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Mechadrago

Wannabe Designer Woes

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Mechadrago    105

Hello!

 

I'm currently a sophomore computer science major and am hoping to some day work as a game designer.

 

I've recently been trying to get involved with collaborative projects in various communities for experience and portfolio purposes, but seem to be stuck.

 

Every collaborative project seems to be looking for dedicated artists and programmers but never things like level designers/creators. While I do have experience with creating 3d game graphics and can handle some technical work, I'm unsure if those are things I should be focusing on.

 

At this point I'm unsure of what to do. I want to work with people who have some experience, as the past newbie projects i joined crashed and burned.

 

Should I work on my own game project? Join a project as an artist? Or something else entirely?

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frob    44977


Every collaborative project seems to be looking for dedicated artists and programmers but never things like level designers/creators.

Everyone wants to be a designer. Or at least, to be the idea guy.

 

It is a job that people outside the industry think they really want. 

 

 

 

In the professional world the job title of "game designer" is not an entry level position. It requires several years in the industry in some other role. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, a lot of long hours, and lots of people fighting against your work.

 

You mention computer science, working as an artist, and working as a designer.  The three are different roles.

 

The role of a designer is to design things. Those who fit the role tend to build paper-based games, follow complex rule sets by hand, and study out why some games are fun and why other games are not. Ultimately those who have the job work with all the other disciplines to come up with an design for what the game components should do, then they spend the rest of the development cycle trying to put people back on the track they envision. They start an avalanche and then do everything in their power to keep the avalanche under control.

 

The role of a programmer is to write code. Those who fit the role tend to understand computer systems and algorithms, understand what happens inside a computer, and tend to tinker a lot with computers. Some programmers can follow the designer career track, but most programmers understand that they would either be bad at it or wouldn't enjoy design.

 

The role of an artist is to create art (or models, or sometimes animations). Those who fit the role tend to spend their time drawing and doodling and sketching and studying what looks good and what doesn't. Some artists can follow the designer career track, but most artists understand that they also would either be a bad fit or wouldn't enjoy design.

 

 

Now if you enjoy design and you are a programmer, that's wonderful. As a programmer you have a very strong influence on the design. Designers produce the best design they can but most of the implementation details are left up to the programmer. As a programmer who has a mind for design you can strongly influence the games you help create. This in turn makes it easier for you to move into the designer role when the position becomes available and your experience warrants it.

 

I suggest you read the forum FAQs, and since several are links to Tom Sloper's site ("Sloperama") I suggest you spend some time and read all the articles you find over there. 

 

Reading that material should hopefully lead you to answers to your three questions you asked, about your own project, about art, and about doing something else entirely.

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Ashaman73    13715

You don't need a lot of game designers in a game project compared to the other roles. Even in larger AAA tiles with 200 people involved, only a handful of dedicated game designers will be on board. In smaller (hobby/indie) project you will seldomly encounter any, often an artist or coder will take the role of the game designer.

 

An other issue is, that many beginners mistake the idea guy of being a game designer, which burden the role of the wannabe game designer reputation in indie production somewhat.

 


Should I work on my own game project?

One or more smaller demo games which represents your game design skills will not hurt your portfolio.

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Tom Sloper    16063

I'm currently a sophomore computer science major and am hoping to some day work as a game designer. 
I've recently been trying to get involved with collaborative projects... but seem to be stuck. 
Every collaborative project seems to be looking for dedicated artists and programmers but never things like level designers/creators.


You're a CS major. Why don't you do programming? When you go into the industry, you'll have to have an entry pathway, since (as stated above) design is not an entry level pathway. I assume you majored in CS because you are interested in programming as an entry path.

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ChrisChiu    306

I'm currently a sophomore computer science major and am hoping to some day work as a game designer.

 

At this point I'm unsure of what to do. I want to work with people who have some experience, as the past newbie projects i joined crashed and burned.

 

Should I work on my own game project? Join a project as an artist? Or something else entirely?

 

Work on own game project: always yes. Even if you are an industry veteran, working on "close to your heart" projects is highly recommended (especially so if/since your professional work will involve a lot of things you don't have much creative control over).

 

Join a project as an artist: do you WANT to be an artist? What I gather here is that you are a CS major but want to pursue game design (not saying that those are mutually exclusive, I know a lot of excellent game designers who started as CS majors/programmers), but I think the point here is really finding out what tasks/field you really want to do.

 

In modern, more agile, game development circles, you might actually have an advantage if you know both CS stuff (programming, software engineering, algorithms, math) as well as game design. Especially Scrum teams in interdisciplinary fields such as game development benefit a lot from "cross functional teams and individuals" with people in them who can do more than just a narrow super-specialized field.

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Mechadrago    105

Thanks everyone for the responses, this has really helped me out!

 

I've recently been having an extremely difficult time choosing an entry way into the industry. After reading your advice and re-reading the Sloperama articles, I think level creation would be the best thing for me to work on as I find it interesting and it utilizes aspects from programming, art, and design.

 

For now I think I will stick with modding levels for well established games. Once I have enough technical experience working with game engines I might try to lead my own small collab projects.

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