Monday, February 1, 2016

"I want to be a Game Designer"

Hey all,

I haven't posted anything in a while so I thought to post something for people who aspire to be designers one day.

First off: YOU CAN DO IT!
Second: It'll be difficult.

"But how do I get started?", you ask, highlighted in fluorescent pink ink.

The answer? There are many, but I would start off with picking the right school. Before you pick a school, do your homework and look into what percentage of students that graduate can find a relevant job. Also, don't fall for those schools that advertise on TV offering a "degree in game design", do your homework!
I went to Digipen, and I recommend it if you are tenacious and don't mind leaping through a few hoops. It is far from the only school though, take a look and find a school that you would like.

I have a programming degree, and developed a design sense over time from playing games and disassembling them. This may not be the course you follow!

If you don't want to go to school though, because you're seriously in debt (like myself), you can still develop a design sense and make stuff. The school thing is nice if you want a job in the games industry, but not a requirement, from what I understand.

As an exercise, you can analyse and break down the games I mention below, I've left a few questions to help guide your thinking:

Super Mario Bros.
  • What are the first 10 seconds of play like? Pretend like you've NEVER played a game before.
  • Notice that first block structure? Why is it like that?
  • Why is the pipe there? Does the mushroom that appears from one of the "?" blocks have anything to do with the pipe being there?
  • Why is the block structure so low to the ground?
Super Metroid
  • Why does the game start with a vertical shaft? Notice the radar? Is there a relation?
  • The first door is at the top of some stairs, why?
  • In the next room, why is there a structure in the middle of the room that you have to jump over? Are the jump physics normal for a platformer game?
  • The first boss fight seems to have a pattern to it, is it trying to teach you anything?
  • Why 1 minute for the escape, is it a difficulty barrier?
The Witness
  • What's the first thing you see?
  • What are the puzzles like in the introduction?
  • How long did it take for you to notice the cables?
  • Did you think that the introduction puzzle with two possible solutions meant anything? How about after you enter the overworld and circle around the structure? Does it mean anything now? What does it teach you?
  • How are new puzzle elements introduced?
  • Does the art style of the game add to anything?
(Pick another one, that you like)
(Pick one that you don't like)

After you've managed to figure all of that out, perhaps you'd like to get started, yeah?
So, how do you make stuff?

First, download Unity, it's a good tool for prototyping your ideas. It's free!
Learn how to use the tool, there are a TON of good tutorials!
Just make stuff! Follow through on your ideas, see them through! What makes the idea fun or not fun? Show these ideas to a friend, try to introduce your mechanics in an intuitive way, from your notes on the games I mentioned above!

Take feedback constructively, try to constantly improve yourself!

Hopefully, you have a sense of direction now on how to get started designing games.
You can do it!