Hi! Just stumbled across this forum as I was doing some research trying to figure out how best to move forward in my career. I'm currently working as a game tester in a contract position and I'm trying to build a portfolio that will make me a more attractive applicant for in-house positions. My short-term goal is to get any entry-level position at an established studio; my medium-term goal is to be a systems designer for an RPG or MMO.
Skills I already have:
- Math degree: concentration in modeling and optimization, with a solid general background.
- Intermediate-level Lua and Java.
- Basic graphic/UI design skills: color theory, layout, making wireframes, typography
- UI scripting: one complete but no-longer-relevant WoW addon, several aborted ones, one in-progress.
- Basic web front-end design/development (HTML, CSS, JS): one professional freelance HTML/CSS project completed.
- Technical writing, bug-writing, general writing and editing.
Skills I will probably never have:
- Art: I can use software effects and filters to make fairly nice UI textures, but I'm hopeless at anything requiring actual drawing.
The advice I keep seeing for aspiring game designers/developers is to make games. The idea of making a whole game seems daunting; I haven't really even tried that, outside of programming classes where the gameplay was already specified, since I made a text-based RPG in BASIC in fifth grade. I keep downloading Unity, UDK, or GameMaker, futzing around for a few hours learning the software and working through some tutorials, and then giving up because I can't actually make anything without art.
So I'm looking for ideas on where to get started (which software/language/library, what kind of game) on a small project (say, 40-60 hours) that can result in a playable demo, preferably one which shows off something I am actually good at (UI, numbers/balance, scripting/modeling) and puts as little emphasis as possible on the art. Any suggestions?