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PyroDragn

Starting a team as a Game Designer?

52 posts in this topic

I shall cut right to the chase here, and say that this is something that I am interested in doing. However, this is not that post. This is where I ask for opinions on what I need to do first, and hopefully it'll provide some answers for others like myself who would like to get into the designer role.

[b]I'll pre-empt those that are going to say "Learn programming" or other "Learn another skill" posts. Other people have said that "Everyone can be a designer, not everyone can be a programmer" - this is something I highly disagree with, but for the purposes of this discussion - let's assume that it's true and I, and by proxy, other people, don't have the requirements to be something else.[/b]

When recruiting artists or programmers, you look for examples of previous work. This would work for a designer too obviously, and if the protential recruit has previously worked on a game in his role, then he can show off what he's done. The problem is with people looking to start in on their first game.

A programmer who hasn't worked on a game before can usually show work of other code he has done from a non-gaming perspective. The same can be said of artists. A game designer won't have this possibility - or not as a demonstrable item. There is documentation that he could produce (GDDs, High Concepts) but their worth is questionable without a finished game to accompany them, or at least some sort of prototype.

The question is therefore, [b]how does a Game Designer prove his worth? [/b]

My initial thought is to [b]produce the documentation I mentioned previously. A concept, high concept, Game Design Document (GDD) - whatever you can.[/b] I've heard it said that a GDD is worthless without a prototype or a finished game. This may be true from the standpoint of judging the worth of the game, but not in judging the worth of the designer. If the designer can produce polished, high quality, concept documents and such, then you know that he can do at least that. It is something that a Game Designer must be able to do from a professional standpoint, so having some to judge is a definite must.

[b]If you produce documentation as a proof, produce several documents for different genres.[/b] If you produce 5 highly polished design documents for 5 well thought out RPGs, then it could be very good - assuming that whoever is going to look at them is interested in RPGs. However, if they want to make something different, then you're giving the impression that you are not suited to the task. Making design documents for widely varied game types - like designing a serious gruesome horror FPS, a sci-fi RTS, and a cute and fluffy casual sim game - shows that you have the ability to work with whatever genre is required whether you've implicitly designed in that genre before.


Beyond this, I am at an empasse.

[b]Level designing for an existing game has been suggested to me[/b]. This is something I have obviously dabbled with, mostly with RTSs (Age of Empires II, Red Alert 2 & 3, Empire Earth) and some FPSs (Halo 3 / Reach) but to what degree is it worth pursuing? Game levels in various editors are relatively simple to produce, but I have trouble seeing their value without rigourous play-testing.

If I produce a dozen maps for various games, am I to leave it to the recruitee to judge if they're any good?

Do I need to host them online and get others to play them for me in the hopes of gaining some sort of feedback?

What of maps which do not score as high as anticipated, should I show different iterations and re-designs which lead to more enjoyable gameplay?


[b]What else could I (or another designer) do in order to show off their ability without the option of producing a game by themselves?[/b]


Inevitably there will be people that suggest that I stop trying to be "the ideas guy." I am not looking for a cheap path to be carried by a team and provide nothing of any worth. I want to be a Game Designer, not an Ideas Guy. They are not synonomous. A good game designer adds value to the team, and I want to put myself in that position. You may believe that the others in your team can design your game without a dedicated designer - this could be true, and I wish you luck - this doesn't mean you should assume that all designers are just slackers, because we are not.
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If you're a game designer without the ability to make a computer game, you can probably still make a board game or a card game. The required design skills are largely the same across both mediums.
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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1335178964' post='4934039']
If you're a game designer without the ability to make a computer game, you can probably still make a board game or a card game. The required design skills are largely the same across both mediums.
[/quote]

This depends on what you mean by "without the ability to make a computer game." Many game designers do not have the pre-requisite skills (in programming and artwork) to produce a game alone. The same could often be said of an artist. They cannot program, and therefore cannot produce a game alone. If you mean that if I can't make a computer game, then I shouldn't try, then I think you're taking the wrong message.

However, if you mean that producing a different medium of games (card games, tabletop games) could be used within the portfolio to get in to games design, then that's something I haven't considered, and I think it could work.
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[quote name='PyroDragn' timestamp='1335179917' post='4934045']If you mean that if I can't make a computer game, then I shouldn't try...[/quote]I did read your preamble/disclaimer [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img], yes I meant that:[quote]Many game designers do not have the pre-requisite skills (in programming and artwork) to produce a game alone.[/quote]Game designers were still around before computers, so getting to know your roots might be fun and useful. You could try a challenge, like trying to reproduce the 'feel' of a video game in the form of a board game ([i]pick one that doesn't translate easy, e.g. not a turn-based-strategy[/i]).
Obviously the two mediums are different and have their own conventions, genres and limitations, but it's still game design.
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In my humble opinion, design is an iterative process. Many things change in the process of development, and many gameplay features cannot be judged without a working demo.

E.g. Diablo was supposed to be a turn-based rogue-like game, until Blizzard convince the team to come up with a real time demo. After playing the demo, everyone ditched turn-based for real time.

So if I were you, I'll force myself to make a small simple game using the easiest programming language. How about trying Flash Actionscript? Flash is super easy to use. I wrote my first graphical game on it.
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[quote name='PyroDragn' timestamp='1335178608' post='4934035']
[b]how does a Game Designer prove his worth? [/b]
I am at an empasse.
[b]What else could I (or another designer) do in order to show off their ability without the option of producing a game by themselves?[/b]
[/quote]

This is a classic problem. You have to prove that you are worthy of the trust, that you are someone worth having around. You have to lay an egg before you can be regarded as a chicken. You have to hatch from an egg in order to be a chicken in the first place.
This is, essentially, a creativity problem you have to solve.
You have to find a creative solution to this problem. Nobody can hand you an easy solution. If you are a worthy game designer, you have to prove it.
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Don't create maps for games, create mods for games. Take something like Warcraft 3, an RTS. A mod would be DOTA. DOTA is totally different from the standard W3 gameplay, yet it was made entirely using the W3 graphics and logic. DOTA has turned out to be so popular that Valve hired the developers, and as I understand it they are now working on a standalone DOTA game.

Tower defense games also started of as SC and W3 mods.

Wasn't Counter Strike a mod of Half Life?

You want to create an RPG? Use an RPG maker to do it. No programming required. If you don't want to create your own graphics, I believe W3 has all the elements in place within its map editor to create a decent RPG.

And finally, you can use GameMaker to create games without programming.

There are many ways to create games without programming or even working on art. You just need to try.
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It's not that teams don't need designers, it is that there is an aboundance of designers in a team already. I have lead several projects and I can't remember a team where at least 50% of people there were not at least good designers (in addition to their primary specialization). If you can get an additional below average programmer, he is a valuable asset (any half decent programmer can produce additiona code). If you are able to get a good designer he is completely useless (you only need one, the best one, designer; more disigners than one are not needed at all except really huge projects). What you would want is an excellent designer, just good is not enough (because you have more of those you need already).

There comes also synergy. If you have two designers, one is good but also understands programming and one is very good but does not understand programming, which one would be better for the project? Which one would be able to convey the information to the team better? Which one would be able to understand what is possible and what is not better?

Next comes the money. The more people the more mouths to feed. Are you ready to feed an additional mouth? If the team is big, why not, just one additioanl is not a big deal. But if this is a 4 team project can you really afford a dedicated designer that produce no code nor art?


Perosnal advice: as everyone already said, try boardgames, you can do these all alone with literally 0 skills in prgramming, 0 skills in art, 0 skills in music and 0 skills in marketing (there are publishers). All you need to do is to make a great game design, write down the rules and make an ugly prototype using crayons and paper and scissors.
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[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1335180336' post='4934052']
Game designers were still around before computers, so getting to know your roots might be fun and useful. You could try a challenge, like trying to reproduce the 'feel' of a video game in the form of a board game (pick one that doesn't translate easy, e.g. not a turn-based-strategy).
Obviously the two mediums are different and have their own conventions, genres and limitations, but it's still game design.
[/quote]

I do like this idea as something that I - or anyone else - could do without looking needing a lot of outside help (though a lot of the initial ideas I have would require some artwork). It's probably something I'll be looking more into tonight and over the next few days.


[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1335194574' post='4934121']
In my humble opinion, design is an iterative process. Many things change in the process of development, and many gameplay features cannot be judged without a working demo.

E.g. Diablo was supposed to be a turn-based rogue-like game, until Blizzard convince the team to come up with a real time demo. After playing the demo, everyone ditched turn-based for real time.

So if I were you, I'll force myself to make a small simple game using the easiest programming language. How about trying Flash Actionscript? Flash is super easy to use. I wrote my first graphical game on it.
[/quote]

I agree that design is an iterative process. Even during the initial development I frequently make changes to the gameplay as I envision it, or discover different twists.

I specifically wanted to avoid the path of saying "learn a programming language." At least you went the route of being helpful in your post rather than belittling. I'm looking for alternatives to programming. There are simple games, but programming them if you have no experience in programming is not a simple undertaking.

Thinking logically, if we take a game of Tic-Tac-Toe (or O's and X's), I think it would be safe to say that almost everyone would know what the game is and how to play it. But logistically, how many people would know how to program it?

You could make a simple grid, allow the player to click and it draws a X, then an O, then a X, in each corresponding cell. Pretty basic.
Then you include a button to clear the grid.
Then you add a Win-Variable check.
Then you add an option to play against the computer.

If you have a design document for the idea of this Tic-Tac-Toe game. A mentally stimulating logic puzzle. But they have a half-finished, frustratingly slow version prototype (due to inefficient code). You end up dismissing the game because the prototype was poor, rather than because the gameplay was poor.

If you take a much more complicated game: a 2D sidescroller, or a larger puzzle game, or an RPG, then they become much much harder to programme, especially for anyone with no coding experience.

If I have an idea for a roleplay game, I've written the design document, included UI designs, combat and other gameplay mechanics, storyline, narrative - it is still 'worthless' without a prototype? Without a high level of programming capability I'm more likely to screw up my idea than to do it justice.


[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1335195997' post='4934130']
You have to find a creative solution to this problem. Nobody can hand you an easy solution. If you are a worthy game designer, you have to prove it.
[/quote]

I am definitely working on it, and I'm not looking for an easy solution, but in order to know what I need to do, I need to know more about what people want. If everyone came back with the idea that every game designer needs to be a top-notch programmer, then I'd know that's what I need to pursue, and so would anyone else in my position.

[quote name='AdrianC' timestamp='1335196280' post='4934133']
Don't create maps for games, create mods for games. Take something like Warcraft 3, an RTS. A mod would be DOTA. DOTA is totally different from the standard W3 gameplay, yet it was made entirely using the W3 graphics and logic. DOTA has turned out to be so popular that Valve hired the developers, and as I understand it they are now working on a standalone DOTA game.

Tower defense games also started of as SC and W3 mods.

Wasn't Counter Strike a mod of Half Life?

You want to create an RPG? Use an RPG maker to do it. No programming required. If you don't want to create your own graphics, I believe W3 has all the elements in place within its map editor to create a decent RPG.

And finally, you can use GameMaker to create games without programming.

There are many ways to create games without programming or even working on art. You just need to try.
[/quote]

Unless I'm missing something fundamental, making mods comes back to programming once again. Designing levels for games using an in-game editor is a simpler task. Dependant on the editor you can come up with interesting gameplay (using the various mechanics in the Halo Forge to come up with new gametypes is quite possible) without the necessity of having to learn programming.

I haven't seen an RPG editor, though I haven't looked for one before. Assuming they work, this could be a possibility I shall look into it more tonight.

Gamemaker is something I have looked at, and it's certainly worth a look for any prospective game designers for making simple prototypes. I personally don't have much experience with it to say how easy it is to prototype more complicated games.
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W3 came with a fairly powerful visual "programming" tool, so you don't actually need to code.

RPG Maker is a famous editor, though paid. Years ago I messed around with one called RPG Toolkit. It was free, and seemed to work pretty well.
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My current project is a very complex mod for GlestAE, yet the only requirement is some knowledge of XML. Or rather its more efficient to copy paste the xml and change what is inside the tags rather than writing your own tags. To make a scenario you need some Lua scripting, but that isn't a big deal. I use GAE because I ca already program and thus can handle Lua easily and because xml is basically html so that is also easy.

If you do not want to work with either XML or Lua and you have the money to burn, you can make plenty of design stuff inside of StarCraft2 although SC2 doesn't allow you to distribute the game free like GAE does.

Be warned though, the chance of you forming a team based on a SC2 demo is quite small. In the first place you would have to create your own RTS engine because you can't actually sell an SC2 mod and that takes quite a long time.

Really though the chance of being a pure designer is miniscule. I can't think of even 10 good examples off the top of my head. And as many have stated, most game programmers are in it to make games, probably their own games that they got into programming to make. Artists are somewhat similar. But artists can make art without making a game and can also come easily from non game fields. Edited by jbadams
Removed large and unnecessary nested quote.
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[quote name='PyroDragn' timestamp='1335197565' post='4934141']
[quote name='Hodgman' timestamp='1335180336' post='4934052']
You could try a challenge, like trying to reproduce the 'feel' of a video game in the form of a board game
[/quote]

I do like this idea as something that I - or anyone else - could do without looking needing a lot of outside help (though a lot of the initial ideas I have would require some artwork).
[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1335195997' post='4934130']
You have to find a creative solution to this problem. Nobody can hand you an easy solution. If you are a worthy game designer, you have to prove it.
[/quote]

I am definitely working on it, and I'm not looking for an easy solution, but in order to know what I need to do, I need to know more about what people want.
[/quote]

Here are some more things you can do: [url="http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm"]http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm[/url]
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I think it would be a very good idea for you to also learn some programming. It will help you better communicate with programmers on future projects. Nothing too crazy, just the basics, so that you understand how everything works. Variables, control flow, functions, classes, OOP etc. You could go through all of this within a few days. You won't be great at it, but you will have a general understanding. Plus, it will be easier to mod games.
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[quote name='PyroDragn' timestamp='1335178608' post='4934035']
The question is therefore, [b]how does a Game Designer prove his worth? [/b]
[/quote]

I say, learn to make the most of what you've got. And learn how to show it.

[rambling]
I was at my Mom's for a holiday a bit back and my niece and nephew (8 & 5) wanted to play Trivial Pursuit. I was kinda surprised at this as it's not a kid's game but it turned out my mom got them into playing without having to answer the trivia questions. I don't think she thought about the change to the game in detail when she made it but I couldn't help but think that there was a sufficient amount of randomness and strategy to make it a good game. Just trying to land on each of the pie squares was enough to keep me interested and the kids got a kick out of playing a game that adults play.

Overall, games are about taking what resources you have access to and turning them into something new and fun. You might have a vast amount of artwork that you can use or you might have a couple of sticks and a sandbox. Now go create a strategic war game. Adding rules and an objective to either set of resources is what creates the game. So my recommendation is to challenge yourself by giving yourself as many different sets of resources as you can whether they're found on a computer or not.

Come to think of it, that game of war with the stick and the sandbox could be considered a completed and tested game. All that was missing was a write up of the rules. In retrospect, throwing a ball at each other instead of a stick would've been a good way to avoid having our game banned at school.
[/rambling]
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Out of all things it is possible to make without programming / graphics / sound skills, I would be most impressed by
- a well-designed card game
- a well-designed board game
- a well-designed level or map for an existing videogame

In other words, something you have designed that plays well. Don't worry about art assets, they can be placeholder stuff or you can reuse assets of whatever videogame you are working with.

And it's not just the final product that matters. If you are able to write analytically about the process of designing those games or levels, any central themes, methods and processes you used to make the game work, what problems you encountered in playtesting, how you fixed them and why - that would be great.
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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1335197487' post='4934140']Next comes the money. The more people the more mouths to feed. Are you ready to feed an additional mouth? If the team is big, why not, just one additioanl is not a big deal. But if this is a 4 team project can you really afford a dedicated designer that produce no code nor art?
[/quote]

Talking logistically, the way you're portraying it, you're not asking about whether or not you can afford a dedicated designer, since you're assuming that the designer has no value as a designer. Whether you can afford "another mouth to feed" applies to everyone on the team. You should always ask "is it worth getting another person" regardless of their role. You don't hire another developer because he's another developer and can produce code - not if you don't need another developer.

If a designer could add value to the team (and the project) then you would bring him aboard, wouldn't you? The problem is that he needs to prove he can add value.



[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1335197487' post='4934140']
There comes also synergy. If you have two designers, one is good but also understands programming and one is very good but does not understand programming, which one would be better for the project? Which one would be able to convey the information to the team better? Which one would be able to understand what is possible and what is not better?[/quote]

Obviously, which is better for the project is always going to be the question. But from my standpoint I'm looking for the ideas that portray "I am a great designer" it's not the specific ideas as to whether the designer knows how to code or not.

In my view, [b]a designer's ability to design creatively is at best completely unrelated to being able to program, and at worst hindered by it[/b] Before I get shot down for this, I will say that I agree that having at least some knowledge of programming would make it easier for a designer to portray his ideas to the team, and aid with communication - this can, and should, lead to being a better designer. But it isn't always the case.

Consider the following:

I am making a shooter game.
Gun damage is rated from: 1 to 100 (100 being the most powerful)
I want to make a really powerful gun. What damage rating should I give it?

A good designer will obviously think 100.

But why not make it 200? Why not 1000? Why not make it -100 and have a gun that heals? Knowing the rules makes it harder to think outside of them.

The design process should be "This is fun, how can I make it work?" instead of "This is what works, how can I make it fun?" As a programmer, you know what you can do, what you could put together and how to make it work. It's harder to think about ideas that you don't know how to make.


[quote name='AdrianC' timestamp='1335200834' post='4934161']
W3 came with a fairly powerful visual "programming" tool, so you don't actually need to code.

RPG Maker is a famous editor, though paid. Years ago I messed around with one called RPG Toolkit. It was free, and seemed to work pretty well.
[/quote]

Thanks for the notes, I'll see what I can come up with in this respect.



[quote name='AdrianC' timestamp='1335206301' post='4934190']
I think it would be a very good idea for you to also learn some programming. It will help you better communicate with programmers on future projects. Nothing too crazy, just the basics, so that you understand how everything works. Variables, control flow, functions, classes, OOP etc. You could go through all of this within a few days. You won't be great at it, but you will have a general understanding. Plus, it will be easier to mod games.
[/quote]

I personally have some background in programming, I have coded a few small games. I'm currently working on prototyping one of my more advanced ideas, and I'm trying to learn C++. But again, I'm looking specifically for ideas I can do to show my worth as a designer specifically, and for those designers that don't have ability with programming.



[quote name='Stroppy Katamari' timestamp='1335208219' post='4934205']
Out of all things it is possible to make without programming / graphics / sound skills, I would be most impressed by
- a well-designed card game
- a well-designed board game
- a well-designed level or map for an existing videogame

In other words, something you have designed that plays well. Don't worry about art assets, they can be placeholder stuff or you can reuse assets of whatever videogame you are working with.

And it's not just the final product that matters. If you are able to write analytically about the process of designing those games or levels, any central themes, methods and processes you used to make the game work, what problems you encountered in playtesting, how you fixed them and why - that would be great.
[/quote]

This is the consensus I have come to also, though it is reassuring to hear someone else state it implicitly. I'm actually working on coming up with a board-game idea as it is. Until it was stated just now it wasn't something I had seriously considered. I few years ago I did try coming up with a design for 3 player chess, but I couldn't get it balanced right.
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Create a professional highly detailed GDD along with a concept page and iternary.
Shell out a few bux for an artist to create a couple of cool concept art you can include in the concept page and iternary.. makes a big difference when recruiting.
Design website too (not create it) because it has to work together with the game.. mix together and the game designer is best fit for that.
You can create a website really cheap... lots of cheap web developers around.. so if you oursource a web developer for super cheap out of your own pocket then it's same thing as you did it yourself and making the website is a big help.
Do marketing, this is also something game designer is best at because he has designed the game and how you're going to make money out of it.
You can also take role of publishing and being creative director.
Community manager.

Just act like you're the boss and look professional.
Professional outlook is key because I read so few collab threads that have even been spell checked.
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The most import skills for a game designer I would say are:[list]
[*]The ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
[*]Adaptable to change
[*]Ability to take the ideas from technical, creative, and business teams and distill them into workable ideas.
[*]Understandings the constraints and limitations and knows to deliver the most value within them.
[/list]
A GDD document isn't worth the the time and effort, maybe this because I'm not from a waterfall project background. But Its all about small stories and an overall abstract the explains how they fit together, and where the project is going.

What I'd want to see from a game designer is a some small fully fleshed out prototypes. Show me you can turn a set of requirements into a full fleshed out idea ready for the programmers and artists to start working on.

For example:
We working on a Western RPG where future tech has made its way into the past I need you to develop a dueling system that its based on poker.

Or We've just signed a produce placement deal with red bull for the platform game that we've nearly finished working on, now I need you to work in 10 seconds of branding into each 2 minute level, and we can't afford to push back the release date by more than a week.


Those are type of problems the game designer needs to solve on top of the 100 other design issues and ideas.
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[quote]how does a Game Designer prove his worth?[/quote]
By designing games of course. I'm sure you've heard of design documents.
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I've recently got a degree in Software Engineering and got a job in the industry. One thing I noticed during my job search and during my current work, is the little value companies place on my documentation skills. All they really care about is my coding.

During my degree, the lecturers put great pressue on us to produce detailed documentation, as there is evidence that shows that weak documentation invariably leads to badly produced systems which are full of errors with functionality that doesn't meet the requirements.

It seems maybe the industry has yet to catch up with the idea that documentation is highly important. The research is out there, but it is, perhaps, being ignored.

I'm guessing a lot of companies may also look down on Game Design documentation skills, and they just want to see coding skills.
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[quote name='Brobot9k' timestamp='1335230635' post='4934295']
I've recently got a degree in Software Engineering and got a job in the industry. One thing I noticed during my job search and during my current work, is the little value companies place on my documentation skills. All they really care about is my coding.

During my degree, the lecturers put great pressue on us to produce detailed documentation, as there is evidence that shows that weak documentation invariably leads to badly produced systems which are full of errors with functionality that doesn't meet the requirements.

It seems maybe the industry has yet to catch up with the idea that documentation is highly important. The research is out there, but it is, perhaps, being ignored.

I'm guessing a lot of companies may also look down on Game Design documentation skills, and they just want to see coding skills.
[/quote]

Exactly what i've been saying in other threads
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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1335231690' post='4934299']
[quote name='Brobot9k' timestamp='1335230635' post='4934295']
I've recently got a degree in Software Engineering and got a job in the industry. One thing I noticed during my job search and during my current work, is the little value companies place on my documentation skills. All they really care about is my coding.

During my degree, the lecturers put great pressue on us to produce detailed documentation, as there is evidence that shows that weak documentation invariably leads to badly produced systems which are full of errors with functionality that doesn't meet the requirements.

It seems maybe the industry has yet to catch up with the idea that documentation is highly important. The research is out there, but it is, perhaps, being ignored.

I'm guessing a lot of companies may also look down on Game Design documentation skills, and they just want to see coding skills.
[/quote]

Exactly what i've been saying in other threads
[/quote]

Actually, this is a bit different. E.g. While I see the value in good documentation, I still won't hire a guy who can only do documentation but nothing else.
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Well, from what i know, Level Designer and Game Designer are 2 different roles, especially for triple-A titles. Mods, maps and prototypes are the best stuff to show LD's capability. As for "pure" designer like GD, I do believe that shipped projects you previously worked on can prove your value.
Sometimes people tend to promote their own employees instead of hiring a game designer from the outside. Things might be a lot different for MMO and casual games.

Correct me if I am wrong.[img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1335231690' post='4934299']
[quote name='Brobot9k' timestamp='1335230635' post='4934295']
...
[/quote]
Exactly what i've been saying in other threads
[/quote]
Either you're misunderstanding what has been said here, or if that is what you have been intending to say in other topics you have been doing a poor job of communicating that meaning.

In any case, we've already had [url="http://www.gamedev.net/topic/623717-why-dont-game-designers-get-respected-in-indy-teams/"]a recent lengthy discussion[/url] covering some of your rather unconventional views on the role of a game designer, so rather than risk this discussion being dragged off topic and closed, [b]that particular line of discussion is to be discontinued[/b] -- you may consider this an official instruction from a moderator.

Further on-topic replies to this discussion -- that is; what should a designer have to show when wanting to start or join a team -- are however still welcome and encouraged.
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Another thing you might consider as an aspiring designer is starting a blog, containing updates about:[list]
[*]Projects you're working on. Post updates about your Game Maker prototypes, the board games you're making, etc.
[*]Ideas you have for new games, or for changes to existing games.
[*]Ideas you have for different game mechanics -- not necessarily within an actual game, but simply as building blocks that could be used in combination with others to make a game.
[*]Your thoughts on game design theory, and/or logic (perhaps even scientific) methods of approaching design.
[*]Analysis of existing games, looking at what has been done well, what could be improved, what shouldn't be done, etc.
[/list]
This would help to show a number of things including your writing and communications skills, your dedication (by sticking to regular or semi-regular posting) and some of your ideas, and if built up over time may provide a worthwhile link to show prospective team-members.

Hope that's helpful! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]

[quote name='NoiseGrinder' timestamp='1335258330' post='4934371']
Well, from what i know [...]
[/quote]
Yes, your thoughts are largely true of the commercial games industry. Indie teams are generally smaller, and will often involve a handful of people or less taking on multiple roles.
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