Want To Be A Game Designer? Learn To Code.

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Interesting article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2011/03/01/want-to-be-a-game-designer-learn-to-code/

“If you are offering game design that is not built on a foundation of code, that is tantamount to fraud,” she said. “Those students want into the video game industry, and they need to be proficient coders.”

“I’m hiring an intern,” she told the crowd. ”If you look at my laptop, you’ll see two folders of resumes –one is people who can code and one is the trash.”

and in years to come, she says, students who can’t code won’t have a chance.

“If you look at a solid designer versus a solid designer who is also a coder, that coder is always going to win,” she said.

 
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That is indeed interesting. I’d personally like to see as game designing, and programming, as two separate fields. Programming though does lend a huge helping hand to designing. If you can program efficiently, you can design efficiently. If you can design and can’t program, your designs won’t be as efficient if you don’t understand the makings behind making them reality.

 
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The worst part is, the people who wants to be “idea people” without having any secondary skill are usually terrible idea people. Their ideas are trivial ripoffs of already existing games. Or some already existing concept with one slight modification explained in 20 words followed by “so who wants to make this game for me for free?”

A lot of people mistakenly think that they are “idea people” because ideas are hard to rate so they haven’t been informed of how terrible they are.

 
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I myself started my interest in design… My first thought was that I want to be a graphics designer or animator and NO WAY I’m ever going to be a programmer. Cause programming was for me back then was just walls of boring text.

Then 4 years later I took a programming course.. and I often find myself having more fun seeing my work come to life than actually just creating graphics.

All while I’ve had an interest in creating music (I had piano lessons when I was younger) on my PC with the help of a midi-keyboard.

As I’ve become better at one field, I feel that my other fields are gaining from it as well – especially during group work.

Non the less, I’m still studying.. I’ve been lucky enough to find a bachelor degree which helps me improve in all my hobbies :)

 
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I agree. I’ve had a few instances where my old artist told me an idea. It was fairly cool but due to the way the language worked/i had set the game up, it wouldn’t be plausible. Now my new artist also can code, so it’s easier because I don’t have to explain to him as much.

 
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So where should I start?

 
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Originally posted by Epsellis:

So where should I start?

Actionscript really gets you into programming from a friendly start, especially with the flash IDE.

 
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So… this article has a lot of complicated words that i dont understand. Is there an easier way of doing this? Or can can someone please translate this into smaller words for me? Thank you.

 
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I will have to disagree with the quote.

Yea it is nice to have someone with a programming background to design stuff, but honostly it is really not needed. Most games now are designed and developed in teams. When you go into a session you have your idea guys there, your programmers, your graphics guys and start shooting out ideas. And Idea comes up and you discuss it. The graphics guys are like yep we can do that, but then your programmers are like, wait a sec you can’t do that because of x, y and z.

Yea everything is based on programming but you don’t need a background in programming to come up and actually implement a good game or design.

Take for instance when I was in school ( I have a programming background with some knowledge of design and graphics), we had a guy that was very versed in graphics and no knowledge of programming. In our second semester of programming class he came up with a really cool design for a game and actually was able to implement with with very basic programming knowledge. And this was only taking a qbasic class and then a class in Dark Basic Pro. He did the programming in Dark Basic Pro.

Yes having a programming background is helpful but not to the point of refusing to hire someone for a design position if they have no programming or very little programming background. Unless it was listed in the job qualification as required to have x background in x language.

Lord SilverStone

 
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I think it’s pretty obvious that having a designer that can code is an advantage, but it’s not the be all and end all.

My undergrad degree was programming-focused, but I’m a pretty useless coder so I decided to focus on design. It certainly helps that I understand the principles of code as I can communicate with programmers more easily, and it may have helped me get my current job.

However, I’ve been a professional games designer for 20 months now and I’ve written zero code in that time. If you want to learn something that will be used on a daily basis as a designer, forget programming and learn Excel

 
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u are completely right i dont know how to code and all my games suck

 
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Originally posted by priviledge:

I don’t know how to code and all my games suck.

If you don’t know how to code, then how did you make your games?

 
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i completely disagree :/ coding is no where near needed to be a game designer, its helpfullISH but not much

 
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Originally posted by HellsVoid:

i completely disagree :/ coding is no where near needed to be a game designer, its helpfullISH but not much

It is incredibly helpful in a variety of ways. As someone who is knowledgeable about programming you can design things that are more feasible, more efficient, easier to maintain, have the ability to make a prototype to easier show others how your idea would work, know what things are trivial to make and therefor aren’t really innovative, the list goes on.

If you want to be a game designer as a professional, you need to also be at least familiar with the other aspects of development (code, art, sound, narrative).

If you want to just ‘design stuff’ in a vacuum then go right a novel or something.

 
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Originally posted by HellsVoid:

i completely disagree :/ coding is no where near needed to be a game designer, its helpfullISH but not much

at the time of that post I see a total of 8 posts on his account. We can fill in the lines to what that says. Also i would agree with draganviper. Plus if you trying to land a job it looks better to know other aspects of game creation and when does into it.

 
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Considering she’s been in the game industry something like 20 years without learning to code herself, I think she’s very hypocritical. If anything, she should be looking out for people like herself who would otherwise struggle to break into the industry. She’s a great example of someone selling out and forgetting where she came from. If anything, she’s a prime example of why game designers don’t need to be able to code.

Originally posted by redfawx:

at the time of that post I see a total of 8 posts on his account. We can fill in the lines to what that says.

Are you honestly trying to say that someone’s authority on a topic is based on their postcount? If so, since I have more posts than you, I would like to inform you that Justin Bieber is made of icecream.

 
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My opinion is that knowing how to code is useful, just like (as draganviper said) knowing some art, sound, narrative, etc. I have some coding background, about 2 years of a 4 year degree and it helps me to just think about how things move on the screen or how they may be done.

I do not believe though that you have to be a great programmer to be a good designer as long as you have a good team to back you up.

 
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I work with simulations and adaptive interfaces, not games, but there is a lot of overlap in what is involved between a training simulation and a high-end game. With my work, I can design something for a simulation, even if I am not going to code it, because I understand how the interior architecture of the computer functions. Both CPU and GPU are critical here, as well as the speed difference between fetching from cache as opposed to main RAM, and the limitations of the graphics card.

I can program as well (obviously), but I don’t need to in order to be able to design something functional. Because I’m aware of what goes on behind the curtain, I’m aware where the limits are in terms of modern PC capabilities, and where I’m going to have to fudge things a bit, or use a lot of smoke and mirrors to give the illusion of continuity beyond those limits.

So yes, knowing how to code is important. Knowing the architecture of your target platform is absolutely crucial. You need in the back of your mind, to understand how multithreading and pipelines work in order to design something functional that is also going to be very demanding of the hardware, even when working at an abstracted level.

If you are not aware of these things, you run the very real risk of designing something that is beyond the optimum capabilities of the computers of your target audience. It will still run, but performance will take a massive hit, and that directly feeds into user experience. In a high-end simulation it is even more critical, as you are tying into the senses of the participants directly, and you absolutely cannot have delays in sensory feedback.

In a game, whilst it is not as critical as all that, the decreased performace of your game engine will be very noticable if the design did not take into accounts the hardware’s limitations, and that will increase user frustration immeasurably.

 
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http://www.kongregate.com/forums/8-collaborations/topics/302520-collab-1-0-list-of-programmers-game-designers

 
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You dont need to be a programmer to be able to design a game, but thats not the point. If you want to make a game, then you pretty much need to be able to code, because its gonna be pretty rare that a game coder is going to like your idea over their own and make yours.

Its true that most non coders ideas for games are normally not good ideas and focus on all the wrong things – normally the story rather than the gameplay

EDIT: Has anyone here designed a game and had someone else make it?

 
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Some bought sequel rights off me once. Does that count?

 
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In my perception to be a game designer you need to have Logical skills and creativity that’s all, i am not a coder or not until i found a third party tool which helps me to make simple games, though high level coding is essential. Lots of developers think they had made a game design and put miles of effort, so people should like it, it ain’t easy that way. Game designing needs more than a coding skill it needs to read gamers mind and play with them. I don’t know how many of you will agree with his but that’s just my perception.

Wish you all have a great day, and keep bringing awesome games to try or play. :)

 
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Originally posted by CuriousGaming:

Some bought sequel rights off me once. Does that count?

No cos, you still had to code for that to happen, and you didn’t design the sequel I would guess :)

Game designing needs more than a coding skill it needs to read gamers mind and play with them. I don’t know how many of you will agree with his but that’s just my perception.

Well to design a good game, thats what you need. But, a programmer can make a game even if its badly designed, a pure game designer cannot make a game by themself, thats the point.

The point is not that its not possible to have the skills to be a game designer without being able to code (although most of the time thats the case), but that without being able to code, nobody is likely to make your game for you. Whats in it for them? your amazing idea thats better than their own idea? Maybe thats the case sometimes, but ive never seen it

 
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^ I don’t want to encourage ‘idea guys’, but I’ve actually seen a large demand for ‘game designers’ at my college game dev club. There are lots of CS majors and art students and such who want to make games, but have no idea of the process or where to start and really want someone to do that design work for them so they can just follow instructions and use the skills they already have effectively.

Ofc, when I say ‘game designer’ in this sense, requirements include knowledge of state machines, game flow, agile methods, playtesting, asset pipelines, etc. on top of being able to come up with not only a good solid idea, but being able to convince others face to face that the idea is good and that they should spend their time on it. An effective game designer generally falls into a leadership position the larger a development team becomes anyway, as there’s less time to spend personally programming or making assets when you need to keep a bunch of people organized while guiding the overall project in the right direction.

 
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Originally posted by DJStatika:

The point is not that its not possible to have the skills to be a game designer without being able to code (although most of the time thats the case), but that without being able to code, nobody is likely to make your game for you. Whats in it for them? your amazing idea thats better than their own idea? Maybe thats the case sometimes, but ive never seen it

I think that to be a good game designer, you need to design games, over and over again, and learn from your mistakes. It’s quite hard to imagine how a non-coder could get that experience. Or how a coder could not learn it while learning to code games. Why hire a game designer if the coder already has that skill set?

I suppose an experienced coder who has never made a game before could benefit from an experienced, non-coding game designer who’s made a dozen stencyl/board/card games, but that’s a rather narrow set of circumstances.