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Desperado Wells

Game Industry Questions

8 posts in this topic

As always when posting for the first time on a forum, I will apologize in advance if this post would have been more appropriately placed elsewhere.

I am looking to get some advice from anyone willing to offer it in regard to breaking into the games industry from the ground level.

When I originally left school I applied for a position at University in Games Design and was accepted but later decided it wasn't really what I specifically wanted to do. I have done a fair bit of research and it is extremely obvious that there are far more people waving game ideas around in the air than there are people looking for new ideas to publish and that simply having game ideas is worthless.

I will admit that I originally (naively) had grand ideas of being some sort of adviser to game designers, giving heavy input into characters, items, abilities and world in general. I came across the title 'content adviser' somewhere in my web crawling and have clung to it as a description of what I dream of doing.

I DO however see, from reading various articles and the like, that an ideas person is virtually useless in a game company. Everyone in the company is basically an ideas person. I accept that quite readily as it makes a lot of sense. I guess I am wondering now where that leaves me. I am half way through a low level introductory course to C++ programming and whilst I am managing it is certainly not what I would call interesting or something that I excel at. Starting at the bottom is not a foreign concept to me, but my original plans to enter through programming are seeming less likely week by week.

My 2 real interests in gaming are every aspect the game world itself and experience it creates for the player. I spend a fair bit of time helping players on a private server forum for a game I no longer play simply for the enjoyment.

So really what I am asking is if anyone knows how someone like my self could break into a creative role in the game industry. I know I am being very vague and questions like this are thrown around all the time, its just that the only information I can find in my searches is experienced people from the game industry telling newcomers that they have no idea, which is obviously the case as I myself have no idea. Which is why I am asking for a few. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336027507' post='4936989']
So really what I am asking is if anyone knows how someone like my self could break into a creative role in the game industry. I know I am being very vague and questions like this are thrown around all the time, its just that the only information I can find in my searches is experienced people from the game industry telling newcomers that they have no idea, which is obviously the case as I myself have no idea. Which is why I am asking for a few. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
[/quote]

I'm not in the game industry. And I am not looking to get into the game industry. I develop games as a hobby. However, I do have a few friends working in the industry. In my humble opinion...

1. "Ideas" alone will not get you anywhere, because there is really no lack of ideas. Furthermore, there is no way to tell if an idea is a good one unless executed. What is in short supply is the people who can actually execute their ideas.

2. You need to demonstrate your ability to design at all stages of production, not just at the beginning. To do so, you can try to start and finish small projects. E.g. short flash games, upload them to flash portals etc.

3. Getting into the industry will usually not allow you to design games. My friends who go into the industry because they want to make/design games end up becoming code monkeys. However, they're working in big companies. Perhaps you can participate in the design if you join a small 10-20 man team?
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[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336027507' post='4936989']
When I originally left school I applied for a position at University in Games Design and was accepted but later decided it wasn't really what I specifically wanted to do. I have done a fair bit of research and it is extremely obvious that there are far more people waving game ideas around in the air than there are people looking for new ideas to publish and that simply having game ideas is worthless.
[/quote]
Well, you already have a good starting point here, because the best idea is only worth as much as its implementation [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png[/img]
Thought a degree in game design could really help to get into the game industry. Game designer != idea guy. Almost nobody needs a idea guy, but you still need people who design the game (i.e. level design).

[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336027507' post='4936989']
My 2 real interests in gaming are every aspect the game world itself and experience it creates for the player. I spend a fair bit of time helping players on a private server forum for a game I no longer play simply for the enjoyment.
[/quote]
There're other jobs available, i.e. community manager, thought I don't know what to do to get into such a position.

[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336027507' post='4936989']
So really what I am asking is if anyone knows how someone like my self could break into a creative role in the game industry.
[/quote]
When you want to break into the industry a portfolio is [u]really [/u]helpful. There're two ways you get into the industry, either you ask if they have a job for you or they want you to work for them. The latter is only possible with either references and experiences or through a portfolio.

As artist: make models, paint textures, do some animation etc.
As coder: make some cool looking demos
As gamedesigner: hmmm... game demos(!=text != game design document) presenting a game idea, maybe winning a "design" contest (i.e. level design).

Once you are in the industry you could try to change your position, so try to consider an other position which is still "fun" (eventually it is just work), coding or artist or a degree in game design [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/laugh.png[/img]
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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1336030578' post='4937002']
Perhaps you can participate in the design if you join a small 10-20 man team?
[/quote]
I would most certainly be interested in getting into some small teams. My only issues are not really knowing where to start as far as finding people looking for help (I did notice that there is a section on this site, which is why my second point is far more prominent) and what can I tell these people I have to offer. I have a limited knowledge of C++ ( I understand syntax and can write very basic programs and have dabbled with image manipulation using maths functions etc.) and am interested in learning more.

At the risk of sounding lazy, I would prefer to get into a small team doing something like you mentioned that appreciates that I have far more enthusiasm than I have experience. If a team would welcome someone who can help with basic coding and help significantly with developing the experience of the game in general then I am there no questions asked.

Ashaman73 thank you very much for the input, as you said community relations or something like that would also be something I would very much enjoy. As far as a degree and the like, I guess I am afraid of putting in time studying towards something unnecessarily. On top of that I really don't have a lot of money and this is one of the reasons I am looking into getting into the industry and working my way up with experience. But I realise later on a degree is pretty much unavoidable.

Again thank you both for the advice, this is the exact sort of info I need for my swirling head :P
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Moving you to "Breaking Into The Industry". [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img]
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Have you looked into building game levels or mods? Most good moddable games don't require much (if any) programming knowledge, and there's no shortage of freely available engines with good design tools. If you can design some really fun game maps or even simple campaigns, you can start putting together a design portfolio. They don't have to look amazing (unless you want to be an artist!) but if they are [i]fun[/i] you have your foot in the door.

Games that include their own campaign-building tools are also a great way to get started. For example, the StarCraft II editor is stupidly powerful and you can make some amazing games with it with a little discipline and patience.

That's the kind of stuff that will make good first entries in a portfolio. Once you have nailed down a style and a sort of flow, you can start expanding your horizons a bit - but that'll take time and effort, and by the time you get to that point, you'll probably have different questions for us anyways... so, first things first :-)
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[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336027507' post='4936989']
My 2 real interests in gaming are every aspect the game world itself and experience it creates for the player. I spend a fair bit of time helping players on a private server forum for a game I no longer play simply for the enjoyment.
[/quote]

Well, there you go, then. There are real jobs doing exactly that. Keep doing that, and try to do it visibly so that the game's publisher can see you doing that. And find out where the publisher is located, and consider moving.
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I definitely won't stop assisting on the forums any time soon, I really enjoy it and if I could end up making a career out of it that would be amazing. I have applied to become a moderator a short time ago but have only been on there for about 8 months and the other moderators have all been playing together for over 18 months are pretty keen on keeping people they know well in the staff positions. But I will keep it up :)

And I had considered doing some level creation and mods but I guess I just thought I might not have the skills, but if it requires little programming skill and more plain old creativity I will most certainly have a go.

Thanks very much for all this input, always impressed with how helpful online communities can be :)
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[quote name='Wellstastic' timestamp='1336095928' post='4937264']
And I had considered doing some level creation and mods but I guess I just thought I might not have the skills, but if it requires little programming skill and more plain old creativity I will most certainly have a go.
[/quote]

1. Being able to pick up new skills is important.

2. Game development is not that much different from cooking, painting, or movie making. Everyone can dream up fanciful dishes, ideas for a portrait, or awesome movie plots. But "creativity" is more about wielding the tools than imagination.

E.g. great chefs aren't those who think up amazing dishes, they're those with the skills to cook them. great painters are not those who can think up ideas for paintings, they are the ones who can paint.
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