Work as a game designer

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Re-publish material a year ago. Previously, I was forced to hide at the request of the company in which I was working at that moment. For the most part, the material is still relevant, although unfortunately it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a decent job as a game designer in Russia.

I must say right away that this post will be of interest to those who start working in the gaming industry or want to start.
Further posts will contain an in-depth analysis of game design, but we begin with superficial information.

Today I would like to start a series of articles on game design that may help you achieve what you want: to better understand the scope of the gaming industry, and may improve some of my skills.

Probably, many would like to develop games, namely to try themselves in the field of game design. What will you have to do? The game designer invents every smallest part of the game starting from the global things “How the gameplay looks”, ending with how the “Back” button behaves on each of the interface screens.

Unfortunately, in Russia there is no education as such that will help you get a job, except for some schools-which-we-will-not-call with prices that will not fit in this article. So, there are two ways left that will help you realize yourself in this area.

The first, obviously, is to learn all by yourself. Of course, it is very difficult to start doing something yourself, and even more so learning something if there is no one who tells you what to do. But this is precisely what we are doing here.

When applying for a job, first of all, they will evaluate your understanding of game design in general and your ability to design documents or concepts. And most importantly - to understand what is good and what is bad, you need to be able to analyze. Analyze other games: successes, failures, consider mechanics separately and try to understand if they work, and if so, why?

In this case, finding a job without experience is quite difficult, and if it works, then to the position of junior designer, which is not in every company. This does not mean that it is impossible, many people do just that, but for this you need to prepare and master the skills that will help you get to the interview.

The second option is a bit simpler, but probably longer. Depends on your determination and capabilities within the company. This way is to get a tester. This may seem uninteresting to some, but when I started, I was incredibly happy even to test the games. And then we turn on our abilities again.

Do not forget that in the first place, you need to show yourself as a good tester, and only after trying to understand what is happening around you. Do nothing to the detriment of your basic duties. And in your free time, watch what is happening on the project: how is the design written, how is it brought to life, what mistakes are made? All this will help you in the future. Be active, express your ideas, take on more responsibility. In general, show that you are doing a good job and can also cope with design tasks.

But be patient, in the best of circumstances, it will take six months, and in some cases it may take a year or more.

Decided on the choice? Now you need to find the right company for growth. First of all, try not to get into small companies. As a rule, they have few employees, they rarely expand and there are few opportunities. If there is no other way, well, this is still an experience that will be useful to you in the future, do not miss this opportunity, if there is nothing better.

Looking at the current picture of game development in Russia, we can safely say that 90% of developers make mobile and social games. Many people dream of making such great games as World of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, right? Unfortunately, in Russia there are only a few developers on the console and PC and it will be difficult to get there. But do not be discouraged, look at the situation from the other side.

The mobile market is now the most developing and working in it from the very beginning is a great start for a career. It may seem to you that it is not so interesting how to make real large AAA projects, and on the one hand it really is. But! In mobile development, there is much more responsibility and much depends on you. If, working at Blizzard, you will be in the first 10 years of arranging barrels for locations and other small tasks, then making a medium-sized game, you will get much more interesting things. Imagine how to make a game for 3 years or 5 years? In mobile games, there are no such development periods, every year (on average), you will make sequels to the same game for four years, you will start something new, and discover new horizons.

Let us dwell a little on choosing a company and site for job search, for those who do not know about it. And no, this is not an advertising blog, unless I was hired by all the companies at once.

We will not give direct links, you can find everything on the Internet using Google. Personally, I am familiar with sites such as: hh, dtf, gamedev (ru). Also, many companies are engaged in recruiting in the social network linkedin, so do not forget to create an account there and fill out information about yourself.

What about the companies? RJ Games is always looking for beginning designers, I don’t know where they have so many, but the vacancy is open all the time. There are PlayFlock and UFS Games, which are often looking for designers, albeit with experience, as well as testers. Of course, we will not forget about, which is actively developing the direction of the mobile market and is looking for new specialists. I personally do not know anything about Crazy Panda, but they are also often looking for specialists. And also remember the developers who release some of the most successful mobile games: Zeptolab, KamaGames and Glu Mobile. They, as a rule, do not hold vacancies on these sites, but have their own with a list of vacancies. Oh yes, where without Game Insight.

Let’s take a closer look at what a game designer does. Or maybe a level designer? It all starts with the concept of the game, in which you describe the most important thing that distinguishes it from other games, but it is also important what games it looks like, what is Emulation Target (a game that yours will be guided and borrow some elements) . In serious cases, after this a business case is compiled, which is a developed version of the concept, with comparative metrics of other games, what you focus on, what to expect from your game in terms of audience and profit.

Next, the development of the game begins, or rather, its prototyping, at this stage you need to determine the entire basic design of the game, what the gameplay will look like, in general, the game should take the form of a raw but playable product by which you can determine if your idea will work. If this did not happen, then it is often not worth continuing to develop.

During development, you will describe a variety of things:
• Tutorial (or Onboarding), ie player’s first experience
• Behavior of AI (Artificial Intelligence), AI scripting capabilities
• All capabilities of the main character (s)
• Schemes of each UI screen, if you do not have a separate UI designer for this
• Conditions of interaction with the outside world
• The goals of the game, what the player will strive for, why he will return to your game (Retention)
• If we are talking about free 2 play, then, of course, how we will monetize this game, i.e. what the player will pay for and why
• Level design if your game requires it
• Balance of complexity and economy
• Much more ...
• And the final stage - analytics and adjustment

You can start tomorrow, look at vacancies, look at requirements, prepare yourself and go! I will lead a series of articles describing each step in more detail.

Write your feedback in the comments and ask about what you would like to see in the following articles.

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