View Full Version : What is needed to be qualified as a game designer

12-15-2008, 06:37 PM
Well...As far as I know, being a game designer, you must be creative and have a really broad range of imagination. Besides that, programming skills and graphic skills are something a gaming designer cannot do without. The question is like is it that hard to be one? Imagine how long those who work in JP game company such as Capcom, Bandai, SNK, Alus, as well as Namco...

I dunno! How does gaming program differentiate from PC program?

is any any gaming designer here or somebody who either has worked for MS or some of the renowned gaming companies in JP as mentioned above?

12-15-2008, 08:03 PM
If you're talking about design, then a portfolio would definiatly help. I've read that they love;

1) People who game
2) People who have created or worked on mods
3) People who design levels


As for a game programmer, probably the same sort of thing (I wouldn't know :)). It's certainly a hard area to get into and be good at.

12-15-2008, 09:51 PM
4. People who have a released title.
5. People who have console dev experience

Unfortunately the games industry appears to be getting more niche than ever with ridiculous requirements of at least 1 to 2 shipped titles and some serious console experience. It would be next to impossible for anyone to gain console experience outside of a professional environment so this requirement is certainly restrictive.

Before you jump headlong into the games industry you may want to do some research about what it is they do. Be prepared for tight schedules, long work days, very long hours near release or crunch time, and frequent company changes since most layoff the team after the game has been released. Some have attempted to stop this practice since it really means most of your good talent has gone out the door pretty much killing your chance of making any kind of great sequel or follow up title.

As a game programmer I seriously doubt you will find one company to work for long term and will probably work for many during your career for anywhere from 12 to 18 months at a time.
Indie companies are definitely the way to go and are the remnants of what I would call the old school dev houses. The new corporate machines just continually churn out titles in hopes of making quick cash which sadly creates a lot of sub standard games and IMO stifles any creativity.

There are some big name dev houses that tend to keep their employees around much like a normal business (during normal economic times). These are few and far between usually because the AAA titles take so much money to develop that if they bomb when released it's pretty much a death sentence to the series and/or the dev team and possibly the dev house if the publisher then drops them.

However you could join web companies that are looking for Flash game programmers using ActionScript 3 and would probably enjoy the work as well. There are also some good non-game C++ and C# companies out there that will keep you active and challenged.

I wanted to be a games programmer but after doing some research and talking/working with students from both DigiPen and Full Sail as well as graduates from uni's and some who are currently employed by game companies I decided not to pursue it as of yet. It's very hard and stressful work.

12-15-2008, 10:28 PM
I have absolutely no interest in game programming, but I was just wondering... What is the pay like compared to programming business applications?

12-16-2008, 01:44 AM
that would be impossible to answer.
For the few gurus the pay is probably very good, as it is elsewhere.
But the majority are kids fresh out of school, full of zeal and drive but lacking experience and expertise, kids who'd not get beyond an intern position in most companies.
After a few years (at most) of 20 hour workdays, 7 day workweeks, no vacation time (because if you take a day off you're seen as a bad apple and stand to get fired), etc. etc., those kids burn out, loose their zeal and drive, and either leave software development, suicide, or move to other subfields, programming websites and stuff.

So the demographics of the field are different from that of the normal business.

12-16-2008, 07:19 AM
I don't mean the top or bottom of the pay scale, just the middle (i.e. average developer).

12-16-2008, 07:34 AM
1) People who game
2) People who have created or worked on mods
3) People who design levels
4. People who have a released title.
5. People who have console dev experience


1 is easy enough
2 is easy enough, but not necessarily relavent to game programming unless you intend on working on level design.
3 same as 2
4 dependig on your meaning of 'released' this can be easy or nearly impossible. Lots of people have released code, but not necessarily a commercial release.
5 well, this just sort of limits it to candidates that have gone to a school that specializes in game development.

12-16-2008, 09:46 AM
> Unfortunately the games industry appears to be getting more niche than ever with ridiculous requirements of at least 1 to 2 shipped titles and some serious console experience.
It's a buyer's market at the moment.

But any job requirement is just an opening negotiating position. If you can tick half the boxes, and only want half the salary, then you might still get a shot. Part of the game is how long the employer is willing to wait for their "ideal candidate".

At the height of .com, if you could hold the mouse the right way round you were in!

12-16-2008, 10:21 PM
There are websites that will tell you the average salary of a person in specific careers in specific areas. Perhaps that would be a good place to start.

Keep in mind you usually will not become a designer without first going through the trenches of being a game programmer and/or having worked on several released titles in other capacities.

12-16-2008, 11:52 PM
Keep in mind that the OP was asking about game designer not game programmer.

The game designer doesn't have to be a programmer in every case. Depending on the game in question and the company developing it, the designer could be the person who lays out the overall structure of the game. Even if that person is also a programmer they'd very likely have to work with the group that writes the stories/scripts, the art department, and any number of auxiliary departments.

If memory serves, one of the people Everquest brought on as a game designer was originally a CS rep, then CS manager. Now it wasn't at the beginning, it was a few years after the initial release but EQ had constant development due to expansions.

12-17-2008, 12:28 AM
I would say bringing someone on as a designer without having been a programmer is quite a risky investment since the two are closely related. Some companies might do it but I don't think it would be the norm.

And the original post fluctuates between designer and programmer and mentions a designer should have both skills implying that programmer skills are a necessity.

If you really want to know job requirements for game designers then head over to gamasutra.com and look in the jobs section.

12-17-2008, 04:55 AM
depends on how you define the post of "game designer" for the team.
If this is to be a person who does nothing but define things like storylines, character profiles, and graphics, no programming experience is desired.
If he's expected to decide on implementation issues as well, it's asking for trouble to get a bubblehead to fill the position.

12-17-2008, 05:26 AM
> If he's expected to decide on implementation issues as well, it's asking for trouble to get a bubblehead to fill the position.
Sure, but there are special Game Design/Computer Science double degrees (in my area anyway). I know of a few people who seem to be "good game designers" -- not sure if it's something that can be taught that easy? So it's certainly not impossible.

12-17-2008, 11:51 AM
You can probably teach someone the mechanics (which documents are needed and how they're to be structured, things like that), but you can't teach creativity and original thinking which are essential to first come up with a good concept.
Once that concept is in your head though, putting it down on paper can probably be taught.

Mario F.
12-17-2008, 01:18 PM
A Game Designer is a rare breed indeed. We are talking of someone who not only creates new game concepts, but also describes them (on paper... and graphically if needed be), is sensitive to any programming and development issues concerning his design, and is capable of managing a team of programmers, artists and musicians.

As a profession on its own, you probably can count True game designers still operating with your fingers and toes. Some historic names come to mind like Sid Meyer, Tom Hall, Will Wright.

On a more liberal approach however, game designers are jacks-of-all-trades. They help in the concept and game design process working as part of a larger team of like-minded individuals. Few games today are fully conceived by one mind alone. And when that is done, they go back to their usual selfs: be part of the programming team or being selected to manage the project.

I'm however ignoring one breed of Game Designers... Indie developers. These folks design and program all their stuff from scratch. Even on those cases where they form small teams, usually the game concept creative process -- which is the hallmark of a Game Designer -- comes from a single individual. If you want to see a Game Designer these days, look no further than in the Indie industry. It still retains much of the same production concepts of the 80s and early 90s.

As is, the only chance someone today has of being rightfully called Game Designer is if they excel at a title or two and form their own company in which there's such a head figure. The game industry isn't looking for -- or is in need, for that matter -- of game designers. What they don't lack is new ideas and concepts. The 21st century introduced into the game industry the Big Corporation of many individuals in which a title is the result of tenths, if not hundredths, of individuals...

... This post is almost entirely my opinion.

12-17-2008, 11:17 PM
hmm, I'd say that the lack of the True Game Designer is what causes the lack of creativity and the repetitiveness of pretty much all of today's games.
Indeed the small houses (where the Indie atttitude still rules to a degree) have retained some of that and typically produce the original concepts which are then taken and copied slavishly by the big ones where the "designers" pretty much limit themselves to giving new artwork and the occasional twist to existing ideas created by others.

As a result 90% of what we see these days is a mix of concepts from Doom, Civilization, and Total Annihillation, and the other 10% comes out of the Indie and other small development groups.