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architect89

Architects!

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Hi, I'm an architecture major in Boston. Since the economy has kind of died and jobs are hard to come by, a lot of architects are finding jobs in other fields. I was wondering (don't worry, I'm not some delusional guy who's life's dreams are based on this) if the video game industry ever hires anyone with a degree in architecture. I know that the movie industry does it a lot now, especially for those LOTR-esque movies where worlds need to essentially be built, but I wasn't sure if its something the video game industry does. If so, do people usually have a masters degree in some kind of programming field? As an architecture student I've been doing a lot of 3D modeling and lots of design theory. Anway, like I said I was just wondering. You never know what you could end up doing.

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I guess the closest match in gaming would be a 'level designer'. Things that a level designer might do in a typical job:

- Use a 3D modelling tool like Max / Maya / XSI to build untextured 3D environments ("grey block level")

- Add game-specific data to the level, such as player start locations, powerups, scripted event locations, etc.

- Work in tandem with an environment artist, who will add a good looking art mesh based on your design mesh. Your 'grey block' mesh will probably be used as the collision information for the level, which will sometimes differ a LOT from the art mesh.

- Write the script that controls how your level reacts to the player's interactions. For instance, when the player walks into a specific area, you may want to start a cutscene. Level designers are often responsible for the camera setup and timing.


Other things:

- Levels have to be limited to a certain "budget". Budgets in game levels are usually things like the memory usage for running the level in the game, the complexity of any given section of the level (which determines performance in that area compared to other areas). This may also include things like how many enemies or interactive objects should be active in one particular area.

- Levels need good gameplay. Sometimes this is really difficult to quantify and takes experimentation. Make sure the player doesn't get horribly lost due to over-symmetrical levels, lack of landmarks, etc. Make sure the level provides the right amount of challenge (enemy placement, how often you find health packs). Make sure the level is interesting (having a wide variety of level styles).


First steps:

You could try making levels for an existing PC game, such as Team Fortress 2. Some popular PC games have large communities of people who often form small teams to make levels and other modifications for existing games.

You could send some questions to local game studios in your area and see if you could get an internship. Your toughest obstacle will probably be all of the designers who were laid off from previous jobs and desperately trying to find a new place to work.

[Edited by - Nypyren on March 5, 2010 2:16:59 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Nypyren
I guess the closest match in gaming would be a 'level designer'.

Yes, exactly. That, and environment artist specializing in buildings and structures.
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Hi,

actually some years ago one Finnish game company (Remedy) was specifically looking for a (student of) architect(ure) to work on one game project (Alan Wake, if I am not mistaken).

The job was described as a kind of research of the environment they were planning to use in the game. In a way it was a post for a concept artist for the level architecture, not exactly level design.

In the mean time I'd put some efforts on mastering those building information modelling systems. But I assume that you are doing that already.

I wish you good luck with finding a job.

Best regards!



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Wow, thanks for all the responses.

I guess I'd have to start learning some industry standards like Maya before I did anything like that, but its definitely a possibility. Level design sounds interesting though, and its always something I've wanted to do.

Well anyway, thank you all for the info!

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You could grab a Source Engine game (HL2,TF2,L4D,L4D2) and create some levels in Hammer (Valve's level editor included with the Source SDK) for practice, the good thing besides practice and experience is you can see your creation used in a game.

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