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Level design (as a career)

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Hello everyone, it's my first post in this forum (and like most usual first posts, I'm asking for help)

I want to become a level designer, whether it be through modding (SWBF2, Fps games, adventure games - anything) or using a game engine or programs like maya, blender etc. Or possibly a mix of everything.

I'm wondering what is best for beginners? I've heard that Unreal Engine 3 is a good start, but I'm unsure (and unwilling to get throttled to try and test it)

But what exactly do I need to become one - I have college in a year or so, but I'd like to get a head start. So what do I need?

And by that I mean any qualifications, what programs should I start to learn to use and what engines should I try to learn and any other useful information.

Thanks in advance. Edited by Scottcd

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If you want to be a level designer you should learn how to design levels, it doesn't matter what tools you use or for what game you make them for, just make them. (Trying out some different genres can be a great idea though), if you get hired somewhere you'll probably have to work with a new set of tools (possibly custom made for that specific game) anyway , tons of games these days ship with level editors so really, knock yourself out. (Level design is far more about creating fun, balanced levels than it is about specific tools), learning a bit of programming will help aswell (as being able to write scripts will give you quite a bit of flexibility and the programmers you end up working with will appreciate not having to help you out everytime you want to make a minor tweak to a trigger).

You don't really need to study anything specific to become a level designer allthough pretty much any education will help, Personally what i'd look for in a level designer is:
1) a solid portfolio (All you need to make one is talent and time).
2) See point 1.

A good education in game design, psychology, or a bunch of other fields can make point 1 easier to achieve but at the end of the day your ability as a level designer will be judged by your portfolio, not by your papers.

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Tip: Get some graph paper and draw them out, then try to create them. I tried creating my levels on the fly in the modeling software I use and it was a disaster. Drew them out and it was a simple process of recreating what I had drawn on the screen.

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I'll start making a portfolio based on everything that I've done significant or not, I think. (C# Programs, previous mods I made for different games and such) but I do see your point, I'll generally try to take courses that'll make it easier to 'break into' the industry of gaming design, if there's any games you can recommend that come with or have a level editor, please tell me. (Through this topic or PM)

(None of the Fable series have any level modding, I know from past experience that it's basic at the most [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/sad.png[/img] )


[quote name='RedBaron5' timestamp='1341864155' post='4957393']
Tip: Get some graph paper and draw them out, then try to create them. I tried creating my levels on the fly in the modeling software I use and it was a disaster. Drew them out and it was a simple process of recreating what I had drawn on the screen.
[/quote]

Thanks for that point, I tend to mix ideas up and turn out with nothing as I've done in past mods. So this will definitely help me!
Once again, thanks for the replies. Edited by Scottcd

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Becoming an active member of the level building and modding community are a great way to get exposure, build skill, and a portfolio. Especially if you become a respected and highly rated member of the community.

Some games that have editors and modding communities off the top of my head are:
Skyrim
Star Craft 2
War Craft 3
Unreal
Counter Strike

Do a search for your favourite pc game and modding or level editor and there is probably a good chance there are tools are and community for it.

Personally I would ignore Star craft 2 as a starter since it a very complex piece of kit. It's been years since I've looked at it but I remember the half life level editor being very easy to use and get into.

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