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How do i start as a game designer? (Need some tips) (Forums : Ideas & Concepts : How do i start as a game designer? (Need some tips) ) Locked
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Apr 29 2016 Anchor

Hello everyone! I'm a new game developer primarily into game design and currently working with a partner in a game called Dungeongainers. I'm not too great in the other departments YET and i try to do my best in learning them despite time constraints. Anyways, i try to compensate by being good in design.

I want to improve myself by gaining knowledge from the more experienced people in the industry. I already know basics like the design doc but i want to know what you guys do. I also want to know how designers' create their portfolios, rather what's in it.

When im looking for tips, i mean like the things you do in your own unique way or your perspective. I want to wear you're shoes for once or look through your binoculars. I feel like that's the best way to say this.

Hopefully i get some great replies from you guys!


May 2 2016 Anchor

Well partnering up with folks for volunteer projects is a great step if the teams can stay together instead of falling flat. As you go on you are likely to build up a contacts list. When you team up with folks, it's worth adding as many of them to your contacts as possible if they seem serious, be it designers, artists, programmers etc. Eventually some of them realize you're serious and they move onto better projects and they'll be asked who they know can fill a position and if you've proven yourself, you might get mentioned.

There's some books and online courses (e.g. on Udemy) that can help with game-design theory if you aren't taking some kind of official course at a college (I refer to UK colleges here, not the independent gaming-colleges you can find in the USA that are famously dubious for the most part). With the theory down, it comes to refining your own talent with said theory through projects with others. Eventually if you get good and have a bit of a folio, you can even look for cheap work or even expand into trying to run your own small team for a project and taking on project-management and whatnot.

Source: Myself. I'm just finishing up a HND in Computer Games Development, have done small gamejam projects, in-college projects, and did a small 6-month project on an IndieMMO called "Yonder" as designer and lead-dev. If you want to talk more about this stuff, feel free to message me here on indiedb (Not giving out my email anymore, too many bots)

May 17 2016 Anchor

What I usually do is spend a lot of time speccing out my game before I actually go about doing it. For example with my game toast I drew out what I wanted all of my screens to look like, where i wanted the characters to go, the score, coins, and the like. I thought about the actual game experience and how i wanted everything to flow. Its very important to remember then when speccing out your game everything is temporary. You can change anything quickly in this stage so it is important to make the game exactly like you want it to be.

Once I had a pretty good idea of how i wanted the game to look I went about making it. I used a library called Libgdx to make Toast, because i wanted to be able to port it to multiple OS. Its important to realize your goals and use software to help you attain those goals. I used a program call Aesprite to draw the pictures for my game. I built out the shell of the project following a guide that uses Libgdx, then i started working on the most basic form of the game possible. Toast for example, the most basic example is a piece of bread running across the screen. So i first created a picture for the bread, then a picture for a tile to run on. Then went about creating the code to make it all happen.

What I am trying to get across is the importance of planning out your game before you actually sit down to program it. When you do sit down to program it set out simple and attainable goals that you can achieve. By building small parts at a time you can actually see your game evolve into the game you always dreamed of it becoming.

May 17 2016 Anchor

I always start out with one major idea, be it a story, mechanics, graphics something that everything else in the game is designed to support. From that point nothing becomes random, every choice and every aspect of the game is designed to blend together (that or it's a bug and I can't fix it). Thus creates the theme for the game. With the theme in place I build a super simple version of it, all it needs to be at this point is blocks and it only needs one level. As long as the blocks do what they're supposed to do then you're heading in the right direction. You may want to have simple graphics for a main character and common/recurring items or objects in your game for easy identification. The hardest step is number 3, make the game fun, figure out what mechanics need to be changed or tweaked to support your theme and make the game easy and fun for people to pick up and understand. You also have to make this game different and interesting, why would someone play this game verses the literal thousands of other titles that exist?

Now that the game is fun it's time to show it to some people, friends and family are the worst people you can show it to you, because you're getting a biased report. The best people to show it to would be younger children (if suitable) that don't know you. They would be unbiased, there going to say whatever they think and if they can figure it out them your market most likely will be able to as well. If they like it, well then it's time to start polishing the game, making everything look a little better, play a little tighter, expand the story and total level to count to reach what you feel is best. Envision what you want this game to be fully, what you want people to play it on.

Jun 3 2016 Anchor

Plan, plan, and then plan some more! As with any sort of creative venture, the more planning you do before you begin, the better shape you will be in to tackle any of the inevitable pitfalls you'll run into.

There is always room for creatively tackling a problem on the fly, but that can lead to creating unnecessary assets, features, or code that ultimately wastes your time and drags down game quality. For instance, I'm working on a game that allows spell casting (indeed, it is sort of a focal point). The PC, however, can only cast one spell at a time and must wait for the spell to "resolve" before another can be used. I will include a unique item that the player can equip later in the game that bypasses that rule, allowing multiple spells to be cast, but will come at some sort of cost to the player. Will the extra spells cost more? Damage the player? Be less effective somehow? Anything I choose fits into the overall design of the spell planning. It is not a new idea to tackle an unexpected problem, its a problem built into the planning itself if that makes sense.

And always, ALWAYS communicate with your team. They can help you wrap your head around something just by offering a different point of view, and they can also help you avoid the issue of planning something that will either be impossible or way to difficult to soundly implement just on the basis of them having a different skill set than you. Every idea I come up with I ask my coder "Can you do this? Will this work? What do you think"? Having a good team means including them in the design process.

Nightshade Technical Artist
Jun 5 2016 Anchor

I always feel sorry for you aspiring Game Designers who want to break into the business. Why? Because you are going to have a hard time - a VERY hard time.
That's not to say that things are impossible - they certainly are not. With hard work and dedication, anyone can become a game dev no matter what discipline you come from. But the fact remains that companies are very suspicious about junior Game Designers as your kind holds a lot of responsibility - and power - within a game team.

Some advice:

1) Acquire as many hard skills as possible!
You don't need to become an expert on code or 3D, but by knowing at least the foundations of code/computer science and things like art production or level design, you are on a good way of becomming a Jack-of-all trades - which is a very good quality to have as a game designer, especially if you apply for smaller studios where multi-talented people are favored over experts within just a single field.

2) Do as many small projects as you can, and avoid larger projects. Anything larger than 10 weeks full-time should be scrapped. When presenting these projects on a portfolio, employers are interested mostly in how your thinking was, what problems you faced and how you dealt with them. Showing off mechanics or graphics is unimportant. Employers are very cautious about hiring junior game designers unless they have solid evidence that they can work through all the problems that comes up for a designer during a project.

3) Don't be afraid to apply for and take a job as QA (quality assurance) tester. For many designers, this is a perfect way of getting a foot into the industry and get a foundation that you can work from and improve. QA testers are the last line of defense (compared to Tech Artists who are the first line of defense) in a game production, as they have the responsibility of making sure that no bugs or gameplay defects are shipped out to the customers. As a QA you will get insights into code as well as art and level design which in turn will aid you in becomming a better designer.

4) The second most popular way of becomming a professional Game Designer is to go the indie route and start up your own company. In this case, it is even more important that you are a Jack-of-all trades. Find people who are just as multi-facetted as you and start producing. Examples: don't join forces with people who are too caved-in on just one discipline - like a concept artist who has no experience with game engines, or a programmer who comes from a background as a network engineer.

5) Never be afraid of tossing away an idea or a prototype if the gameplay is NO FUN. I've seen so many smaller studios push for an idea that simply ain't fun or competitive on the market, because of fear of failure - or they may think that they cannot afford cancelling a production. FUN trumps everything else in a game.

Edited by: Nightshade


Technical Artist @ King - an Activision Blizzard division
Portfolio | LinkedIn

Jun 5 2017 Anchor

I maybe an aspiring Game Designer, but I'm ready making a game, I'm just not that good yet lol.

Jun 21 2017 Anchor


Every single person reacts to the game in a different way and even quite similar in tastes gamers can like or dislike your game design. On the GameCrafts conference in Kiev was an interesting speech about human's personality influence on the preferences and derision in games. Here is the link
What is is your opinion about it and does it really meter on the prototype stage of the game design?

casf01 Rigger / tech artist
Jul 11 2017 Anchor

1- sorry to bump this

2- sorry to be a party pooper

3- im typing this using my phone

I just saw this post and all I could think of is that I would never hire a junior (no matter his field) without school education. I would even strongly oppose to this. Ive been working in AAA for about 6 +years and Ive been teaching tech anim for 2 years ( im a tech anim :) ). Now you might think that im a total jerk with what I just said and I would understand:). But thing is... games are getting harder and harder to make nowadays yet every one are making their game game/prototype which is super cool. But most of the time they rely on hacks and wacky techniques. I had to teach mecanim and unity a year ago and well Just look at the unity forum, its full of hack and dumb solutions that even a 1 year juniot wouldnt dare to do. Would you dare hiring a plumber without his cards?

Again thats just my opinion and I dont think this apply to indie. I understand also that I might get some hate due to this post. But all I saying is go a school that teach game design with game industry vets. Then create as much mods as you ll want :)

Anyhow thats my 2 cents and after all its your life.

Jul 24 2017 Anchor

Watch this Playlist religiously and sequentially:

And Read these;
Game Design Books - Fundamentals:

  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design [Raph Koster]
  • The Art of Game Design [Jesse Schell]
  • Characteristics of Games [Karl Robert Gutschera, Richard Garfield, George Skaff Elias]
  • Rules of Play [Eric Zimmerman / Katie Salen]
  • The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology [Eric Zimmerman / Katie Salen]
  • The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia [Bernard Suits]
  • The Well-Played Game: A Player's Philosophy [Bernie De Koven]
  • The Art of Computer Game Design [Chris Crawford]
  • Chris Crawford On Game Design [Chris Crawford]
  • Uncertainty in Games [Greg Costikyan]
  • Game Feel: A Game Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation [Steve Swink]
  • Homo Ludens [Johan Huizinga]
  • Man, Play and Games [Roger Caillois]
  • The Ambiguity of Play [Brian Sutton-Smith]

Edited by: tomazcorralmoreira

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