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The Dark Lord Jim

Budding Game Designer

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I really love video games. I have been playing for most of my short life, and the idea of creating a video game always stuck with me, among other interests. I'm not too good at programming, and my art skills are sub par, but I feel like Game Design is something I really hit home with. I always have an idea of how I think I can improve a game, or ideas for an entirely new game in itself, but I wouldn't know where to start! Should I learn the other two skills? Should I focus on design and stick with that? If I do decide to start a game project, should I work alone? Should I assemble a team? What Engine should I use, or should I develop my own? If I do work alone, what is the best way to develop programming and art skills? Is it all about practice, should I use online resources and books? 

Frankly, I have no clue where to even start with making my ideas into a reality, so some insight is much needed.

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6 hours ago, The Dark Lord Jim said:

Should I learn the other two skills? Should I focus on design and stick with that? 

Take my suggestion as a grain of salt, all personal opinions.

My suggestion would be to NOT to try and pick up the other 2 skills at the same time because each one is a huge field that require a huge ammount of practice, so first become professional at one, and then if you wish, learn the other as well.

But definetly pick up one of those, either programming or 3d graphics, this is because if you want to lead a team and have other members put their effort and time into realizing YOUR idea, you first need to earn their professional respect by proving them that you are as good as them if not even better, consider this:

A 3d artist on your team complete a character that he thinks is great, now you go and criticize it and maybe require a change to be done to it because the current model doesn't match your idea, now he may be end up thinking: "...why am I wasting my time and effort to realize this dude idea?! He doesn't even know anything about graphics, he doesn't know what he's talking about, I'm done with this guy. " and then leave your team.

Think of something you can currently do really well and take pride in doing, would you like it if a guy that doesn't understand anything of it comes and tell you how it is done and how you have to do it? Probably not :)

But if it was a renown master in it, then you would gladly accept his feedback and put into practice. So yeah, I think that if you want a chance to lead a team and realize your dream game, you first need to be good enough in an area to earn other people time/faith into your project/vision :) 

If you can only provide the great game idea and want a bunch of "slaves" ( :D ) that put it into reality, it can be done but then you need to have a lot of money to pay them :D

And solo vs team project, I guess it comes down to how much big/complex your idea is, times the level of quality/polish you want in the final product. Like if you want a huge world with a long story times the next gen visuals, then you need a Square-Enix sized team of pro :D

Edited by MarcusAseth

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8 hours ago, The Dark Lord Jim said:

I'm not too good at programming, and my art skills are sub par, but I feel like Game Design is something I really hit home with. I always have an idea of how I think I can improve a game, or ideas for an entirely new game in itself, but I wouldn't know where to start! Should I learn the other two skills? Should I focus on design and stick with that? If I do decide to start a game project, should I work alone? Should I assemble a team? What Engine should I use, or should I develop my own? If I do work alone, what is the best way to develop programming and art skills? Is it all about practice, should I use online resources and books? 

Frankly, I have no clue where to even start with making my ideas into a reality

Start with your main interest. Design some games. You should check out the Game Design forum. 

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On 7/28/2017 at 8:51 AM, Tom Sloper said:

Start with your main interest. Design some games. You should check out the Game Design forum. 

Great advice. You don't want to be all over the place. Pick what you're passionate about, and be the best you can at it. Once you feel pretty confident you can assemble a team, but I don't recommend this. I suggest you join a team to get actual experience working as a game designer on other projects. You will need to have a basic understanding of each role in your team in order to lead one. Just remember, when you're on another team your vision isn't always going to be 'the vision'.

As someone who has been game programming for over 15 years. I would only work with a leader who has a track record of completing games, and has an understanding of what I need to know in order to program efficiently. Last minute changes, tight deadlines when entire structures need to be changed is a big no no. I've worked with a few leaders in the past that would change their mind regularly about the direction of the game. This made it a nightmare to program for them. The graphic artists also were pulling their hair out having to change characters, and reanimate over and over again.

I'm personally passionate about programming and game design, this is why I will pay others to do the art work, and sounds. There are so many moving parts in game development, it would take a lot of hours and work to be in all the seats available. If you want to make this a dream career, do what you love, and be great at it. Then find others who share your dreams but with different skill sets, and make some great games.

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4 minutes ago, Rutin said:

Great advice. You don't want to be all over the place. Pick what you're passionate about, and be the best you can at it. Once you feel pretty confident you can assemble a team, but I don't recommend this. I suggest you join a team to get actual experience working as a game designer on other projects. You will need to have a basic understanding of each role in your team in order to lead one. Just remember, when you're on another team your vision isn't always going to be 'the vision'.

As someone who has been game programming for over 15 years. I would only work with a leader who has a track record of completing games, and has an understanding of what I need to know in order to program efficiently. Last minute changes, tight deadlines when entire structures need to be changed is a big no no. I've worked with a few leaders in the past that would change their mind regularly about the direction of the game. This made it a nightmare to program for them. The graphic artists also were pulling their hair out having to change characters, and reanimate over and over again.

I'm personally passionate about programming and game design, this is why I will pay others to do the art work, and sounds. There are so many moving parts in game development, it would take a lot of hours and work to be in all the seats available. If you want to make this a dream career, do what you love, and be great at it. Then find others who share your dreams but with different skill sets, and make some great games.

I think that your advice is wonderful. I also saw that interview on the front page about getting into game design. The problem is, it feels like it is necessary to go to college for game design if you want to get into the industry, but I'm going to be going to college for metallurgy and mining. Breaking into the field seems hard without the other skills, because you either need to be hired by a big company (but then you have to grind to become higher up, and being honest, the work hours might kill me from what I hear) or come out with a really good indie game, which means you need to do it all on your own, or form a group, which you discouraged. 

Are there any tips as a Programmer/Designer that you would have for someone like me? Should I think about switching my college path? Find some education online? Just jump in and see what happens? I'm not sure.

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I would strongly advise you to continue with metallurgy and mining if this is a career that will make you money! The game development industry is very competitive, and landing a job with AAA companies isn't likely without a lot of networking and a decent portfolio. The great news is that there are some Indie teams that are pumping out games that are highly successfully and they're generating enough revenue to keep those teams running full time.

I self taught my self over seven languages throughout the years, and believe me it was a struggle. Almost gave up a few times! The problem with landing a job is dealing with HR and their hiring policies... Some companies don't care about your education if you have a portfolio of completed projects, and pass their entry tests. Other companies want every ABC out there, and 5 AAA titles you've worked on, ect... There is another thing to keep in mind, when you work on a team you might have a publisher running the show, and this can drive a lot of your vision, and dreams out the window. You will also be given strict deadlines, long hours, even told to let "bugs" be so you can get that title out the the door in time.

At this early in the race stick with your prior goals "metallurgy and mining", and do the game design on the side. If you're good enough at it you can release Indie titles and when you generate enough money go full time. Either way, if you complete a successful game, you bring awareness to yourself in the end.

This is just my opinion, but you really gotta decide what you want to do with your life. The days of needing to be a big studio with a publisher are over for games. You'll be able to fund your projects through a good paying job, and control the direction of the game.

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2 minutes ago, Rutin said:

This is just my opinion, but you really gotta decide what you want to do with your life. The days of needing to be a big studio with a publisher are over for games. You'll be able to fund your projects through a good paying job, and control the direction of the game.

I really value your opinion. I have a lot of time to consider my options, so I'm in no big rush to figure it all out. Thank you!

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Hello there,

You remind me a lot like myself before I started going through school to create video games. One of the first things we were taught when we entered the class room is everyone has good ideas. This may sounds a little rough, but I do suggest you do some work in programming and art. I believe that every good leader has to have a good understanding of how everything works, therefore getting your hands dirty will probably be the best way. To continue, actually having experience in these fields will give you an idea of how difficult tasks are and will give you a good estimate for deadlines.

Now to answer a few of your questions in your post. The first I will address is the game engine one. I believe you should try a few out, get decent at using them and compare the features. For example, try using Unity and Unreal Engine 4 and compared those two. A lot of the use for engines is preference and will also depend on the game you are building.

As for learning, YouTube and similar sites are filled with guides and tutorials. I managed to pick up programming when I was in my mid teens due to YouTube tutorials. As for developing your skills, the best way is to start small projects and build your way up, experience and time are your best teachers.

Alone VS Team is a tough one to answer. I find in the beginning, creating small games on your own will test your personal skill and motivation and will push you further, but there will be a time where your vision of a game will require to assemble a team to bring it to life.

To end, this is all my opinion therefore don't take it too harshly. If you ever need any help, feel free to message me and I will do my best to answer your questions.

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I think I should provide some of the sources to understand what I am saying comes from.

-> So, You Wanna Be a Game Designer?  Read under the "Do I Need to Learn How to Code?" and "Do I Need to Learn How to Draw?" questions :D

Also, the "trust" issue I was talking about comes from the video below, listen from 44:11 (even though he talks about it troughout the video, so if you feel like listen to the whole thing, especially the QA since he clearly say what it takes to be a game designer in a big studio, though maybe that's not your goal )

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Basically if you don't know at least a bit of programming and are just giving the idea for the game without not knowing how that impact the programmer work (even something that as an idea seems like a small change but is a huge one in term of the structure of the game), you could be killing his trust in you, and then he leaves :/

So this is just to show you I am not making stuff up, this are real problem and shouldn't be glossed over :)

For how I see it, basically Game Designer is a jack of all trades and the lubricant of the team, so he/she needs to be able to speek artists and programmers language (having those skills) to some degree :P

Edited by MarcusAseth

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