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Old 07-20-2012, 05:26 AM   #1
halleylight
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Default How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

Hello everyone !

2 years ago, when I was still a university student, this question made me struggle to find an answer. Now, after graduating and having 1 year of work experience as a game designer, I am still unable to answer it. Therefore, I would like to ask for advices from industry veterans about it, please help me !

First of all, you may question why I could still be asking about this when I already worked in the industry, even though for only a brief one year. The fact is that the company I worked for also isn't a veteran in the game development scene, thus it was easy for me to get accepted to work there.

So that's my background. I know the question in the title was a bit obscure, that's why I will try to rephrase it to be more specific, so if you can give me any advice or lesson, it would be great. Here they are:

1. How much background knowledge about programming and art should a game designer know ?

From many sources I studied so far, everyone often says either "learn as much as you can" or "till you can talk the same language with them". They made me confused. It's ideal that one should learn as much as he/she can, but I think it's actually impossible for a game designer who also has to study about many other fields. Therefore, could anyone tell me just how good at programming/drawing do you think a game designer should be before he/she starts applying for a game designer job ?

2. Are all professional game designers scientists ?

This might sound like a joke question, but the reason I'm asking it is because I have read so many game design-related books and articles about scientific things such as

Procedural Content Generation: Thinking With Modules
or
On Player Characters and Self Expression

Really, they scared me out. Do professional game designers always talk about these things while working ? Please straighten me out.

I know the post is pretty long and my questions may look childish or immature for you, but please explain to me with your experience so I could know how the industry is like. Thank you very much for your time !
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #2
tsloper
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Default Re: How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

Quote:
Originally Posted by halleylight View Post
1.p. How much background knowledge about programming ... should a game designer know ?
... how good at programming/... a game designer should be before he/she starts applying for a game designer job ?

1.a. How much background knowledge about programming and art should a game designer know ?
... how good at ...drawing ... a game designer should be before he/she starts applying for a game designer job ?

2. Are all professional game designers scientists ?

3. I have read so many game design-related books and articles about scientific things such as
Procedural Content Generation: Thinking With Modules

4. or
On Player Characters and Self Expression

5. Do professional game designers always talk about these things while working ?

0. How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer
1.p. Bad question. All designers are not created identically. YOU should know as much programming as you want to know. Read these articles:
http://www.igda.org/games-game-august-2003
http://sloperama.com/advice/designprep.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson14.htm
http://www.igda.org/introducing-games-game-may-2003
http://www.igda.org/games-game-april-2006

1.a. Enough to illustrate your ideas and designs, so that when no artist is available to help you illustrate your ideas and designs, you can communicate effectively.

2. No. Are all fingers thumbs?

3. That is not a game design article. It's a programming article. I see that for some strange reason it's been tagged a design article by Gamasutra, but maybe only because it considered ideas like how the code affects gameplay, and wasn't a great fit with the other purely programming-centric articles. I think a lot of game designers would find their heads spinning trying to read and absorb it all.

4. This designer is sharing his deep thinking about the emotional connections players can form with their game characters. I think most professional game designers would read this and say, "wow, he's really thought about this. Wish I could write such a great article too."

5. No.

0. Nothing is ever "enough." You need lots of other things besides knowledge. You need experience, a breaking in pathway, and luck.
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson49.htm
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:40 AM   #3
halleylight
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Default Re: How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

Thank you very much for your guidance, Mr. Tom !

I know some of my questions are dumb, but I just had to ask them since some employers I know never state knowing how to program as a job requirement but always ask for it during the interview. That's why I'm not sure just how much is considered "good enough" for them and I really want to prepare as much as I can while I still have time. Thank you a lot for criticize me anyway ! (^_^)
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:43 AM   #4
tsloper
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Default Re: How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

Quote:
Originally Posted by halleylight View Post
some employers I know never state knowing how to program as a job requirement but always ask for it during the interview.
It's normal and natural to ask, "do you know programming?"
It's a completely different thing to say, "we need you to know programming. Sorry."
If an opening requires programming knowledge, that should be stated in any want ads or job descriptions.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

By the way, halleylight, I don't think you've had time yet to read all those articles. I really think you should read them.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:14 AM   #6
halleylight
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Default Re: How much knowledge is enough to start applying jobs for a Game Designer

Thank you a lot sir ! I've been following your website for a long time, however it wasn't until recent that I feel these knowledge make sense to me, so I just kinda forgot. Thank you again for all of your help !
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