Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
tenaciousBob

from C# programming to game design

This topic is 1124 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

            I recently graduated from an engineering school and I was working for 6 months as a software engineer. I worked mostly with C# and MS SQL SERVER and I have built a website in ASP.NET that is backed up by a good SQL Server database. The thing is that the more I discover myself the more I realize that I picked up the wrong path.

            I always wanted to design games. The features the skills, the spells, how it will be fun, how the characters will move, the concept etc. But from the point of how the game will be and not as a designer who will build the models or the animations. And I have a lot of ideas for games that I have written down as a concept. (Some of them are 50 pages long) And although I am a good programmer( one of the best of my school) I describe myself as an artistic / creative person and not as a methodic person with analytical skills.

            From what I know so far, this that I described is called game design and is coming from a school of arts and design. Not from an engineering / programming university.

           

         So my question is how possible is to reroll from software engineer to game designer and follow the path: level editor -> level design -> Game designer. Will I need a master degree that focus more in the artistic part of game design (as I already have the programming part)?

Maybe I could just continue my path as an AI developer( But with the final aim to evolve to a game designer and not lead programmer)?

Or would be possible for me to just make a game for my portfolio and apply for jobs at Game Design?

Please note that for now I am staying at London and I would like to know about the UK market.

 

 

thank you very much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement

So my question is how possible is to reroll from software engineer to game designer ... Maybe I could just continue my path as an AI developer ... Or would be possible for me to just make a game for my portfolio and apply for jobs at Game Design?

Anything is possible.

 

However, small steps are usually easier or more likely than big steps.  I suggest you read a copy of the book "What Color is Your Parachute", which among other things discusses good ways to transition your career and ways to identify what you really want in your career. It has been a best-seller for decades so your local libraries and used book stores will have copies available if you don't want to buy the latest edition new.

 

Game Designer is not an entry level position, and given that you have no prior experience with major games it is unlikely that you can jump directly to that role.  Possible, sure, but unlikely. The game designers and game producers are working together at the helm of a multi-million-dollar project, often tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars are trusted to their skill and experience. You don't trust that many millions of dollars to a novice.

 

You say you are already a pretty good programmer.  Programming is a (relatively) straightforward entry path into game studios.  Programmers represent a large portion of the development team, anywhere from 30% to 60% depending on details, and there is a constant turnover due to seasonal layoffs and the boom/bust nature of hit-driven studios. So leveraging that to become a game programmer first, then transition to design, is a fairly safe path.

 

Those are not the only paths. Most people have their own unique path of life experience. 

 

As for the area, check out gamedevmap.com and gameindustrymap.com for companies in and around your preferred location.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Frob,

thanks a lot for the reply.

My aim is a job at a gaming studio. But I would not like to create tools that other people will use to make the games. I would like more to be involved in creating scenarios and character behaviours. I would like for example to write the code that will affect the behaviour of a character. for example  character X jumps forward use spell 1 then finds an environment object of size Y goes behind and crouch, wait 12-16 seconds, stands up uses skill 3. Is this the job of an AI game programmer or the scripting of a game designer?

I am sorry if this question sounds silly but the job descriptions that I find are a little confusing.

Again , thanks for the help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. I would not like to create tools that other people will use to make the games.
2. I would like for example to write the code that will affect the behaviour of a character. for example  character X jumps forward use spell 1 then finds an environment object of size Y goes behind and crouch, wait 12-16 seconds, stands up uses skill 3. Is this the job of an AI game programmer or the scripting of a game designer?


1. You need to gain experience in the game industry one way or another. You need to be willing to do what the team leads need you to do, else you're not suited to work in the industry.
2. The latter. Scripting and level design are or can be entry level positions.

Read these:
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m79.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m85.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1. I would not like to create tools that other people will use to make the games.
2. I would like for example to write the code that will affect the behaviour of a character. for example  character X jumps forward use spell 1 then finds an environment object of size Y goes behind and crouch, wait 12-16 seconds, stands up uses skill 3. Is this the job of an AI game programmer or the scripting of a game designer?


1. You need to gain experience in the game industry one way or another. You need to be willing to do what the team leads need you to do, else you're not suited to work in the industry.
2. The latter. Scripting and level design are or can be entry level positions.

Read these:
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m79.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m85.htm

 

 

 

Thank you for your reply Tom. Your website is very informative and solved a lot of my questions.  I will try to find a job as a junior AI programmer in a gaming studio, even if I think that AI programming is too energy consuming for me. I will do this mostly because I would like to end as a game designer one day. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before you even think of moving into that direction....

 

Did you ever try to create a game? If you are passionate enough about it to swap your current career for it (and from what I get, you will take more risk and longer hours for lower pay when moving from IT into the games Industry), you should already start building things in your free time. There are many positive effects when doing this as a hobby first:

 

 

a) you can try your hand at multiple things (game design, level design, programming, art, if you want to) that might be hard to get into as entry positions (or with your current education)

 

b) you can try and see if game development REALLY is what you are looking for. You will of course not get the full expierience when doing things as a lone hobbist compared to working for a big studio, but you might get some things that are hard to grasp for outsiders normally (for example how utterly hard it is to even make simple GOOD games)

 

c) you have something to show if you decide to go this route and start applying for jobs in 6 months or so. Finding a job without prior expierience in the industry is most probably hard enough, having a portfolio that shows that you have SOME expierience and are passionate about building games cannot hurt.

 

 

Oh, and I really don't want to sound harsh or anything, but "...that AI programming is too energy consuming for me..." doesn't sound like game development in general is a good fit for you. Maybe I understood the sentence wrong, but expect long hours and regular crunch time in the game dev industry. It doesn't seem to be as bad as some people make it everywhere (black sheep and all), but compared to general IT you will work more for less pay most probably.

Edited by Gian-Reto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Gian, thanks for your reply.

To be honest I feel like that I start my carrer right now, as I come in the UK from a different country. I graduated from a foreign university and the work experience that I have was in a different country. So many jobs here in the UK turn me down because of that.

 

I try to build a portofolio right now. And yes I try it with a game in unity 3d. It is a simple one but a nice idea that I have. The problem is that it cannot be anything close to the demo games that other people have from their gaming universities. Because these are their final year projects and to do them they form teams with everyone that they need (designers, programmers etc).

 

About the AI I said that I find it energy draining because of the effoert it needs to write the code and not because of the many hours of working. It is harder to think of algorithms and numbers than to retrieve data from a database or  code the front end of a webpage (yes I have done all of these). Still it seems like the AI coding is my only option to enter the gaming world right now. Sure I could go to create their tools or to build their webpage but I doubt that it is anywhere close to game design. 

 

Is it possible to find a job as a level editor with a software engineer degree and advance from there to the game design role? As I get it, you think that money wise it is not a good option. 

thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it possible to find a job as a level editor with a software engineer degree and advance from there to the game design role?


ANYTHING is possible (except time travel to the past, and the Star Trek holodeck). And I assume you mean "level designer."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I try to build a portofolio right now. And yes I try it with a game in unity 3d. It is a simple one but a nice idea that I have. The problem is that it cannot be anything close to the demo games that other people have from their gaming universities. Because these are their final year projects and to do them they form teams with everyone that they need (designers, programmers etc).

 

 

Good, it means you have expierience in one of the most used Game Engines for many Indie and Mobile Studios out there. That is valuable expierience that needs to go into your CV somehow.

Better yet, use it to create some portfolio pieces.

 

Now, when you compare your output with the output of others, keep 3 things in mind:

 

1) your portfolio is built for professionals, game devs themselves (hopefully... if you get around the HR drones in case of bigger studios)

 

2) these projects you are referencing were built by a team, you are alone. Nobody expects you to replace a full team. Especially game developers know just how much work even a simple game is.

 

3) The portfolio piece should present your skill doing a job. If that job is to produce art, it needs to feature good 3D or 2D art... but most probably that doesn't need to be embedded in a working game. If you are looking for a job as level designer, make sure the level design is really good. That doesn't mean you need the best art in the world. In fact, place holder art can be fully acceptable for a future employer looking at your portfolio piece. You want to show him you can come up with awesome ways to structure a level, make sure the level supports the overall game design and keeps true to a theme, and respects the technical limitations of the engine and game itself.

You might not even need a full game to show off your levels.

 

Get free and stock art if you do not feel confident using just colored geometric shapes. If you need a confidence boost, look at some prototypes from even big studios containing placeholder art. If you want to compare your portfolio pieces as level or game designer to something, maybe choose that, not finished games.

 

Don't get me wrong, a good looking, finished game will look awesome in your portfolio... maybe its just not the best use of your time if you are looking for a job right now to polish a game into a releasable state.

 

 

I try to build a portofolio right now. And yes I try it with a game in unity 3d. It is a simple one but a nice idea that I have. The problem is that it cannot be anything close to the demo games that other people have from their gaming universities. Because these are their final year projects and to do them they form teams with everyone that they need (designers, programmers etc).

 

About the AI I said that I find it energy draining because of the effoert it needs to write the code and not because of the many hours of working. It is harder to think of algorithms and numbers than to retrieve data from a database or  code the front end of a webpage (yes I have done all of these). Still it seems like the AI coding is my only option to enter the gaming world right now. Sure I could go to create their tools or to build their webpage but I doubt that it is anywhere close to game design. 

 

 

Ah, so I did misunderstand you... you just don't like coding that much.

 

I think then you should really concentrate on level design for now. Less coding needed, also an entry position in many studios from what I read, and some scripting/coding skills will be required at many places as you might be expected to do some scripting. Which in turn let you use your current skillset for landing a job. Kind of a bridge between coding, art and game design from what I understand.

Edited by Gian-Reto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think then you should really concentrate on level design for now. Less coding needed, also an entry position in many studios from what I read

Yes, some studios have entry level positions.... but it is a very rare job.  

 

A studio may hire 5, 10, even 30 programmers in a year.  A studio might hire a single inexperienced level designer for a project.

 

More likely, rather than a new inexperienced hire they will transition an existing worker as part-time level designers and part-time on their regular job, people who already have experience developing games and also designing levels rather than risk it on an unknown.

 

 

Playing it strictly by the numbers, the biggest flow of people into the games industry today is through art (mostly animation and modeling) and gameplay programming.  QA is generally transitory rather than permanent, hired under contract for a 3-month stint then everyone is let go, sometimes a few become permanent but it isn't reliable. There are other permanent roles that get hired, junior-level designers, writers, associate producers, level designers, music/foley, and non-dev jobs like IT or HR or maintenance.  But if you are looking for the most reliable way to get a job in games, that means programmer, animator, or modeler/artist.

 

 

The problem is not so much that the jobs aren't there.

 

The difficulty is the scale.

 

There are only a few hundred studios around the globe. You may have a list of five or ten companies in a particular city, some cities have a few more, but the list is small.  By limiting yourself to such a small community there are not many jobs open at any given time.

 

It is different from perhaps an accountant who could get a job at any one of thousands of companies in a city.  Instead of thousands you are looking at a single-digit or possibly double-digit number of possible employers, few of them are hiring for that job at any given time. With a programmer there is a much bigger chance that one of those local studios is hiring at the time, and a bigger chance you can take one of the five or ten openings they have.  Looking for a level designer job there will be fewer studios hiring for that role at any given time, and they will likely only have a single opening rather than five or ten.

 

Note that it isn't impossible, the job openings still exist and someone is still hired, but there are perhaps 500 or 1000 openings in one field for every 1 opening in the other.  And if you are broadening your scope outside the games industry, there may be thousands or tens of thousands of openings for every one opening as an entry-level level-designer.  

 

There are many paths to take, and you can take whatever suits you best.  Some paths are obscure and rare and exist in the wilderness, other paths are wide and frequently traveled like a highway in a busy city.  Keep your mind open to both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!