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I try to dream big



Alrighty so excuse this overly complicated long post:

So for a very long time I have wanted to be a game designer, then it hit me and i realized that that job title never actually existed and I had to get more specific. After thinking long and hard it came to me that I wanted to create levels! Set dressing, designing, building, populating, exploring, lighting, etc. I enjoyed making outdoors as well as indoors, nature blah blah blah...

The position I wanted was Level Designer. After endlessly searching for prerequisites I had created a list of needed studies. I have spent a while in school learning 3Ds Max, Maya and the rest of the Autodesk suite. Coding, CSS, HTML, Javascript, and other coding languages. Photoshop, Bridge, Indesign and other Adobe suite tools and lastly some traditional art. Now I am here and I realize that my next step is "creative writing".

Suddenly I realize that a new title arose in front of me "Level Architect". Reading the description for that it includes quite a lot of the same elements as before; however, adding debugging, pre-release maintenance, debugging, etc.

So now you ask: Why Tea Wolf, why do you waste my time with endless banter? Well I require your assistance Compulsion Games team member who is on their break reading the forums. I would really appreciate if you could answer any of the following questions:

    1. What IS the difference between Level Architect and Level Designer?
    2. In addition to the courses stated above, what do you recommend taking?
    3. What is the best way into the industry? Nepotism? Bribery?
Now I appreciate this. I really do... I could google for answers but the internet is a mysterious road where you type in "Russia" and get Vladmir Putin riding a dinosaur with swords. I would rather hear it straight from the horse's mouth. I know I have a long journey ahead of me and would appreciate any assistance from you in my dream position. Maybe one day I will be answering a question similar to this, helping someone accomplish their aspirations.

Cheers
- TTW
fael@theteawolf.org

Postscript: In the general ranting board, am I allowed to upload some pictures from a project I am working on and get criticism from the WHF community or is that outside of the allotted rules.


  • marcmarc Compulsion Team
    edited December 2015
    Hi!

    I have never heard of a Level "Architect", what you're describing is the role of a Level Designer. But there are obviously various specialities in this role, some guys are better at multiplayer maps design, some better at missions scripting for linear games, some better at creating LD patterns using the gameplay and AI elements (e.g. typical combat situation, platforming challenge, etc.). The skills involved change a lot depending on what game you're making.
    More senior level designers can become "technical director level design" when they master the tool, their role is to make sure the workflow of level designers is efficient, metrics are respected, technical constraints (memory usage, graphics cost) are met, etc.
    Having coder skills is useful, especially for scripting, but in general you always want to have a programmer that will do coding more efficiently. Whether it's C++ in Unreal or C# in Unity. It takes years to master these languages and to learn how they are used in game engines.

    What you should learn now is how to use a game engine to make a game. The game editor is the core tool of level designers. So download Unreal 4, fire it up, and start making levels and gameplay.
    If you want to make it in the industry make maps and mods for existing games and add that to a web page showcasing them, then apply for a junior level design position in a studio :)
  • VinceVince Compulsion Team
    Hey there!

    Yeah, this whole design thing IS confusing. I think Marc gave you very good advice in his post and I will add from my own experience.

    What content you create will depend on the game but how you make it depends a lot on the team size. If it is a very small team, the game designer will be the level designer and will maybe be the script writer and maybe even other stuff like UI design and whatnot. But in a big company with big teams, you might be that "Level Architect" where you just build the floors, walls and roofs and move on to the next building on the list.

    I'm not saying it's bad, it can be awesome if that is specifically what you really want to do. But you might not have the leisure of choosing that position, unless you already work at the said place. At that point, it becomes easier to orient yourself in a specialization you are most interested/talented in.

    It seems you already have a broad field of study, and that is good, because as a designer, it is a good thing to at least know how other things work, because you might have to integrate them in your maps. Designers definitely have to talk a lot to the other species of game dev like animators, artists, programmers... Don't forget to be nice to people ;)

    And yeah, the next step for you, as Marc said, go in an engine and start map making/modding. You don't even have to learn an engine if you don't want to, you can just find a game that you like that has a level editor, and knock yourself out. Choosing a game where there is a modding community, or a Steam Game with Workshop for example, is a great way to publish your work and get feedback from the community, this way you can really know afterwards what players liked and didn't like about your map.

    Other ways are to join a team and participate in Game Jams... Making a game is long, and being alone to do it is definitely a lot of work. Find some programmer and artist friends, get an awesome (and simple) idea, learn Unity/Unreal, and make that game!

    Good luck! It's the best job ;)
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