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supesfan

Am I suitable for a Game Design Profession?

11 posts in this topic

I have a problem and I would appreciate some advice. I am enthusiastic about game development, and just like every other nerd out there I have what I think are great ideas. However, it seems that I go through some phases that are quite annoying and frustrating to say the least.

 

I get excited about an Idea, I immidiatly start jotting down my ideas on paper, and after a good deal of planning I start working on them. However after a couple of months of work I end up getting burnt out and I walk away from it for a a couple of months until I get a rekindled desire to pick up the work again. This is a vicious cycle and it drives me crazy because I know that If I was more consistent I would have actually finished something by now, and I most certainly know I would have learned a lot more. When I stop working on my projects for extended periods of time I often forget a lot of what I had to study. Then when I go back to start them again I find I need to learn things over again, or even worse, there was an update in the interface of the software I was using so I have to learn it all over again.

 

Anyways, I guess what I am trying to say is, it is hard to stay motivated. I enjoy designing levels and everything that goes into it, but there comes a period in time where it starts to turn into work and then it is hard to keep going. Can anybody relate to me?

 

My concern is this; right now game design to me is a hobby. However one day I would like to turn that into a profession but the one thing that holds me back is  myself, and so I think, is this a profession suitable for me?

 

Any thoughts, can anybody relate to this frustration of mine....(and no im pretty sure I am not crazy...I have ADD but I'm not crazy)

 

The only 3D design experience I have is level design in CryEngine, and some basic asset creation in 3DS Max. I would love to be able to increase my skills and education professionally but it is hard to do at this point.

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Okay...I am 24 years old.

I studied theology in college for 3 years, at which point I transferred to another school to study computer programming for one year. I learned the basics and then decided to teach myself the rest. I can program in C, that is all I know right now. I studied Art and game design at the Art Institute for one semester just to pick up some basic Art principles and drawing skills. Honestly what motivated me to teach myself the skills I need is the amount of debt you accrue in college, I would rather not be 100,000 in debt after graduating college, which was the cost of there 4 year degree in game and art design.

 

My current Occupation is landscaping.

 

I would like to be a 3D designer, or level designer.

 

I live in the United States.

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Well, first of all a game designer is not necessarily "a guy with great ideas". He might be, but he must, above all, be able to structure ideas and build the non-existing game given certain specifics. Second, do you find yourself losing interest because no progress is being made? Is it because you're going at it as a hobby? If it was your job to sit in front of a computer and work out game mechanics, the challenge of it all, "dance" with all your given restrictions, etc - would you be able to do it (do you see yourself doing it)?

 

Now 3D art, that's completely different. You basically sculpt concepts given to you, having into account poly counts, loops,  and again - restrictions.

Level Design is, to me, an art. It's knowing how to make the level playable and direct the player where he/she should go, challenging him/her along the way and in the end the player feels like he/she's improved. Depending on the size of the studio you work in a game designer might end up doubling as a level designer.

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I know exactly how you feel since I have the same problem.  I start on a game design and I have great idea which I jot down and then I start work on it only to convince myself that it can't be done and then I stop.  After I while I convince myself that it can be done and start on it again.

 

Like you I could have finished a game by now but I was stuck in a vicious cycle.

 

What I did is I forced myself to focus and set myself a fixed (and reasonable) deadline.  Every day I would work on the game design even if I convinced myself that it can't be done even if it is just writing done an idea without fleshing it out into a proper design.  That way you are still working on it and still getting to the end.

 

I wish there was a magic cure for this that I could share with you but there isn't.  You just have to force yourself to focus and force yourself to work even if you don't feel like doing it.  Above all make sure you work on a game that you yourself would like to play.  If you don't want to play it then you can't expect anyone else to play it.  I love science fiction so I am working on a science fiction game.

 

Good luck and keep us posted.

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In my mind there are two separate questions:

  1. Can you develop games?
  2. Can you manage yourself?

I tend to be a procrastinator. I love games but I tend not to complete them. But when I did a 3 month contract in the industry - no problems. Somebody else was managing me, so I had deadlines and I had to be accountable. I was even doing the final polishing stuff which can be least sexy and most challenging. So I *can* write games, I'm just not a great project manager. Potentially that's something I could overcome, and potentially you could too. Or you could find a role in the somebody else's project rather than trying to manage the whole thing yourself.

 

If you do want to go it alone, make sure not to do everything "juicy" up front, e.g. do all the fun bits and then decide that the rest of the project sucks and you don't want to do it. It's a typical procrastination technique. Plan a sensible mixture of fun and necessary, set milestones, and have a plan for what happens if you miss a milestone, e.g. scale back the feature, move on to the next and return to it later, etc. Sometimes perfectionism can be a problem too, e.g. don't require each feature to be the best that has ever seen the light of day, because that's a recipe for going down the rabbit hole and never finishing a particular feature. Remember that the goal is shipping, not coding for 10 years.

Edited by jefferytitan
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Tom sloper,I live in Groton CT. I have no credible degrees. No I have not looked at any of those URLs, however I am glad you showed them to me. I will check them out.
Jefferytitan,those are some good ideas. Setting milestones for yourself is something I never did. I just gave it a go when I had time to work on it. By the way, how do you go about getting those contracts? I probably need to build up my portfolio right?, because that would be good motivation to finish my projects.
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I'm not sure if my experience would help you get contracts, I've been in business IT for over 10 years, and just took a sideways step into game development. ;) I think that a portfolio could be useful, but the trick is getting people to look at it. I'm not sure how easy or hard that is, whether you'd be screened out in the CV process or whether you'd get an honest shot. Never underestimate how little time HR people have. ;) However, it's not all lost. I actually met that boss through a free game development group, so I'd suggest networking. Go to groups or shows, show your stuff to people, get people with some vague connection to the industry to add you on LinkedIn, that kind of stuff. A portfolio has much more impact if someone they trust has vouched for you.

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how do you go about getting those contracts? I probably need to build up my portfolio right?


Please read this forum's FAQs.
At the present time, since you've given me more information, I can answer your question: no. You are not yet suitable. You need to build a portfolio and a network. Read the FAQs. http://www.gamedev.net/page/reference/faq.php/_/breaking-into-the-industry-r16
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As a follow up to "not yet suitable", go take a look at major job boards like gamasutra and look at job requirements.

Usually at least 3 years of industry experience in some other jobs, plus at least 1 shipped title, that is for a lower-level designer. Game designer is NOT an entry level position.

Usually at least a bachelors degree. This stems from the fact that you must have 3 years of industry experience doing other things, and those require the degree to break in.

Usually a strong background in game design. You will be expected to know about designs for most of the landmark games. You will be expected to have studied (not just played) hundreds of games. You will be expected to know what makes them fun, and why. Also you will be expected to know what makes them non-fun, and why. You will be expected to come up with the rules that make worlds, not just know the basics. As such, people who are avid table-game players, such as D&D and similar games or card games like Magic The Gathering or Pokemon, tend to be common in design. You must know all the inner details of games and be able to communicate the rules to others so they can be built.

One semeseter in art school and one year in programming school is not enough.

You mention $100,000 in student debt in the US. With a degree in theology, well, that is understandable. Google pulls up articles like "13 standup schools that cost less than $5,000". A search on the cost of schools finds low cost schools like the University of Wyoming for $4404 per year combined tuition and fees. There are many inexpensive 4-year schools out there that provide traditional degrees in computer science and in art or animation. The median cost of schools is under 10,000 per year, so if made a list of all the schools teaching the degree and picked one at random, you have a better than 50% chance of picking a program costing less than half of the debt you are speaking of. If you make a guided decision rather than random, you can be under 1/5 of that cost. Hopefully you didn't accrue all that debt and still leave the school without a degree, and were talking about a hypothetical $100,000 if you had hypothetically chosen that overpriced private school.

At age 24 you have plenty of time to finish off earning a degree in a game-related field. Theology is not a game related field. Not just programming or art, but even writing and music are game related fields. The most reliable entry paths are programming (you better enjoy code), modeling (hope you like architecture) and animation (hope you have patience). You mentioned ADD. That is only a problem if you let it be one. When I see the acronym "ADD" I usually hear it muttered as an excuse. Game development is HARD. You will be expected to WORK. It just happens that many people find it to be a fun job, but it is a job nonetheless.
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Well said frob...I need to buckle down and work harder. Thanks for the motivation. I'll set some goals too. Anyways, I'm pretty tired of formal schooling so I plan on teaching myself through books, tutorials and other people. I have learned a lot so far just by reading books and practicing. So that is what I plan on doing. I'll start building my portfolio as well. I already have some goodies to put in there. Thanks again for the advice.
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