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Game Design Degree. Know any good schools?

ApostateApostate Registered User regular
edited August 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I'll try to make this brief but I am in an odd position currently (career-wise, not phyiscally) that needs some explaination.

I have a BFA in Design (Illustration)I received at an accredited art school. That was several years ago. Back then there wasn't many game related degrees and I sort of ended up with the degree I had hoping that would be sufficient to get a foot in the games industry. However, shortly after I graduated I came down with some chronic health issues of which I won't bore you with the details. I didn't think I could pull the hours needed to work on games with my issues. I had difficulty even making it through a 40 hour week. Ended up working crap jobs completely unrelated to art for several years while I learned to deal with my health problems, which I have some positive control of now. Having succesfully worked a lot of overtime at my last job I could care less about, I believe I can do the hours now in a job that I do. So I want to get back on track.

I currently find myself unemployed, and searching for jobs I don't want to do, as opposed to those I do want but don't have the specific qualifications for. With the job market in the toilet I thought I might use this an opportunity to go back to school and get a degree specifcally related to gaming (Game Design most likely). So I am looking for an Art School that fulfills certain needs.

1) Has strong instructors who are participating or recently participating in the industry and know what kind of portfolio I need to get in to a quality company.

2) Has good job placement and industry networking that will help me find a job when I graduate. Very important (I'm getting a little long in the tooth).

3) Preferably is near working game studios to help with networking and the like.

4) Provide me with the skills I need obviously.

5) Can transfer my credits from my last school so I'm not in school for another 4 years.

I was currently looking at something on the West Coast (mostly beacuse a lot of game companies seem to reside there), but I am open to other options.

So I would be appreciative of anybody with any knowledge, or their own personal experiences, who can give me some advice.

Apostate on

Posts

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    First off, and I'm sure you're not going to listen/have heard this a million times and refused to listen to it before: It's seriously unlikely you'll get the job you want. It's an incredibly tough industry, there's way too many people going into it, all of them are amazingly talented. The people really getting somewhere have busted their asses to do so, and you're coming to the game late. Combine that with having some restrictions on your time, and you're not on the best footing to try to enter such a hyper-competitive field.

    That said, everyone I know who has tried to work in any sort of design capacity in the industry has gotten their start as a QA tester. Since you're on the West Coast, you're close enough to try to get one of those jobs. I encourage you very heartily to pursue QA work to get your foot in the door with a company, rather than to specialize your degree. There have been a ton of threads around here on going to game design school, and the overwhelming advice is, "Get technical/art skills that are applicable across a broader industry, then focus on game design if you want to do that." I think the skills and networking you'd accomplish as a peon in a gaming company would be far more valuable than any further education/degrees.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    First off, and I'm sure you're not going to listen/have heard this a million times and refused to listen to it before: It's seriously unlikely you'll get the job you want. It's an incredibly tough industry, there's way too many people going into it, all of them are amazingly talented. The people really getting somewhere have busted their asses to do so, and you're coming to the game late. Combine that with having some restrictions on your time, and you're not on the best footing to try to enter such a hyper-competitive field.

    That said, everyone I know who has tried to work in any sort of design capacity in the industry has gotten their start as a QA tester. Since you're on the West Coast, you're close enough to try to get one of those jobs. I encourage you very heartily to pursue QA work to get your foot in the door with a company, rather than to specialize your degree. There have been a ton of threads around here on going to game design school, and the overwhelming advice is, "Get technical/art skills that are applicable across a broader industry, then focus on game design if you want to do that." I think the skills and networking you'd accomplish as a peon in a gaming company would be far more valuable than any further education/degrees.

    Well let me clarify a few things. First I'm in the Midwest. I suggested the West Coast because of the density of game companies. Not for any particular attachments to it.

    I have thought about the QA/game tester thing as well. But there are a couple problems with that for me. I would have to move to a city with a game company to begin with as there are none around me. That means either getting a job first then moving or moving and then trying to get a job. Being that they are entry level jobs that causes a few problems. One I'm not sure if they would accept a phone interview which means I would need to travel to the city with no guarntee of a job. Two those jobs don't pay anything. Which means it would be unlikely I could even support myself without a roommate which is going to be hard to find (a good one anyway). Also breaking my current lease would cost me several thousand dollars. Combine that with moving costs and it might break my bank just to move somewhere.

    By going back to school I can take out some student loans to get me through the rough times and not have to worry about interest or payments while at school. While there I can find a job to help with the bills and go to school at the same time. Maybe I can even get one of the above mentioned tester jobs at the same time. As well as do my share of networking. This is why I would like to find a school in area with a game company.

    Also while I appreciate the advice, I'm well aware of how hyper-competitive the industry is. I have thought long and hard about this and I am not taking this path with out having given careful consideration to it.

    Apostate on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You do not want to be a QA/Tester unless you like living on 10-12 dollars an hour and being highly disposable.

    Jasconius on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Jasconius wrote: »
    You do not want to be a QA/Tester unless you like living on 10-12 dollars an hour and being highly disposable.

    You do not want to go into game design unless you like being paid far less than you would make otherwise and being highly disposable.

    Honestly, if you get a degree in game design you're still going to have to start at entry level, I guarantee it. And they still won't pay to fly you out, so you'll still be in the same predicament, but will be minus the money you spent to get a degree.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • JNighthawkJNighthawk Registered User
    edited August 2009
    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=97725

    Probably worth combining the threads, and maybe adding a sticky topic: "So you want to make games?"

    As far as art schools that have good gaming related stuff, I believe the Vancouver Art and Film School (name might be off) is one that comes up with a recommendation fairly often. I know more than one person who works at my company that graduated with a Computer Animation degree from Full Sail (which is where I went for my Game Development degree). I'm a programmer, though, so I'm not too sure about art schools.

    JNighthawk on
    Game programmer
  • ToefooToefoo Los Angeles, CARegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Regardless of the pay and how much you think you might be too good for QA, it is great experience for you. I worked with guys who had Game Design degress, and most of them had to work tester jobs right after graduation anyway because most places don't want to hire artists etc. who don't have any experience in the industry. If you work as a tester, you have your foot in the door and believe it or not you can make some good contacts; the biggest thing you want in this industry is contacts.

    Toefoo on
    PSN: Soultics
    Weaboo List
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Your work, your ability, your portfolio is all that matters.

    Game studios couldn't give a flying fuck what school you went to or what degree you have. They also don't care one bit about some college professor trying to shove their students on to them. Networking is nice, but even that is meaningless for someone who just doesn't have the chops.

    If you have the money to go back to school, and feel like taking a break from the working life for a few years, that's all well and good. I have nothing against that. I'd enjoy it too I'm sure. Just don't think it's going to get you a job, or have some sort of career placement system that will hook you up with a local studio. You can't buy your way in. Everything is purely based on your ability. If you have it, it is obvious, and people will come knocking down your door to hire you. If you want it, there's only one way to get it. Hunched up in front of a computer/canvas/whatever and doing the work. Schools are a chill place to learn, but they do absolutely nothing for you that you can't do for yourself. That you still have to do for yourself even when you go.

    The industry and technology is changing incredibly fast. If you can't teach yourself what you need to know, you'll never make it. The majority of students I took classes with just sat in class and learned only what the teacher taught. They never got hired. The people who got hired were all so far ahead of the teacher from their own studies, that they never even needed the classes.

    (also, no one cares about age. I've met people who got their first job in games in their late 40's.)

    (also, if you want to be a game artist, polycount, cgtalk, gameartisans.org, are the places where you'll learn 100x more than you ever will in a classroom)

    NotYou on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2009
    NotYou wrote: »
    Your work, your ability, your portfolio is all that matters.

    Game studios couldn't give a flying fuck what school you went to or what degree you have. They also don't care one bit about some college professor trying to shove their students on to them. Networking is nice, but even that is meaningless for someone who just doesn't have the chops.

    If you have the money to go back to school, and feel like taking a break from the working life for a few years, that's all well and good. I have nothing against that. I'd enjoy it too I'm sure. Just don't think it's going to get you a job, or have some sort of career placement system that will hook you up with a local studio. You can't buy your way in. Everything is purely based on your ability. If you have it, it is obvious, and people will come knocking down your door to hire you. If you want it, there's only one way to get it. Hunched up in front of a computer/canvas/whatever and doing the work. Schools are a chill place to learn, but they do absolutely nothing for you that you can't do for yourself. That you still have to do for yourself even when you go.

    The industry and technology is changing incredibly fast. If you can't teach yourself what you need to know, you'll never make it. The majority of students I took classes with just sat in class and learned only what the teacher taught. They never got hired. The people who got hired were all so far ahead of the teacher from their own studies, that they never even needed the classes.

    This is largely the case for software in general. In fact, I'd almost advise that one get a job in software design (much more accessible, though still sometimes tough) before seeing if you like it enough to do games. Because while game design is rewarding if you like gaming, from everything I've heard all of the most stressful parts about software design are greatly amplified in that sub-field.

    I guess I'm trying to say that game design is a lot more like "normal" software design than it is like playing a game. Having a passion for both is necessary, but man will you get fucked if you think you can get by with just liking video games. The typically huge game design section of used book stores illustrates this.

    Doc on
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I used to be pretty heavy into modding, so my game design experience is limited to that, but it's enough to make me laugh my ass off at game design commercials.

    Yes spending a thousand hours in front of hammer or scripting in Oblivion is just as fun as sitting on a couch and getting paid to play video games. The crazy part is that it has to be a million times more headache inducingly repetetive to do the actual design work without simple GUI based tools available.

    If it's your passion then go for it, and there's some great advice here from what I've seen. I used to want to do it but after talking to a number of designers it became clear just how horrible their jobs can be sometimes. When you get to the high end though it's obviously very rewarding.

    override367 on
  • DrFrylockDrFrylock Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    DrFrylock on
    Pheezer wrote: »
    I would strongly recommend reading DrFrylock's post thoroughly and considering all of his points individually.
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    NotYou wrote: »
    Your work, your ability, your portfolio is all that matters.

    Game studios couldn't give a flying fuck what school you went to or what degree you have. They also don't care one bit about some college professor trying to shove their students on to them. Networking is nice, but even that is meaningless for someone who just doesn't have the chops.

    If you have the money to go back to school, and feel like taking a break from the working life for a few years, that's all well and good. I have nothing against that. I'd enjoy it too I'm sure. Just don't think it's going to get you a job, or have some sort of career placement system that will hook you up with a local studio. You can't buy your way in. Everything is purely based on your ability. If you have it, it is obvious, and people will come knocking down your door to hire you. If you want it, there's only one way to get it. Hunched up in front of a computer/canvas/whatever and doing the work. Schools are a chill place to learn, but they do absolutely nothing for you that you can't do for yourself. That you still have to do for yourself even when you go.

    The industry and technology is changing incredibly fast. If you can't teach yourself what you need to know, you'll never make it. The majority of students I took classes with just sat in class and learned only what the teacher taught. They never got hired. The people who got hired were all so far ahead of the teacher from their own studies, that they never even needed the classes.

    (also, no one cares about age. I've met people who got their first job in games in their late 40's.)

    (also, if you want to be a game artist, polycount, cgtalk, gameartisans.org, are the places where you'll learn 100x more than you ever will in a classroom)

    I understand completely about the portfolio. It's the same with any other artistic profession. I had one when I graduated before. However, little to none of that is applicable to getting a job in the games industry. My hope is knowing exactly what field I am trying to get into this time I can focus soley on the kind of portfolio I need.

    Not to get into my neuroses but I am actually a very competitive person. If I don't at least perceive to be in the top tier with my peers at pretty much anything it drives me to improve myself like nothing else. Without direct competition, like in a school or job, I tend to start "dabbling" in everything since their are no deadlines or anyone depending on me. Also I do best when I am around people involved in the same field, it keeps me focused. I've tried various art/game dev forums over the internet to get the same feeling but I can't help but feel disconnected. It just isn't the same for me as face to face contact. Which is why I think a trip back to school might help.

    Anyway, I have done a lot of reading about the industry over the years, so a lot of your all's advice is familiar, but still appreciated.

    Of the areas I have been looking at that might have the attributes I'm looking for is Seattle. Anyone know anything about the area regarding schools and companies? I know Microsoft is there. I believe there is a company or two in Vancouver, like Relic, IIRC.

    Edit: Also one more thing I had a question about. There are obviously different degrees available. Like game design, 3D artist, and so on. Is there a better degree or courses that would build a portfolio that would help with getting an entry level job? Obviously if one has a degree in game design you're not going to get hired initially as a game desinger. So would it be better to go for a 3D artist degree where your skills would be more immediately applicable?

    Apostate on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Seattle is a place where everything is expensive and no one is ever hiring.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited August 2009
    Why is your portfolio no longer applicable? What type of position are you looking to get into? Do you want to be a programmer, an artist, level designer or what? "I want to make games" doesn't fly at all, and depending on what you want to do will define what type of degree you should look for, all of which can be completely done outside of a "video game school."

    Unknown User on
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You don't necessarily need to enter the game industry as a QA tester, but you certainly won't be able to get a job as a game designer straight off the bat. Nowadays game designers usually have years of experience in the gaming industry.

    You could learn to make levels either by yourself or trough a level design class. With those skills you ca build a portfolio and try to get a job as a level designer. From there if you can show that you have good skills and good ideas you might be able to work your way up to become a game designer.

    Fireflash on
    PSN: PatParadize
    Battle.net: Fireflash#1425
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Seattle is a place where everything is expensive and no one is ever hiring.

    Hehe. While I like the honesty I would prefer some more constructive advice. What city would suggest? Comparing unemployment statistics the city I'm in actually has higher unemployment than Seattle. The difference being that there are no game companies here at all. So all things being equal...
    robothero wrote: »
    Why is your portfolio no longer applicable? What type of position are you looking to get into? Do you want to be a programmer, an artist, level designer or what? "I want to make games" doesn't fly at all, and depending on what you want to do will define what type of degree you should look for, all of which can be completely done outside of a "video game school."

    A nice person would say my porfolio was eclectic. Those more critical would probably say eratic. Not in quality perhaps, but in media and style. I changed my degree several times during college. Started in painting, then sculpture, and finally settling on illustration mostly because I needed to actually get around to graduating. So my portfolio consists of oil and acrylic paintings, wood cuts, metal and plaster sculpture (now gone), screen prints, editorial illustrations, 3D art and animation (also missing) and my sketchbooks among others. To add to that I experimented with a lot of different stlyes and techniques in college with varying results. As you can see I didn't really have a defined goal in college. While always fascinating to me I had never really considered actually working in the games industry until graduation got close. Most of my instructors, while helpful, really didn't know much more about it than I did.

    So around graduation time I actually started doing my own research in it (I find it interesting that the advice hasn't changed too much since then). I resolved to learn what I needed to and build a portfolio that I could present. Then I got ill and my free time was spent in miserable pain instead of what I would have preferred to be doing for the next several years. It's really only in the last few months that I began doing research again now that I'm confident I can handle the hours.

    My specific goal would be a Lead Designer. Yeah it's a lofty goal and every asshole who has ever picked up a game has probably thought this to. But obviously some people made it happen otherwise there wouldn't be games. I have no illusions that you have to start small and work your way up. I just want to find the most direct path possible. The last five years of my life were a waste and I'd rather not waste anymore going down dead ends.

    I have worked with 3D programs before, specifically 3D Studio Max. So I thought maybe try to get in as an entry level artist and work my way up. I also have a lot of experience with illustration and could work as a concept artist. Although from what I understand most artists are expected to double duty in that regard. On some level it doesn't really matter to me how I can get in. I have even looked into customer service jobs in those companies as I have ended up with a lot CSR experience over the last few years. Unfortunately from what I can tell, most of those seemed to be contracted out to other seperate companies and are not actually part of the game company itself.

    Apostate on
  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited August 2009
    The most direct path possible to that goal as someone with zero background or experience in the required fields would be through Q&A monkeying, while continuing to build, expand and improve your resume in your free time.

    Unknown User on
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Ah, that is helpful. Now that you've been more specific that you want to be a Lead Designer (eventually), the path you want to take is that of a level artist. They are closest on the track of actually becoming a game designer. Actually getting hired as a game designer without actually having made a game (on your own, or with a company. A complete game) is impossible. Your best bet is to get promoted from a level artist position.

    A level artist does not use 3d programs like max or maya to create props or animate (although an understanding of these programs is a huge plus in a studio) and does not generally do any 2d concepting either (although once again, being able to draw out your plans and show them to your lead is a big plus). Their entire job is to take assets from 3d artists and put it all together in a level editor. They set up scripted sequences, design the flow of levels, etc. The vast majority of entry level, level design resumes will contain work done for mods and the solid knowlege of at least 1 level editor such as Hammer or the Unreal Editor.

    99% of schools that have a degree called "game design" are crap. Absolute crap. The teachers never worked in the industry and suck. Be careful when selecting. Ask for teacher's portfolios and if they have worked in the industry. Look for student work. Ignore stats about placement.

    You might want to look into Digipen. I am frequently impressed with the games they make. https://www.digipen.edu/

    NotYou on
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    NotYou wrote: »
    Ah, that is helpful. Now that you've been more specific that you want to be a Lead Designer (eventually), the path you want to take is that of a level artist. They are closest on the track of actually becoming a game designer. Actually getting hired as a game designer without actually having made a game (on your own, or with a company. A complete game) is impossible. Your best bet is to get promoted from a level artist position.

    A level artist does not use 3d programs like max or maya to create props or animate (although an understanding of these programs is a huge plus in a studio) and does not generally do any 2d concepting either (although once again, being able to draw out your plans and show them to your lead is a big plus). Their entire job is to take assets from 3d artists and put it all together in a level editor. They set up scripted sequences, design the flow of levels, etc. The vast majority of entry level, level design resumes will contain work done for mods and the solid knowlege of at least 1 level editor such as Hammer or the Unreal Editor.

    99% of schools that have a degree called "game design" are crap. Absolute crap. The teachers never worked in the industry and suck. Be careful when selecting. Ask for teacher's portfolios and if they have worked in the industry. Look for student work. Ignore stats about placement.

    You might want to look into Digipen. I am frequently impressed with the games they make. https://www.digipen.edu/

    Well that's just freaky. I was talking to the Digipen admissions office this morning. O_o They are one of the more promising schools I have looked at so far.

    I hear about level designers all the time and I'm well aware of what they do. I never really looked into how one gets a job like that honestly. I mean what is your portfolio? Just levels you have built for various games? I imagine being on a good mod team would help. But good mods are few and far between and I wouldn't think they just let anybody join the team. It actually seemed like a longer process to get into a mod team, learn the trade a bit, produce enough work and then try make it a profession. I always assumed it would be easier to roll my existing art skills into something compatible and go from there. But if there is a faster way than the above I'm all ears.

    Apostate on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    You are basically asking for the express route into getting an incredibly sought after, incredibly competitive, incredibly limited career set. To follow the modding discussion, just joining a mod group probably wouldn't be your best bet. Your best bet would be to start a mod group yourself. Start the hard, long work by yourself, publish some good stuff and get some people wanting to join you. Then you've demonstrated self-starting and team management. You will not simply be able to go to school, come back and get the job you want. If it were that simple, half the people on these forums would do it. It's incredibly time consuming, incredibly hard and requires a lot of sacrifice and doing boring things. That's part of why it's so unique and special.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Apostate wrote: »
    NotYou wrote: »
    Ah, that is helpful. Now that you've been more specific that you want to be a Lead Designer (eventually), the path you want to take is that of a level artist. They are closest on the track of actually becoming a game designer. Actually getting hired as a game designer without actually having made a game (on your own, or with a company. A complete game) is impossible. Your best bet is to get promoted from a level artist position.

    A level artist does not use 3d programs like max or maya to create props or animate (although an understanding of these programs is a huge plus in a studio) and does not generally do any 2d concepting either (although once again, being able to draw out your plans and show them to your lead is a big plus). Their entire job is to take assets from 3d artists and put it all together in a level editor. They set up scripted sequences, design the flow of levels, etc. The vast majority of entry level, level design resumes will contain work done for mods and the solid knowlege of at least 1 level editor such as Hammer or the Unreal Editor.

    99% of schools that have a degree called "game design" are crap. Absolute crap. The teachers never worked in the industry and suck. Be careful when selecting. Ask for teacher's portfolios and if they have worked in the industry. Look for student work. Ignore stats about placement.

    You might want to look into Digipen. I am frequently impressed with the games they make. https://www.digipen.edu/

    Well that's just freaky. I was talking to the Digipen admissions office this morning. O_o They are one of the more promising schools I have looked at so far.

    I hear about level designers all the time and I'm well aware of what they do. I never really looked into how one gets a job like that honestly. I mean what is your portfolio? Just levels you have built for various games? I imagine being on a good mod team would help. But good mods are few and far between and I wouldn't think they just let anybody join the team. It actually seemed like a longer process to get into a mod team, learn the trade a bit, produce enough work and then try make it a profession. I always assumed it would be easier to roll my existing art skills into something compatible and go from there. But if there is a faster way than the above I'm all ears.

    Yes, that's exactly what their portfolio is. People who built incredibly popular maps for counter strike, people who modded a great scripted battle into operation flashpoint, maps for mods, maps for starcraft, single player adventures they built into HL2, team fortress2 maps, etc. Studios want level designers who are obsessed with designing levels and do it with every scrap of spare time they have. This job has some of the highest levels of competition because editors are nearly free (they come with the game) and doesnt require the type of artistic talent that a character artist or environment artist might require. So basically it's flooded. but then, they're all flooded.

    Join a mod team or not, you still have to learn the trade and produce a metric fuck ton of work.

    As far as rolling your art skills into a compatible position, well, sure you can do that, but character artists don't get promoted to game designers.

    NotYou on
  • JNighthawkJNighthawk Registered User
    edited August 2009
    NotYou knows what he's talking about... mostly. Saying level artists don't use a 3D art program is like saying all video games are programmed in C++ - not always true.

    The three solid schools for game development are: Digipen, Full Sail, and Guild Hall. There may be more good ones nowadays, but those are your "original trio." I'm fairly sure Guild Hall has a design program, and I know more than one professional game designer that was hired straight out of school from Guild Hall. How? They had the degree, but waaaay more importantly, they had a portfolio of work that they did both in school and out of school to back it up.

    A huge and understated benefit of going to a game school is that you're going to be around other game developer hopefuls. You've got a huge pool of labor to work on games outside of school, and an amazing network opportunity.

    Like NotYou said, though, networking is meaningless if you don't have the skills to back it up... but it's incredibly useful if you do have the skills. Most jobs are filled before an opening is ever announced in the game industry.

    JNighthawk on
    Game programmer
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited August 2009
    From what I've heard re: Digipen is that the school isn't actually all that great in terms of what you get out of the classes. What it is good for is putting a lot of highly motivated and (some) highly talented people all in the same place, looking to do the same thing.

    I'm just spreading rumors though.

    Doc on
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Honestly if there was a way to pay money just for the networking and a talented environment to work in I could go without the classes. I have enough confidence in my own abilities to learn on my own. While I learned a lot of good fundamentals in college most of my improvement has been done on my own time. If I've learned anything about getting a job is that if your first contact in a company is human resources you're probably not going to get the job. It is very important that you have somebody in the company who is already aware and interested in you. Prefereably in the area you want to work.

    I actually started a mod team for BF1942 back in college with some local friends who had progamming experience. Wrote detailed design docs and all. This was before I was even thinking about a career. I just thought it might be something interesting to do. But they were not as into it as I was and it fizzled when it beacme apparent I was the only doing any real work for it.

    It was clear that I wasn't going to have the time to do it by myself. (Looking back, the design was way too ambitious even for a team. I have much more realistic expectations now). I looked into maybe trying to recruit some people online but it seemed to me that getting the right people was like winning the lottery. More a matter of luck than anything else. Also I didn't think anybody worth a damn would sign on with somebody whose only qualification was that he had a "great idea." Having run a clan I know how hard it is to get quality people when you have not established yourself. And since I wasn't thinking of my future career prospects at the time I shelved it.

    Before I got laid off, in my free time I tried to get another friend with a progamming background to work with me on a cell phone game. I thought it would be a realistic goal for a couple people to work on. Nothing too ambitious. Start small and scale up if we had the time. It would be sprite based and 2D to keep things simple as possible. I would handle the design and art and he would handle the core progamming. Again I wrote a design doc and started doing some concept art. After a few weeks it became clear he wasn't that into it. The guys wasn't lazy (the prior mod team's issue) but for him it's just a hobby and the guy has too many other priorties to devote that kind of time.

    Apostate on
  • rtsrts Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I don't understand. You got a degree in illustration. Thats lovely, so I can assume you have some kind of foundation in drawing and probably painting. But now you want to study game design, at an art school?

    Maybe you mentioned it somewhere in one of these massive posts that I don't have time to read...but what exactly are you looking to do in the games industry? Do you want to do concept art? 3D modeling? Animating? Texturing? Programming? Or do you want to be the guy who says 'hey I have this great idea lets make it!'

    I wouldn't be so obnoxious about it except that I think I might be able to offer some advice if I have a more clear picture of what you are looking to do.

    rts on
    skype: rtschutter
  • ApostateApostate Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    cakemikz wrote: »
    I don't understand. You got a degree in illustration. Thats lovely, so I can assume you have some kind of foundation in drawing and probably painting. But now you want to study game design, at an art school?

    Maybe you mentioned it somewhere in one of these massive posts that I don't have time to read...but what exactly are you looking to do in the games industry? Do you want to do concept art? 3D modeling? Animating? Texturing? Programming? Or do you want to be the guy who says 'hey I have this great idea lets make it!'

    I wouldn't be so obnoxious about it except that I think I might be able to offer some advice if I have a more clear picture of what you are looking to do.

    No that's okay. I'm not the most pithy writer sometimes.

    To sum up, I want to be the last guy on your list. The guy who coordinates it all and has his finger in all parts of the process and who unifies the vision of the whole project.

    The issues I'm dealing with:

    1) Obviously you don't become a Lead Designer without a great deal of prior job experience. What I am trying to find out is what is the most direct path there. Note: direct, not easiest. A sort of Job A -> Job B -> Job C -> Lead Designer. As I feel my mortality more distinctly these days I don't want to go down any deadends if possible. I don't want to find out after a year or two working in Job B that I should have done Job E and not Job B cause Job B doesn't go anywhere.

    2) The next problem is my portfolio. I don't really know what I need that will give me the best opprotunity getting my first job. Do I need mountains of design docs I've written? Lots of concept art? 3D models? Animation? Texture work? Loads of level designs? Working on a Mod? Leading a Mod? Creating my own game? A little of each? A lot of each? Anyway you get the point. I can't do everything so I need to focus on one or two things. I just need to know what they are.

    The reason I have thought about going back to school was more for the advice and networking I would receive there more so than any specific trade skills I would learn (There are also some financial reasons for going back). I have confidence in my own abilities to learn whatever additional skills are needed on my own.

    Apostate on
  • LurkLurk Registered User
    edited August 2009
    Starting your own mod is difficult and a huge long term commitment. You first need a skill to contribute to the game so you can attract talented people to help you. As you get a larger team, your role will shift from content producer to more of a team leader/cheer leader where you are trying to keep everyone excited and working together when they don't get monetary rewards for their efforts.

    I am going to be starting one soon (had a mod in the HL1 days) and I am constantly changing my base idea to be more marketable to people instead of what I want. I have a year of doing nothing because I can't go to school this year due to the recession and money issues, going to make the best of it.

    Lurk on
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