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CrazyRonin

What to take in high school...what books to use?

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Right now I'm a junior and am taking Visual Basic programming. While I am positive I want a video game related job, at this point I really don't want programming. I think it's dull and design is where I truly want to be, but I'm not sure how to get into it. There are only programming classes at my school and an AP Computer Science class. I'm going to take the CS class but dunno what else. Do I have to be a programmer before I can design? And if not what books are there that actually come with software to help design? And what was that one website where you can design games or something...? Thanks in advance.

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If you're dead set against programming, you can try something like Game Maker (http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker).

If you are capable of getting good grades in your programming classes, I'd recommend you keep taking them, even if you find them dull. Very few game designers are just "Idea" people... Lots of the designers I work with end up doing lots of coding/scripting to create their masterpiece levels. :-)

Finally, here's my main advice: If you want to be a game designer, design a game. Don't wait for a teacher, book, or web site to unlock the secrets of the universe for you, get out there and make stuff. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Don't be afraid to suck at it, because that's still better than sitting around dreaming about it. Make a board game. Invent a card game. Try doing some mods. Play them with your friends and get feedback. Find out what works and what doesn't. You'll be light-years ahead of your classmates by the time you get to college.

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Game development is a huge field. If you build a game about mutations, it helps to know some biology. If you build a game that includes a lot of structures, you need some knowledge about architecture and structural design. If you intend on coming up with fictional creatures or buildings, practices in art will really help.

I think just about any type of knowledge can be put to use in game development. But specifically regarding game design, I would probably focus on art and psychology.

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Original post by sox
If you're dead set against programming, you can try something like Game Maker (http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker).

If you are capable of getting good grades in your programming classes, I'd recommend you keep taking them, even if you find them dull. Very few game designers are just "Idea" people... Lots of the designers I work with end up doing lots of coding/scripting to create their masterpiece levels. :-)

Finally, here's my main advice: If you want to be a game designer, design a game. Don't wait for a teacher, book, or web site to unlock the secrets of the universe for you, get out there and make stuff. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Don't be afraid to suck at it, because that's still better than sitting around dreaming about it. Make a board game. Invent a card game. Try doing some mods. Play them with your friends and get feedback. Find out what works and what doesn't. You'll be light-years ahead of your classmates by the time you get to college.


I wish I knew how to do mods, as I think that'd be best for me. Any links on how?

Also Tom, the books link is good but to me at least it doesn't seem to say whether the books come with software or not.

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Original post by CrazyRonin
I wish I knew how to do mods, as I think that'd be best for me. Any links on how?

1. Buy a moddable game.
2. Start playing with the editing tools.

Quote:
Also Tom, the books link is good but to me at least it doesn't seem to say whether the books come with software or not.

Those books are about game design. Not programming. And not modding. Something you said probably made me think you were interested in learning about game design.

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Original post by CrazyRonin
I wish I knew how to do mods, as I think that'd be best for me. Any links on how?

1. Buy a moddable game.
2. Start playing with the editing tools.

3. Make your mod available to the public.
4. Tweak things to learn your way around the fragility of gameplay balance and exploits.
5. Tweak things to learn the difference between giving the audience what they want versus making the audience happy.

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Original post by CrazyRonin
Quote:
Original post by sox
If you're dead set against programming, you can try something like Game Maker (http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker).

If you are capable of getting good grades in your programming classes, I'd recommend you keep taking them, even if you find them dull. Very few game designers are just "Idea" people... Lots of the designers I work with end up doing lots of coding/scripting to create their masterpiece levels. :-)

Finally, here's my main advice: If you want to be a game designer, design a game. Don't wait for a teacher, book, or web site to unlock the secrets of the universe for you, get out there and make stuff. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Don't be afraid to suck at it, because that's still better than sitting around dreaming about it. Make a board game. Invent a card game. Try doing some mods. Play them with your friends and get feedback. Find out what works and what doesn't. You'll be light-years ahead of your classmates by the time you get to college.


I wish I knew how to do mods, as I think that'd be best for me. Any links on how?

Also Tom, the books link is good but to me at least it doesn't seem to say whether the books come with software or not.


I recommend buying The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.
If you have the right comp for it.
Then download the construction set.
It's very easy to learn how to use it and it's fun to toy with.

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The others are on the right track with the modding, and there are plenty of games - both indie and commercial - that are pretty easy to mod.

Oblivion, as mentioned by Daan, is a great one, because with the aid of the construction set you can become accustom to working with map design and layout. Converting files over to .nif's can be a bit challenging, but modeling for Oblivion has a great base as well.

Scorched3d is a good choice because it allows you to get used to working with Xml, and they are working in a scripting language in their latest alpha. Basic-level mods are quick, and they help you get used to seeing how your changes apply in-game.

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Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by CrazyRonin
I wish I knew how to do mods, as I think that'd be best for me. Any links on how?

1. Buy a moddable game.
2. Start playing with the editing tools.

Quote:
Also Tom, the books link is good but to me at least it doesn't seem to say whether the books come with software or not.

Those books are about game design. Not programming. And not modding. Something you said probably made me think you were interested in learning about game design.


Somehow I figured that there would be software that allowed you to do something similar to designing a game.

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Original post by CrazyRonin
Somehow I figured that there would be software that allowed you to do something similar to designing a game.

There is no such software (that I know of). Game design is done with pen and paper (or word processor) generally, only the implementation is done via software. Which makes me think your interpretation of game design is something different. What, in your mind, does a game designer do?

Level or map design is (as I understand it) entry level game design. Mod creation involves more art and programming, and actual game creation (even with Game Maker) involves an arbitrary amount of art and a lot of programming. If you don't want to do any programming, don't insult programmers by calling their work "dull", since they will (rightly) suspect that you don't have a clue about what programming involves.


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Original post by CrazyRonin
Somehow I figured that there would be software that allowed you to do something similar to designing a game.

The software I use to design games: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Paint, Corel Paint Shop Pro.
Maybe you are using a different meaning for the term "game design" that we in the industry use...?

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Original post by Tom Sloper
Maybe you are using a different meaning for the term "game design" that we in the industry use...?


To be clear "game design" means roughly: figuring out game mechanics (we'll have mana which can't regenerate in combat, our primary mechanic is sniping, these are the achievements the player can get, etc). It doesn't mean actually building the game. "Game Design" is to games what architectural blueprints are to houses.

The actual building of a game is called "Game Development". Game design is part of game development. But development also includes all the programming, map building, asset integration, etc.

-me

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Game design is like building a house: The designer is the architect and he tells how the house/game is going to be.
Then a concept artist/himself will draw it.
Then the workers will build it etc.


It's really not that hard to understand.
The game designer is the 'architect' of the game.

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