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Woland

Breaking into industry without coding or art skills.

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Since my topic about concept artists got a positive feedback, I am pasting another one of my blog articles. This article is actually a kind of public reply to all the people claiming that you can't do shit in gamedev if you can't "code or at least draw". There's quite a lot of them actually.

 

 

I can't code and I can't draw...

 

 

...yet I wanna be a game developer! This kinds of posts pop up on game development forums pretty frequently and a common reply to these is "What can you do in gamedev without being able to code or at least draw some art?" These people (mostly programmers themselves) would be absolutely right around 30 years ago.

 

Let's start with a quick gaming industry evolution recap, shall we? In the "old days" games were made entirely by one person. This person had to code. With the evolution of gamedev came new roles. Games started to be made by larger teams, and the coders easily gave up things like visuals or sound. This is where acknowledging the art part comes from. The programmers and artists soon needed armies of people who could do things they themselves couldn't. Their little game making efforts evolved into game making companies. Of course, with the whole Angry Bird Flu, the vast part of the industry is now in the early development stage, recreating the pattern from the 80's. Small teams, where single person
performs multiple roles.

 

 

lara.jpg

What better to paste when talking about the industry evolution than evolution of the most famous pair of game boobs? Image stolen from
http://pedro-croft.deviantart.com smile.png

 

Since we really don't want to limit ourselves with indie companies, let's focus on AAA. This is a list called "all the jobs in gamedev that come to my mind": producer, designer, writer, sound engineer, animator, programmer, concept artist, 3D artist, QA, and less development-connected: legal, finance, HR, sales, marketing, PR, IT. Some of them truely need programming skills. Some of them need artistic skills. Some don't need any. It is more or less like this:

 

tabrlki2.png

Note: Artistic skills refer to visual arts, as they are the topic of this article.

 

 

I've introduced a new term here - scripting. Every game engine I heard of has a scripting language embedded. It is a simple language with a basic set of commands that do preprogrammed things. Compared to programming languages, these scripting things are very user-friendly, but have limited capabilities. They only let the user choose out of a predefined list of tasks, but it means you can actually do something in the game engine. There are some valid arguments, that scripting is a kind of programming - that there are algorithms, that there's debugging, that
you need to actually know the commands and use them in a correct syntax.

 

Still, in reality, calling scripting programming is like calling chihuahua a real dog. Scripting languages used in the gaming engines are usually even less complicated than IRC scripts. Think of it in terms of advanced usage of MS DOS rather than actual coding. What's more important, most of the companies are either using their own engines with their own scripting languages, or are using purchased engines, but modify the scripting language to match their needs. This means that if you apply for an entry level job that needs scripting, most of the time you won't be actually expected to know the scripting language the company uses. They will expect you to know what scripting is, to be willing to learn how to script in their engine and to have some basic understanding of logic.

 

Therefore, while programming and artistic skills are actually required for the jobs they are associated with, scripting is an additional skill that will help you do your job with the core skills that are required, like animating or writing. This means, that when you are applying for an entry level job, the breakdown of required skills looks like this:

 

tabrlki1.png

 

Let me rephrase that, because I am immensely enjoying this conclusion. One (1) job needs programming skills in AAA gamedev. Two (2) jobs need artistic skills in AAA gamedev. Thirteen (13) jobs, among these six (6) jobs in actual development need neither programming nor artistic skills in AAA gamedev.

 

"What can you do in gamedev without being able to code or at least draw some art?" - now you can easily answer!

 

 

More of games making noob articles on my blog, naturally smile.png

Edited by Woland

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I'd argue that sound designer (and music producer, which is missing from the list) qualify for requiring "artistic skills" :D

 

Anyway, interesting post and conclusion.

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I'd really wish that my sound engineer, animator, writer, and probably designer too has some kind of "artistic skill", even though it might not specifically be to draw stuff.

All of those are in any case specific skills, and is usually included when mentioning you need "something" to expect to be hired to make games, or be able to drum up a team.
Those posts are usually directed to "idea guys", that think they are designers.
And in most cases, those posts are usually not about working in an AAA studio, but about people who want to start indie projects (where they absolutely must have skills of their own to be able to do it within reasonable cost) or people who want to take a shortcut from "nobody" to "star designer/producer"

For the other roles, sure, they are needed to in an AAA studio (as in any medium to large company), but as someone else said, those roles are more "working near people who make games", then it is "making games". You could also be a janitor.

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@TheChubu:

I had some problem classifying the art section, as in english language "art" seems to specifically apply mostly to visual arts and I meant art in this particular context. I am not a native speaker and I could have messed it up a bit. I definetely agree that animation, writing, sound... they are all art, just have nothing to do with drawing smile.png I'll dig into that a bit more and rephrase it a bit to avoid misunderstandings. Thanks smile.png

 

Music producer, probably with a lot of other positions, is definetely missing form "all the jobs in gamedev that come to my mind" list. That's why it's not called "a definetely complete list" smile.png

 

@Olof Hedman:

My article focuses on AAA industry. Comparing roles I mentioned with a role of a janitor shows either lack of respect or lack of knowledge. If you happen to get a job as a programmer in a bigger studio, you will get to see to what extent these guys that are "working near people who make games" will be shaping what and how you will code.

 

And I stand by what I wrote. On entry level, in AAA industry, you don't need to code or draw for the vast majority of positions, including those that aren't directly involved in development.

Edited by Woland

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I'd say people in HR, Finance, Marketing, PR, IT and Legal have very limited influence on what game is made and how.
So that leaves the producer in the "other roles" that actually influence the what and how in any meaningful manner.

Sure, they are important in shaping the working environment etc, but those decisions isn't really that special just because the company happens to make games.

Sure, anyone in the house can use their people skill to influence somewhat, but that includes the janitor. Neither he nor the people from HR and finance etc will be invited to the meetings where stuff is discussed in depth and decided.

But I admit I used the janitor job for effect. smile.png
I also admit I havn't worked at a big game studio but I have worked at a medium sized (grew from 25 to 180 during my time) software/design studio in a creative field.

Maybe I have higher expectations on what it means to actually influence something though, since I've chosen to work at a small studio for exactly that reason, maximum influence on the what and how.

And I stand by what I wrote. On entry level, in AAA industry, you don't need to code or draw for the vast majority of positions, including those that aren't directly involved in development.

I don't argue that, but it's not really helpful to tell someone that say they want to make games that they could apply for a job at a HR department.

I can't code and I can't draw... ...yet I wanna be a game developer! This kinds of posts pop up on game development forums pretty frequently and a common reply to these is [...]

I read this as a hint towards the many threads where idea guys are shot down because they insist on being only idea guys and seem to refuse to even consider they might need to produce something tangible... Edited by Olof Hedman

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Any further argument on this topic between you and me is futile, as we come out from different stances. Your goal seems to be shooting down people without the skills that you find necessary based on their one or two posts. My goal is to show them some ways how they could utilize the skills they posess to actually get a job in gamedev (it's completely another matter whether they will make any use of it or not).

Who knows, maybe your way is better. Happy hunting!

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"Still, in reality, calling scripting programming is like calling chihuahua a real dog."

 

Scripting IS programming. As soon as one starts to deal with AI one will need programming skills and knowledge about algorithms and data structure to a certain extent. Oh and chihuahua IS a real dog. It is just another kind of dog.  

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Any further argument on this topic between you and me is futile, as we come out from different stances. Your goal seems to be shooting down people without the skills that you find necessary based on their one or two posts. My goal is to show them some ways how they could utilize the skills they posess to actually get a job in gamedev (it's completely another matter whether they will make any use of it or not).

Who knows, maybe your way is better. Happy hunting!

 

Or maybe my goal is discussing, while yours seems to be lecturing ;)

I've never shot down anyone for wanting to do anything, I just found a few points in your post I didn't agree with and told you why.

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Scripting IS programming.

 

I never said it isn't. I even wrote why it is a kind of programming. Just like chihuahua is a kind of a dog, just compact and easier to use and keep smile.png

 

Or maybe my goal is discussing, while yours seems to be lecturing ;)

 

Maybe smile.png

 

 

I just found a few points in your post I didn't agree with and told you why.

 

And you have every right to disagree.

Edited by Woland

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Neither he nor the people from HR and finance etc will be invited to the meetings where stuff is discussed in depth and decided.

hmm.. I would have thought that the finance people would not only be at the meetings, but would perhaps even lead them.

 

@Woland

 My goal is to show them some ways how they could utilize the skills they posess to actually get a job in gamedev

I'm a fan of this school of thought.. thanks for posting.

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