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  • Career in Video Game Design

    Hello,

    Iv'e been interested in a career in video games for quite some time now. But i am not quite sure how to get started. I found a school here in Toronto known as "The International Academy of Design & Technology - Toronto" (www.aodt.ca) And they offer a course specific to video game design. I am wondering if you guys think this would be a good first step?

    http://www.aodt.ca/video_game_design.asp

  • #2
    Re: Career in Video Game Design

    Some people are critical of games schools, but I think it's as fine a step as any* -- I know plenty of artists who did similar courses and are working at studios. But it's not the only route into games, either.

    [*It depends on the subject -- if you want to get into games programming, you should probably do a Computer Science or Maths degree. With art and design, you have more options.]

    But, before going any further... Valhalla do you know what area of games design you want to go into? There are a lot of different disciplines and most developers are looking for specialists (even at graduate level). In design, there are concept artists, level designers, character designers, 3d modellers, animators, and so on. If you're interested in level design for example, you might consider a degree in architecture instead (I believe some of the artists at Remedy went down this route).

    Furthermore, you might change your mind down the line (or you might not know where your strengths lie) -- I know guys that started off in art and level design, and ended up doing AI and gameplay for a living. As for me, I started off with programming, moved into design, and ended up doing a degree in production & project management.

    Anyway, a good starting place are these websites:

    http://www.igda.org/breakingin/
    http://gamecareerguide.com/

    Before you focus on a career, I strongly recommend trying games modding to get some experience on these areas, and find out which ones interest you the most. Max Payne, Unreal, and HL2 are good engines to start with, and have a lot of documentation to get you going. Once you've picked an engine, I would try everything you can -- level design, ai placement & scripting, modelling, weapons, audio -- everything. There's no better way to learn how a game is built than by taking one apart and trying to put it back together again. Once you've got the hang of things, you should try and join/start a small mod team -- making a mod is one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks you can do.

    Also, you should definitely sign up for and start reading these two sites regularly:
    http://www.igda.org/
    http://www.gamasutra.com/

    As for schools, if you have your heart set on aodt that's fine; but you might want check out the following for alternatives (scroll all the way down):

    http://www.gamecareerguide.com/schools/?sort=country

    Finally, the most important advice I can give you:

    Trust your gut -- by all means do your homework: ask around for advice, information, opinions, and so on. But when it comes down to it, don't let someone else talk you into making a decision that you're unhappy with. For nearly 2 years I ended up working on a degree that I wasn't in the slightest bit interested in -- simply because I thought it was "what I was supposed to do", and not "what I wanted to do".

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    • #3
      Re: Career in Video Game Design

      I would definately recommend mod experience if the idea of games design appeals to you. From developers I have spoken to, the best thing to get noticed is a portfolio of work you have done. Having mod experience grants you that piece of work you can use to get your foot in the door.
      It will also teach you the various aspects of game design, from designing, coding, drawing, modeling, planning, scripting...whatever it is you end up doing. Also, working in a mod team gives you the experience of collaboration with a group of people and finding out team work mechanics.
      Remedy's currently known projects:
      Quantum Break - 2016

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      • #4
        Re: Career in Video Game Design

        Now that I have started to do XNA stuff, wanted to add that programming for me is both easy and hard at the same time. It is hard when I am learning the concepts, but it becomes easy once I have grasped them. Then I can start taking that idea in other directions, or try the same idea and figure out how to make it better. Another nice thing is that there are several ways to get to the right answer, granted some are more efficient and elegant than others.

        Learn to write good comments early on, I did not, so later on when I went back after skipping about a year, my lack of good comments in my code had me scratching my head at what I did. This should be more important when you are working in a group, keeping good comments will help everyone involved.

        I looked at schools, but for me I was going to have to travel, and with a family and kids (ok kid) it was not option. Additionally, at this point again because of where we live (well Bioware Austin is close) I will probably stay Indie. Here are some interesting threads to follow: http://forums.xna.com/forums/60.aspx
        XBL - Talryyn & TalryynGames.com

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        • #5
          Re: Career in Video Game Design

          I'd recommend staying away from XNA and C# and instead just get right into the C++ side of things. Modding the Source engine, id Tech or any other engine where they give you a lot of the source code is a great way to learn.

          Source is actually so open it's unbelievable. You get access to all the source code for HL2 (except the underlying low-level Source engine), including the shaders. What's more is that a lot of its components are sub-par , so you find yourself trying to fix things and you end up learning a lot.

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          • #6
            Re: Career in Video Game Design

            Originally posted by Hamish View Post
            I'd recommend staying away from XNA and C# and instead just get right into the C++ side of things. Modding the Source engine, id Tech or any other engine where they give you a lot of the source code is a great way to learn.

            Source is actually so open it's unbelievable. You get access to all the source code for HL2 (except the underlying low-level Source engine), including the shaders. What's more is that a lot of its components are sub-par , so you find yourself trying to fix things and you end up learning a lot.
            True, you are more likely to be working with C++ in the industry. Very few retail games use C#, I am including Xbox arcade games though, exclude that and maybe none use C#. iPhone for another example is objective C.
            XBL - Talryyn & TalryynGames.com

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            • #7
              Re: Career in Video Game Design

              C# is up and coming. Many of our (smaller) tools are C#. And if you do good design and structuring on your code and most importantly your data flows, I'd think you could "in the next generation" replace most of the C++ code with C# or similar language and perhaps get a good boost to programmer productivity in return.

              But the higher level language, the better you need to know the way how you can get screwed by what happens beneath the surface...

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              • #8
                Re: Career in Video Game Design

                I have seen a few benchmarks where the C# was only 2% slower than the same code in C++, but the advantage to the C# was less lines of code to do the same thing. I will have to hunt down that link. I have seen that some people are using F# in XNA.
                XBL - Talryyn & TalryynGames.com

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                • #9
                  Re: Career in Video Game Design

                  Originally posted by Talryyn View Post
                  I have seen a few benchmarks where the C# was only 2% slower than the same code in C++, but the advantage to the C# was less lines of code to do the same thing. I will have to hunt down that link. I have seen that some people are using F# in XNA.
                  Yes but that's because the C# is just making calls to underlying libraries which are written in the faster C++.

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