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linfosoma Dance my little puppet, dance!
May 12 2013 Anchor

Sup guys, the purpose of this thread is to write a small guide to help people who are just getting started on the game industry and want to know what do to, what to learn and where to get started, it's not going to be the best thing ever but hopefully it'll help you out. Also, feel free to add whatever you want.

First of all, I suppose I should introduce myself, my name is Alejandro, on the past I've worked on a small indie project called "Depth" (I made the characters and animations for that project), since then I've done some commission work for a few small titles such as "Dear Charlotte" and Im currently employed full time as a 3D generalist at Gameloft.

Anyway, here we go:

Step 1: Figure out what you are good at, get awesome at it.

If you are looking to get started on this industry, the first, most important thing you need to do is figure out what you are good at and do a whole lot of that.
Do you want to make character models? Start learning tons of anatomy (yes, even if you only want to make toon characters, people who make toon stuff knows tons of anatomy, it's extremely important), then learn modeling tools, learn how to sculpt, learn how to start from box modeling.
Do you want to make environment art? Then start learning architecture, try to make things have a purpose, a real function and study how real life stuff works.

A big problem I see with many projects that are usually pitched around is that most people want to become game designers, that is, someone who sits around and give other people directions about the game they want to make. If you are serious about this, then this will most definitely NOT be your first choice. To be a game designer you need full understanding of how every aspect of development works, including the full asset creation workflow, programming and feature design, if you only have a partial idea of this stuff the people who work for you are going to be either left to work with no direction (which often leads to them leaving the project) or they'll be forced to redo assets due to lack of foresight (which will eventually lead to fights, quickly damaging your group's morale).

Step 2: Start small! No you dummy, smaller!

Seriously, the best advice I can give you is, start small, very very small. Many people here are trying to make the best game ever, the MMO RPG where you can get on a dinosaur and ride into space and do lines of coke with whores that have ten boobs. This path will lead you nowhere.
The most important thing in this industry is to actually release something, even if it's the worst game ever, having a released project is invaluable because it means that you've been able to experience the full range of emotions that the WORK that game development is really all about.

So back to my first point, don't start a new project from scratch, find out what you are good at and join a small team trying to do something simple, small and manageable. Will it be the best game ever? No, it most certainly won't be, but it'll be a game that is actually out and that is worth more than the best idea in the world, and that leads me to..

Step 3: Everybody's full of ideas.

The first and most important thing to understand is that everybody has an idea, the janitor has his idea for the best game ever, the guy who cleans the street does too, everybody has an idea of what is best for them which is why nobody will take your own seriously.
No, seriously man, I don't care if you have the best idea ever, and if you think you know games from the inside out and you KNOW what needs to be done to create the perfect game, nobody cares, because everybody has their own idea as well.

So why should someone give up their own dream to work their butt of to make yours a reality? The only reason anyone would do that is because you are a proven game designer with a whole bunch of released titles under your belt, but you don't, so get humble and start small!

Step 4: Know where to start.

I seriously can't empathize this enough, you need to pick a skill and get good at it. When will you ever be considered good? Never, there's always something new to learn and there's always room for improvement, so never give up and get cracking.

If you want to code then learn as much as you want.
If you want to write a story then learn literature, everybody thinks they can write, only a few actually can.
If you want to make art then learn as much as you can, and never give up.
And if you want to be a project leader then sod off, because clearly you weren't paying attention :D

Step 5: Ok, but I really want to lead my own project, where do I start?

FINE! I'll help you out. If you really want to go through the horrible process of having to lead and constantly fight with a group of people who will ultimately hate you then I wont spare you the pain.

First things first: A game designer is in charge of coming up with game features, budgets (polycount, texture sizes, etc) and goals.
A designer is NOT a writer, either you write the game's plot or you lead development and let somebody else do the writing, pick one, you can't do both.

Second: Before you start hiring make sure you have a design document as good as you can.
A design doc usually has a presentation of what the gameplay will be like, not to be confused with the story, from reading the doc you should get a very clear idea of what the game will play like.

Here's a good example:
"Sausage party is a game where the player is charged with collecting party hats from the game world while avoiding enemies and then delivering them to the sausages so they can have their party"

And here's a bad example:
"Sausage party is an epic, cinematic experience that will blow your mind and make you reconsider the sheer concept of video games forever. Join us in this epic story full of excitement and emotion as Sergeant "James T. Sausager" is forced to reconsider the very concept of life on his quest for redemption...and sausages"

Now, which of those two examples give you a clear idea of what the game is going to be about and which one is a bunch of random buzz words string together?

A good design doc will have goals, will detail specific features and will have a clear workflow path from start to finish, which again is the reason why I think you need to work on a game from start to finish to fully understand these things before you make your own.

Anyway, time to take the dog for a walk, I seriously hope this helps someone, and if you have any questions, let me know :)

Edited by: linfosoma

May 12 2013 Anchor

Great post. :)

Also, you should bold, italicize, quote and underline this:

I seriously can't empathize this enough, you need to pick a skill and get good at it.

Edited by: ANumberSquared

May 12 2013 Anchor

I approve.


All posts are phase shifted and routed through the main deflector dish for quality assurance purposes.

Jun 17 2013 Anchor

Good work!

Jun 27 2013 Anchor

Nicely said.
There are really lots of people that need to read and
consider these stuff, before rushing into the game industry after coming
up with the best game idea.

Jun 28 2013 Anchor

Awesome post!

To compliment it I'd recommend watching some of the Extra Creditz videos. They are really insightful!

Jun 28 2013 Anchor

Start with a feature / mechanic then build complacent characters and enviroments around them

Build a flexable design that can adapt

If you have a buget have a documentation for spending

Manage your ambitions

If your directing a team make sure YOU KNOW wtf your doing typically this means an understanding at even basic levels of the work being done (level design / animation / modeling / etc)

Think I will stop myself there

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