Its loads of fun being a video game designer but there is also a lot that you need to know!
Luckily there are some really great courses out there that will teach you all you need to know. But don’t think that you need to wait until you start taking those courses to start learning skills required to be an awesome video game designer. The tools are already at your fingertips. There is tons of stuff that you can start learning and doing right now and this article is going to show you how.
Obviously a large part of a video game designer’s duty involves visuals. It would be an excellent help if you could sketch by hand but it is by no means a vital talent. If you can’t draw whatsoever then I highly advise picking up a book which instructs you some fundamental drawing skills. If you can already draw or want to push your understanding further then I also recommend picking up a book concerning drawing the anatomy because this really aids when it comes to character design.
The other “visual” aspect of the job is 3D modeling and animation of all the graphic elements in the game. One of the most frequently used programs to do this is called Maya 3D. You should really think of buying this product and doing a few training programs like the ones on Lynda.com because software programs like this is much simpler to understand if you can see what the teacher is really doing rather than reading it out of a book. If you don’t want to take the leap and buy Maya then you should definitely check out a free choice called Blender. It works reasonably the same and will most definitely put you in a better place any would be if you hadn’t learned anything at all.
All good games have a good adventure supporting them and the video game designer is often entrusted with composing it (especially in the smaller studios). So practicing your writing skills will give you a big advantage when it comes to starting to learn to become a designer. You can kick off by writing little fiction stories about 1 to 2 pages in length. Make sure to always build up to a “battle” and then solve it. Having a conflict or climax in your stories creates anticipation and makes the reader, or in the case of video games that player, choose to go on so that they can know what happens in the end.
In time you can start to write longer stories and focus on developing the specific characters identities and biographies. Having profound and established characters is a way to get the player more connected in the game world itself. Eventually you’ll should start writing your stories in the form of a script because any game the scenery and world itself is provided by the graphics so you don’t need to worry about describing them in the story.
In big budget studios usually it’s the job of the developer to code the game but it is always useful for the designer to know a bit of code themselves. This helps them to understand exactly what is and isn’t possible for a game. For example the game designer might want to design a game that requires 4 player cooperative gameplay which may not be possible on the system that they are designing for. In smaller studios however, the designer might also have to take on the role of the developer as well so having some programming under your belt could come in really handy.
One of the much easier ways to start to learn the basics principles of game programming is to develop flash games (and it will also test your design skills). ActionScript, the language of flash programming, is straightforward to learn and you will quickly have your first game up and running. Another cool game design computer software is Game Maker. This has drag-and-drop code snippets to help you create games a lot faster whilst also teaching you the basics of how games are developed.
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