Education advise for total beginner

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Hello. I'm seeing this sort of questions are asked frequently here but here we go. 

I'm interested in a career of game development but I'm not sure what way would be wise to choose. Eventually I want to work in a studio designing games.

I haven't attended any university education. 30 year old and living in italy. 

I see there are some bachelor programs for game design. Also there are bachelor degrees for computer sciences. And there's web education. Considering these programs are in public universities, these are what i can afford.

A degree would take at least take 3 years to complete, not my first choice.

I understand that it's best to learn a language. Does this mean learning any language (easiest one) and then working from there is an idea?

 

I do not have almost any coding skills. I have done some 3d modeling in the past but still. What would be your advice for beginning?

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You don't need to know a programming language to be a game designer, although for some roles it can be a plus. 

Have you tried downloading tools like Unity or Unreal and using them to build out a game idea you have?

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Yeah, unity. But i gave up on it after frustration. I would give it another try but i am reading that even though it is possible to make a game on it without coding, you are way better off with having it coded instead in order to fix bugs and everything

What do you mean with game designer btw? Do you mean it is enough to have knowledge of one subject such as modelling would be enough for this

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No. If you want to be a game designer you need to have knowledge of game design. This is a knowledge domain that is distinct from the ability to create art or to write code. Having some understanding of how to write code or produce art is helpful, but it's not necessary.

Game design is about the flow and mechanics of the game, the things that make the game fun and interesting by using the art or the code that has been written to support the designer. There are various sub-disciplines within the design field, including level design or mechanical systems design. 

What aspects of "being a game designer" are you interested in, specifically? Why is it you think you want to "work in a studio designing games" and what do you think that involves?

 

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Well, playing games is so far my biggest passion in my 30 year old life. I am lucky enough to somewhat travelling the world since one year and all i can think of is playing games whenever i can. But again, i am 30. Which makes me realise that i have to be working again soon enough. So i cannot think of something better than spendingmy time and effort for creating them. I do not think it is much more fun than any other job, but at least the result of your work might actually be interesting to you sometimes

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Just keep in mind that even though you enjoy playing games does not necessarily mean you will enjoy developing games.

Much like you might enjoy Netflix or eating cake, making movies or baking cakes might not be the perfect job for you.

 

Just something to keep in mind :)

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6 minutes ago, Lactose said:

Just keep in mind that even though you enjoy playing games does not necessarily mean you will enjoy developing games.

 

What Lactose is saying here is critical for you to understand. That's why I asked if you've tried using Unity or Unreal to build a game: thta's what making games is for a designer. They will get some tools, many of which look like Unity/Unreal or various parts of Unity/Unreal, and they'll be using those to hammer out the ideas they have in their head into reality.

If you don't enjoy doing that, you probably don't actually enjoy designing games. That's why I asked what it is you actually enjoy (or think you enjoy) about making games. 

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Posted (edited)

So how do you understand that one can enjoy or not?

Trying unity and not pushing it any further means you are not the person for it, would you say?

Playing doesn't mean you'd enjoy making them. But you need to enjoy playing in order to enjoy making, don't you agree? Or are they completely irrelevant 

Edited by Hakan Ergin
Addition

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I disagree. They are totally different.

If you tried Unity and didn't like it, it could be that you didn't like some specific aspect of Unity. That's why you should try other tools as well, like Unreal.

If you try a bunch of tools and don't like them, that might mean you simply don't like what making a game entails. Or at least not that aspect of making a game.

No amount of liking to play games will change what actually making games is like. Nor will any amount of liking the idea of being a game developer.

That's why you should focus on trying various ways to make a game before (for example) considering going back to school for years for it. You need to know whether you actually want to do what the job actually involves, and ideally what specifically -- art, design, programming, audio, et cetera.

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6 hours ago, Hakan Ergin said:

What do you mean with game designer btw? Do you mean it is enough to have knowledge of one subject such as modelling would be enough for this

You are probably using the term "game designer" without knowing what that term means to game developers. One meaning of the term "Game developer" is that it's a generic term for "someone working in creating [electronic] games," like a modeler or programmer or producer, for instance. But "game designer" is a specific term meaning someone who designs games. You need to read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson14.htm and read what a game designer is, exactly. And you should read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson7.htm which someone else already suggested you should read.

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8 hours ago, Hakan Ergin said:

So how do you understand that one can enjoy or not?

Game designers typically enjoy designing games on their own.  It may mean building scenarios for D&D or similar tabletop games, building your own cards in Magic: the Gathering or YuGiOh, or otherwise manipulating the rules and structure of games.  Most game designers I've known have built their own table-top games out of paper cards and cutouts and such, most have put together several games before they were ever a professional video game designer.

Game designers tend to study the rules of games. While everybody enjoys playing a good game, a game designer will often break down a level and study it out to see why it is good or why it is bad.  They'll watch videos on the subject, read about things why the original Super Mario Bros level 1-1 from 1985 was one of the best introductory levels in history, and study the amazing things Portal did to ensure players mastered every skill as they traveled along a gentle learning curve. They'll also read about what games do badly, what makes levels confusing, what creates barriers for understanding. They'll learn about game mechanics and how systems interact from a design perspective.  Study usually requires experimenting, so lots of notes for paper-and-pencil rule systems, and lots of experimenting with paper cutouts, moving scraps of paper around.

 

Game programmers, on the other hand, tend to program things on their own. Most will start tinkering with computers and editors, and quickly move on to programming languages on their own. They'll play with windows forms, build their own tic-tac-toe programs or temperature converter programs or web page scripts. Back in my day people would start with BASIC because it was standard on most computers. These days web programming tends to be the first experiments. People will build a web page, learn to edit the raw HTML, learn how to write JavaScript, start responding to events, and show off what they've learned with friends.  

Game programmers tend to study logic and algorithms. The more natural programmers tend to study these out while they're young. I remember back in the 2nd or 3rd grade playing with cards and figuring out how it was that I sorted cards into my hand, arranging them by number and suit. Over the years I had a desire to study all kinds of topics related to programming, including game programming, I studied what made code good from different perspectives, what made code bad, and why sometimes code that people considered as bad up front was actually great code.

 

Game artists draw, and will draw everything.  Everything in games these days is art, and that means drawing and modeling everything.  Everything includes rocks and boulders, trees of all types; buildings like shacks, warehouses, barns, homes mansions and civic buildings from all eras; clothing from all eras back from caveman days, through most eras of history, through future clothing designs; many types of weapons and armors; vehicles like carts and wagons, modern cars and trucks, and futuristic vehicles; creatures like horses and sheep and goats and pigs, insects and mice, orcs and goblins, dragons and unicorns, humans of all ages and dimensions and personalities, aliens, demons and gods.  They'll study art, learn and discover what makes art compelling or disastrous.

Game animators animate things, similar to artists but studying motion, what makes actions compelling, styles of animation that have been used from the ultra-realistic to Tex Avery-style high exaggeration. They'll learn how animation and motion are related to storytelling, and how motion communicates both successfully and not.

 

Do you already do any of these things on your own? Do you find them fulfilling? It it something you could do full time, every day, for the next 20 to 30 years of your life?   If none of those paths appeals to you, that's a good sign those aren't the ones you'll enjoy.  If they're something you're already doing on your own during your spare time, that's a good sign you'll enjoy them.

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Posted (edited)

I just want to point out that you don't need to draw or to be able to draw in order to become a professional 3D artist, all you need is the skill to understand a 3d volume and translate a concept art into a 3d model inside the software of your choice :P

Edited by MarcusAseth

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1 hour ago, MarcusAseth said:

I just want to point out that you don't need to draw or to be able to draw in order to become a professional 3D artist

That is technically correct (the best kind of correct ;)), however, most professional artists of any discipline will tell you that a good understanding of fundamental art principles (such as some of those listed in this article) greatly aids in the process and that one of the best ways of mastering those is through drawing.  There's a reason a common piece of advice for art beginners is to learn and practice drawing.

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Well, thanks for the insight everybody. I will think about it thoroughly. Also reading the articles suggested.

However this has started to become offtopic. My question remains unanswered. If one decides to go through it, how should it be? I guess that depends on the person and their skills, if so, what are the options?

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7 minutes ago, Hakan Ergin said:

My question remains unanswered. If one decides to go through it, how should it be? I guess that depends on the person and their skills, if so, what are the options?

Please restate the question.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Hakan Ergin said:

if so, what are the options?

Well, I think frob listed the options, you need to choose one of those paths in order to get further details on how to do it I think, otherwise the "how to" to cover is too broad.

Edited by MarcusAseth

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2 hours ago, Hakan Ergin said:

If one decides to go through it, how should it be? I guess that depends on the person and their skills, if so, what are the options?

Correct it depends on the person.

You write that you're 30 years old and live in Italy.  You also write that completing a degree program is "not your first choice".

That is young enough that you could still go get the degree if you wanted. You may have other life concerns that make it more difficult, such as having young children.

You haven't really listed what job you are going for, although you mentioned design, programming, and art and modeling topics.  Remember that you don't exist in a vacuum, you are competing against other people for those jobs.  If you're going for a programming position you'll need to be among the best programmers in the applicant pool, which means demonstrating experience in programming even if you don't have the degree. If you're going for an art position you've got to have a portfolio that competes with the other artists applying for the job.  Game designer is out because that is not an entry level position, but smaller design jobs like level designer may be available if you can demonstrate skills there.

Whichever job you want to follow, you need to develop your skills first.  Studios don't hire programmers who "do not have almost any coding skills", nor 3D modelers who don't have a portfolio to review.  Both paths require a few years of study, either through formal schooling or through highly dedicated studies on your own.

It is possible to develop those skills. I've known programmers who started learning in their 40's, and one who started learning in his late 50's. I've known a smaller number of artists who also changed into the career around those ages.  If it is what you want, if you enjoy the field of programming or the field of art then go for it.   But my caution from earlier still applies:  playing games and creating games are different. Enjoying games is wonderful, but if you're getting in to creating games make sure you actually enjoy programming or modeling or animating, not just playing.

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Lots of great input. Thanks really.

 Then, let's say i decided to become a 3d artist and i want to have it as career, considering i did some modeling and abit of animation in the past, what would be a smarter education option? I can think of a bachelor, an online course (i suppose) or anything else? 

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Hakan Ergin said:

Lots of great input. Thanks really.

 Then, let's say i decided to become a 3d artist and i want to have it as career, considering i did some modeling and abit of animation in the past, what would be a smarter education option? 

Nothing beats practice, you don't need any fancy certificate for it, only thing that will prove to others that you can do this stuff is a solid portfolio with your 3d stuff in it.

Of course if you have the money you can pay for those, there is the Gnomon School 4 year degree program in Digital Production and there are a lot more less expensive I guess, but I know many succesfull professional 3d artist that just went the self thought route and practiced home (which I bet is actually the majority out of all the 3dArtists), it's free of charge and all you need is the software and to be active in a community like polycount.com joining the weekly/monthly 3d challenges, getting feedback by the pros and improving along with the other 3d Artists over there :)

For italians there is also Treddi.com community, all italians over there  :P 

A word of advice though, keep in mind that if you compete for a job with a 28 years old, he probably has 10years of this job experience advantadge compared to you.

Thi is not to discourage you, just to say that you kind of need to work really hard (maybe for 2-4 years) to get to a level where you can compete. When you start winning those contest or placing in the first 3, you know you're there ;)

Edited by MarcusAseth

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I would say focus on what you want to do, and don't be afraid to explore.

I didn't go to school to learn 3D art or animation or programming, but I'm really curious about it and I've taught myself over the years. Here I am now making games and 3D art in a 2-person team after working in the game industry for some years.

You can learn plenty from online courses. From what I read, be careful about some game schools that exist out there. The success stories turn out to be students who basically burn the midnight oil, teach themselves and go beyond what the school didn't teach them anyway. And everyone comes out with a huge loan to pay - success story or not.

If you have a game school or a college with a game dev program nearby, you can probably just go hang out or ask the office about events where you can make friends with some other locals who are learning game development ( just tell them that you're interested and want to experience the school's culture before you enroll or something - and then don't enroll). I was in this position once. I wanted to go to a particular school badly, but ended up hanging around campus with the people I know and met other developers there.

If you want to do 3D modeling, pick up some free tutorials online. Also Blender 3D is a great 3D tool to start with.
When you've exhausted your free options - pick up some tutorial packs on paid sites. There are plenty. This will cost you much much less than any private game or art school.

And DO learn a little programming. You will be more valuable to yourself and any company that you're trying to get into. And use what allows you to make what you want right now. I use unity and C# which is a good start (I ultimately started with learning Javascript and AS in Flash). And yes. It's going to be frustrating at first. But that's also why you don't see everyone doing it. It's hard at first.
Sometimes an academic environment helps with programming, so you can pick up a programming course or two at community college.

I'm turning 30 soon, and got serious about game-making at mid 20-ish. Don't let anyone tell you that age is a barrier. And don't be jealous of young people - they have their own limitations and struggles. A minute is a minute to everyone. An hour an hour. A day is a day. Give yourself the time and practice and you'll get there.

If you can, go to in-person game-making events like game jams and hackathons. Even if you aren't confident - just go, find a team and see how you can be useful.

And last, but most important - make things.
No one will know that you do anything if you don't make anything. Work within your skill-set to make something that you like. Challenge yourself by learning something new. Then make something again. Then share these things online somewhere (a Tumblr, a blog, or on Twitter are alright).

Hope this helps
~torri

Edited by nekomatata

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