How would you start as a Game Designer

20b3f7af08977162c9bff83d1f71b8d2
0
Sensang 101 Mar 29, 2011 at 18:42

Ok, now that probably sounds like one of those “OMG I GOT BEST MMO IDEA EVA BBQ!!”-Threads, but it’s certainly not like that :P

Atm I work as a Navision Programmer (Microsofts ERP software) in a company and programm php/mysql in my freetime.

I’ve got a TON of experience at playing games and a good amount at programming. Whenever I play games I sort of discuss with myself what I would do different and why. How the general control, art and gameplay feel like. And lot of other things.

So in essence, I would call myself “game designer” material. My goal would be working as a professional game designer in about 10 years.

So if I know my goal and wanna achieve it. What could I do to make that happen? Atm I’m looking into engine design (game engine / graphics engine for now) and c++.

Since I’m assuming there are actual game designers here, reading this, I’m wondering what would you advise someone, who is not at all deterred by having to work hard, to become a serios, professional game designer?

I tried to provide all helpful information. Also, I’m living in Germany atm. Please excuse grammar mistakes…

12 Replies

Please log in or register to post a reply.

A8433b04cb41dd57113740b779f61acb
0
Reedbeta 167 Mar 29, 2011 at 19:51

Different studios work differently, but at my studio most of our designers have come in as a coder or artist, and then transitioned to a design role after working for awhile and having shown interest and aptitude for design issues and tasks.

Engine architecture is different from game design. For sure, it’s worth knowing something about engine architecture, but if your goal is a game designer position then you should focus on game mechanics and gameplay programming rather than engine programming. Don’t just discuss with yourself what you would do differently from a published game you see - actually prototype your idea. Implement the mechanics in code - don’t worry about visual quality / presentation, make it with gray boxes if you have to, but get your desired behavior working in a playable form.

Don’t just play computer games, either. The good designers I know have an understanding and appreciation of card and board games as well.

Also see this video - required watching for anyone who wants to be a game designer. ;)

8676d29610e6c98d6dd2d9c38528cd9c
0
alphadog 101 Mar 29, 2011 at 21:17

“How would you start as a Game Designer?”

By designing games? Is this a trick question? ;)

BTW, if you are as excited about the idea of creating a board game as much as a video game, you could be a game designer. If you like both math and cultural studies, you could be a game designer. If Umberto Eco is interesting to you, you could be a game designer.

Else, you are a video gamer who wants to make a game he/she likes…

20b3f7af08977162c9bff83d1f71b8d2
0
Sensang 101 Mar 29, 2011 at 23:07

@Reedbeta

Different studios work differently, but at my studio most of our designers have come in as a coder or artist, and then transitioned to a design role after working for awhile and having shown interest and aptitude for design issues and tasks.

Engine architecture is different from game design. For sure, it’s worth knowing something about engine architecture, but if your goal is a game designer position then you should focus on game mechanics and gameplay programming rather than engine programming. Don’t just discuss with yourself what you would do differently from a published game you see - actually prototype your idea. Implement the mechanics in code - don’t worry about visual quality / presentation, make it with gray boxes if you have to, but get your desired behavior working in a playable form.

Don’t just play computer games, either. The good designers I know have an understanding and appreciation of card and board games as well.

Also see this video - required watching for anyone who wants to be a game designer. :)

Awesome video … especially liked the part of the “Should haves” since im hitting almost all of them :)

The thing is. I’m really trying hard to find some “basic 3D game” engine. The ones I could find were either very limited(completely graphical, limiting the idea I had), were not 3D(I’ll probably step back from that, but I’d really love to do 3D games instead of 2D ones, at least atm) or costed money (even for testing)

What I meant with “Engine Design” (probably not the right term here…) was what engines I could use for a game. Not like which is the perfect one, or how could I build one myself, just some basic thing, that works, and most of all, gives me a lot of possibilities. And yea I’d love to just start and design with grey boxes or horrible own models. I just can’t find out how.

Atm. I’m wondering if I should just create some games via the Starcraft 2 map editor. Would solve a lot of problems, but also again limit my possibilities, especially if I don’t want to create an rts like game.

I just love math (the math in game design, not the one in school:)
and am interested in cultural studies.

I really hate board games. Maybe thats just cuz of the (in my opinion, “unfun”) design of the classic ones, where it’s like 90% dependant on the roll of the dice. Card games on the other hand would be an idea. Though I wouldn’t call myself “as excited”.

So I might be wrong when I call myself “game designer material”, but I’m pretty sure I’m not just a regular gamer, dreaming of his own super game, that may once rule the world.

What’s bothering me most atm is, how would you actually make the step into professional game design. When you say the most common way is through Art or Coding. Art is out of the question for me, I just kinda suck at creating stuff that looks good.

So how would you become a game programmer? Most companies I’ve seen had like a “You need at least X years of experience in the gaming branch”-policy. Is that a very common policy? Since I wouldn’t know how you could actually enter then.

A638aa42130293f319eda7fa4ba121f4
0
fireside 141 Mar 29, 2011 at 23:34

As a game design tool, I think Unity ranks pretty high. The free version is fine. Blender is a good way to make some simple animated or still models. For getting into game design, like alphadog said, design a lot of games and publish them. Unity is good for that also because you can publish them on Kongregate. Get feedback and rework them. That’s important. Then just keep a portfolio and show game companies what you can do. Try not to get stuck in a rut like all FPS or something.

8676d29610e6c98d6dd2d9c38528cd9c
0
alphadog 101 Mar 29, 2011 at 23:51

@fireside

Get feedback and rework them. That’s important. Then just keep a portfolio and show game companies what you can do. Try not to get stuck in a rut like all FPS or something.

Exactly, whatever you do, don’t stop yourself from making games because you feel they aren’t “good enough”. Start smallish, within whatever your current means are. You’ll learn more from the attempt than to just sit back in analysis paralysis.

I have an expression: “You don’t get to ‘success’ without starting at ‘succ’.”

(It’s better if you say it out loud… ;))

6837d514b487de395be51432d9cdd078
0
TheNut 179 Mar 30, 2011 at 02:49

@Sensang

So how would you become a game programmer? Most companies I’ve seen had like a “You need at least X years of experience in the gaming branch”

You’re looking at the intermediate to senior level positions. Sometimes a company will offer positions to interns or junior roles that you can take advantage of. That would be the most direct entry approach, although it’s not surefire. Lots of people apply to game companies, so it helps if you stand out.

The best thing for you to do would be to release a game. Treat it as though you would treat a project with your current employer. Design it, develop it, test it, and polish it so that it looks marketable. Not only will the experience assure you are ready for the real thing, but it will vastly aid your job application.

20b3f7af08977162c9bff83d1f71b8d2
0
Sensang 101 Mar 30, 2011 at 22:13

Okay thanks for everything! I’m glad to have some feedback from professionals

I have gained somewhat of an idea of what I will do next. Especially unity looks like the game engine I’ve been looking for all along :)

So now I guess I’ll make a bunch of games… I’ll definately keep this forum in mind. Again, thank you all :)

C6cb6c90c411f01492653729e7548a50
0
Flamesilver 101 Apr 11, 2011 at 23:32

If you’re C++ background, try DarkGDK. It’s a DirectX9 wrapper if I’m not mistaken. Very simple 3D drawing, and there are wrappers for PhysX as well.

Check it out! I’m using DarkGDK with Fulcrum PhysX for a game I’m prototyping.

0b249c591e8611305d28bbdf42420732
0
AdrianD 101 Apr 12, 2011 at 23:17

@Sensang

What’s bothering me most atm is, how would you actually make the step into professional game design. When you say the most common way is through Art or Coding. Art is out of the question for me, I just kinda suck at creating stuff that looks good. So how would you become a game programmer? Most companies I’ve seen had like a “You need at least X years of experience in the gaming branch”-policy. Is that a very common policy? Since I wouldn’t know how you could actually enter then.

i think, you got this wrong. Reedbeta was talking about his company. But he also said “Different studios work differently”.
There are lot of other ways to get a game designer position than trough Art or Coding. You could also try starting as a level designer (a very common way), or start as a tester and work your way up trough the QA (but i woudn’t recomend that - it is not very common)
If you want to become a Game Designer, be carefull not to get in lost game programming. It is very easy to loose a lot of time learning new things and debugging code.(geting lost in design patterns…)

As a game designer you will not code anything and you won’t be doing any arts. This skills are “nice to know” but they aren’t needed for a game designer position.
Focus more on things like Interface Design, Graphical User Interface Design, Menu Design. And ofcourse dont forget to learn something about the common game types, how they work and why.
this things are very important, but even more important will be your writing skills. Because as a game designer you have to write a lot. Design Documents mostly. So good skills in using some common word processing application (open office or this other comercial product) will be needed, and being able to setup a wiki is also very usefull.
And don’t forget the social skills. Because you will need to explain and discuss a lot. This is because everyone in a game company thinks he is the best game designer ever. So the actual game designer has a hard job, defending the design document against all that propsed “improvements”.
Reading some serious books about Game Design will also help.

This won’t take ten years, and then you could actually apply for a Junior Game Designer position.

And about the needed years of experience in the gaming industry. There is a simple solution to this problem:
Do not apply for a job in a big studio. Start small. Small job in a small company doing small games.
Small companies are usually not so picky when hiring.
After 2-3 projects - successfull or not - you’ve got the needed experience.
Then you can start applying for a better job in a bigger company.

Fe94bb6b05c3197a1efae93514b2d1c4
0
destiny 101 Apr 20, 2011 at 12:46

@Sensang

The thing is. I’m really trying hard to find some “basic 3D game” engine.

Use Unity3D. U can do soo much stuff with the free version. And if u become good u can buy the pro version and export it to PS3, Wii, iPhone, Android and so on :) (With the licencecost for Sony, Nitendo, Apple of corse)

I tested it for me and i realy like it. But most time i wanna do something its only in 2D/2.5D. So I didnt do very much stuff with it yet.

http://unity3d.com/

902bbf8fa3106980e82e814a97803a94
0
Doubtless 101 Jun 09, 2011 at 19:26

@TheNut

You’re looking at the intermediate to senior level positions. Sometimes a company will offer positions to interns or junior roles that you can take advantage of. That would be the most direct entry approach, although it’s not surefire. Lots of people apply to game companies, so it helps if you stand out. The best thing for you to do would be to release a game. Treat it as though you would treat a project with your current employer. Design it, develop it, test it, and polish it so that it looks marketable. Not only will the experience assure you are ready for the real thing, but it will vastly aid your job application.

Thanks you for the assistance TheNut.

Personally, I’m looking into designer opportunities as are countless others I’m sure.

I’m currently a program manager for a software company, which I treat as invaluable experience into the software development cycle, as well as time, resource, and personnel management.

To complement my professional experience, I also have a BS in Management and a minor in CS. I’ve been gaming in various platforms at a competitive or professional level for nearly 10 years.

How would you (the community) suggest that I market my skills? My software development expertise is very high-level; I’m not required to code much past basic scripting. I’m not an artist.

I have developed a few game mods, including a couple Munchkin games, done level design for Counter-Strike, and some very limited 3d modeling.

I’ve seen level design/ Player vs. Player Balance positions available, which seem to complement my experience (I would consider myself at an “expert” level of competitive game framework), but they are rare.

Are there any indie/team resources available? I’d love to get a good group together to start making games and working on our respective portfolios, even without finding a paid position at an established company.

0fd5c4557f988e1b20e630f052b5f3ab
0
Mariusz 101 May 18, 2012 at 05:56

Hello all,
If you are interested in the topic connected with Game Designing, you can download the teaser of new Game Coder Magazine in which there are few articles about the topic I’ve mentioned.

http://en.sdjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/05/GCM_05_teaser_05.pdf