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Tacit

Game Designer: The Phantom Job (cont'd)

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quote:
Original post by Gaiiden Allrighty then, that will be enough. This thread has gotten too muddled and off topic. Whether it was me or someone else, I don''t care - point is the discussion has lost it''s tune. I''m sorry you think my original post was discouraging, Tacit, because it wasn''t. I''m not certainly not one who wants to make this industry look easier than it is. The cold, naked truth was right there in the first post and anyone who doesn''t keep that in mind is in for a big letdown. The original post pretty much defines what a lot of people want to do, sell themselves and their ideas to a company. Reaity kicks in when you realize any company already has enough ideas to go around. I''ve brought this thread to the attention of a few people I know in the games industry, and they''ve all agreed that experience makes the game designer. Passion is good for anything in life. As long as you have passion you can succeed but people are inherently cautious about taking risks and a passionate game designer with little or no experience is a risk that could make them rich with this awesome game or lose them a lot of money. Let people''s passion drive them through the years needed to gain enough experience to become respected enough to take on projects they conceived or even projects that are considered risky. Everyone wants to be an instant success story (including me) but it''s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Instant success stories are usually overhyped by the press and come along mostly through luck. The visionaries of today all started out doing the grunt work, there''s no reason why we can''t too. _________________________________________________________________
Ok, first of all, why did you close the original thread? There was some interesting discussion and I for one thought Angelstar''s rant was quite informative of his views as an insider. There are few enough people who are actually working in game development or have worked in the industry on these boards and it seems ridiculous to try to shut down this topic when it''s just getting interesting. Secondly, Gaiiden, can you even read? I didn''t find your comments in the original thread personally discouraging -- I know exactly how hard it is to get into the industry from discussions I''ve had with the MANY people I know working as professional level or game designers, and have talked to people like Marc Laidlaw (Valve) and others about design. My point was that your initial comments were both WRONG and INTENTIONALLY designed to discourage other people. I think this both shows bad judgment on your part and a serious mean streak. I don''t want to make the industry look easier than it is, either. God knows a lot of people are in for a big surprise. Just like a lot of wannabe rockstars are in for a big surprise when they find out they don''t have the talent or look required to make it big. So what? That''s part of life...and how you deal with challenges or disappointment is part of what defines you as a person. Who gave you the right or responsibility to ''educate the masses''? I don''t see any professional design experience on your long fricking sig. Those job postings speak for themselves. I did not make them up to make it seem easier to get into the industry than it is. I posted them here to show people that it is possible to get into the games industry as a designer at the entry level. I didn''t say they would do so and have ultimate power over their projects, and any mature professional knows that without having to be told. So stop trying to censor people who have different opinions than you for crying out loud. When I read your original post all I can see are the words "I can''t get my game designs made the way I want them to, so neither should anyone else expect to be able to". Get over it man and stop trying to poison people. R.

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A bit harsh, but he´s got a point. Gaiiden, here´s a quote from your article:

quote:


Game Designer

Answers to: Project Manager

Consults with: Software Planner, various other Leads

The Game Designer is the one who prevails over the project’s design document. He is the only one with the power to change the structure of the document and make any changes to it. The Game Designer oversees all aspects of the development process by consulting regularly with all the division Leads to ensure that all work outputted matches the idea set forth by the document."



And another one from the other thread (you were referring to Level Design, Characer Creation, World Creation and other issues).

quote:

The reason the term "game designer" is phantom is because most people think of a game designer as the person in charge of all those game aspects you listed above [...].
The project leader is the closest person to a game designer, as he oversees things to make sure the game stays on track to its original concept, but that''s about it.



Isn´t that a contradiction to your own definition? You said that he is the one in charge of all the aspects (.. the only one who may change the doc), and furthermore you have clearly listed the occupation as game designer, definitely not project leader. Then you say there is no such thing, that these tasks get done by the project leader (which I assume is the equivalent of the project manager described in your article).



Just to refresh your memory here´s what Ken Hoekstra said about becoming a game designer:

quote:

"The only way to become a game designer is to do two things: Start and finance your own game company or work in the games industry for several years and work your way up to the presidency or development directorship of an existing game company.




Since I call myself a professional game designer this whole business is starting to become a little annoying, so I´ll try and clarify on a few points. It may be different where you come from, but from where I stand this is how things are:



1) There are other ways than that mentioned by Ken Hoekstra to become a game designer. There are entry level game design positions.
Especially with the growing market for casual games, entry level game design position are not that uncommon anymore. I can´t generalise about exclusivity, but 90% of my time is used up by doing game desing, so I would have to say that it is a stand alone position.

2) Game Design is not Level Design, Character Design, Storywriting or a management position such as director or producer. A game designer is primarily concerned with writing up Game Design Documents.

3) A Game Designer needs specific skills, just like everyone else on the team. While art and programming skills can be very helpful (but there are designers without), writing skills and extensive games knowledge are a must. Experience with academic writing helps, the same goes for familiarity with the media culture in general, specifically Hollywood Cinema.

4) Game Design does not consist of having ideas. The ability to come up with good ideas are a requirement, but most people can be creative. What counts are the skills to analyse, explain and structure your design deceisions. Personal taste has no place here. A good designer can design any and every type of game, as he knows how to apply his knowledge about the market, the mechanisms and the audience. The ideas do tend to come from the game designer, but the whole team contributes to it.

5) Experience helps, either from smaller projects or from QA. But it is not a requirement. If you´re seriously headed for game design it´s probably wiser to go for a QA position first and show that you can do design work there (the basic skills are pretty much the same).


Now I´d be very happy if everyone could try and keep it limited TO WHAT HE OR SHE KNOWS. Personal experience, contacts, whatever. But don´t generalise about stuff you know too little about - it will just lead to the kind of confusion and misinformatin we´ve had in the other thread. Thanks.

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Hase - The game industry has rapidly expanded over the years...and in doing so it has taken on the wieght of corporate management practices...this is especialy evident in the larger companies (EA for example) and/or the ones owned by large parant corporate conglomerates...what this meens is that job titles and job descriptions don''t exactly meen what they say.

I work for a fairly large specialized electronocis manufacturer. My job is titled "specialized industrial robotics engineer III"...the bulk of my time is spent scedualeing maintanance/repair time for a number of robots we use at our facility...this is about as far as what the job title suggests...

we have a series of job titles called "manufactureing engineer 1-4"...a large part of these folks responseability is to "update and maintain product design schematics"...this doesn''t meen that they are the ones to actualy engineer/design/create the product schematics...nor do they actualy have much input into the engineering/design/creation of said products...basicly most of these folks act as assitants to the folks who make the actual engineering/design/creation decisions.

I can easily see paralles between the "game designers" and "project managers"...and actually the amount of real design work a typical "game designer" is permitted to do may depend on how much the "project manager" trusts him/her despite the job title/description ... "office poltics" exist in every form of buisness, always have, always will...

I have done some work in the games industry...back in the early 90''s I worked for a video production firm when we were approched by a vending machine/arcade game distributer who wanted to produce a game...specificly a laser disk basied game (like Dragons Lair, somewhat popular at the time)...to make a long story short..they gave us a limited amount of money to shoot a prototype game basied on thier Sci-Fi spaceship battle idea...I was placed in charge of this project and had to do concept design, physical model building, SFX rigging, storyboarding...basicly I had my hands in every aspect of this project...even gameplay design and director!...we got the prototype done...and my credit was third on the list ...The distribution company was thrilled with the prototype (it playied just like the spaceship battle scenes in Spac Ace, another animated laser disk game...cough it up to the limited time and resources that were made available to us then)...the game went unproduced due to poor buisness planning by the distribution company

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quote:
Original post by Tacit

Ok, first of all, why did you close the original thread? There was some interesting discussion and I for one thought Angelstar''s rant was quite informative of his views as an insider.


You can still consult it!

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quote:
Original post by Tacit
...Gaiiden, can you even read? I didn''t find your comments in the original thread personally discouraging...My point was that your initial comments were both WRONG and INTENTIONALLY designed to discourage other people. I think this both shows bad judgment on your part and a serious mean streak.


My comments were not wrong. First I point out that a company will not hire you and your idea. This is true and why professionals still start their own studios:
quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
I sure as hell wish I could just bust in with a game idea and have a company hire me to make it. Too bad it doesn''t work that way.


Next I point out that a designer isn''t the guy in charge. Some people think they can get behind their idea and not listen to other people on how to do things:
quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
And even if you do come up with the original concept, it''ll more than likely be pretty different after it goes through discussion with the team. Anyone who thinks they can dictate the whole process according to what they want is up for a big surprise.


Lastly, I guess my last point is a re-iteration of sorts. People think startups are asking for a designer because they don''t have an idea, when in reality they have the idea and not the designer. Some people may not want that:
quote:
Original post by Gaiiden
And if you think you can get hired by a startup studio, think again, cause more than likely the reason the studio started up is cause they already have their own idea.


I guess my emotions were conveyed improperly. This post wasn''t meant to be a rant or ultimatum or anything. It was a matter-of-fact statement based on something I have myself accepted. I''m going to start as a programmer in AI and work up, because I want to design games that focus more on enemy intelligence and NPC/NPC, NPC/Player interaction. Sure I used to want to think up a lot of ideas and picth them to people. No longer, and I''m satisfied with my current career chioce, and certainly not trying to make anybody change theirs, but maybe rethink a bit exactly how they are going to go about getting there.
quote:
Original post by Tacit
I don''t want to make the industry look easier than it is, either. God knows a lot of people are in for a big surprise. Just like a lot of wannabe rockstars are in for a big surprise when they find out they don''t have the talent or look required to make it big. So what? That''s part of life...and how you deal with challenges or disappointment is part of what defines you as a person. Who gave you the right or responsibility to ''educate the masses''? I don''t see any professional design experience on your long fricking sig.


You''re right, failure is a tried and true learning method. I''ve had many failures in life, but I''ve always walked away knowing more than when I began. This is a valuable lesson, because it allows you to take failure in a different way than the guy who says "awww Shucks!!" and just gives up. As for my right to educate the masses, although I said
quote:

Now, anyone with a grain of sense and actually looked into what they wanted to become knows that this is true.


this of course conveys no authority and can merely be viewed as yet another opinionated statement. I''m not trying to pass myself off as the Supreme Lord of Game Design and I''m certainly not saying people have to listen to me.
quote:
Original post by Tacit
Those job postings speak for themselves. I did not make them up to make it seem easier to get into the industry than it is. I posted them here to show people that it is possible to get into the games industry as a designer at the entry level. I didn''t say they would do so and have ultimate power over their projects, and any mature professional knows that without having to be told.


I have something better to offer than those job postings (seriously! Don''t roll your eyes and skip this), and in reading what I have, I''ve come to realize something rather important: The term "game designer" really is relativistic. Everyone has their own views on what a designer is or does, especially the job of junior designer. With that said follow this link

http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=....&t=5232#post4002

and all shall be made clear. Enjoy. I hope it helps people. That''s all i''m trying to do here.
quote:
Original post by Tacit
So stop trying to censor people who have different opinions than you for crying out loud. When I read your original post all I can see are the words "I can''t get my game designs made the way I want them to, so neither should anyone else expect to be able to". Get over it man and stop trying to poison people.

Again, that post wasn''t about me being all fed up with the way the system works. I have no qualms with starting out as a programmer, even if it would be cool trying to jump straight in and get a design position. Now that I realize a junior design position exists, I of course encourage everyone interested in becoming a designer go for it, just saying it may not be what you expect, so keep an open mind or read the job description closely, because different people have different uses for a "junior game designer".
quote:
Original post by Hase
Isn´t that a contradiction to your own definition? You said that he is the one in charge of all the aspects (.. the only one who may change the doc), and furthermore you have clearly listed the occupation as game designer, definitely not project leader. Then you say there is no such thing, that these tasks get done by the project leader (which I assume is the equivalent of the project manager described in your article).


Mmmm... indeed it is. Well, sort of See, this is the confusing part, where everyone has their own ideas of a game designer. The list of jobs I gave in my article is my idea of a well-structured development team. In reality a team may not have all those positions to fill with it''s number of members or budget. Therefore some jobs can be easily merged, such as the case with project manager and game designer. No I''m not trying to cover my ass, you really can break a project manager into smaller halves by taking out a game designer and assigning it as a stand-alone position. Some companies do this and hence have a real "game designer". Others choose to mix and match terms. Project lead, project manager... heck some companies may refer to the game designer as a "project leader". Ahh!! My head!! *spins in circles*

So anyways there ya go, the Full Monty. Hope you liked the link I posted, it certainly provided me some insight. Industry vets can do that you know

_________________________________________________________________

Drew Sikora
A.K.A. Gaiiden

ICQ #: 70449988
AOLIM: DarkPylat

Blade Edge Software
Staff Member, GDNet
Public Relations, Game Institute

3-time Contributing author, Game Design Methods , Charles River Media (coming GDC 2002)
Online column - Design Corner at Pixelate

NJ IGDA Chapter - NJ developers unite!! [Chapter Home | Chapter Forum]

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Hey guys, thought I''d drop in for a quick post.

I unfortunately haven''t been abloe to keep up with the full topic (I read page for of the last one, and this small section) and I thought I''d come in quick to drop in what I know about the issues at hand, and hopefully (maybe) defend eveyone so that no one looses face

My understanding is the Game Design is... well... very hard to define, seeing that each genre of game and each studio has it''s own ideas about what a designer is going to do. Even in the post Gaiiden put up (probably the best athority on the subject), there are a fair deal of different requirements and ideas on just what a Junior designer will do. Just think about when it gets up to Senior designer. Certainly, there are certain consitsant things (communication skills, experience, and the ability to critique games), but mostly it''s stuff they''d be looking for is the same for any team oriented ocupation.

Also, the "role" of designer is usually misunderstood. A lot of people believe that getting the job of designer means you get to come up with the concept, story, premis, idea, and dialoge of a game. Not nessicailly true. Also, only the best of designers that have proven themselves will be able to have complete creative control over a project. People like Richard Garriot, Will Wright, Sid, etc. People that have their names attached to products. Other than that, they''re just another member of a team. Notice, that in that IGDA post few of the people say that that, usually, the junior designer is promoted from within the ranks. They''re not hired straight out.

This is not to say that there are no junior designer possitions, or that people are never hired for those positions, but it''s extreamely rare without experience in some way (either as a mod developers, small level developer, an independent project, or some other type of portfolio). The point is, you''re not going to come out of college with a CS (or any other degree, barring perhaps a DigiPen, FullSail, North Western, or Carnagie Mellon degree) and get a job as a game designer if you''ve done nothing else. You will have to have experince in the game industry in some way.

That is, at least, how I understand it.

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I have an idea of what a game designer is in my eyes, and that is a person who has played ALL types of games and understands the methods behind them. A game designer is also comfortable with programming theory and has practical experience. Art should be a natural thing to a game designer along with writing fiction and design docs. Finally a good grasp of music is a must because it is generally forgotten how important it is.

I have come a long way in fulfilling those goals, so this isn''t just theory. It is possible to do since art and science in general have a LOT in common, and I don''t see why everyone not just game designers, don''t make the effort to push themselves beyond.

Lastly, I''m not interested in gaining entry into the game industry since creating games with total autonomy is the only thing I enjoy, and it would be stripped from me the second I am hired.

You could call me old school, if that''s how you feel then so be it.

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Sounds good Garott. Best of luck to ya.
quote:
Original post by Warden
Even in the post Gaiiden put up (probably the best athority on the subject)...


And I just want to make sure people interpret this statement correctly, because when I read it over quick the first time my stomach knotted anticipating the flames to come over me being noted as "best authority on the subject". Note that he is referring to the responses posted on the thread I linked to from my post, not me. Ok? I don''t want to hear anyone screaming bloody murder after they read it quickly and get so mad about me being labled as "authoritive" that they don''t read it again closely and immediatly go off to flame.

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If you haven''t already done so, check out that link Gaiiden posted above - it''s excellent. And so is the one in the other thread (the reynolds one).
Thx Gaiiden - they were very informative.

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Gaiiden, what bothered me was not the general confusion which exists about the term, but you´re trying to pass off your views as "the cold, naked truth". It was plain wrong to do so, and as tacit already said more than once does more damage than good.
I´d rather you´d appeal to the pro´s around here (there are a few) to give you their version.

We´ve heard Ken Hoekstra´s, we´ve heard from Spidey, AngelStar and a few others. I also consider myself to be a pro, my version is on the top of this thread.
So how about some more? I know there are plenty of pro game designers (or people who do game desing work as part of their jobs ).

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I appreciate your recanting, Gaiiden, but that doesn''t take away from the fact that consulting with the experts (as was done by Barbara in the IGDA forums) was something you should have done before posting your views and (despite your claim that it wasn''t your intention) passing them off as coming from authority or experience.

I also noticed that in your ''You Got Game'' articles, where you describe the breakdown of the typical game team, you put ''game designer'' in the ''management'' section and don''t even mention that a game project also needs level designers (who could also be senior people -- I know a couple) and other misc. design people. So, it seems your article is flawed and, in light of what you have discovered from what people here and in the IGDA forums have said, needs a rewrite.

I''m glad that although I had to be a jerk to do it, I at least contested what you had said. Hopefully a few people learned something from this exchange, not the least of which is ''verify your sources!''. Don''t assume anyone knows what they are talking about. This is a standard practice in any kind of research and in my opinion should be used when looking into any kind of job, especially in this industry.

Cheers,

R.

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quote:
Original post by Warden
Also, only the best of designers that have proven themselves will be able to have complete creative control over a project. People like Richard Garriot, Will Wright, Sid, etc.

All of whom started out as programmer/designers. (Working on their project alone too, I believe.) This supports my point of "if you really want to get somewhere, you actually have to Make something of your idea, not just talk about the idea".

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The fact that the Greats started out as programmer/designers has more to do with the way the industry evolved than it does with the requirements of being a good designer. Back then, there were no dedicated designers. Who knows what the next generation of ''Greats'' will be like? The games industry is young and still evolving, and tools (like engines, AI, 3D animation packages, etc.) are having to go the way of the ''prosumer'' (as is the trend with most software that has a mass appeal), meaning that in the next 5 years you may see it being completely possible for a non-programmer to manipulate a WYSIWYG game engine, using art and sound that he or she purchased from TurboSquid or some such service, and implenting gameplay which he or she developed simply from playing a lot of games. I''m not saying it would be AAA quality...but I see it happening.

The same thing happened with video editing. It used to be the province of the expert videographer with the extraordinarily expensive equipment and in-depth technical know-how. Well, now everyone wants to make their own wedding videos so they just plug their DV cam into their iMac and away they go.

R.

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quote:
Original post by Tacit
The fact that the Greats started out as programmer/designers has more to do with the way the industry evolved than it does with the requirements of being a good designer.

Maybe, maybe not. I personally disagree. I think that programmers have a lot of the key traits that you need to be a good designer. (And the inverse is true as well.) These include attention to detail, a desire to see the abstract become concrete, envisioning complete systems, classifying concepts, etc.
quote:
Back then, there were no dedicated designers.

There are still hardly any now I doubt that will change much.
quote:
...in the next 5 years you may see it being completely possible for a non-programmer to manipulate a WYSIWYG game engine, using art and sound that he or she purchased from TurboSquid or some such service, and implenting gameplay which he or she developed simply from playing a lot of games.

I''m sure that this situation will come to pass, but I''m also quietly confident that the result will be little more than the current ''problem'' with FPS/RTS saturation, with a trillion and one similar-yet-different games.

I still reckon some of these wannabe game-designers should pick up one of these kits and play with it. All the time they spend whining that nobody wants to program their game could be spent learning a simple scripting language to bring their ideas to life.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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