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I Want To Be a Game Designer...

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...And yet, there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut route. This isn't like being a doctor, where it's "head over to med school for xyz years...and you're a doctor!" A doctor had his or her credentials to prove he/she is allowed to operate, but what proves that I am capable of designing an entier game? Let me get this straight, so nobody is confused. I don't want to be a programmer. I have dabbled in Warcraft 3's Triggers, Flash's ActionScript, and some of C#. It's intriguing to see how code, and games work, what with functions, methodes, variables, scripts, and interesting to see it all put together, but it's not really me. I have fairly good problem solving skills, which helped me find bugs when I did my AS coding, but I have a fairly short patience for coding. I know how game engines are built and used, but the thought of learning an entier language from scatch boggles me. I like exploring the mathimatical theory behind different rendering and collision techniques, but I don't like actually coding them. I don't want to be a Graphics Artist, or GUI designer, or what have you. I have a pretty good knowledge of 3ds Max, and how 3d progams work, and I like using it, especially to animate, but it's not something I'd like to do as a job. So...how do I prove I can design? I doubt I can just march into any company's building, kick down the door and be all like 'everyone stop what you're doing! I've got this fricken' gnarly idea...' Actually, that would be kind of cool. But really, should I be taking certain courses in College/Univ, is there a certain type of path I should go down...? Like everyone else who wants to design, I have an extensive knowledge of what makes games tick, on the technical side of things and the playing side of things. Whenever I play a game, I'm always looking for what was done well, or could have been done better. When I play old N64 games, I love looking at the various graphical techniques used. Back in the day when Battlefield 2 was released, a team making a mod it's predacessor (Battlefield 1942...EA has removed any memory of BF: Vietnam) and decided to move it over to BF2. Considering this was one of those teams that changed their ideas every two days, I decided to finish the mod by myself. I put in an entier other team, new vehicles, different weapons, new maps, got someone to add AI and did voiceovers for the mod, and actually got it done. It was far from perfect, (I sucked at modelling/texturing then) but it was pretty cool none the less. I think the old team has moved on to BF2142 now... Anyways, my real request is for someone to give me direction to how I can (hopefully) become a game designer. Thanks in advance, IronWarrior

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Iro, you wrote:
>I Want To Be a Game Designer...
>...And yet, there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut route.

That's because there isn't.

>what proves that I am capable of designing an entier game?

Your portfolio. Your past body of work.

>So...how do I prove I can design?

Design.

>But really, should I be taking certain courses in College/Univ,

Take whatever courses you want to take. That's the secret - there's no secret. You gotta be you.

>is there a certain type of path I should go down...?

It's called "your very own personal yellow brick road."

>Anyways, my real request is for someone to give me direction to how I can (hopefully) become a game designer.

I've already done that. Go to my website and read everything. It's at http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html.

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Why not build a game of your own to prove your skills? Use an existing engine, find free tools or resources, and devote some time to it. That's all it requires. You need some technical skills to be a great designer anyway. The more, the better, so no time will be wasted.

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Best (as in most direct) way to become a professional game designer is to do it yourself.

It's a pretty simple plan on paper, just design a game, and then make it!

The problem is that to make a game you either need:
1) Talent, in multiple different fields.
2) Friends with talent in different fields who will work for free.
3) The ability to convince complete strangers with talent in different fields to work for free.
4) Money (and business skills).


Seeing you don't want to do art or code, and assuming you don't have friends in these areas, and assuming you don't have more money than sense, you're left with option #3.
So, to convince complete strangers that your idea is so kick-ass that they should help you make it without payment, sit down and make sure your idea really is super kick-ass.
Then sit down and refine it some more. Then make sure you've gone into a lot of detail - work out all of the art-assets that are required. Build a plan; perhaps read a bit about (software) project-management for this part.
Then once you've got a solid, kick-ass design and a have planned how it can be implemented, post here in the help-wanted section and hope other people read your ideas and think that they're kick-ass enough to donate their free-time to your cause.

Now, assuming people join your project, and you (and enough helpers) stick with it through to completion, you will be a proven (amateur) game-designer!

Then you can either do it all again with money involved, or start applying for jobs and you will be a professional game-designer.

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Why not build a game of your own to prove your skills? Use an existing engine, find free tools or resources, and devote some time to it. That's all it requires. You need some technical skills to be a great designer anyway. The more, the better, so no time will be wasted.


Hmmmm...any engines in mind? I could google it, but people's opinions are usually better than google. If you do have anything in mind, what level of coding would it require? Would it be a scripting engine, like ActionScript (where lots of things are done for you) or would it require something like C++?

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Seeing you don't want to do art or code, and assuming you don't have friends in these areas, and assuming you don't have more money than sense, you're left with option #3.


If I were to 'ave a go at building a game, I would of course contribute to art and assets. I mean as a job, I wouldn't want to be an artist.

EDIT: My 'quote' tags weren't working, but now everything's all okay.

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Original post by IronWarrior
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Why not build a game of your own to prove your skills? Use an existing engine, find free tools or resources, and devote some time to it. That's all it requires. You need some technical skills to be a great designer anyway. The more, the better, so no time will be wasted.


Hmmmm...any engines in mind? I could google it, but people's opinions are usually better than google. If you do have anything in mind, what level of coding would it require? Would it be a scripting engine, like ActionScript (where lots of things are done for you) or would it require something like C++?

I'm afraid I don't have any experience with them. I've heard them mentioned in the forums, but that's about it. If it were me, I would probably check out each engine's website forum for feedback, to see what it was big on and what it was missing. There are several people that come here that can probably help as well. Let's hope their attention wanders this way.

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Original post by Hodgman
The problem is that to make a game you either need:
1) Talent, in multiple different fields.

There's actually a benefit to this that you never hear about. When an artist becomes a programmer, or vice versa, they gain an ability that a team of developers will never obtain. The ability to spoil themselves without restraint.

You want that material to shine? No problem, just modify the renderer code to allow optional shining. You want gear-turning sounds during that robot animation? Easy, just convert the joint rotations to volume inputs. You want to know the exact skin location of the nostrils for programming purposes? Simple, just add handle objects to your model exports. There's no one to hassle you about the work exceeding the result. If you want it, you just do it, and you have it.

[Edited by - Kest on September 20, 2008 2:52:22 AM]

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Why worry about programming and art if what you really want to do is design? You don't have to make computer games, there are lots of types of games out there. Tabletop games, board games, sports, card games, whatever. One of the elements that makes a great designer (IMO) is the ability to work within the limitations of any given medium. Once you have an understanding of design concepts then the medium shouldn't really matter.

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Rank 1 Game Designer:

Includes:
Building maps -> laying out rough geometry, placing units, design pacing of the level
Design & Script encounters
Design & Script in-game cinematic moments

Does Not Include:
Designing game mechanics
Creating ideas for a new game
Realy anything that you're currently thinking of as "design"

So. To build a portfolio that will get you on the designer track:

1) find a moddable engine: any RTS game, Crysis, Unreal, Source, etc
2) build complete, playable and FUN levels with encounters for the game
3) Dabble in modifying the game's weapons and such to make it your own

If you don't have fun doing that then don't bother becoming a designer because that's what you'll be doing the first 3-5 years

The Will Wright level of game designer isn't possible until you've been a successful normal designer (see above) for ~10 years.

-me

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try

https://www.digipen.edu/prospective-students/academics/degree-programs/bs-game-design/

Or

https://www.digipen.edu/prospective-students/academics/degree-programs/ba-game-design/

Let me know how it goes.


Hmm, interesting to see the curiculum of the courses, how they begin with theory and drawing.

Quote:
There's actually a benefit to this that you never hear about. When an artist becomes a programmer, or vice versa, they gain an ability that a team of developers will never obtain. The ability to spoil themselves without restraint.

You want that material to shine? No problem, just modify the renderer code to allow optional shining. You want gear-turning sounds during that robot animation? Easy, just convert the joint rotations to volume inputs. You want to know the exact skin location of the nostrils for programming purposes? Simple, just add handle objects to your model exports. There's no one to hassle you about the work exceeding the result. If you want it, you just do it, and you have it.


Good advice, but I didn't write that quote ;). I agree that you should have an understanding of how games function on the base level to design them, since you'll have a better idea of what is and isn't possible.

Quote:
So. To build a portfolio that will get you on the designer track:

1) find a moddable engine: any RTS game, Crysis, Unreal, Source, etc
2) build complete, playable and FUN levels with encounters for the game
3) Dabble in modifying the game's weapons and such to make it your own


I do like modding/mapping, but do companies actually look at those on a resume? Would they help my chances?


Also, if anyone does have any idea on a good engine that would be useful, feel free to toss it out.

Thanks for all the replies!

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Original post by IronWarrior
Good advice, but I didn't write that quote ;)

Sorry about that. Not sure how I fumbled that up. That post has been fixed.

Quote:
I agree that you should have an understanding of how games function on the base level to design them, since you'll have a better idea of what is and isn't possible.

Personally, I can't imagine not doing everything myself, but I'll admit that it requires a lot of time and devotion. Both the learning and the work. Well, if you want to call it work. Having the ability to program algorithms one day, then build a firearm or robot model the next, is part of what makes it so enjoyable.

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Original post by IronWarrior
A doctor had his or her credentials to prove he/she is allowed to operate, but what proves that I am capable of designing an entier game?

Nothing. You wouldn't start designing an entire game, the same way as a programmer wouldn't program an entire game and an artist wouldn't do the art on an entire game. Don't confuse "designer" with "someone who did all the design".

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So...how do I prove I can design? I doubt I can just march into any company's building, kick down the door and be all like 'everyone stop what you're doing! I've got this fricken' gnarly idea...'

Firstly, you stop using the word "idea". Game design is not about ideas, as much as lots of newbies would like it to be. Game design is about systems. That system might be deciding how combat and damage works in your game, or how weapon powerups operate and how they are distributed, or how often monsters respawn and where, or how the skill tree is organised and how many resources you must expend to traverse it, or which buildings will produce which units and at what rate, or... etc. Creative ideas are the seeds from which these systems grow, but the systems are what you're selling. Prepare yourself to make and demonstrate these systems.

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But really, should I be taking certain courses in College/Univ, is there a certain type of path I should go down...?

Since a design position is such a nebulous thing, there are very few courses that cater for it (and fewer still that could really claim to do it accurately). A designer needs familiarity with game development processes, and to that end any education in software engineering, 3D modelling and animation, or computer art will help. But you must supplement it with your own portfolio of work. And because of that, it might be equally good to do some sort of arts degree instead.

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I do like modding/mapping, but do companies actually look at those on a resume? Would they help my chances?

Of course they would. They probably won't look at your resumé at all unless you have some concrete stuff to show them.

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Kylotan
Firstly, you stop using the word "idea". Game design is not about ideas, as much as lots of newbies would like it to be. Game design is about systems.

I smiled when I read this. All of these threads get started up where people talk about these grand "ideas" they have. Why would anyone care about your "ideas"? I want to see your results.

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IronWarrior
I do like modding/mapping, but do companies actually look at those on a resume? Would they help my chances?

Wait, so you're asking if a person reviewing your resume is going to look at stuff you've designed to determine if you should be hired as a designer? Do you honestly need someone to answer this?

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I smiled when I read this. All of these threads get started up where people talk about these grand "ideas" they have. Why would anyone care about your "ideas"? I want to see your results.


This thread actually didn't have anything to do with me talking about my "ideas." Someone just misread the quote, I guess.

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Wait, so you're asking if a person reviewing your resume is going to look at stuff you've designed to determine if you should be hired as a designer? Do you honestly need someone to answer this?


Would I have asked if I didn't? If you're applying to be a an auto engineer, they're not going to look at the toy cars you've built. Even though maps/mods use the same principles as game design, there's loads of things you don't have to worry about with them. Basic UI, collision, movement, rendering...most of this is done for you. I'm guessing it would help, though.

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Original post by IronWarrior
Even though maps/mods use the same principles as game design, there's loads of things you don't have to worry about with them. Basic UI, collision, movement, rendering...most of this is done for you. I'm guessing it would help, though.

Actually, modding can include just about all of what makes up game design. The engine may not support everything you want to do, but that's true with any system. With a flexible engine, movement, collision, UI, and other aspects can be controlled outside of the programming code - outside of the engine itself.

My own game allows this. Players that attempt to mod my game will have a huge amount of access. Physics properties, character attributes, individual skills, the formulas that dictate each skill's effect on the game, each individual weapon, person, map, particle effect, etc. It's all controlled via external parsed text files and editors.

Essentially, modding is game design, as long as it's not too limited.

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Original post by IronWarrior
Would I have asked if I didn't? If you're applying to be a an auto engineer, they're not going to look at the toy cars you've built. Even though maps/mods use the same principles as game design, there's loads of things you don't have to worry about with them. Basic UI, collision, movement, rendering...most of this is done for you. I'm guessing it would help, though.


Same for a professional designer. collision, movement and rendering is done by the programmers.

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You have WC3? And the expansion? Great, go mod for that. It's a very fast and pretty easy way to make what is effectively your own game from the ground up in terms of game design. I've designed and made two things which are basically new games that are well polished, and I'm pretty lazy; remember to prototype though (very fast to do on WC3). Even if you don't even end up with something to show, it is very very good experience. It should be noted that you should try to design your own game when modding it for this purpose, rather than copying others like most do.

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Original post by IronWarrior
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I smiled when I read this. All of these threads get started up where people talk about these grand "ideas" they have. Why would anyone care about your "ideas"? I want to see your results.


This thread actually didn't have anything to do with me talking about my "ideas." Someone just misread the quote, I guess.

No, I didn't misread the quote. I may have misinterpreted it, but ultimately that is because your original suggestion implied that being a designer is about presenting good ideas. I am merely trying to do you a service by pointing out that really, it is not.

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Here is a question, what projects have you worked on so far? Any mapping for some amazing mod or another? Helped someone troubleshoot a combat system for an rpg? play-tested for an indie fps? Ever lent a hand on the PR end of things? When it comes down to it, do you have anything shiny in your community service record?

You have experience working with 3d, but that is not the career direction you would chose, yet from what I see, it is the strongest aspect of your portfolio. So you need to start finding some padding for such said portfolio, and join a project or two (or three). For example, look at all these people who have replied in this thread, somebody has to have an opening in their team somewhere. The only issue will be getting the position that you want, that is, as a designer.

But you do still have options; in fact, you have an 'option' writing this post! What it all depends on, is what you will except when are first out the door; the job title of "underling" is to be expected at first.

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Original post by IronWarrior
This thread actually didn't have anything to do with me talking about my "ideas." Someone just misread the quote, I guess.


Quote:
So...how do I prove I can design? I doubt I can just march into any company's building, kick down the door and be all like 'everyone stop what you're doing! I've got this fricken' gnarly idea...'


Judging by this statement you made, I (and obviously a few others) conferred that you seem to think that designers are just "ideas" people. We're not.

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Wait, so you're asking if a person reviewing your resume is going to look at stuff you've designed to determine if you should be hired as a designer? Do you honestly need someone to answer this?

Would I have asked if I didn't? If you're applying to be a an auto engineer, they're not going to look at the toy cars you've built. Even though maps/mods use the same principles as game design, there's loads of things you don't have to worry about with them. Basic UI, collision, movement, rendering...most of this is done for you. I'm guessing it would help, though.

Your auto engineer analogy is a pretty bad one. No, they're not going to want to look as toy cars you've built, but they are going to want to view some of your AutoCAD/Catia/whatever diagrams.

As Kest and quasar3d pointed out, as a professional designer you don't handle those other aspects of game development, either. Programmers and artists do. As a designer your job is to take those pieces of the puzzle and assemble them into a fun experience. Making an awesome Warcraft III adventure or Unreal map shows that you understand how everything can be brought together into a fun experience.

One of the biggest things a designer has to be able to do is clearly communicate with his team and foster communication within his team. You need to know how to write and you need to know how to speak. When I was in school I helped to write a grant proposal for a serious games, I wrote a GDD for a game demo that I had reviewed by professional designers, I wrote a white paper of the development of that game demo, etc. One of the many functions of a game designer is that you need to maintain the game design document. This document needs to be both legible and easy for your team to find what they need.

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