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#1 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

I'm about to enter my 2nd year of a liberal arts college, aiming for a history major.

Any advice? I briefly considered the idea of transferring to Full Sail University, but the concept of whatever a "For-Profit" university entails makes me feel a little iffy. Plus it's not accredited, and is it just me or do web ads just seem downright shady, solely on principle?

Also, once I make it into the industry, anything you want to see in a game? I guess that I can totally do that if I'm going to be a game designer.

#2 Posted by RadioactiveGazz (98 posts) -

I'd like to see some zombies in a game.

#3 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

You must be the most content gamer alive.

#4 Posted by Imsorrymsjackson (855 posts) -

A war based FPS?

#5 Posted by ChrisTobin (56 posts) -

I imagine you would want to get an internship with a developer and/ or learn how to code.

#6 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

How about warring zombie factions? Bam. Two birds with one stone. I'm amazing at this already.

#7 Posted by killacam (1286 posts) -

nudiez

#8 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

I never did consider interning. That seems like a really obvious and kind of awesome idea. I think I'm going to be learning python next semester, but I'm pretty sure that's like, babby tier coding.

#9 Posted by Keverosh (7 posts) -

Find a PC game you like and make a mod for it. Start small in scope, and gradually build up to more complex mods. Skyrim seams like an easy start. Play around with level editors and build your own levels (Counterstrike, Team Fortress, etc). Many RTS's have nice editors to which you can mod. Starcraft II has a robust one. Or start making WoW mods. Find something with a healthy interactive community.

Above all, learn to code. Anyone can come up with an idea. Not many can put that into action.

#10 Posted by Athadam (702 posts) -
@Keverosh said:

Find a PC game you like and make a mod for it. Start small in scope, and gradually build up to more complex mods. Skyrim seams like an easy start. Play around with level editors and build your own levels (Counterstrike, Team Fortress, etc). Many RTS's have nice editors to which you can mod. Starcraft II has a robust one. Or start making WoW mods. Find something with a healthy interactive community.

Above all, learn to code. Anyone can come up with an idea. Not many can put that into action.

Yup.  If you want to make video games and make a career out of it, there's nothing stopping you from doing it right now. Learn a language, learn how to draw, and start making video games. Get a degree in computer science. 
 
Never get a degree in video game design. It's junk.
#11 Posted by Athadam (702 posts) -

Also - yes, for profit universities are scams. Many of their graduates aren't able to find jobs and consider their degrees useless.

#12 Posted by Yummylee (22296 posts) -

@RadioactiveGazz said:

I'd like to see some zombies in a game.

@Imsorrymsjackson said:

A war based FPS?

Oh, man, like... what if we could somehow, like, put these two things together?!

#13 Posted by ch3burashka (5180 posts) -

How about making some Flash games, play around with Unity, and then deciding if it's for you? Saying 'I've decided to become a game designer' is pretty '7th grade'.

#14 Posted by gamefreak9 (2397 posts) -

@Keverosh said:

Find a PC game you like and make a mod for it. Start small in scope, and gradually build up to more complex mods. Skyrim seams like an easy start. Play around with level editors and build your own levels (Counterstrike, Team Fortress, etc). Many RTS's have nice editors to which you can mod. Starcraft II has a robust one. Or start making WoW mods. Find something with a healthy interactive community.

Above all, learn to code. Anyone can come up with an idea. Not many can put that into action.

Thumbs up on the SC2 map editor! That thing is awesome!

#15 Posted by Xymox (2111 posts) -

Get into modding, preferably get working with a team, and get your stuff exposed. You'll learn many things along the way that will help you out.

It's good to find your niche, too. What do you want to do? "I wanna make a game" is pretty broad... I was in the same boat there before I realized 2 things: 1. world editors have become much more complicated and less user friendly since Duke3D Build engine, and 2. I have no patience with world editors. So my strength would be lore and creating a story. I also know some C++, so that helps.

So just find out what you wanna do, what seems appealing. Usually it's good to know (or at least touch upon) multiple things... You're gonna have a better chance if you know coding and can also mock up a sweet 3D image when needed.

Get into the mindset of a developer. I have a project that I want to get rolling... So what do I need? Well, to complement what I already know would be visual stuff to complement all the backdrop/behind the scenes stuff I know how to do, so basically I'd be looking for someone who knows modelling, animation and texturing.

And use your skills. You're a history major, so how about make a game where you utilize that stuff. Might be boring, but working with what you know makes it easier.

#16 Posted by Imsorrymsjackson (855 posts) -

@Yummylee: Make million dollar.

#17 Posted by MeierTheRed (4941 posts) -

Make a game where you play as Rambo, and you have to go around hugging all the terrorists you have killed... oh wait already done. Well there is nothing left in the games world to do then, waste of time if you ask me.

#18 Posted by JordanK85 (140 posts) -

I used to want to be a game designer but the realities of the industry killed my enthusiasm for the field. Who wants to get laid off several times within a 5 year period and have to hop from city to city looking for a new job? However, if you're not discouraged, try designing a game right now. It won't be a good game but going through the experience of actually creating a game, even a bad one, will allow you to see if you really want what you think you want. I also recommend the book: "The Art of Game Design" by Jesse Schell. It's illustrative of all of the factors you may have to consider when creating a game.

#19 Posted by GS_Dan (1406 posts) -

Don't take a specialist course, take computer science with some relevant module choices.

#20 Posted by Harkat (1106 posts) -

I want a game where you go on a journey of the soul.

#21 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

Alright so; try out modding, more modding, ignore for-profit schools (thanks for the insight), don't be a 7th grader, learn to code, and get to know Jesse Schell. Thank you very much, everybody. I'm going to go ahead and start getting into it all right now.

Though I would say that out of all the skills that are necessary in game design, I value my writing the most. I'm an amateur artist, I've got no experience with coding any language (yet), and I have no ear for sound design, so I should probably start there. I was under the impression that the designer itself only needed to be baseline proficient in most of those fields, though. Am I wrong on that?

#22 Posted by MentalDisruption (1664 posts) -

@DonNoFace:

I'm going through the same process you are for the most part. I decided I wanted to be a part of a development team as a future job last year. Now is the time for you to make stuff and improve. When you get out there looking for a job you want to have a strong portfolio of work to back you up. If you want to work on the writing side of things, write stories, make DnD or related game campaigns (if you're into the whole tabletop gaming thing), etc. Just make sure not to neglect other areas. Definitely get into modding a game that you like. Learn UDK and some other engines as well. Also, when you play games make sure you take time to think about why you're enjoying or not enjoying the experience. Understanding what makes a game enjoyable for you will help you understand what makes games enjoyable for others. Hell, if you really want to, start writing reviews here. It's not directly related, but if you can get good at analyzing games then it will benefit your ability to make them.

If you can find other people with similar interests in developing games then definitely get a small group together to work on something. People will motivate you more than you can motivate yourself, and people tend to create better when they have someone else relying on their work.

I know you want to be a designer, but keep in mind most people don't get placed fresh into those kinds of jobs unless you have a really good background to back you up. You'll likely have to enter through something else like Quality Assurance, Level Design, or another entry-ish level position.

#23 Posted by Ulain (315 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

Alright so; try out modding, more modding, ignore for-profit schools (thanks for the insight), don't be a 7th grader, learn to code, and get to know Jesse Schell. Thank you very much, everybody. I'm going to go ahead and start getting into it all right now.

Though I would say that out of all the skills that are necessary in game design, I value my writing the most. I'm an amateur artist, I've got no experience with coding any language (yet), and I have no ear for sound design, so I should probably start there. I was under the impression that the designer itself only needed to be baseline proficient in most of those fields, though. Am I wrong on that?

Shoot for the stars, my friend, but one thing I'd say watch out for is depending on your writing too much. Hypothetically, you go work for a game company based on that, your ideas and articulated details will be so torn apart and edited, you may find yourself disgusted at what your baby will be turned into to fit time constraints and budgets.

I mean, that's true for a majority of it, you'll be doing what someone else wants you to do, not your own ideas.

Don't mean to scare you, but if all that doesn't bother you, then keep going at it! Good luck.

#24 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7099 posts) -

@Keverosh said:

Find a PC game you like and make a mod for it. Start small in scope, and gradually build up to more complex mods. Skyrim seams like an easy start. Play around with level editors and build your own levels (Counterstrike, Team Fortress, etc). Many RTS's have nice editors to which you can mod. Starcraft II has a robust one. Or start making WoW mods. Find something with a healthy interactive community.

Above all, learn to code. Anyone can come up with an idea. Not many can put that into action.

Some solid fucking advice here. Listen to this guy.

#25 Edited by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

@MentalDisruption

Hey, good luck to you man. I actually run Call of Cthulhu semi-regularly and have a very active tabletop group so I get a lot of help with that, and I'll look into getting to know any noteworthy engine I can think of. I'm already familiarizing myself with the Skyrim creation tools, so I hope I can get my first minor project started with that soon. The review advice is also really nice. I think just as practice I'll make it a habit to give in-depth reviews on most games I play, even if I don't have any intention of publishing them. And the idea of ever being a game tester is the most terrifying thing to me. From what I can gather that's the most unforgiving meatgrinder in the industry. I think I'll work on developing my other skills to a point where I can vault past that.

@Ulain

Yeah, I probably need to get as many scares thrown in my face now, if possible. The sooner I know about them, the more time I have to prepare for them. I think my current long-term goal is to hone my developing abilities to a point where I can be a productive member of a design team underneath another designer, and in the meantime work on my writing so that it will be effective if I ever get to head a project myself.

#26 Posted by Athadam (702 posts) -

Here's some advice from one of the 343 Industries dudes on the Day 3 E3 Podcast, everyone can write but not everyone can code.  
 
Although writing may be your specialty, it's not exactly high in demand. Become a programmer first and then go off from there. You'll be able to branch off better that way.

#27 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19377 posts) -

I wonder how many game designers out there actually set out to become game designers.

Online
#28 Posted by mlarrabee (3031 posts) -

It seems the people who get into game design most frequently are art majors, or those who have degrees in the most unexpected, technical fields.

For example, economics majors would be hired for their understanding of item management or loot distribution, or business majors would be more able to design the ebb and flow of gameplay progression.

Basically, the old bit. You can draw really well? You're a great writer? You've an awesome idea for a gameplay mechanic?

Game designing is not for you.

You're excellent with math? You understand the psychology of human motivation? You imagine things that you're unable to put to paper?

Do it.

#29 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

Plus it's not accredited,

Here in lies the real problem, really.

There is no "developer" profession; what do you want to actually do on the game?

@GS_Dan said:

Don't take a specialist course, take computer science with some relevant module choices.

....And if you are going to do anything short of being a level designer, take classes that focus on the thing you want to do. Because you can't take computer science and know how to model a game or do UI, or much of anything that you need to know how to do. Computer Science is useful and often a pre-req for many of the paths you can take, but you need to branch out. It's not as focused as it used to be, when animation by a modeler was unheard of, so you want to be more general on the path, but find what you are good at and focus on it.

If you want to be a level/gameplay designer, you are going to want to pick up at least some programming in C++ because it'll help a lot when you know the programming that makes your design go. Plus, it'll help hugely when you want to make portfolio projects to show off. A good thing to do is go to school for computer science, with a focus on programming. While you do that, pick up every easy ass level editor software in order of ease of use, and with a variety of types of games. I don't give a damn if you only wanna make shooters, learn how to make Portal puzzles and Neverwinter Nights encounters. Then get into more advanced stuff, like the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), to try and make an entire game, maybe with some help.

The key to getting a gig in the industry is actual proof that you can do something. Designed a really awesome map in Forge, or the Hammer Editor? Package it up, and make it a part of your portfolio. Did you help out on an indie project? Pack up what you worked on, or give a way to acquire the game and state what part you worked on. If it's too clunky to package up what work you did, do a video walk through, not with commentary. When you play a game, the flow isn't stated to you explicitly most of the time, and commentary over the clip can be useful as an optional thing, but it should also be available without it to show how it's experienced by the player.

While you still need to be somewhat specialized within a field, learn EVERYTHING you can within that field. Don't just learn how to make an interesting encounter, learn how to guide the player and control level flow; how to make the environment look natural, interesting, and aesthetically pleasing in one sense or another; how to pace a level properly; and how to fit things together into a larger experience (a good way for this is to make a Left 4 Dead campaign with several levels, or a quest/mission line in an open world game like Skyrim). Even learning basics of lighting and sound will help with making things more well rounded and show that you can interact with the various fields. Because games are made in a particular way, you do a LOT of collaborating across departments, art and design have to work together to reach a balance between gameplay and aesthetic in environments; UI is equal parts of both often; art has to work some with engineering/programming to make sure pretty effects can be implemented and coordinated, and to avoid all the pretty effects bogging down the engine; and much much more. Even within departments or fields there are smaller subsections like sound being separate off on it's own. All of the teams come together to make a game that is a cohesive thing, so the sound and the art and the design all line up. So it's very important to know at least the basics of that stuff to make things easier when someone else has to put their pass on something.

#30 Posted by Deusx (1910 posts) -

Rape.

#31 Posted by iam3green (14390 posts) -

i had to upload this. i saw it almost 7ish years ago when myspace was still a place to be.

you should mod games and see if you like it.

#32 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos said:

There is no "developer" profession; what do you want to actually do on the game?

I don't know a concise way to express it, but what is attractive to me about the position of being a game designer is that he or she is the one that has the initial idea that gets things started. And, ideally, also holds everything together until the end.

Assuming that I was lead designer, even though it's really vague, I would want to be trying to make sure that the player's experience is appropriate for what the game is trying to convey. Like, having the player feel powerful in games like God of War or Space Marine, or powerless in games like Amnesia: TDD and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It doesn't feel like things like that can be condensed to any one single element of the game. Just taking Silent Hill as an example; Everything in the game from the more obvious level aesthetics and enemy designs down to something as subtle as the sounds the play when navigating through menus has to contribute to the atmosphere of the game. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to acknowledge that, but it does take some ability to be able to decide what does and does not work and why, as well as to be able to follow up with what would be more effective.

I feel like it would be more important to be developing my technical skills in order to be able to have a firm grasp on how all of the elements of production work, in the same way that a film director benefits by understanding the basics of how to light a set. I think ultimately it's just motive and means to the same end if I'm going to have to spend years on multiple projects underneath other designers, but I wouldn't have expected to need to be adept at anything technical with my intentions as they are.

I can definitely see what you all mean, though. I really appreciate the input.

#33 Posted by envane (1164 posts) -

ive had like a massssive scope crazy ambitious idea for a game for years now , but i havent the slightest clue of how to approach a career/educational trajectory that will take me to the point where making such a game woudl be feasible , but i still keep notes and write down some of the more complex ideas for some sort of safe keeping ,

for lols , heres my quick pitch for unnamed "alien hunter" game

proceduraly generated universe , in painstaking detail , with amaaaazing graphics , seamless singleplayer/multiplayer with multiplayer concepts involving time dilation and alternate dimensions

gameplay ranges from first person / third person "shooter"/rpg to rts and eve-online style interactive spreadsheet eheh .. with every system dynamicly feeding from eachother

then shove all of that crap in the background and take away any hud , then drop deep into comepletely proceduraly generated planet , gather your wits and whatever weaponry you desire , then go hunt some crazy ass alien dinosaur thing i dunno .. use predator vision , or whatever , but know that the universe is way more alien than you can ever be .. and is the hunter the hunted blah blah .. emergent gameplay

step 2 ??????

step 3 profit

#34 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

Good luck with making your dreams come true duder. As for the wish, nuclear winter in a post apocalyptic game. Do it!

#35 Posted by DeF (4958 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

Also, once I make it into the industry, anything you want to see in a game? I guess that I can totally do that if I'm going to be a game designer.

that part makes me think you're not sure exactly what you're getting into? or did I miss a joke? :)

#36 Edited by Salarn (465 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

I'm about to enter my 2nd year of a liberal arts college, aiming for a history major.

Any advice? I briefly considered the idea of transferring to Full Sail University, but the concept of whatever a "For-Profit" university entails makes me feel a little iffy. Plus it's not accredited, and is it just me or do web ads just seem downright shady, solely on principle?

Full Sail, Digipen, and a few of the others are good places if you goal is to end up in the game industry. However, they are not very good if you don't end up in the game industry. Think of them as trade schools, not universities. The truth of the matter is, no one gives a more than half a care about where your degree is from, what they care about is what's in your portfolio. That's where these trade schools shine, each year will require you to make a game project for your portfolio. There is nothing to stop you from making your own project on your own time at your current school.

@DonNoFace said:

Also, once I make it into the industry, anything you want to see in a game? I guess that I can totally do that if I'm going to be a game designer.

You will not, for many years, have creative control of a project. At least a project that you get salaried and health care from. An entry level game designer is going to be a number tweaker, maybe if you are lucky you will have minor systems to flesh out passed down from you lead. No one, anywhere, is hiring an "ideas guy" if that's what you think a game designer is.

#37 Posted by Grillbar (1895 posts) -

what about a rhythm game with some sort of plastic instrument, i hear its really in right now.

you can always do a point and click adventure game. im guessing that its fairly easy to make that work then you just need a good setting and story

#38 Posted by biospank (660 posts) -

I am just going to say it. Good luck with that, I hope you get a shoot in it. But if I where you I would rather go in as an artist or programmer not full on game design because they really don't need it, as of now.

#39 Posted by Mnemoidian (956 posts) -

I think the first thing you need to do is set your expectations.

If you take employment with an established studio, you are very likely to get control of a very small sub-set of systems, and it will be quite some time 'till you work yourself to where you are a "lead designer". And even then, it's unlikely you'll get to make whatever you want to.

Of course, you could join a startup studio - you are likely to get more creative freedom in such a project... but on the other hand, that creative position is most likely already filled. Or create your own game. You can look at people like Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish (and many others) for inspiration and discouragement. (If you haven't seen "Indie Game: The Movie", that's a good place to start).

I remember reading an article (or watching a seminar? I forget) on the subject of becoming a Game Designer, with the undertone of discouraging future "Game Designers", because there are a lot of people out there who don't understand how products are created, and that games are ultimately products. People who don't really know what a Game Designer does. Also how there were dozens of applicants for every game designer position.

Unfortunately, I can't find the article now (and seeing how it's a few years old, it'd probably have inaccuracies).

Good luck, but keep your expectations in check, and make sure to hone your other skills so you can have a place in development even if you don't make the designer cut.

#40 Posted by Bollard (5763 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

@MordeaniisChaos said:

There is no "developer" profession; what do you want to actually do on the game?

I don't know a concise way to express it, but what is attractive to me about the position of being a game designer is that he or she is the one that has the initial idea that gets things started. And, ideally, also holds everything together until the end.

I'm just going to throw this out there, you will never walk into a job like this. This is years of lower down work and promotions away. At best you can look to be designing one aspect of a game. I had a day at Criterion recently and spoke to a guy who had just made it in as a designer. He designed handling and that was pretty much it, and had been doing testing for ~5 years beforehand.

#41 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

@Salarn said:

You will not, for many years, have creative control of a project. At least a project that you get salaried and health care from. An entry level game designer is going to be a number tweaker, maybe if you are lucky you will have minor systems to flesh out passed down from you lead. No one, anywhere, is hiring an "ideas guy" if that's what you think a game designer is.

@Chavtheworld said:

I'm just going to throw this out there, you will never walk into a job like this. This is years of lower down work and promotions away. At best you can look to be designing one aspect of a game. I had a day at Criterion recently and spoke to a guy who had just made it in as a designer. He designed handling and that was pretty much it, and had been doing testing for ~5 years beforehand.

@Mnemoidian said:

Good luck, but keep your expectations in check, and make sure to hone your other skills so you can have a place in development even if you don't make the designer cut.

This is the kind of stuff that I came here to hear, if it wasn't painfully obvious that I had little to no clue what I'm getting into beyond a vague hell of some kind. I'm still determined to make it, though. I'm getting a better picture of what it meant when I heard that the most important quality for getting into game design was perseverance.

I feel like I would probably prefer to get involved in smaller productions than to try and enter some large company as a tester, for the sake of being able to use the same theoretical window of years to actually be working on creating games. Regardless of whose brainchild it is, I'd benefit more from the experience in terms of my own skills. Plus I get the feeling it's slightly less hellish.

#42 Posted by wreakOnes (48 posts) -

I'm just going to say that this is an extremely difficult and demanding business to get into. While I was in college I made a couple of little fun games as student projects and that was all fine and dandy, but once I actually left school and tried to find work in the industry, the realities of the games business became very apparent to me. Not only do they want to most talented and intelligent people they can find to make shitty potted plants as art assets, they want to pay you as little as possible. After that I got back together with some school chums and decided to make an indie game... twice. I'll keep the story short and say that it's really tuff working a full time job and staying up until 4 am everyday working on art assets and coordinating with programmers on what works best ect, ect. in the end both projects just halted because no one on the team wanted to live like that anymore. It's hard. I have so much respect for the guys in Indie Game the movie because they did what my 5 friends and I couldn't.

#43 Edited by JeanLuc (3605 posts) -

I want the idea of exploring space and visiting unknown planets from Mass Effect 1 taken to the extreme. That game had a great concept for the Mako stuff but failed in execution. I really want to see a game do that stuff right.

Also good luck to you sir.

#44 Posted by groverat (165 posts) -

If you want to be a game designer then start designing and making a game.

#45 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

Make something really boring and simple, then label it indie and Patrick will do the rest.

;)

#46 Edited by seagaia (10 posts) -

just make a game. that's the best you can do for the time being. you don't need to know programming (very much), but you need to get very good at at least one of: programming, art, or music to really get into bigger projects. it's very hard or impossible to just be a designer if you don't understand how that translates into one of those three aspects of game development, and most people won't take you seriously (plus it will be hard to communicate with them and so forth)

#47 Posted by NickL (2247 posts) -

@DonNoFace said:

I briefly considered the idea of transferring to Full Sail University

Plus it's not accredited

You answered that question for yourself. Nothing could be more useless then an unaccredited college.

#48 Edited by redbliss (648 posts) -

From what I have heard from most developers and programmers, it sounds like a lot of people kind of do their own thing before they get into developing video games. Things like mods, level, and stuff like that, or even just a smaller game. No developer out there is going to hire you just because you want to develop video games. You have to do some stuff on your own and figure things out for yourself a bit. Once you get some experience and some material that you can show off to a developer, then you will have a much better chance of being hired.

#49 Posted by DeadVillager (77 posts) -

@wreakOnes said:

I'm just going to say that this is an extremely difficult and demanding business to get into. While I was in college I made a couple of little fun games as student projects and that was all fine and dandy, but once I actually left school and tried to find work in the industry, the realities of the games business became very apparent to me. Not only do they want to most talented and intelligent people they can find to make shitty potted plants as art assets, they want to pay you as little as possible. After that I got back together with some school chums and decided to make an indie game... twice. I'll keep the story short and say that it's really tuff working a full time job and staying up until 4 am everyday working on art assets and coordinating with programmers on what works best ect, ect. in the end both projects just halted because no one on the team wanted to live like that anymore. It's hard. I have so much respect for the guys in Indie Game the movie because they did what my 5 friends and I couldn't.

Man, I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. It's good to know that it'll probably take more than just having a few complete projects on a resume to make it though, thanks.

@seagaia said:

just make a game. that's the best you can do for the time being. you don't need to know programming (very much), but you need to get very good at at least one of: programming, art, or music to really get into bigger projects. it's very hard or impossible to just be a designer if you don't understand how that translates into one of those three aspects of game development, and most people won't take you seriously (plus it will be hard to communicate with them and so forth)

I get the feeling that no matter how I feel about any aspect of game design, I can't take any of it for granted. If I'm going to have to start and complete smaller projects on my own (or alongside like, one or two other people) then I'm probably going to have to sharpen all three. I'm at least what I'd consider a competent amateur artist, but I've got no ear for good sound design or music, I don't think.

#50 Posted by Cubical (637 posts) -

You are screwed