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Thomas_M25

Are computer skills necessary for becoming a game designer?

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Hi there,

 

I'm an aspiring game designer who's currently in their third semester of Interactive Digital Media and Game Design. I've had a try at all of the different areas in designing games, and I feel most comfortable in drawing and planning out concepts for games, like how they work, how the levels are laid out, hud design, etc. I'm not particularly skilled in most computer based areas, like programming and 3D Design and Animation, so I was wondering, can I make it as a game designer by simply drawing up my ideas and sharing them with a team of other designers, programmers, animators, etc?

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You should always be able to design game rules outside of the realm of computer games -- such as board games and other kinds of real-world games. That makes you a game designer.

 

At video game companies, yes it's common for game designers to work with a word processor rather than art/programming. Their job revolves around the above pure game design skills, plus good communication skills so that you can help guide the programmers in implementing the game design. There's often a lot of overlap between a lead game designer role, and a producer / project-manager role. I've often seen lead designers switch over to becoming producers, and producers switching over to become designers :)

 

...however, at video game companies, there's often one designer for every ~30 other staff. That makes it a very rare (and senior) position. If you're one of 20 game designers graduating from a game design college, job hunting for a pure 'game designer' job will be tough. At the smaller (indie) scale, it's often not affordable to hire a pure designer, so someone who can draw concepts, program, make levels, etc PLUS is really talented at game design would be a lot more valuable.

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It's useful to know the basics of programming, e.g. How a computer runs a program, how to draw a readable flowchart, perhaps some of the enterprise level stuff like uml if you're feeling masochistic...

Being able to talk to programmers on their terms is as important as communicating with anyone else in the team and understanding the limits of a computer will help you not to design an impossible game to implement...

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It is also common to have technical designers on a team. These are designers who may implement some design in whatever scripting language the game engine supports. Therefore, if you are familiar with programming you'd open a larger set of jobs you are qualified for. 

 

Otherwise, It is good to be comfortable with technology. It is often the case that tools will be built in house that you will need to use. Some examples include achievement editors, item editors, etc. These tools might spit out to an intermediate file format, be it json, xml or even insert into a database. It is not unusual to have to merge these files with other designers changes or even edit them manually. You will also need to be comfortable using version control which can be intimidating at first.

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Are computer skills necessary for becoming a game designer?

Highly desirable. Not necessarily an absolute requirement. But you absolutely need to be comfortable using a computer. You need to use word processing software, drawing software, internet, email, instant messaging, etc.

can I make it as a game designer by simply drawing up my ideas and sharing them with a team of other designers, programmers, animators, etc?

Anything is possible (except time travel to the past and the Star Trek holodeck). But it would be very difficult to get to that kind of position without a degree of comfort with computers.

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You may be able to find a job without much computer experience but,  if you want a long career as a game designer then you absolutely need to learn those computer skills.  

 

The reason is game design can be different from one company to another.  Lots of games companies use different workflows and require different skills from their design teams.

In one company your responsibility may just be writing a design doc in word.  

Whilst in another company you may be expected to block out (Grey box / White box) game levels, which could either be in a level editing tool like Unity or Unreal or a full 3D modelling package like Max or Blender.  

And yet in another company you may be expected to know enough programming to write scripts in Lua or Python or some other scripting language.
 

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Hi there,

 

I'm an aspiring game designer who's currently in their third semester of Interactive Digital Media and Game Design. I've had a try at all of the different areas in designing games, and I feel most comfortable in drawing and planning out concepts for games, like how they work, how the levels are laid out, hud design, etc. I'm not particularly skilled in most computer based areas, like programming and 3D Design and Animation, so I was wondering, can I make it as a game designer by simply drawing up my ideas and sharing them with a team of other designers, programmers, animators, etc?

 

This is going to sound unbelievably sarcastic, but I'm being serious with this answer. There are pen and paper games like dungeons and dragons, pathfinder, d20; and board games like monopoly and LIFE that have been popular.

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Hi there,

 

I'm an aspiring game designer who's currently in their third semester of Interactive Digital Media and Game Design. I've had a try at all of the different areas in designing games, and I feel most comfortable in drawing and planning out concepts for games, like how they work, how the levels are laid out, hud design, etc. I'm not particularly skilled in most computer based areas, like programming and 3D Design and Animation, so I was wondering, can I make it as a game designer by simply drawing up my ideas and sharing them with a team of other designers, programmers, animators, etc?

If you are speaking in terms of a full development house, it can actually be useful Not to be limited to what you think can be accomplished by the programming/art teams.
It is often those who do not know a limitation exists who require us to find a way to remove that limitation.

That said, Most houses will expect you to have some familiarity with the terms and concepts at least.

Now for the bad news.
Because absolutely anyone can come up with ideas, there is little in the way of opportunity for someone to do solely that.  There are very few world designers who are not also programmers, artists, or in some other way involved in building the game outside of slating concepts.

It comes down to the simple reality that having someone who can rig figures to walk/jump/etc and Also come up with killer HUD designs, is a better deal than someone who Just comes up with the killer HUD designs.

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Hi everyone, thank you for your responses. And I apologize for the late reply.

 

I probably should've stated that I am good with computers (i.e. Microsoft Office, sending emails, etc), it's the software that are used to make games that I'm not so competent with. Game engines like Unity and 3D software like 3DS Max. I've learned how to use these programs during my study, but I don't feel very comfortable using these programs to make a game independently, I would need a lot of guidance and I know that isn't ideal. What I would like to know is, am I able to make it as a game designer as someone who isn't proficient with programming or 3D modelling or animating? I just love to draw out concepts and lay them all out for team members to look at and show them what kind of game I'd like to make.

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am I able to make it as a game designer as someone who isn't proficient with programming or 3D modelling or animating?


We can't know if you are able to do that. We don't know you, and we can't foretell your future. (Faulty question.)

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