm just emphasizing what he says. ;)

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