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XandX2005

Where to start...

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I have always wanted to make games since i was 10 (23 now). Dabbed into programming and cad ever since but was always discouraged by poorly written books and tutorials. Now that I have decided to take my life into the gaming industry, i would like to find out what you all think is the best place to start. My plan consists of getting my math skills back to where they should be by taking classes here at the comm college. then when i get everything together, head off to Digipen, and eventualy become a game designer. Keep in mind that I consider myself a dreamer and I can imagine some pretty intense stuff. I just can't figure out what to do with my spare time at the moment. Do I . . . Start teaching myself c++ or 3d modeling or flash or java or what? What do you think would be the best path to focus on right now? thanks --Garren

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Design a board game. One like Race for the Galaxy, Imperial or Caylus, for instance. Most of the effort and skill that goes into creating one of these can be readily applied back to video game design, but the development proper can be much easier (all you need is some paper, some pens, and perhaps proxies which you can get from any other game board) so you get faster results and you can playtest more.

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Step 1 What do you want to do?
Design
Program
Write
Art
Test
Produce

Step 2 Learn everything on the previous list to some degree

Step 3 Learn to communicate and develop your ideas well

Step 4 Start a project and/or get into a team


Now the reasoning behind those...

Step 1... You need a direction, even if it is just temporary
step 2... You need to be able to understand others in your team might face so you can help alleviate those problems with your skills as well as communicate with them.
Step 3... If you can't do this...your in the wrong field. Game development is collaborative as is gaming in general because when someone is playing your game you are communicating to them something.
step 4... this is for practice and experience and well once you get here you've made it...it's just a matter of what you do with your product after that.

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Xa wrote:
>Do I . . . Start teaching myself c++ or 3d modeling or flash or java or what?

Sure, why not, if you want to be a game programmer. If your plan for breaking into the industry is via programming, you should have a Computer Science degree. But you say you're 23, the age at which people have usually graduated college/uni. Do you already have a degree, and if so, what subject was your major?

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I would like to eventually be a Lead game designer. I can dream up a game, write it, know the art direction I want, the mood the game will have, and I am definitely a great leader. Although i am terrible with drawing on paper, i can put my imagination to work better on a computer.

I understand how games work, I guess i just need to learn the code, which i will learn when i attend Digipen. Would it be a good idea to teach myself basic programming before i go, or work on other things in the meantime?

I've messed around with photoshop, illustrator, and image editing software. I have messed around with Hammer(for source), Blender, and currently work at a cnc machine shop and i think 3 dimensionally all day. So, i could teach myself how to build maps, make and apply textures, and possibly create models.

I've made custom pen and paper RPG's when I was in junior high. I know how to set rules, create enemies and use skills/attributes effectively.

Which would be the best path to travel right now?

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Xan wrote:

>I would like to eventually be a Lead game designer.

Okay, then before that you'll have to be a game designer. What's your breaking-in plan, since game designer isn't an entry level job?

>I can dream up a game, write it, know the art direction I want, ... and I am definitely a great leader. Although i am terrible with drawing on paper, i can put my imagination to work better on a computer.
>I understand how games work,

All you have to do, then, is prove those things. You can't just say it. You have to show it.

>I guess i just need to learn the code,

You "guess" you need to learn how to program? That's not a good way to plan your life. Stop guessing. If you plan to break into the game industry as a programmer, then you'll need to be a darned good one. And if you haven't learned anything about programming yet at age 23, you're unlikely to become one. If you had a passion for programming, you would have already gotten into programming on your own.

>which i will learn when i attend Digipen.
>Would it be a good idea to teach myself basic programming before i go, or work on other things in the meantime?

You have to know basic programming before jumping into the deep end, but teaching it to yourself is not what I would recommend. Take night school, learn it.

>I've made custom pen and paper RPG's when I was in junior high.

That'll look good in your portfolio.

>Which would be the best path to travel right now?

I asked you before if you'd been to college yet. Since you ignored that question, I'm assuming you haven't. You're not too old. I recommend majoring in any subject that you're passionate about, and take the classes I listed in FAQ 3 on my site. I also recommend you do the stuff outlined in FAQ 12, "Things You Can Do At Home." I recommend you think carefully about what your break-in pathway should be, based on your passions and talents. And read FAQs 7, 14, 20, 34, 44, and 69 - at least.
My FAQs are at http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html

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One really important thing is that you be VERY strong in mathematics. You will need to learn vector calculus at Digipen, and you will need it a lot. Last year at Digipen just over 50% of the freshman class dropped out before the end of the fall semester, and most of them did so because they were not strong enough in mathematics. This isn't to scare you, but it is just important to know that a hell of a lot of game design is math. You don't need to already be an expert in mathematics or have taken a lot of math courses, but you need to be good at math in general.

Quote:
Original post by XandX2005
I would like to eventually be a Lead game designer. I can dream up a game, write it, know the art direction I want, the mood the game will have, and I am definitely a great leader. Although i am terrible with drawing on paper, i can put my imagination to work better on a computer.


I don't intend to sound mean or anything, but this is not a job to shoot for. Everyone has ideas for games. Literally EVERYONE has a thousand great game ideas, each one with the potential to be a masterpiece. However, that is the easiest part of game development. Being a game developer is about learning a strategy for the dev cycle and being an very skilled programmer. Digipen can teach you about both of these things but you need to keep in mind that to make games you have to not only love games, but also love the technical aspects. The closest thing to the job you want is a game programmer, which is loads of fun.

Until then, it would do you some good to learn a programming language and make some simple 2D games to learn about some simple game design stuff and vectors. I highly recommend using C++, as this is the industry standard and it will be what you use most at Digipen. When starting out it is usually best to build a game that relies entirely on bit-blitting instead of any API, but that's just me.

I may be starting there next year as well, although I haven't yet decided between Digipen, Rochester Tech, and Rose-Hulman Tech.

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Tom,
I understand that I am coming into the game pretty late. Its taken this long for my life to bring me to this point. I have always wanted to be a video game designer, i bought my first programming book when i was 10. ALthough I was stumped back then, I now have the motivation and drive to follow my dream.

I also took a peek at your website, and has a lot of useful information for me. I think that I need to set some plans for my self, and I'm asking for some advice. I will continue to read through your site. Thanks for the input and more is always welcome!

As for a plan, here is what I have so far:

Before Digipen:

-Take classes at the Comm. College here for Math, Digital Design, intro to prog.
-Work on building my portfolio with design concepts, art, and maybe a simple game.
-Work with 'Hammer' and start creating maps for source games.

At digipen:

-Work on taking my game ideas and putting them onto paper.
-Take any extra time to learn advanced aspects of programming and design.

Tell me what you think Tom.



General Eskimo,
I do have strong mathematical skills. I will be taking some pre-calc classes here at the community college before I head off to Digipen to help refresh my memory. I will take your advice, and i will continue on my programming. Thanks for the input.


As for everyone esle, im always open for more suggestions.

Thanks

--Garren

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Xa wrote:
>I understand that I am coming into the game pretty late.

No, I just said that if you're only now hitting on the idea of becoming a game programmer, and you haven't already been programming, I think you could be fooling yourself about what you ought to be going for. It's rare that a passion makes itself known to an individual out of the blue. Are you sure programming is the proper and best break-in plan for you? I recommend you take some personality/aptitude tests, find out which game job is most in line with your test results.

>As for a plan, here is what I have so far:
>Before Digipen:
>-Take classes at the Comm. College here for Math, Digital Design, intro to prog.
>-Work on building my portfolio with design concepts, art, and maybe a simple game.
>-Work with 'Hammer' and start creating maps for source games.
>At digipen:
>-Work on taking my game ideas and putting them onto paper.
>-Take any extra time to learn advanced aspects of programming and design.
>Tell me what you think Tom.

I think you won't have any extra time while you're in that school. I assume it's as tough a program as what I've heard about Full Sail. I think the first bullet under "At digipen" should be moved up to "Before Digipen."

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Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Xa wrote:
>I understand that I am coming into the game pretty late.

No, I just said that if you're only now hitting on the idea of becoming a game programmer, and you haven't already been programming, I think you could be fooling yourself about what you ought to be going for. It's rare that a passion makes itself known to an individual out of the blue. Are you sure programming is the proper and best break-in plan for you? I recommend you take some personality/aptitude tests, find out which game job is most in line with your test results.


I have taken personality tests, and computer programming has usually been at the top along with architectural design.

I know it seems that this passion has come out of the blue, but in actuality its been dormant and eager to explode for a very long time now! I'm slowly tearing down the wall that stands between me and my dream.

As for the break-in plan, im not sure it will be programming, but thats why I want to attend digipen, it will give me a stronger programming and mathematical base.

Tom, What would you say is a good break-in plan for my situation?

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