Game design basics

I just have a few questions relating to a career in game design.

What is the normal path for game designers? Is it mostly a case of people rising from differing ranks within a development studio? i.e.,
programmer>senior programmer>game designer?

The reason I ask is that I think *or i hope* that I have a few alright ideas in regards to game design and stories. Should I be honing my skills as a designer or as a programmer?

On another note if I am to get my ideas out and written down, are there certain areas I should be covering. Perhaps a structured way to document a game design

Thanks

gullwings13's picture

Any advice would be appreciated...

Rahnem's picture

That depends on you really. Good chance either way.

For instance at Epic you have Cliff Bleszinski (lead designer) who is an ideas man, but has no clue when it comes to programming, and then you have Steve Polge (project leader) who makes the most of the design decisions, and is godlike a programmer.

Programmers are usually better at knowing what can be done at a minimal risk, while designers understand what makes a game fun.

I would not even bother writing ideas down until you have had a year or two experience in the industry. I'm sure that experience will radically change your perception of game design.

souri's picture

There are some places locally where you can get your foot in the door to becoming a game designer by putting in the hours as a game tester/QA person. However, there are places where QA jobs will only be just that.

There are a few posts somewhere in the jobs discussion area about game design jobs (I'll leave that for you or someone else to search and post about here because I'm on here for a limited time while my internet connection at home isn't working)..

gullwings13's picture

Thanks for both of your replies.

:)

Jackydablunt's picture

I studied cert 3 in animation at tafe, got a scholarship to qantm in 2001, did some amature concept art for certain friend's projects here and there. Then one day I sent a pic I did to a friend at Fuzzyeyes just to show him, didnt realise he was working. Next thing he's saying the art lead wants me to come in that thursday, I went in, started as a concept artist the following monday. Bout 6 months later I was made Game Designer and have been now for over a year.

I have no code experience, I refer to the Fuzz Tech Director and other coders to solidify my ideas. Code and Scripting knowledge very much helps, I'm looking to learn as much as I can on scripting as I can, but the most important thing I find is logical thinking and empathy. You can jump in with ideas easy, it's so very easy to come up with a concept and ideas that will sell, but wether you can get them into the project with the team and the time you have is another matter.

My major strength at Fuzz is the fact that I can work and talk with both coders and artists, understand their perspectives and relate them to each other, I do a lot of leg work. I'm still very much inexperienced and it shows sometimes, I also desperately need help, I'm also the only GD the company has, but the fact that I can ustilise the creativity and skills of all of the team members greatly helps the project.

So basically what Im saying is I think there are ways in regardless of your history or skills. The larger companies tend to catagorize people a little more and have like set templates for employment but I think that limits them greatly. It depends on how set you are on getting into a particuar place I guess, you'll have to see what they ask for.

As for the structure of the docs, go on like gamedev and gamasutra and DL some of the document templates. The prob with these is that they're generalized and you'll have to do some thinking to bend them towards your specific game type.

AntsZ's picture

yeah 1st step is to get your foot in the door most cases its for a QA job that way you can gain the industry experience most companies want. Volunteer if you have too, i've just recently volunteered for fuzzy eyes to do some QA work on thier latest game, I loved it and had so much fun, it was so good to get a taste of what i want to be doin. But the greatest asset was that I was able to gain some expeirence for it. I want to get into Game Design as well, so i've been drawing some design briefs and documents and tried my hand in some concept art. so try and look for QA jobs and make your portfolio show that you are really keen and eager.

BTW Jackydablunt you wouldnt happen to be daniel? I was one of the testers who stayed for a week.

Jackydablunt's picture

Heeyy Hoyo Antz, yeah that's me, thanks for the testing and stuff you guys did it was great, I'm just sorry the whole thing wasn't organised as well as it could've been, and the builds at the time weren't as stable as we hoped, we're just not as experienced as a company yrt. I'm glad you enjoyed it though and I'm glad it helped you devise a path. What we got from you guys helped out a lot, and round two will be comming soon. Thanks again.

mcdrewski's picture

[url="http://www.erasmatazz.com/library/Game%20Design/The_Education_of_a_Game_..."]Chris Crawford's advice[/url] (his site also has a lot of older theory and articles (1982 [url="http://www.erasmatazz.com/Library.html"]AoCGD[/url] anyone?).

[url="http://www.penny-arcade.com/news.php3?date=2005-04-04"]Geoff Zatkin[/url] - "in my 8+ years as a professional game designer, not once has any boss of mine ever asked me for an idea for a new game. Not once." :)

AntsZ's picture

Heya Daniel, dw about the unorganisation, it was still fun and learnt alot about QA, you guys are doin a great job with HDHG, cant wait for round 2 and to crash the game again lol. Got an email from amanda today asking for a resume, so i'll see how it goes. thanx again daniel

great articles mcdrewski esp Chris Crawfords advice.