So you've decided to become a game designer? Good.
Becoming a game designer is a very challenging and competitive career. It requires a lot of creativity, countless hours of hard work and dedication.
You will need to have the passion for it to make things easier. This career requires precise technical skills and knowledge.
If you're really committed to this career, you'll need to do a couple of things first.
In order to become a game designer you need to:
- Be sure that this is the career for you
- Earn a degree in Game design
- Get involved in groups of game design
- Show your work to the right people
- Learn how to use the tools
- Learn a little bit programming
Is it the career for you?
The first thing to get clear on how to become a game designer is to know that his is the career for you. There are a lot of things you need to take into account before answering this.
The first and most common “mistake” people who start this career is that they like video games. Just being a gamer and playing a lot of video games will not guarantee that you'll excel in this career.
There are things to consider like:
- Can you handle the stress?
- Do you care about details?
- How are you communication skills?
- Are you creative?
- Can you tell why a game is bad?
What you need to do
The three steps you need to follow are: 1. Earn a degree in game design, 2. Get involved with people in the field, 3. Show your skills to the right people.
The best place to start with the degree is to a university that offers game design programs. This will allow you to learn the fundamentals of game design, and prepare you for a possible career.
Your courses will vary in building skills in game design, such as level design, 2D concepts, 3D modeling, texturing etc.
Getting involved in groups or forums of game designers is also a crucial part of the process. Since game design is a competitive field, you need to do anything in order to succeed.
Most game design schools already have their clubs or organizations that allow students to get together and learn. This way, you'll learn directly from a person who already learned something new. The more sources of study you have the better you will get. Make sure to ask as many question as you have in order to clarify things. That's what group studies do!
Finally, when you think you've done something good you need to show it to the right people. Potential employers will need to know that you've done something great in order to hire you. Every new project you make needs to be better than the last one.
And when you finally finish the best one yet, start sending e-mails to companies regarding your application to work. You may even complete an internship first, which matters when it comes to hiring. Don't expect to become crucial to a company right from the beginning.
Design vs development
There's a major difference when it comes to game design vs game development.
Let's talk about what game design does. Basically, it includes:
- The game concepts
- How the mechanic will work
- What the storyline will be
On the other hand, the game development takes those ideas and brings them to life. It covers the whole part from the animation and physics through to the engine programming.
It's like building a website. The designer designs how it will look like and the programmers converts it into code and makes it functional.
So in essence, the game designer tells the developer how the game will work and the developer will finish the functionality of it.
Think of it as the difference between the driver of a car, and the engineers who build it.
What is considered a bad design?
There will be times, especially at the beginning of your career, when you'll feel like you design is great but people dislike it.
Then you'll start to wonder what a bad design is. If we were to point out a few things that make a bad design, it would be:
- Annoying music
- No boss levels
- Bad storyline
- Too simple
Be careful to avoid making your game a boring one. If people get bored than your game will vanish into thin air.
Also, take care of the music. Take for instance Need For Speed Underground 2. It's well known for having the best music out of all the games.
If your game lacks of a boss level or has a bad storyline, your game will be considered a failure. And it should!
Try to keep it away from being too repetitive and complicate it a bit. The time for simple games has passed and we're more into complicated ones.
Best online tools for game design
The best game design tools for free are:
GameMaker: Studio (http://www.yoyogames.com/studio) – It's considered the easiest and most popular tool when it comes for game design. The drag-and-drop system allows you to create games in no time.
Unity3d (http://unity3d.com/) – Unity is not underestimated anymore like it was once. It's now, surprisingly enough, widely used in the game creating field.
Construct2 (https://www.scirra.com/) – The perfect tool if you want to make a simple 2D game. This too offers the drag-and-drop interface that makes everything easier for you.
RPG Maker (http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/) – Considering that RPGs are the most popular genres in the field, there was no chance there wouldn't be a tool for it. Thanks to RPG Maker, game designers have the chance to create their own epic adventures in no time.
Feel free to manipulate with these tools to get the best out of them.
John Marx is a native of Nebraska, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College in 2014 with a B.A. in French. Continuing his studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy.