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Old 07-08-2010, 06:43 PM   #1
Arimil
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Default A question about the game industry.

I've wanted to be a game developer since I was 6. Although that is really off-topic from the purpose of this post I thought it was a rather nice intro, haha. I really just didn't want to plaster a bunch of questions up here as my first post. There isn't really an introduction section on the website so this is as good a spot as ever. Though most of you probably don't care who I am so the questions are at the bottom, you can just skip to them if you prefer.

When I was 5 I wanted to be a fire fighter or an astronaut, when I was 6 my dad brought home a NES - from that point forward I no longer wanted to be an astronaut or a fire fighter, I wanted to make games. When I was 10 my dad brought home a computer, now I thought this was awesome until I turned it on and the only thing I ever saw was:
Code:
C:\>
I turned it on once in a while and I could type stuff after that, thats about as far as I ever got. I still don't know what was wrong with that computer that it was launching to I believe a MSDOS prompt.

When I was 15 I made a website called Arch Games it was a free website I moved it around a few times but I never got any many visitors so it wasn't that big of a deal. I had an archgames.co.nr domain an archgames.tk domain and a few sub domains. Mainly because they were free. Since then I now have a real domain, my site is http://arch-games.com (I dam the person that registered archgames.com all the time because it isn't even relevant to their game at all). I was writing a story around the time of creating the site and the main characters name was Arch so I kinda just pulled that out and named it Arch Games. More recently I like to say I used the name Arch to refer to someone that isn't trustworthy or in the grey area. Someone that doesn't pick sides and prefers neutrality rather than good or evil, black or white.

I have attempted to make many games before although none of them ended with success. I always began working on it and eventually hit a bump that I couldn't figure out how to fix, posting on forums seeking help I never seemed to get any replies. This lead to me letting many of my projects simply fade away. I still want to be a game developer. I'm 19 now (turning 20 this year) I graduated from high school when I was 18 since then I left home and went with my uncle for about half a year traveling with him in his truck moving people around the country (only really the east coast though). I am now back home since returning I registered for a local community college for a computer science degree but I was unable to get a room since I live within 80 miles of the school and It's to far for me to drive down there every day. After that I've sat around for about 2 months doing nothing I talked to a Navy recruiter for some time and I'm still currently considering that as a possibility. A short term possibility that is, I don't intend to stay there if I do go.

Anyway, heres my question. I was reading a few of the articles on the getting started page and under the descriptions of the jobs they do explain what that person does but is everything really separated like that?

What I mean is under the Game Designer description it states that they decide how things work, now it also states other things but deciding how things work is pretty much making the whole game, in my opinion. Does that mean a designer pretty much makes up how the character development works what the UI should look like etc. and the programmers and artists simply make those systems and have no say in how they think things should work?

I wanted to be a programmer but if this is the case (which I don't think it is) I may reconsider. What I expected the industry to be like is the programmers and everyone have meetings and discuss how the systems should work. Could someone clear up how this works for me?

Thanks,
Arimil
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:29 PM   #2
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Anyway, heres my question. I was reading a few of the articles on the getting started page and under the descriptions of the jobs they do explain what that person does but is everything really separated like that?
Yes. Why do you not believe it? Why do you ask? Here's more to read about game jobs:
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson7.htm
http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/career_paths.htm
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:39 PM   #3
Arimil
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I've read that article and it doesn't really clear up the big question. Do programmers have any say in the design of the game? Like how certain systems work etc? Or are they just told this is how _________ system works, make it happen and aren't able to give any input on possible problems or a better way to do it.

The whole bottom half there was the question not just that line, I'm not sure if you caught that.

Also, thanks for the reply looks like your pretty busy around these forums.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:00 AM   #4
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Some say, but designers generally get the final word. I'm a programmer, and sometimes I get a spec or screen mockup that's not 100% clear about the details. I'll either discuss with the designer who wrote the spec to clarify, or I'll decide how I think it should work and just build it that way. The designer will let me know if they don't like what I did.

The designers I work most closely with sit right near me, so I have plenty of chances to observe what they're working on and give my input. I also do play sessions of the game and give my feedback about what's working and what's not, and adjustments I think could be made to improve the game.

There are plenty of ways I can give my input on the game's design, but that's certainly not my primary job, or my primary interest.
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:06 AM   #5
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Not working in the games industry yet, but with experience in the software industry, I tend to think the answer is quite the same (and if not, let me know): it really depends on the company you're working for and who are your managers, where are you positioned in the company etc.

For example - usually people working in smaller companies tend to have more influence then in larger companies since sometimes they don't have people for every position so people tend to do a bit of everything.

That said - if there is a designer and a programmer the designer will do the design and the programmer will write the code, and usually writing the code also involves design of its own (there is more then one way to write the code for skinning a cat). I would also like to believe that if a programmer sees something he doesn't like in the game design she could go to the designer and make her comments and vice versa - if the designer sees a piece of the working game (or prototype) they can comment on how the mechanics work.

In some places I worked at the process was a collaborative one - the designers made the design, gave it to the programmers to review, the programmers gave their thoughts (for example: "This and that will be very hard to implement and will take double the time we have, if we change it a bit it will make the implementation much easier), the designers adjusted the design, the programmers did their job and then had another review with the designers to make sure that this is what they wanted.

The bottom line is - it really depends on where you work and what are the work procedures, but I would like to hope the the process in most places is a collaborative one.

I hope this is clear enough and answers your question
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:21 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone I'm kinda stuck in between wanting to be a programmer and a designer, I'm going to think about it for a bit.
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Old 07-09-2010, 06:43 AM   #7
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1. Or are they just told this is how _________ system works, make it happen
2. and aren't able to give any input on possible problems or a better way to do it.
1. Yes.
2. No.
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Old 07-09-2010, 07:01 AM   #8
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What I expected the industry to be like is the programmers and everyone have meetings and discuss how the systems should work.
This happens when the designer doesn't have an obvious best solution for a system, or when the team wants to discuss alternate solutions for a system. If meetings had to be held for each and every design decision, nothing would ever get done.
I remember at Activision one time there was a ridiculously long and loud (multi-opinionated) meeting (called by my boss, not by me) over how clicking on a Shanghai tile should work. At that point I had already worked on Shanghai games for more years than the meeting attendees had worked at the company, and I wrote the design the way I knew it needed to be (the way the users already liked it just fine).
BTW, those other people at that meeting were not even working on my project. My boss just wanted to hear other opinions on a variety of topics (not only the clicking).
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kbaxter View Post
Some say, but designers generally get the final word. I'm a programmer, and sometimes I get a spec or screen mockup that's not 100% clear about the details. I'll either discuss with the designer who wrote the spec to clarify, or I'll decide how I think it should work and just build it that way. The designer will let me know if they don't like what I did.

The designers I work most closely with sit right near me, so I have plenty of chances to observe what they're working on and give my input. I also do play sessions of the game and give my feedback about what's working and what's not, and adjustments I think could be made to improve the game.

There are plenty of ways I can give my input on the game's design, but that's certainly not my primary job, or my primary interest.
I just listened to the podcast on the irrational games website about making Bioshock and was quite happy. It gave a lot of insight about how it actually works. I've decided to keep with my original plans of becoming a programmer. I found a school that does distance learning for a computer science degree (which focus' on game programming) so I'll probably go into the Navy and take those classes at the same time since It'll help me get a job in the long run.

I began redoing my website from scratch thus removing drupal since I'm not sure how they did everything. I figure if I make the whole site from scratch I'll know how everything works and It'll help me. Once I finished the site I have an idea for a game that I'm going to attempt to make using GML since it's a indie game engine that seems to have a good community to help me out if I get stuck.

Thanks again everyone!

Last edited by Arimil : 07-10-2010 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:19 AM   #10
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There's typically a fiarly simple rule to Designers and programmers:

Designers say what a feature should do.
Programmers decide how it should do it.


Usually they will consider your input or suggestions, but ultimately it is their decision, because it is their vision that you are creating.
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