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Old 07-10-2012, 10:34 AM   #1
joshmakesart
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Default Game Design Major Needs Guidance

(Edited due to vagueness on my part. I explain my situation better in my first reply.)



Hey people,

I am currently a Junior attending the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

My major - Interactive Design and Game Development

My first concern is that even though I respect this school; I feel that after now becoming a junior I should know more about game design. I know that I have these last 2 school years left to learn more, but it feels like I haven't learned enough up to this point.

I have been reading a lot of the articles from Gamasutra and Gamecareerguide on how to prepare for the industry but some of what they say is easier said than done in my opinion. I am not a fanboy of movies, tv shows, or even video games which I think puts me far behind.

I have just started self-teaching C# with the Head First C# book, but I am looking for other ways of self-teaching to help me get a leg up in school. I don't want to just graduate with a degree. I want to have enough under my belt to get a job.

I really just need advice from people who have self-taught aspects of game design successfully so I can get an idea of where to go from here.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by joshmakesart : 07-10-2012 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:43 PM   #2
tsloper
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Default Re: Game Design Major Needs Guidance

Be warned - there's a lot of tough talk in this reply. But my intent is to show you a different way of thinking, a better way of getting the information you really need. I am writing this reply to be helpful, but in a way that some people find disagreeable. If you can't take tough talk, Josh, stop reading now.
You wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshmakesart View Post
1. I feel that after now becoming a junior I should know more about game design.
2. I know that I have these last 2 school years left to learn more, but it feels like I haven't learned enough up to this point.
3. some of what they say is easier said than done in my opinion.
4. I am not a fanboy of movies, tv shows, or even video games
5. which I think puts me far behind.
6. I have just started self-teaching C#
7. but I am looking for other ways of self-teaching to help me get a leg up in school.
8. I don't want to just graduate with a degree. I want to have enough under my belt to get a job.
1. Maybe so. Can you define "game design"? Because I'm not sure we're on the same page in that regard.

2. You haven't. Very few students who've just finished the sophomore year have learned enough. Look up the term "sophomoric." I just looked it up, and found two definitions:
Pretentious or juvenile.
Conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature.
Let's assume you are not pretentious, conceited, and overconfident. But, yeah, as a sophomore, you have definitely not learned enough yet. Or perhaps we need to agree on what "enough" means. What is your definition of "enough"?

3. Only some? Try again. ALL OF IT is easier said than done. EVERYTHING is easier said than done, except breathing and having a pulse (and even those have exceptions).

4. Really. Movies and TV don't matter, but you don't like video games? Then why are you going into game development, and especially why do you want to learn more about game design?

5. Behind other sophomores, you mean? Because they are the only competition you need to compare yourself with.

6. Really. Well, I don't deny that some knowledge of programming is useful for a game designer, but... I'm thinking we may be talking at cross purposes. Does your definition of "game design" include programming as an absolute requirement? Or are you learning it out of an insatiable curiosity to know more about how games are made?

7. I have an article that might be useful for that quest: http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm

8. That's good. In the next 2 years as you finish your degree, you can work on your portfolio in your spare time. But even if you do, you still probably won't have "enough" to get a job straight out of school, depending on what kind of job you plan to go for. I don't know what kind of job you plan to go for, since I'm getting mixed signals from you: you say you want to know more about "game design," and you're learning about programming this summer, and your moniker is "joshmakesart," so I have no idea what kind of job you plan to go for after graduation.
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:33 PM   #3
joshmakesart
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Default Re: Game Design Major Needs Guidance

That reply is exactly what I needed. I'm ex-military so when people give it to me straight, I appreciate it.

Also I am horrible at expressing what's on my mind and apologize for the vague explanation of my concerns. I will now try to explain things better and will reply to you in the format you used.

1. I misspoke. I meant Game Development. At my school it is the slang term that we use sometimes as a fast way of communicating. It shouldn't have been used in my post. I apologize. And the knowledge I have of Game Development includes the basic foundation stuff; system dynamics, mechanics, prototyping, rules, interface design, etc..)

2. What I meant is that even though I have taken the basic classes for Game Development I still don't feel that the knowledge I currently have makes me the least bit valuable or confident. It's more of a worried feeling in my stomach that I'm running out of time to learn enough while in college. I'm probably wrong but the feeling is there nonetheless.

3. You are totally right. I know it's not an easy process. My point in saying that was to get guidance on good tactics for learning a decent amount of information in limited time. For example, in one thread it said that I need to play all kinds of games good and bad, they even mention GameFly. But while in school it is nearly impossible to have time to play video games. I do what I can in that area, but it doesn't seem good enough.

4. I never said I didn't like video games. I think it was miscommunication on my part. Where I currently live/study, fanboy is a term for someone who has vast knowledge over a form of entertainment. Like someone who has a film obsession knows all actors, directors, and narrative within most movies in existence. I have been told countless times by professors that being a fanboy of video games is good, but not necessary. All I wanted really was a second opinion on the matter I suppose. I have played and loved video games since I was a child. But not knowing all the games out there just adds to the "worried feeling."

5. "Other sophomores" is exactly what I meant.

6. As it stands, I know little programming. I want to self teach programming for three reasons. One, to be able to communicate with programmers when working on future games. Two, to have the power to give life to my art in order to express my game ideas to my team. Three, to be ahead of schedule once I start programming courses.

7. Thanks.

8. I am well aware that it's not easy getting a great job right after graduating. That's one of the first things we are taught in this major. But it is possible to be more qualified than other students. My goal is to go above and beyond the class assignments, and have more going for me than just a degree when I graduate. Also, I do not yet know what path I will take in my career. And lastly, I just use "joshmakesart" for most user names because of my website, joshmakesart.com. I threw together the site and put some work on it a while back for a better chance at getting internships or whatever it may be needed for. It is still a work in progress.

I hope this has explained things a little better. I may have been in too much of a rush to get these concerns off my chest in the first post.

Once again, I apologize for the confusion and thank you for your reply.

Josh
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:51 PM   #4
tsloper
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Default Re: Game Design Major Needs Guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshmakesart View Post
1. I still don't feel that the knowledge I currently have makes me the least bit valuable or confident.
2. It's more of a worried feeling in my stomach that I'm running out of time to learn enough while in college. I'm probably wrong but the feeling is there nonetheless.
3. My point in saying that was to get guidance on good tactics for learning a decent amount of information in limited time.
4. while in school it is nearly impossible to have time to play video games.
5. I do what I can in that area, but it doesn't seem good enough.
not knowing all the games out there just adds to the "worried feeling."
6. But it is possible to be more qualified than other students.
7. My goal is to go above and beyond the class assignments,
8. and have more going for me than just a degree when I graduate.
9. Also, I do not yet know what path I will take in my career.
1. It doesn't. You are not cooked enough yet. If you are ex-military, I'm surprised by all the insecurity and impatience you are expressing.

2. You are living in Star Wars land. You think "feel the force" is real. It's not. I'm surprised that an ex-military guy is still using the word "feel" like a twenty-year old. I assume you are older than the other sophomores in your class, but you don't sound like it.

3. You can't hurry learning. You have 2 more years. Focus on your schoolwork, do your studies well. Also, know that nobody can learn everything in college that he needs to know afterwards. You have to supplement your education by doing independent study. If you can't cram it all in before graduation, cram it in after graduation.

4. Yes, of course.

5. I have worked in games since before you were born, and I do not know all the games out there. Please don't take this in the wrong way. You might want to consider discussing your anxiety with your doctor. You say you were in the military; I don't know if that involved combat, or if you have any post-traumatic conditions; if so, then the VA probably has some support groups you might want to join.

6. Yes, of course. Anything is possible (except time travel to the past, and the Star Trek holodeck).

7. In moderation. If your desire and attempt to go above and beyond increases your anxiety above acceptable levels, then you should scale back -- lower your sights.

8. I think we already discussed this point in our previous go-around, did we not?

9. You might want to focus your efforts now on figuring that out. Read about the different job types in games, picture yourself doing those jobs. Try learning programming (as you said before) so you can find out if you like it. Since "art" is in your online persona already, see if you can make some masterpieces. Try writing, too.
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson7.htm
http://www.skillset.org/games/careers/profiles/
http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/career_paths.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/designprep.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson14.htm
After you've tried things some more, and read about those careers, make a decision grid.
http://sloperama.com/advice/m70.htm
It's okay if the decision you make now differs from the decision you'll make five years from now. That's the way it goes. The decision you make now does not have to be the end-all and be-all -- you are not cementing yourself into the sidewalk of life with this decision. But make a decision soon. You're older than the other sophomores, and you want to take courses applicable to the career path you need to decide.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:38 AM   #5
shane.hendrickson
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Default Re: Game Design Major Needs Guidance

Josh I can relate to you quite well because I actually felt the exact same way during my senior year. Yeah, it's not a good feeling. Let me tell you right now that there is no way you are going to learn game development from going to classes, turning in assignments, or reading books. Sure, those these give you a great place to start, but in my experience you are only going to learn game development if you jump in and get your feet wet by making games.
Things actually took a bit of an unexpected turn for me. I already had plans to move to an area with a lot of game companies and had even started researching the companies by playing their games and learning the same tools that they use. Then, during my last year, I was contacted by a former classmate who had joined a small startup. He wanted me to join the team as writer and designer. So I did.
Now, unfortunately, this meant that instead of jumping into a high paying job, I am sticking with my day job until something happens here, but that's not really my point.
My point is this: absolutely nothing that I ever did in any class could have prepared me for what it's like to actually be a part of a team trying to build a game. We have three artists (including our team leader), two programmers, and one designer (that's me). On one hand, it is incredibly rewarding, especially seeing that we are actually in the prototyping stage where our programmers are starting to put things into motion. On the other hand, it is a huge reality check. Suddenly vague descriptions don't work because our programmers don't think that way.
One of the absolute best things we did as a team happened this past April. We decided to take part in the Ludum Dare 23 game jam. (www.ludumdare.com)
It was an eye-opening experience for all of us as we each had our assigned tasks and we tried to keep in communication with each other. Ultimately, we did not complete a game, but we DID learn a lot, and I can't stress enough...A LOT. We learned a lot about the development process, more than books or classes or assignments had ever taught us.
So do this: make a game, ideally as part of a team. A classmate of mine once said that if you get through your education without actually making any games, THAT is when you are behind.
So yes, go above and beyond on your assignments. Read everything you can get your hands on about game development. But seriously? Go make games. Make them solo. Make them with other people. Listen to everything Mr. Sloper has told you. And find a group in your college to make a game. Don't worry about 'knowing enough' to be part of a team. I'm willing to be that most of the students around you don't actually 'know enough' either, but that shouldn't stop anyone. You may have to start small, but that's okay. I am convinced that nothing will replace the experience (or at least practice) you will get from doing this. Oh, and you'll feel a lot better about yourself too. Trust me, I have been there, go out and get yourself involved in a group or two NOW, do it BEFORE you hit your senior year and you still don't have anything to show for it.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:15 AM   #6
inches
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Default Re: Game Design Major Needs Guidance

I'd like to say to do whatever you do in terms of college, learning, or life for YOU, not for a potential career.

You can't get a job in the creative industry unless it is connected to some part of your soul. No amount of "Doing X" will just return a job in the industry. If you enjoy making games, your first goal is to find out which part to play. If you are already in a specific area, you can dabble in others, but stop after you give it a go for a while if you think it isn't fun.

Let your interests guide you until you really know your place. Then, the motivation to learn more will come from inside instead of arbitrary career goals. If you aren't motivated enough to use everything you know to make small board games or something else really simple than you'll never enjoy a life in, or be able to get a life in the game industry.
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