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Best job in game development?

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Of those two I think Game Designer and Modeller/Animator would be good. Game Designer offers the most diverse amount of creativity. The rest of the areas have to obey a certain framework to apply to a given design. Some games would seem entirely different just by changing the music.

I''m only saying that based on a job someone would love, that doesn''t railroad them into having to follow in the shadow of anything else. I mean, when it comes to freedom of expression, I think Game Designer is at the top. It drives everything else. The rest of the areas maybe allowed a lot of creative license, but I think they are asked to come up with something that at least falls within a certain schema.

Besides Game Designer, I think the animators can have a ball with how creatures and other models move. It must be real fulfilling to see how your animations add to the life of a game.

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It depends on which one you enjoy the most. You won''t be able to make it doing a task that you don''t just LOVE to death. I would hate to work long days on anything other than Programming, myself. Just because I really enjoy programming--I find myself doing it several hours every day at the very least just because it''s fun.

The hours are too long and the pay is too low for you to not be doing the one thing that you jus ADORE about Game development.


-Michael

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This other question about Game Designer that I''m about to ask is gonna embarrass me to death because I should know it but I don''t. What exactly does the Game Designer do? Do he/she completely create all the characters, creatures, worlds, levels, weapons, equipment, scenery, etc. for the Animators and Programmers to use or what?

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That might even vary depending on the organization. But I would say the Game Designer comes up with the mechanics of the game and how the factors play into it. Planning how units balance out in strategies, deciding the effects of spells in an RPG, etc.

Whereas a writer would come up with lore and a back story, as well as a story to drive the actual game itself. e.g. Why a military RTS NEEDS the military, and it''s the story of a young commander who slowly gets promoted to commander and needs to stop his renegade mentor, etc.

I don''t know which comes first, the written story or the game design.

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I''d say the Game Story should be INCLUDED IN the Game Design Doc. Usually, I think, the Game Designers would write all of the storyline at some point while fleshing out all of the other details. They also come up with preliminary ideas along with the artists/composers as to what they feel would work or be necessary for certain levels.

Furthermore, I''d say the role of Game Designer changes as the development of the game progresses.


-Michael

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If there was one role that was 'best' for everyone, then everyone would be doing that job wouldn't they?

People differ. Some people prefer programming, some people prefer art and modelling, etc. The best job is the one you feel happiest doing.

As for the role of Game Designer, I think that varies considerably from team to team. However, there is a little bit more to it than inventing monsters with funny names and cool new weapons. You would almost certainly have to know a little bit of everything.

[edited by - Sandman on June 6, 2002 7:55:43 AM]

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I vote for:

"8. All of the above."

I play keyboards, but my musical style rarely fits the games I work on. Similarly, I''ve been learning Cinema 4D 5, but I haven''t done graphics professionally since my 16-bit days. I''ve done all the others professionally at some point.

Personally, I don''t think there''s any reason to consider, say, programming as ''dominated'' by the game design. If you really, truly love programming for its own sake, you won''t _care_ what you''re programming!

Game design isn''t a black art, either. It''s harder than most people think it is, certainly, but compared to neurosurgery or civil engineering, it''s not _that_ hard. The real issue is that the job title is grossly inaccurate: it''s a two-stage process, neither of which involve actually designing the software yourself.

Rollings & Morris'' book, "Game Architecture & Design", rightly splits the process into two. (I prefer to call them "Definition & Refinement", rather than "Architecture & Design", but that''s just semantics.)

The first phase involves defining the initial specifications for the game. What is it about? What does the player have to do? *Why* does the player have to do it? (It''s amazing how often that last one gets forgotten.) What are the underlying rules of the game? How will the user interface work?

That is the Game Designer''s first task and yes, it does help if you know something about all aspects of game development. (I''ve found knowing how to draw, how to code and how to write and mix music really do help. It''s not a cast-iron requirement for a hit design though, and no amount of study will help you if you just don''t have the talent.)

The second phase is refinement: you take your definition to the team and basically refine it so that it can actually be made. If necessary, you would also build simple prototypes. You see if the basic mechanisms and rules actually work well together. You analyse any emergent behaviours and see if they help or hinder your design. You start talking to artists, composers, programmers and producers about how the game can be implemented and project-managed. (If you''re really good, you''ll also start talking to the sales & marketing people about how it can be sold to the masses.)

You, together with the producer (who may be you again) and the programming, art, QA and audio leads, will then start working on the *design* document. This is the big thick book that defines what everyone''s role is on the project, what they have to produce, by what date, and in what state. (There is no widely-used official term for this book. Some call it a ''bible''. Others call it a ''design''. Others call it a ''white paper''.)

*

By far the best/worst thing about Game Design is that there is _no_ One True Way of doing it. Some designers prefer small projects and have enough experience to be able to do everything on their own. (Chris Sawyer, of "Rollercoaster Tycoon" fame, is one such.) Others are great team managers who can design and produce solid, workmanlike games with teams of 30-40 people with ease. There are those designers whose Word is Law. And there are those designers who are more than open to suggestions from the development team. Some write massive design documents. Others just make it up as they go along.

As with writers and musicians, there are as many ways of creating a game as there are people willing to do it. The best thing you can do is find out which method works best for you and stick with it.


--
Sean Timarco Baggaley

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