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Games Entertainment

So You Want To Be a Game Designer? 204

Posted by Zonk
from the not-as-cool-as-a-wizard dept.
Gamespot is running a feature which talks to designers such as CliffyB and Akira Yamaoka on the subject of what it means to be a game designer. From the article: "No one just falls into the position. You claw, kick and scream and push your way into it. Most designers start off as programmers or artists. They understand gameplay systems; they live and breathe games. From my perspective, I was making my own games, programming them, doing all the artwork, the production, level design, and everything because I didn't have anybody else to do it for me. That background helped give me the perspective it takes to pull a product together and have a creative vision for it. Being a designer is about having a creative vision and adhering to it."
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So You Want To Be a Game Designer?

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  • Answer: (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:25PM (#13146136)
    No.
  • No thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crlove (857212) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:26PM (#13146147) Journal
    I wanted to be a game designer forever. Then I heard all of the EA horror stories. I'm glad I never went near it.

    I have no desire to "claw my way" into a job that will make my life miserable
    • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PakProtector (115173) <cevkiv AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:33PM (#13146189) Journal

      Oi! I know reading the fucking article isn't required here, after all, I've been here alot longer than you, but how the hell did you get informative?

      My Modding Brethern: Game Designer != Game Programmer

      • Re:No thanks (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Seumas (6865) *
        I've clearly been around here since your mom was in diapers. He got modded informative, most likely, because game design is even more dog-eat dog than game programming. Getting into game programming is like striving to be the Kraft Services guy in the movie industry while game design is more like striving to be a set designer, casting director or writer in the movie industry.
        • What I was most strenously objecting to, and I apologise for inciting your wrath, oh Most Ancient One, is the comparison the G'G'P Poster made with EA.

          EA is a shithole, and I don't doubt that Game Design is even more dog-eat-dog than game programming, but using the worst possible example in an industry (EA) to make a decision about said industry as a whole is a Bad Thing(TM).

          Please, Oh Most Ancient One, whose /. UID is far lower than mine, please, forgive my youthful impudence.

          • (As a teensy bit of history about myself, I worked for EA a few years ago (and shipped a title with them). Then, along with 90% of my coworkers, I left EA. I went to a third party developer, where I worked for several other publishers, and shipped two more titles. I've now left game development, although I'm technically still in the game industry.)

            You seem to think it's different other places in the industry. That's quite naive.

            It's not. EA is the biggest, but they're not the ones that started the trend o
            • I don't think that it's neccessarily much different at other places, and even if EA's behaviour is the "Industry Norm," it's still wrong to judge all Industry Behaviour from One Statistic. That would be like saying, "Well, we shot this guy with this .357, and he didn't die. Gunshot wounds are, therefore, not fatal."

              However, I much appreciate your input into this. I always enjoy being lectured by someone who knows what they're talking about.

    • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

      Exactly the same here.

      For the last 15 years theres nothing I wanted more. After hearing all the crap which goes around I decided I'd be better off becoming a tech support guy instead. Start a local based company, goto peoples houses, fixs basic crap, rake in the money, don't lose my wife and kids because I work too much if I ever get either.

      May not be my dream but at least I don't end up as some slave who has to sleep in an office chair for 2 hours a day.
    • Re:No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by non0score (890022) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:35PM (#13146197)
      I think most of the people involved in the horror stories aren't the designers. Besides, designing is only necessary when there is something new or different. And when was the last time that EA had something new or different?
      • I think most of the people involved in the horror stories aren't the designers.

        I think this is true. The people that ea_spouse was talking about are more or less the low level cogs in the machine, the nameless hord that do the bidding of the true designers/stars. But my guess is to become a designer/star, these are the positions that you must "claw, kick and scream and push" and back-stab through. My guess is that if you don't want to do these things, you really are not agressive enough to be a designer/s

      • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Informative)

        by tc (93768)
        Besides, designing is only necessary when there is something new or different.

        Utter bullshit. You obviously have no experience of games development.

        The fact of the matter is that ideas are, for the most part, completely worthless. And it's not ideas that game designers, in general, are paid for.

        What game designers do get paid for is the ability to make the thousand little decisions along the way that separate the truly great game from the merely average. Why is Halo great, but Killzone merely so-so? The
    • Aren't there still game companies other than EA?
      • Indie companies work more as "if you know us, we'll let you in" and bigger companies are closer to EA then Indie.

        EA is just doing what every major company wants to do. They got the boot in first and others will follow suit untill it's the norm.
      • "Aren't there still game companies other than EA?"

        Yep. What he said was akin to saying "I watched the Star Wars prequels so I won't go see movies anymore."
  • by Man in Spandex (775950) <prsn@kev.gmail@com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:27PM (#13146157)
    Being a designer is about having a creative vision and adhering to it."

    Or you could do it EA's way and release the same title every year and change the nametag from Johnson to Jonson and people are still gonna buy.
    • mod parent up.

      the AI engine for games like NBA live have not improved at all the last couple of years. Not to mention the least that they missed one of their annual releases couple of years ago. given the amount of crazy overtime shifts employees work there, you'd think they would make more adjustments and improvements per release right? unfortunately nba live isnt one of the games they're pushing the most, already knowing that they've established their fan base. good thing though is that sega has been rel
      • >>i'd like to wonder if the nba live team in EA is
        >>the same as the nhl or nfl progrmaming folks.

        the idea of 'teams' at EA is a questionable one - yes there are teams working on specific projects, but EA as a company is more like Ford's production line than a typical game company.

        Teams are more divided up according to specialty than a specific title, which is why the end result is less than innovative or interesting.

        If you are a 'modeler' at EA, you are likely doing one specific type of model
    • // TOP SECRET EA CODE
      for (var year=2006; year 3006; year++) // print new eagame title
      printf "introducing tenis " + year + " \n";
      for (var year=2006; year 3006; year++) // print new eagame title
      printf "introducing American football " + year " + "\n"; // This code was hacked

      Code not checked but you get the idea

      When i join ea I want to do the animation ,ad lip syncing of female tennis players grunting while playing tennis

      Perhaps that is why there is no innovation in games ?
    • I'd just like to add I gave EA as an example because it was the perfect example, but it goes well beyond what they have produced.

      Since Return to Castle Wolfenstein, we saw all kinds of WWII-themed games and I just got sick of the same old MP40's "shoot em up nazi's".

      We got RTCW, Medal of Honor, BF1942, UT Mod Red Orchestra, Call of Duty, Enemy Territory, Brothers in Arms, upcoming title Call of Duty 2 and probably a bunch more that I missed.

      This ain't just about creativity. They see one kind of successfu
  • After knowing about how the Game Industry is a sweatshop for video games, I figured I'd make games for my own good, if I made any at all.
  • false hopes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Danzigism (881294) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:30PM (#13146173)
    seems like some of those people were merely lucked out thanks to their previous hollywood careers.. of course some had done some pretty hard work, but it almost feels like it could turn into one of those fields like "communication".. you do a lot of work, and can't get shit worth of a job.. but i encourage it.. simply because I really need good freakin video games.. they are great works of art, and its a good outlet for their expressive minds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:33PM (#13146186)
    Another way to inadvertantly become a game designer is to design a franchise. Create a successful comic book, write a successful movie, or write a succesful TV series, et cetera. Or write a good sci-fi novel. If you create a fictional universe where games can take place, and if your fictional universe gets popular enough, you'll be consulted when games are designed for that universe!
    • But that doesn't make you a designer, it makes you more of a scenario writer, or just an ordinary writer. You don't decide what the powerups are or the obstacles that they overcome, beyond coming up with the setting. You don't decide where bosses go or their precise means of attack, even if you have some kind of say over what they look like and what their attacks appear to be. You don't wrack your brain trying to decide if an enemy should to eight points of damage or only five.
  • by tehsoul (844435) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:42PM (#13146235)
    it's all about creativity you say? what job, regarding design ANY kind of software, is NOT about creativity? :~
    • The 99% of programming that companies will pay you to do? Over half the programs in the world were weritten in Visual Basic. They do simple, repetitive tasks such as converting files, displaying files, and giving the user a couple options and then doing some simple other thing. They are not creative. They are not interesting. Nobody wants to do them. They are what you will write.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:43PM (#13146240)
    but I play one on the web.

    I've been creating modules for Neverwinter Nights for the last few years and have had far more exposure than I would have thought possible to the world of game design. I've had teams of people working for me, dealt with NDAs and contracts, stayed up way too late debugging, and gone from extremes of giddiness to despair.

    It sounds silly, but making games is a ton of work. Most of it isn't pleasant and it requires someone who enjoys creating things for the sake of the creation. The pay is lousy and you'll get hate mail no matter what creative decisions you make. Things will break and people will complain and ask for help. I find myself playing tech support to the world, explaining how you can't overclock your computer on a hot Summer day in Spain, or how you need to extract all the files from a .zip file, not just the one that looks neat.

    Still, I've kept it as a hobby for a long while now and don't plan on stopping any time soon. On the plus side, I've gotten some extremely uplifting e-mails from cancer patients, Israeli soldiers, and Peace Corps volunteers talking about how happy my games made them when all seemed bleak. As cliche as it sounds, it's that sort of thing that keeps me motivated.
    • Well I'd say you ARE a game designer (by that measure, I'm one too). And it is a lot of work, if you want it to be any good.

      But lots of fun things are also hard work. Nethack is the best computer game I've ever played, but you have to practically have a degree in it to win.
    • Sorry, dude. You ARE a game designer. Live with it. You may not be a paid professional, but you are still a designer and the fact that people write and thank you for your work is a really good sign.

      I don't play Neverwinter Nights, but:

      One of my college professors had a cartoon taped to her file cabinet. It showed a badly drawn Charlie Brown sitting on a curb, chin resting on crossed arms, with a sour expression on his face.

      In a thought balloon above Charlie's head:

      "Getting a paper published is like piss
  • come on.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mangus_angus (873781) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:49PM (#13146263)
    "Being a designer is about having a creative vision and adhering to it."

    and willing to work 90 hour weeks while getting paid squat by EA.

    You claw, kick and scream and push your way into it.

    no that would be trying to get whats owed to you BY EA.
    • Thing is this thread is supposed to be about game design. I don't actually think that EA has designed anything in the past 20 years, they just keep pushing out the same old crap year after year. If they want a new "design" they just buy out the company, they don't actually design anything themselves.
  • by ArAgost (853804) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:49PM (#13146264) Homepage
    No one just falls into the position. You claw, kick and scream and push your way into it.

    Yeah sure. And how is this different from the rest of the jobs out there (e.g. neurosurgeon)?
    • You don't see neurosurgery being pushed as an easy career field to get into in tv commercials, that's how.
    • by patio11 (857072) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @01:23AM (#13148051)
      For one, there is a defined path to becoming a neurosurgeon. You can decide, in eighth grade, "I want to become a neurosurgeon/lawyer/police officer/accountant" and, at every year from that point on, anyone relevant who you ask will say "I know what your next step needs to be". The steps generally involve a lot of work, but generally not clawing, kicking, and screaming -- just nose-to-the-grindstone following the path thats been clearly laid out for you.
  • by stimpleton (732392) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:49PM (#13146265)

    You will never get the opportunity with CliffB to "scrape and claw to the top" if you dont:

    "...stick with your first project and see to it that you finish it with the team. I've known many people who have jumped from company to company and never actually shipped a game, and their resumes look like a "who's who" of the gaming industry. I avoid these folks at all cost, as this is the primary indicator of a lack of finishing ability!"
    (From BliffyB's own website How to get hired.) [cliffyb.com]

    Which for these people, no matter how talented, puts their future employment fate into the hands of the project manager, moving goalpost politics, and skittery publishers.

    Well if CliffyB has anything to do with the hiring process.
    • A lot of the gaming industry is like the business industry. To really get anywhere big, it's mostly about being in the right place at the right time with the right people and having the right contacts (preferably contacts with lots of spare cash).

      Talent and hard work are important, but don't get you far without being from the right family or having the right contacts.
    • Well, I agree with the guy.

      No situation is perfect. There are always issues, usually personnell, that cause waves. However, you want people who will work through all the crap and get the job done. The people who jump around are usually the kind with some skill (or none at all), but, as he said, have no ability or willingness to do the complete job. When they hit their limits, they throw a hissy about something and bail.

      There are times when you need to leave, but when I see a resume where someone has chang
    • I'll admit, I was one of those "hops from dev team to dev team" guys. My main problem was that I didn't realistically assess the team before I joined - I participated in 3 different efforts to make a commercial game. The ideas were great, and the price was right, but in the end each project was plagued with inexperienced management and developers (that, or no coders.. common problem :)). I've done level design, texture design, and music composition (respective to the 3 projects I participated in, in chro

  • by Allen Varney (449382) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @05:59PM (#13146313) Homepage

    It's interesting and depressing how many Slashdotters posting here think "game design" is the same as "game programming." But then, historically most people have never given a moment's thought to the idea someone actually invented the rules of the games they play.

    I know for a fact this is changing, because I keep getting e-mail from elementary and junior-high school students doing assignments from their teachers. They're supposed to write to a game designer and get him to answer X number of questions the teacher has provided. For inscrutable reasons, when you type the exact term "game designer" into Google, my home page shows up on the first page, higher than any other individual designer. (Yeah, I know -- you've never heard of me.) Weird and unjust, but my penance for this fame is that all these kids write to me with their time-wasting questions. So I know at least some people are starting to recognize "game design" as a job, if not yet as a profession. Hope Slashdot follows pretty soon...

    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:18PM (#13146409) Homepage Journal
      I think a lot of that confusion comes from many geeks' vision of the do-it-yourself, garage-based game developer that conceived of, designed, programmed, tested, marketed, sold, and supported games in the 70s and 80s.

      Being part of a small business means you wear a lot of hats. For a game company, that means you could be doing many of the jobs that I listed above. Even companies like id started off small and had to share the responsibilities.

      Fast forward fifteen years and you've got massive corporations with teams of designers, programmers, QA, etc. that handle very specific roles. It can be much more efficient (and profitable) this way, but as a participant in the process it probably wouldn't appeal to many DIY geeks here.
      • Fast forward fifteen years and you've got (...) very specific roles. It can be much more efficient (and profitable) this way, (...)

        Actually, it is pretty much the only way today. People have come to expect so much from games, the work involved simply requires too many man-years for one person to do it. And while my talent could keep up with CGA and PC squeaker, it'd fall flat on its face trying to create high quality backgrounds, textures, music and sfx. There was a time when you could drum up a few frien
    • Weird and unjust, but my penance for this fame is that all these kids write to me with their time-wasting questions.

      you could do worse than having a kid take an interest in your work. that's how a Brad Bird begins.

      • The kids writing Allen most likely have no real interest in game design. They're writing him because they had an assignment (e.g., "What is your dream career?"), spent a week playing video games instead of doing any research, and then the night before the paper's due-date did a Google search and pestered the first guy on the hit page with questions.
    • Rejoice that FC has given you the honour of educating the infrared masses so that they may better serve FC :) Are you saying this doesn't make you happy?
    • It's interesting and depressing how many Slashdotters posting here think "game design" is the same as "game programming."

      "Same", no, but intimitely linked. The former must constrain to and work within the limitations and strengths of the latter. A game design that cannot be viably implemented in programming is a worthless piece of paper/chunk of HTML/waste of bits in a proprietary document format.

    • I am also a game designer (that you have never heard of) and you are more than welcome to that top spot in Google. Dang kids! :)
    • Oddly enough, I'm not getting you on the first page. Perhaps Google is looking at your history and considers you especially relevant to yourself?

  • be a programmer! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sm.arson (559130) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:02PM (#13146334) Homepage
    I personally think that the most direct path to a job in game design is a job in game programing. Programming is the only other non-design job that interacts with all other apsects of the industry, and it's a good way to learn about the requirements and concerns of all the elements and people in the games business.

    Also, when you are the guy working on the code, it's actually fairly easy to have a big influence on the design of the final product (as long as you are willing to do the work twice - their way and YOUR way - without wasting too much time, and without minding them throwing away your version in the trash).

    Also, programmers are usually involved in design meetings. Designers are (usually) careful not to waste programmer time by asking for something that would take too long to implement, so you often get the oportunity to throw in your two cents.

    I'd much rather remain a programmer, though. I like doing the work, not telling others what work to do.
    • Re:be a programmer! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zap0d (559630)
      You are wrong!

      The best position to be a game designer is a level or map designer an not a programmer.

      The map designer request features required to script and art assets to use and is responsible to actual gameplay and has to know to script/programm the game game engine.
      Additional team working and organiziation is a must. To be a good game desinger you still have to good programmers and artists available and know what its reasonably makable.

  • by John Seminal (698722) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:06PM (#13146359) Journal
    I was curious, what happened to the game programmers of yesterday, like Crawford who worked for Interplay before EA got to them. He wrote most of the Bard's Tale games.

    As for how competitive the job of programming games are, I can say this much. I had a roomate a decade ago. He was addicted to games, did not go to sleep at night because he could not stop playing. I think one of his games was Warcraft, I don't remember, but I used to hear him at 2am on the phone, giggling as he called up other people playing the game over the network. But the guy also was barely making "C" grades in his classes. I dunno what happened to him, he eventually moved out because he could not tolerate my drinking, and the fact that I banged his sister when she came to visit for a weekend. I guess he should not have ditched her to go play more Warcraft. I was more than happy to show her the bars, among other things.

    I kept telling him, it is different liking something as the consumer and liking it as the manufacturer. I love sports cars, but the one summer I spent working in an automotive factory was pure hell.

    Anyways, the ones that I think would make cool games are the story tellers. Who knows, maybe an english lit major would make a better game designer than a programmer or math guy.

    • That's Michael Crawford, I believe, not Chris Crawford, who is a much better known designer. Which isn't to say anything against Michael Crawford. He designed entertaining (if maddeningly tricky) games.
    • I kept telling him, it is different liking something as the consumer and liking it as the manufacturer. I love sports cars, but the one summer I spent working in an automotive factory was pure hell.

      It's different, but it's the same, in a way. I always liked cartoons, so I became an animator. I love the work, but I watch quite a bit less animation than I used to (most of what I watch these days are in the theaters, at festivals, and special events), and prefer to spend my leisure time with comics and video

  • by robocrop (830352) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:14PM (#13146389)
    Frankly I think the game industry will only mature when we stop pretending that it's this special, outlier, uber-hipster profession. It's a job, like anything else. All creative jobs require you to a. be creative and b. be skilled at what you want to do.

    Want to make games? Learn a skill and come up with a game idea. Big news. Everything else is just self-congratulatory window dressing and delusion.

    If more people treated it like a profession, the industry would naturally become more professional.

  • by Ponzicar (861589) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:20PM (#13146416)
    Just remember that you don't want to claw your way to the top, only to be stuck working 20 hours a day on "Barbie's Fashion Adventure."
  • But I've never been a good programmer.

    The game industry isn't ever going to really take off until you get past the stage where people who can't program but who have good story telling ability, have no chance to get into the industry.

    And if I form a company it sure as heck won't allow sweat shop conditions like EA!
    • Total BS. Everyone has a 'good' idea for a game. Everyone has a 'good' idea for a movie. Everyone thinks they could tell a story or make a great game (and making a great game or telling a good story are pretty much completely separate). If you can't program or create artwork, that is fine, but it won't stop the game industry one bit. No one gets to tell other people what to do when they can't do anything themselves. It is a cliched idea, but I have never really seen it happen. All the bosses and supe
      • The game industry already is mired in endless copycats. The reason why there are one or two gems and a whole lot of crap out there is because truly creative minds can't get in. Lack of talented story writers isn't stopping the industry, granted, but the industry is going nowhere very very fast. For sure there are games with killer graphics but story lines? Ack!

        You brought movies into this, well ever wonder why movies suck so bad? It's because of the barrier to entry, and the way it keeps creative but poorl
        • I disagree that movies suck and that games are going nowhere, but I think the fundamental thing is that the barrier to entry is 90% hard work. I have seen lots of people do amazing things and get reconized many many times, but they had to work for it. Maybe you could create a great game, but because you can't program or create artwork, the barrier is no longer work, it is money, because you need to people to help you. All of that is fine, but no one is going to take a chance on it, so you will have to do
        • " The reason why there are one or two gems and a whole lot of crap out there is because truly creative minds can't get in."

          Um, no. The reason there are only a couple of gems out there (actually, a good game doesn't have to be a 'gem', only good.) is that the 'goodness' of a game is dependent on the WHOLE thing being executed well. A game will not survive on concept alone.

          Here, I'll use a less subjective example: Remember that early episode of the Simpsons where Homer designed a car? Oh, he was VERY c
    • Not just storytelling ability. Game design ability is something distinct from both programming *and* storytelling.

      There is nothing that says that a good programmer cannot be a good storyteller and a good game designer. But the industry, as it stands, almost seems to either weed out those with other skills, or to squash those skills in their cradle.
    • Hate to say this, what the game industry lacks is not killer ideas, but publishers that will go anywhere near them. Finding some way of persuading large numbers of people to buy good games, over this year's update of their favourite sports sim, would also help.
    • I call bullshit on your comment of not being able to get your foot in the door in the gamedesign industry when you're not able to program : If you idea really -is- a killer idea, you could start to work it out in a gamedesign document, and from thereon see what's technically possible.
      Definitely with how the industry is starting to shape up (with each skill specifically being brought under in a seperate design team), specialised skills are more and more wanted : Having experience in more fields always is a
  • So you want to be a rock'n'roll star [die-augenweide.de]

    The price you pay for your riches and fame
    Was it all a strange game?
    Youre a little insane
    The money that came and the public acclaim
    Don't forget what you are
    You're a rock'n'roll star

    (The Byrds, 1967)

    Of course, I don't think most game designers have to worry about the girls tearing them apart ;-)

  • 1) Harbor an absurdly arrogant personality, enough to power a small city. Remember, you're a game designer now. You're better than everyone else in the computer industry. You may work in a cubicle in a nondescript office building just like anyone else, but dammit you're a game designer. You are special.

    2) Develop an aversion to all forms of higher education. B.S. in math? Ewww, math. PhD in computer science? Pssh, you wasted your money on that? Wrote a Tetris clone in Pascal in your high school computer class? Whoa, you are young, edgy, and obviously too cool for school. Bonus points if you mentioned how much faster your program would be if you had written it in assembly. Uber bonus points if you started programming before the age of 9 because everyone knows that any decent developer started programming before they knew what their pee-pee was used for.

    3) Research the many game programming flame wars so that you can be up to speed. Some places to start: C++ is slow, OpenGL/DirectX: Which one is better? (note: DirectX and Direct3D are just different names for the exact same thing, no difference...), Doom 3 has better graphics but Half Life 2 is the better game, Nvidia is better than ATI, etc.

    4) Read everything you can by Andre LaMothe because he is the most relevant voice in the game industry...period! Oh, especially his "Tricks of..." series because everything when it comes to video game programming is a trick or a hack or the product of black fucking magic.

    5) Know your video games! The only way to create a truly original video game is to know what's already been made. But if that doesn't work out, you can just create the umpteenth iteration of the same tired idea with better graphics and minor variations in game play and repackage it with CGI tits and ass and republish it at a higher price.

    5a) There is nothing wrong with run on sentences. You're a game designer dammit! Time not grammar for!

    6) Buy a Ferrari. Game designers make shit-tons of money. Heck, buy two. Use one during the week and the other one during all that free time you're going to have on the weekend...

    7) Practice your deepthroating. You will need to fit John Carmack's penis down throat on a whim in casual conversation. This is sort of paying your dues to the gaming gods.

    8) Game developers play lots of video games at work. In fact, on some days, that's all they do. So practice, practice, practice. You wouldn't want to get your ass kicked all the time by your co-workers?

    9) Mountain Dew and bag of potato chips is a well balanced meal and you will suffer no ill effects in the long run.

    10) Sleep is for the weak.

    Okay, the fact is the gaming industry is fucking insane. You're working absurd hours to meet absurd deadlines so little Johnny can see the zombie's heads detonate in per pixel lighting only to get a memo on your desk that Johnny's parents are suing the company because they find the minor sexual content in the game to be offensive. And most game developers have earned advanced degrees in CS, Math, or Physics. They are smarter than you are. Go to school. Get a degree. Oh and avoid everything by andre lamothe, he only serves to belittle the accomplishments and hard work of very bright, very talented people in the industry. It is not black magic, it's just really fucking hard.

    This brought to you by a frustrated RPI computer science major who realizes he's just too fucking stupid to make it as a game developer/designer.

    btw, I think John is a brilliant developer, a nice guy, and I would gladly service him. Go spaceman, go...

    • Game design has little if anything to do with math. More writing than programming or algorithms.
      • Actually, math comes in really handy. Your first pass at balancing anything will need to be a mathematical one. You'll need math and algorithms to create healthy systems.

        Far more than anything, though, you will need economics. The feedback systems that economics focuses on are exactly the sort of things that you will need as a game designer, without the stuff like calculus and O of n.

        Of course, you will also need a healthy dose of writing and management. Design is 1 part writing designs, and one part
  • Here's a game I recently designed and put up on the web just a couple of days ago - and it's for *real* money, not "virtual" money:

    http://webpages.charter.net/rsdotson/ [charter.net]

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:45PM (#13147199) Homepage
    I have no idea how good it is, but Ferris State University's Grand Rapids MI campus launched a game-design program [ferris.edu] a couple years ago. For what it's worth, I (an employee of Ferris' art-and-design college) have just been assigned to take over tech support for them, so I'll be getting a better picture of the program in the coming months.
  • by jellodc (779905) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:31PM (#13147598)
    Here's a good place to start if you're interested http://www.gamedev.net/reference/ [gamedev.net] Looks like it would takes years of dedication, but the payoff would be ... low wages long hours?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2005 @12:44AM (#13147946)
    First, I've worked for EA, and I work for Sony now as a game programmer, so I know something about this. In all my 10 years, I've only known one person go from programming to design. The reason? Who wants to take a huge paycut to be some creative director/execs lackey? Good programmers make 50% more than good designers. The gap is even wider between so-so programmers and so-so designers. Programmers get more respect with management, although they don't always get all the fame. So I guess if you want to trade a little fame for a huge chunk of cash, go for it. I'll take the cash, because I like my BMW, thank you.

    I guess if you're a shitty programmer you can go into design and do better, but I think that's the exception and not the rule.

    Remember, unless you're making your own game, you're somebody else's bitch.

  • Unlike what Cliffy says, it's not about the hard work and the kicking and screaming to get to the top. It's really all about the bunny suit! [quartertothree.com]

    (Backup link [wiki.fz.se] incase the one above doesn't work)
  • I just got offered a game design job last friday, and I didn't even ask for it.
  • A few years ago I started a Myst-style adventure game project called Verenia [amonre.org]. It's no longer active because it failed horribly. ;)

    However, leading the project has given me an incredible amount of experience. At EuroMysterium 2005 [euromysterium.org] (a convention for Myst fans) I gave a presentation [amonre.org] on the subject of leading a project. It's aimed at doing adventure games, but it applies to most, if not all, game types.

    I hope this is useful to anyone who has been thinking of starting a game project. :)

  • ... can't be THAT difficult: GarageGames [garagegames.com].
    Of course, it will take a few years and some buddies pithcing in at one time or the other, but in the end it isn't that much more difficult than building a good piece of software alltogether.

    "You gotta be good at it, be patient and stick to it" - No, really?

    If you wanna be a game designer, start now. Everything you need to build a game can be learned within a year by a skilled computer user and the tools nowadays cost a few hundred euros maximum. You won't build Wo

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