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LambentTyto

Understanding Game Design?

12 posts in this topic

Well our last post didn't get very warm responses because I guess we seem like time wasters.

 

Anyways we'd like to know more about the various topics of game design, what tools are used and what their capabilities are. We'd also like to know more about what skills individuals would be required to posses and what their various responsibilities are in the industry.

We don't intend to become programmers or graphic artists at this time, but if we have a more thourough understanding of the industry, maybe we'll come to find something we'd like to get into.

 

So if there are any good books on this please let us know.

 

Thanks.

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Games are a fun thing to work on, but the industry is a hard one. Here are some ways to learn about it.

 

Read as many articles on this site as you can, and take them to heart: http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html

 

Watch some stuff by Extra Credits. A great place to start would be their video "So you want to be a game designer."

 

Unity 3D is a fantastic tool to use to get into making games. (Dungeonland is the most recent example that comes to mind of a game made with Unity.) You will need to be able to program in order to use this tool...and that's true of virtually tool I can think of, even the very simple ones like Dark Basic and Gamemaker. You could use something like RPGMaker which allows you to pseudo-program  using lots of dropdown menus, but even it allows you to write  your own code which is necessary for all but the most very basic of JRPGs you can build with that program.

 

If you want to design games, you want to get into the industry. The easier the position is to get in the industry (and, make no mistake, none of them are easy to get) the harder your climb up to "Game Designer" will be. There's really no such thing as a pure idea guy. For more on that, spend time on Sloperama's advice site.

 

I hope that's helpful.

Thaks thade. I'll be sure to visit those links you posted. I appreciate it! : )

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I'd like to point out that "the industry" is a term usually reserved for medium and large studios, especially ones that have already published either one big game or multiple little games.  Gamedev has a fairly high percentage of non-industry game designers and developers, otherwise known as indies.  Indy game developers work in small teams, use contractors for what the core team members can't provide, and the funding for the project is usually provided by the designer or co-creators.  If you have no relevant skills, you might consider obtaining money instead, because being a backer is the single easiest way to be involved in game development.

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Well our last post didn't get very warm responses because I guess we seem like time wasters.

 

Your last post did in fact receive warm responses smile.png. If you think about it -- what happened is that a number of us stood up and pointed out to you that based on what you had written, you were headed in a direction that was destined not to succeed. What stands to your credit is that you have not simply run away from the site as some people have in the past when faced with advice they didn't want to hear, but have instead begun a new thread that inquires about a specific field within the games industry. Effectively you have learnt a small but very important lesson when it comes to making games. Don't be disturbed by the fact that there is an awful lot to learn, virtually everyone begins as a "noob" with a pipe dream. Learning to move beyond this point is a lesson many choose not to learn. So good luck and continue to research, learn and ask for advice where relevant.

 

Just remember one thing, this site practices a version of tough love when needed, so if you find yourself suddenly buried in a deluge of posts going NAY! It is not meant with unkindness, just merely a desire not to have you walk off the cliff and fall to your doom.

Thanks for the advice.

The field of game design seems like a very interesting one. I was mislead by that title for a while, but now I have a little further understanding thanks to the links a few people gave me.

If me and my brother intend to learn more about this industry and maybe try and go for a very small indie production we'd obviously be directing/coordinating the whole process as well as "designing" the game! XD

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We don't intend to become programmers or graphic artists at this time,

That's the key problem :) Since you are a writer I will give an example from the writing world. Imagine someone approched you with a "great story", all you have to do is "write the book", you would split the profits 50:50.  Would you go for it?

 

No one needs "designers" (understood as people who only give ideas and supervise things), because everyone has their own great stories to make. The people willing to dirty their hands is what devs need.

 

You see, from our point of view a post like yours is like "I don't know an alphabet and I don't intend to learn it but I have a great idea for a novel" :)

 

If me and my brother intend to learn more about this industry and maybe try and go for a very small indie production we'd obviously be directing/coordinating the whole process as well as "designing" the
game! XD

I have not heard about even one indie studio where the founders were not programmers/artists. Directing and coordinating simply is not what is required.

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Quote

I have not heard about even one indie studio where the founders were not programmers/artists. Directing and coordinating simply is not what is required.

 

 

You forgot about those started by people with money but no technical skill. Admittedly some of the examples I am thinking of have shifted into Triple A.

 

A couple of immediate examples that come to mind:

 

Tom Clancy, who co-founded Red Storm Entertainment from the profits made from his writing.

Curt Schilling, who founded 38 Studios (aka Green Monster Games) from the earnings made from and associated with his baseball career.

 

Admittedly it might be argued that these don't meet the definition of "indie" but as far as I am concerned both of those examples started that way.

 

---------------------

 

Yet take note - In both cases -- these people bought large sums of money to the table to make their companies happen, I doubt either could have done it without the money.

Edited by Stormynature
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I have not heard about even one indie studio where the founders were not programmers/artists. Directing and coordinating simply is not what is required.

 

Yeah, the issue is one of credibility.  If you have at least a couple hundred thousand or more to pay some salary that is one thing.    Raising that kind of money is not easy, unless you have a couple top-selling games you played a leading role in already (and even with those credentials, fundraising is by no means easy).

 

Getting people to join without pay is difficult, even if you give up substantial equity.   It requires you to sell a vision.  If you have never done a game before, you lack credibility.  If you have nothing to show, you lack credibility.   Even a visually appealing, polished, GDD and presentation that you took 3 years to write, sadly, probably isn't going to be enough to give you credibility.  At a minimum, you need either some nice art, or a prototype, to have a chance at successful recruiting people to join your team with no salary.

 

 

That's the approach I'm taking-- program a playable prototype, with the initial art coming from cheap royalty free images as well as royalty free sound effects which I hope to complete end of this year.   At that point, I'll be able to shake hands with artists, hand them my iPad and let them play the game as part of my recruitment pitch to see if they are willing to join the project.  

 

The #1 credibility question that prospective team members and investors will ask you for is "can you successfully produce something real"?   

 

Which answer will have a higher success rate making the pitch?

 

"Here is a working prototype, it is a playable demo version though it is missing many features and art.  Play this game and let me know what you think"

 

"Look at this concept art and UI mockups for all the major screen types that I've put together"

 

"I haven't programmed anything, I have no artistic ability, I never have been involved in video game production before.. but check out my game idea and design document"

 

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I am actually very happy to see this post, guys. It clearly means that you sat down and thought for a while. You drew conclusions and started over, with a much better approach. Congrats, that's the first step in the right direction.

 

I admit, that the previous topic did bring a smile on my face - my own road to the industry started with a similar abstract concept that having great ideas is enough

if we have a more thourough understanding of the industry, maybe we'll come to find something we'd like to get into

 

That's a very good approach, actually. I think 90% of people who wanna get into gamedev want to be game designers. It is mostly because they don't know how many other great jobs there are in the industry. I too wanted to be a game designer. Took me "only" 6 months to figure out that I would rather be a producer with prospect of someday becomming an executive producer, able to push in some ideas without having to get into all this annoying system details. 

 

I don't think I can give you better links than the ones that have already been given. I could give you some book titles, but they seem like too much of an investment for now, since they get very deep into the topic of game design. It's better to start with sloperama or extra credits for now - they will give you a better overview of the industry.

 

Read, explore, play games. Good luck!

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It just comes across as not willing to do your homework when they say they're not open to learning any aspect of what it involves other than to be the "boss". You're not going to design programmable games with no understanding of limitations or without being able to weigh different mechanics vs available budget vs. impact on the game. You may be biased in some weird way having "no idea" about feasibility and blow the budget on something that doesn't do much for the game.

 

Subcontracting everything, with no idea what you're doing, isn't going to succeed at much of anything in life. Sorry if that sounds negative it's just a fact of life.
 

There was a guy that won 27million in the lottery who started a kickstarter to make his dream game with no experience. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-14-lottery-winner-takes-to-kickstarter-to-fund-pie-in-the-sky-mmo

Edited by lmbarns
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A few more links for you:

  • What programmers want from a designer.  This is a forum discussion on what a pure designer might be able to offer to interest programmers in working with them, and seems directly relevant to your situation.
  • How to get started in the game industry. This focuses mostly on professional development rather than hobbyist or indie, and it's a little dated, but it's still an excellent read on the industry.
  • Obscure.co.uk articles.  A selection of short articles mostly covering the professional development process and offering some insight into the business and legal side of things.

 

 

Honestly, unless you're able to contribute money I really think your best bet would be to invest time and effort to learn a useful development skill, or to work on making your games yourself without programming.

 

 

After taking some time to read all the provided links, do you still have any questions about the development process or any specific development roles we could answer for you?

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