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  1. #1
    Skaarj
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    Default How does one pursue the career of "lead game designer" or "creative director"

    I've recently become quite interested and serious in pursuing game design as a career. I'm an intelligent and talented person, and one of my greatest passions is to create, no matter what it is. I've been published as a photographer and as a writer. I'm not overly confident, but I and many others seem to agree my idiosyncratic style is something worth pursuing and spreading.

    It is for this reason i've come here, for some help or guidance. Out of all of my passions, gaming has got to be one of my strongest. I love to play them, to pick them apart, to see how they work, how mechanics coincide with the artistic style, or how the narrative carries directions to the player in interesting ways, how the colors collide with the sound to immerse a player in a brand new world. I'm interested in making my worlds, words, characters, songs, and visuals a reality, and I think gaming would be one of the strongest ways I can do that.

    I've been a little lost lately, as far as what i'm going to “be when I grow up” and i've decided to take these talents, ideas, and thoughts and focus on developing them into skills to become a game designer. I honestly feel it's where I'd “fit” best. My only problem is i'm clueless about a lot of things, such as the correct education for such a position, locations for work, demand in certain positions. I was curious if anyone would be as kind as to offer me some advice as to how to achieve my goal?

    My plan so far is to finish up my associates degree (in liberal arts) and use my elective fulfillments to learn some basic programming like C++, Java, HTML, and Visual Basic, and flash, I've also read Marketing is a good choice to pursue, although there's multiple courses and not sure what type of marketing I should go for.

    I've taken a business course, and some creative writing classes to help strengthen my narrative and communicative abilities through text for things like stories, plot development, etc. I already have a Professional Certification in Photography, and a 3.7 GPA, with a vocational certification in Graphic Design. Psycology and Sociology is also an interesting subject to me and knowing how and why people react to things like colors, sounds, and things of that nature is also something I've been interested in.

    I'm just confused as how to maximize my marketability for such a position, should I look to be a programmer and work my way up? Should I focus on marketing and business and hope to land right in the position? My ultimate goal/dream position would essentially be drafting stories,figuring out sound effects to use, conceptual designs, narrative, developing and adding interesting and innovative mechanics from the beginning to the end. I'm sure this dream job belongs to many people, but I really am willing to put in the work and do what I need to to be in that position, I just need to know what i need to do to let others know that's what i'm going for.

    I appreciate and thank anyone who takes the time to read this and respond with any advice.

  2. #2
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    This is one of those cases of starting at the bottom and working your way up; you get these positions simply through weight of experience, and most I've met or worked with in these positions have been working in games for a considerable length of time (often a decade or more). At the moment, it's better not to worry about what you need to achieve in order to get there, and focus on making the most out of your skill set - if you're interested in programming and marketing, pursue those (especially programming - I've never heard of a marketer landing a lead development position, as they tend to be very discrete positions).
    - Please do not send me questions regarding programming or implementing things in UDK via Private Message. I do not have time to respond and they are much better answered in the forums. -

  3. #3
    Skaarj
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    I appreciate the info ambershee, I'm interested in pursuing programming and writing mostly. I'm a bit hung up on programming because i know there's tons of types of programmers, and software to know, and I can never seem to find any decent schools for it, or even know what major it would technically be. I guess my goal would be to be as flexible as possible with my education, learning the most useful skills. Although i can see myself doing something more like level design, or aesthetic design, graphics, coloring, HUD design, menu design, effects, things like that. But wouldn't something like level design need to be learned in whatever engine the developer is using? Litle things like this is what I get hung up on.

  4. #4
    Boomshot
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadAttack View Post
    But wouldn't something like level design need to be learned in whatever engine the developer is using?
    No. The tools will be different, but most of the principles involved are shared. Anything you learn from using one engine - be it level design, materials, textures, skeletal and static meshes, rigging, physics, collision, etc. - will almost always translate from one engine to another.

    Engines, tools and code are a layer above the real topic here: game development and software engineering.

    The same is true for programming. Grab yourself a book and jump straight in because anything you learn at this stage will move you forward. Languages have different purposes and differing syntax (some look quite alien to each other). However, the core principles of programming are almost always the same, especially when you look beneath the language at the 'bare metal'.

    I would suggest Java because it's very well supported with tutorials and documentation, but the language itself isn't important: it's the essence of logic and problem-solving that matters most.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadAttack View Post
    I'm a bit hung up on programming because i know there's tons of types of programmers, and software to know, and I can never seem to find any decent schools for it, or even know what major it would technically be.
    Your major is Software Engineering. In the games industry, C-syntax languages are king, and C++ is most widely used - it is often taught by many Software Engineering courses. Java is also a common engineering language, but it is much less used in games for various reasons that will become apparent the more experience you get with games programming in general. I personally learnt the basics working with C#, then moved on to learn fundamentals of C++ and Java directly afterwards. These days I work almost exclusively in C++.


    Quote Originally Posted by RadAttack View Post
    I guess my goal would be to be as flexible as possible with my education, learning the most useful skills. Although i can see myself doing something more like level design, or aesthetic design, graphics, coloring, HUD design, menu design, effects, things like that.
    These kinds of skills are usually self-taught and come simply from lots of practice - I spend a lot of time in UnrealEd myself. Menu design and such will likely form a part of a software engineering course (since the interface is an important aspect of almost any end-user software)

    Quote Originally Posted by RadAttack View Post
    But wouldn't something like level design need to be learned in whatever engine the developer is using? Litle things like this is what I get hung up on.
    Most developers use in-house tools that aren't available outside of their own company - you cannot hope to learn it before you get there. Just learn your way around whichever tools you have available.
    - Please do not send me questions regarding programming or implementing things in UDK via Private Message. I do not have time to respond and they are much better answered in the forums. -

  6. #6
    Skaarj
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    I would just like to say...I had to look up the definition of idiosyncratic... And to you sir, a good way to get your name out here is by going to school for it, and be VERY detailed about any work you do, take your time but not too much so. Anyone can work on a project for years, that doesn't mean it's going to blow your your mind. There are times when detailing gets damn near boring, but that's when you have to realize that your gonna be dropping jaws when people look at your work. Again sir good luck in your pursuit of happiness.
    SloppyCamel

  7. #7
    MSgt. Shooter Person
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    Quote Originally Posted by SloppyCamel View Post
    I would just like to say...I had to look up the definition of idiosyncratic... And to you sir, a good way to get your name out here is by going to school for it, and be VERY detailed about any work you do, take your time but not too much so. Anyone can work on a project for years, that doesn't mean it's going to blow your your mind. There are times when detailing gets damn near boring, but that's when you have to realize that your gonna be dropping jaws when people look at your work. Again sir good luck in your pursuit of happiness.
    SloppyCamel
    I agree with this. I'm in school right now for Programming Games with emphasis on simulation. The degree is one thing, but what I care about is 1)showing my wicked grades in math and programming classes and 2) MAKING SOMETHING that I can actually show to people in the industry when I'm done. For me, my first 2 years were mostly experimenting and as I wrap up the third year I am focusing on getting a playable demo out so I can show more than I tell when I go looking for jobs later.

    Also if you learn programming, you have many decent fallbacks you could *potentially* work in until landing a position in gaming.
    Last edited by neurosys; 04-06-2012 at 02:53 PM.
    My blog for UDK stuff: http://udkoder.geekprojex.com

  8. #8
    Skaarj
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    Thanks for all the replies guys, sorry i'm late with responses. I appreciate the feedback! As i stated earlier, i still have some time left in my Lib arts curriculum so i'm gonna spend my free time learning some HTML (To be able to better promote myself) and take it from there, I already registered for a couple programming classes in the fall, although they don't offer much of what i'm looking for (C++, Java) without a bunch of pre-reqs so i'll pick those up on my own so i get a taste before i dive in.

    I am a very detail oriented guy, but never too much so, just enough. I'm a hardcore photoshop enthusiast who loves to retouch with a healing brush at 500% zoom lol, But i still get my shots to clients on time.

    My only other problem is Math, i'm terrible at it. Is there any truth to needing to excel at math to be good at programming? Problem solving isn't an issue for me, as i can always figure something out fairly quickly, while maintaining a flexibility to change it later and such. But if complex calculations are involved, i may be SOL :-/ (not expecting this to be the case but it couldn't hurt to ask)

    I'm also interested in hearing about some of these fallbacks Neurosys if you would be so kind as to elaborate. As i'm already 25, and will need to have some income and stability before landing "the dream job"

    Anyone have any school suggestions? I'm interested in pursuing creative writing (screen plays, fiction stories, poetry, etc) or journalism as a minor, But i can't seem to find a school with both of these things in one place, any ideas would be awesome, if not, i'll just look harder, i'm sure i'll find something.

    I also know that this isn't the exact forum i'm looking for for this kind of information, Does anyone know of any beginner-intermediate sites that have Forums and regular updates pertaining to this info i'm requesting? Or just basic how-to's and help-me-out's once i get underway? Anything in this department would be better then the 0 I have now.

    Again, Ambershee, Spoof, Camel, Neuro This is much appreciated. Can't thank you guys and or gals enough!

  9. #9
    Skaarj
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    The programs i was able to get into this fall is Visual Basic, and some Flash stuff. But learning Java/C++ on the side this summer is something i'll definitely do.

  10. #10
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    Trust me, school means very little when getting a job in the games industry - it is very heavily biased towards your presentable skillset (a good portfolio goes a long way). I'm not saying going to a school won't help you achieve this of course.
    - Please do not send me questions regarding programming or implementing things in UDK via Private Message. I do not have time to respond and they are much better answered in the forums. -

  11. #11
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    I'm self-taught, as I think most of my generation are. In our day computer courses were more about history than programming, and we had no educational options.

    The math isn't necessary. My math is terrible but I've still built a couple of 3D engines - it's more about understanding the mechanics behind the math. Such things as vectors, matrices and quaternions are well documented tools that are often implemented for you (UDK is a perfect example). Don't worry about the math, learn at your own pace and absorb as much as possible about 'the bigger picture'. If programming is for you then the rest will slowly fall into place in time.

  12. #12
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    It depends what type of programming role you're talking about, but I wouldn't say that maths aren't necessary for gameplay programmers, let alone graphics programmers.

    Also, an important skill you need to "learn" is adaptability. As it's been mentioned before, tools and pipelines can change significantly from one company to the other. Being able to adapt quickly to a new work environment is a very valuable skill.

    If you want to be a designer, you need to be able to tell apart good ideas, bad ideas, and appropriate ideas. You need to be able to communicate your ideas to the other team members, regardless of their role, either through documentation or conversation.

    Not only you need to play games, but you should play many different games, in various genres, especially the ones you usually don't play.
    Knowledge should be shared with everyone. Technique however, is your own thing.

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  13. #13
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    I categorically say that maths is an absolute requirement for graphics programming; it's almost completely unavoidable (if not completely unavoidable).

    It's also relatively important for gameplay. Unreal might have quite a few maths functions built into UnrealScript, but that isn't going to help you when you're working elsewhere.
    - Please do not send me questions regarding programming or implementing things in UDK via Private Message. I do not have time to respond and they are much better answered in the forums. -

  14. #14
    MSgt. Shooter Person
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    Just my opinion : Get a high class education. Make some small, but brilliant games that make money. Then you have two choices (which you can switch between in later life) - either start your own company or join the games industry in the middle and work your way up.


 

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