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Eternal0LaMent

Suggestions for Entering Field of Game Design

5 posts in this topic

Hello,

     I am a college student looking at transferring to a game design program, but would like some pointers on where to start before entering the classes.  It seems there is alot on the topic online, but most of the places are junk sites. Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Also, I have heard that testing is a good way to get one's foot in the door, but am unable to find a place apply for such a position.  I am aware that it is rather rigorous and involves replaying sections hundreds of times for a report on bugs and glitches.  This does not bother me, as it would be nice to assure the quality of games for other gamers.  If anyone could give me pointers on either of these topics I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you,

     Joshua

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1. looking at transferring to a game design program,

2. but would like some pointers on where to start before entering the classes.

3. It seems there is alot on the topic online, but most of the places are junk sites.

4. I have heard that testing is a good way to get one's foot in the door,

5. but am unable to find a place apply for such a position.

 

1. Why? http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009

2. Some ideas at http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm

3. Yes, it's a shame.

4. Well, it's not for everybody. It's for people who cannot get in any other way.

5. Every game developer and publisher needs testers. Use gamedevmap and gameindustrymap to identify game companies in your local area. Then send in your resume (do not wait for a job ad -- you won't see one).  Read these:

http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson5.htm

http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm

http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm

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Hi Joshua,

 

I've been in your position and I'm one of the few testers who has come out the other end with a Design job (becoming increasingly harder), and here's my advice for you;

 

Your location can have a massive impact on your options. The majority of testing has been moved from in-house teams to massive low cost test centers in Romania or India, and that's where all the work has gone. In most cases a junior tester either needs to already live next door to a studio or have a mate already working there to vouch for them. Even then those jobs are harder to find because testers are precious about their jobs, and unless they're offered something better they will never leave.

 

Once you have a testing job that's only half the battle. The other half is moving from QA to Development without stepping on toes. QA testers can be very volatile and unforgiving if you burn them or if they feel you cheated them out of the design job they applied for too. Prove your value and earn their respect when you're in the trenches with them, and you'll soon find you've got an army of testers on your side in your design role.

 

One last thing, if I could go back in time and repeat university I would either take up an animation or a c++ course. The knowledge you gain from those courses is invaluable, and if you are struggling to find a job in games, those skills will get you a decent job outside the industry.

 

Good luck!

Edited by herbertsworld
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I'll share a colleague's experience here (hope he doesn't mind).

He's been a QA for 3 years, people have come to rely on his skills, and then, quite randomly, he knocked on the door of the topmost design executive of our studio and said: I want to be a designer, what can I do to help? (hands over a document) This is something I've done on my spare time to demonstrate I can design. If its worth anything, let me know when and where.

 

And basically, 1 month later, he was a full-time designer on two of the smallest teams and has earn his title.

Now I'm not saying this is "the way" but its one of many. Do what works for you, be honest about it.

 

You'll need mostly 2 things:

- Time spent checking places such as Gamasutra (read articles, post mortems, etc) You could say there are lots of "macro-level" interesting stuff, but very little "micro-level" stuff (that, you'll have to learn with your own experience).

- Theory/Practice. A degree/program will help in that regard, but you shouldn't stop there. There are a lot of interesting books on the topic (I'm sure Tom must have a list somewhere on Sloperama) and, obviously, you need to design stuff in your spare time. It doesn't really matter what, but it matters that you complete your designs.

Its easy to have ideas, but you'll find it much harder to complete theme for various reasons.

 

Good luck!

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This may sound negative but I thought I should throw my opinion out there. In my experience game design degrees are mostly useless. Every time we interview someone with a design degree, they expect to be the mystical "idea guy" that a lot of people think design becomes. I strongly recommend choosing art or programming and moving to design from there. Your options of entry will be much larger. Game design is increasingly seen as a senior position, only available to vets who "paid their dues".

 

It would help you tremendously if you learned both art and programming. Then get Unity, Cocos2D, etc and create games yourself. Analyze your own games, re-iterate on them and continue this process until you are satisfied. Then start a new project. This is very valuable. Like someone said above, going from QA to Design is becoming harder and harder every year. Game industry experience is great, especially from QA, but you might find the path easier with more hard skills and your own, smaller projects

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