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Nathan Fiscus

Switching career to game design

4 posts in this topic

Hello,

I want to start by saying I have read most of the 'sloperama faq' and have spent a few months working on 'changing gears' so I have done my homework :).

I am 22, and have a bachelors in Electrical Engineering. Long story short, I just don't have interest in EE What. So. Ever. I started down the engineering path because I knew I loved problem solving, and I work very well under extreme pressure.

I've played games since before I can remember. I still have my Vectrex sitting next to me that I played before my family could afford an NES or SNES. To be quite honest the only reason I didn't pursue game design was because I was afraid the job market would be too overloaded with others going after the same job... so I went for something else I felt I was good at, engineering.

Anyway, onto my questions;

I have a full time job in Buffalo NY, an apartment, and bills to pay. I know the faq says I need to move to where the jobs are, but realistically right now I can't. I have money saved up, and can pay to move myself, is there anyway to make this 'known' in a resume or cover letter without it seeming strange, or being looked over. Is it even worth mentioning?

Secondly, and most importantly, I really want to work in game design mechanics, or possibly level design. I have taken a few C++ classes and I was just never very good at programming. My art skill is quite low, stick figures and basic drawings. However, when it comes to actual design, such as control layouts, traps and powerups, etc, I know I can prove my skill. The problem is of course showcasing my abilities as a newcomer. I need something real to show in my portfolio.



How can I prove my worth? Design documents and one-pagers are nice, but they wont get me a job. I've read "Level Up! The Guide to Great Game Design" and have been working on documents, along with working in the Elder Scrolls Creation Kit (I have a major preference for RPGs of any sort).
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[quote] I have read most of the 'sloperama faq'
1. I know the faq says I need to move to where the jobs are, but realistically right now I can't.
2. Secondly, and most importantly, I really want to work in game design mechanics, or possibly level design. I was just never very good at programming. My art skill is quite low,
3. How can I prove my worth? Design documents and one-pagers are nice, but they wont get me a job. [/quote]

1. Okay. So you'll do it later, when you can. Is that not obvious?
2. Okay. So you need a breaking-in path, not programming, and not art. Find another one.
3. By building a portfolio. And a portfolio website. Work on some amateur/indie projects.
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[quote name='Tom Sloper' timestamp='1340568808' post='4952419']
[quote] I have read most of the 'sloperama faq'
1. I know the faq says I need to move to where the jobs are, but realistically right now I can't.
2. Secondly, and most importantly, I really want to work in game design mechanics, or possibly level design. I was just never very good at programming. My art skill is quite low,
3. How can I prove my worth? Design documents and one-pagers are nice, but they wont get me a job. [/quote]

1. Okay. So you'll do it later, when you can. Is that not obvious?
2. Okay. So you need a breaking-in path, not programming, and not art. Find another one.
3. By building a portfolio. And a portfolio website. Work on some amateur/indie projects.
[/quote]

In regards to moving what I mean is, even one day when I have a great portfolio together, should I relocate first? In your faq you mention that I really need to live where the jobs are, but because I have bills, it would be quite difficult to move without a job already setup. Yet I know that my chances are slim to none if the company has to worry about relocation and anything else associated with it.

My other question was about the portfolio itself. As long as its clear that my portfolio isn't a game submission, are a few one-pagers acceptable (in addition to other material).

Thank you Tom! Your FAQ has been incredibly helpful!
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Dead, please do me a favor and re-read your own words, very carefully. You said:

[quote]In regards to moving what I mean is, even one day when I have a great portfolio together, should I relocate first? In your faq you mention that I really need to live where the jobs are, but because I have bills, it would be quite difficult to move without a job already setup. Yet I know that my chances are slim to none if the company has to worry about relocation and anything else associated with it.[/quote]

It seems to me that you acknowledge what I said, yet you reject what I said. Am I wrong?

I thought my "location, location, location" advice was very clear. If I did not make it clear that you have to "move first," then could you please, please, please help me figure out how to state it more clearly?

Or are you just saying "but it's too hard"? (Is it that my advice actually is as clear as I thought it was, but you're rejecting it because what I'm saying you have to do is inconvenient?)

YOU CANNOT SIMPLY REMAIN IN THE CITY OF MY BIRTH AND EXPECT TO GET HIRED IN THE GAME INDUSTRY unless you can find a local game company, or start one of your own.

[quote]My other question was about the portfolio itself. As long as its clear that my portfolio isn't a game submission, are a few one-pagers acceptable (in addition to other material).[/quote]

You have to find a workable entry pathway other than design. You have to create an online portfolio. You have to participate in amateur/indie projects. You have to get creative to solve the unsolicited submission problem. (I thought I stated all that already. My apologies that I apparently did not.)

[quote]Thank you Tom! Your FAQ has been incredibly helpful![/quote]

I don't think it is, since your follow-up questions indicate that it has holes. Maybe you can offer wording that I could have used that would have made it clearer for you? Pretend that everything you don't want to believe is actually true, and help me state it in a way that doesn't leave room for doubt. You'd be doing me a really big favor.
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Hi Deadeyes,

I feel I am in a similiar situation as yourself. I am 26 years old and working as a software engineer in Missouri. Everyday work seems to get a bit more dull, so I have started looking into transitioning into the games industry as well. From your conversation with Tom it seems that you are reluctant to give up a good job and move to a new city in hopes of breaking into a different industry where the competition is fierce and you lack experience (at least I assume). I believe that there is a very large risk here and can understand your reluctance.

Since I work for a very large company, I plan to find a new position and relocate to a new city on the west coast with more game studios in the area (i.e. LA, Seattle) in the next 6 months. This will allow me to make the move and hopefully start meeting industry professionals without worrying about finding new employment. Being an electrical engineer, I am sure you have similiar options, though depending on the size of your company you may have to find a new employer.

Anyway, if you are worried about giving up the good job, it
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