在你的整个职业生涯中，那座山将会发生多次改变。新的机遇将会出现，新的平台将会形成，新的类型也会诞生。但是最重要的是你需要尽早敲定目标。因为申请《Tom Clancy’s The Division》的关卡设计工作与申请《战地4》的UX设计工作，或者一家小型手机初创公司的多方位设计师都是完全不同的。
很多人都不知道该往设计文件夹里添加哪些内容，并且关于一份优秀的设计文件或如何设置游戏经济也不存在任何标准。你最应该放入文件夹的便是自己创造并发行的游戏。基于像Unity和Game Maker Studio等工具以及自我发行的便利，我会建议那些想要成为游戏设计师的学生们应该在上学的时候每年面向应用商店推出一款游戏。没有什么比以下内容更能证明你是一名有能力的设计师了：
文件夹的内容是取决于你之前所明确的目标山。不管你的设计工作类型是什么，你都需要添加能够证明你可以高质量完成设计工作的工具。如果你的目标是创造开放世界RPG，那就去研究《龙腾世纪》或《天际》的mod工具并进行探索。如果你想要致力于多人FPS，那么深入研究Unreal Engine 3或Hammer，并面向世界发行一些关卡。如果你想要创造多人竞技游戏（MOBA），那么就去熟悉《魔兽争霸3》或《星际争霸2》的编辑器，并创造一个新的MOBA类型的游戏模式。
Breaking into game design: Step 1 – find your mountain
by Ethan Levy
Before I left to work on Enhanced Wars, I was a producer and manager at BioWare’s San Francisco office. The majority of my time at BioWare was spent as a producer leading the Dragon Age Legends game team. During my most crunched state I had a team of 25, 19 of whom I managed directly. Hiring truly takes a team to do right (and I was lucky to have a strong team at EA between the fantastic HR department and my colleagues at BioWare) but one of my primary responsibilities during that time was to serve as hiring manager for a number of positions across game design, art and engineering.
Since I left BioWare, I have turned to community participation on Reddit and forums to fill the hole in my life where co-workers used to be. Since my two partners in crime on Enhanced Wars are in different time zones I don’t have a lot of water cooler conversation. So, I hang out on threads trying to add value by lending my advice to current and prospective game developers.
I find myself repeating a few pieces of advice over and over again about how to break into the industry as a game designer. I thought it would be valuable to take my perspective as a hiring manager and turn it into a series of articles about how to position yourself best to land that first gig.
A big caveat – I am just one hiring manager with one perspective. Each company you are trying to work for and person you are trying to impress is different. These tactics would definitely work if you were trying to land a job on my team. Personal mileage may vary.
Step 1 – find your mountain
In 2012 one of my favorite authors, Niel Gaiman, gave a commencement speech at The University of Arts in Philadelphia. It was filled with incredible advice for guiding your creative career. The first step in any game designers journey can taken directly from that speech:
“Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be … was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.
And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”
This is important because game design is a broad profession. In any given day I might write a design document. I might wireframe some UI or spec out a UX flow. I might tweak tuning values in a spreadsheet all day long or lay out levels. I might do narrative work or write copy for menu screens. I might spend all day fixing bugs in scripting files. I might plan out a monetization strategy.
This list doesn’t come close to defining all that goes into the bucket of game design. Even more important than tasks is genre and platform of game you want to work on. For instance, if Enhanced Wars folded and I wanted to get a full time job, I would feel confident applying for monetization design jobs on mobile games tomorrow. But if I decided it was time to build 3D levels for AAA games on the PS4 and Xbone, I would need to spend a minimum of 6 months preparing before I could apply for that job from a space of confidence.
Your mountain will change many times over the course of your career. New opportunities will arise, new platforms will take shape and new genres will be invented. But it is important to pick an early goal. Because applying for a level design job on Tom Clancy’s The Division is fundamentally different from applying for a UX design job on Battlefield 4 is fundamentally different from applying as a generalist designer with a small mobile startup company.
Do your research and figure out what sort of job you will want to pursue as a designer. My best advice – look at job postings on Gamasutra and the websites of companies you admire. Read about the actual requirements, roles and responsibilities for real design jobs. Invariably you will find yourself saying “that sounds like a lot of fun” or “I would hate to do that every day for the next 3 years.”
And a word of advice, don’t set your mountain as Creative Director. Not at first. I know it is everyone’s dream to be The Guy or The Gal leading a game’s creative vision. But if you find that the only jobs that appeal to you are those with a fancy title and 10+ years of experience required, you are in for a rude awakening. If the years of backbreaking work it will take to climb the mountain are not inherently rewarding, you will never never make it to the top.
Once you have found your mountain, you will be ready to start building your design portfolio, which I will cover in the next article in this series.
Breaking into game design: Part 2 – build your portfolio
by Ethan Levy
Although I do not review as many resumes now that I’m an indie developer working on Enhanced Wars as I did when I was at BioWare San Francisco, I still review the odd resume here or there as a result of a Reddit or forum post. When I do, my top line feedback is almost always the same: “You need to work on your portfolio website.”
At BioWare San Francisco, we had a strong affinity for interns and co-op students (who would work a full semester at the studio for credit). In a very real sense, we would not have launched Dragon Age Legends on time without the contributions from our co-op team members. As such, one of my favorite times of the year was when the fantastic university relations team at EA would deliver the resumes of potential interns they were bringing to campus for interviews.
It was not unusual for me to review 50 resumes in one marathon session to pick out the prospects that I thought would fit a need on my team. Whether I was reviewing a stack of resumes for intern candidates or a single resume from a recruiter for a full time position, my process was almost always the same. Open a resume and scan it for about a minute to look for highlights. Open the portfolio website link and spend a significant amount of time reviewing (if possible). If a portfolio was great, I would request a phone interview. On more than one occasion, I called someone instantly because the portfolio was so good I didn’t want to waste any time lest the candidate be snatched up by another studio. Sometimes the candidate already had. A high quality portfolio was the single biggest factor in landing a phone interview.
If your professional experience is minimal or non-existant, the challenge you face is that you have no credibility that you will be capable of fulfilling the job requirements. When I’m looking to fill a job, I don’t care about your mission statement, your extra curricular activities or your summer job in a completely unrelated industry. I only care about proof of your design abilities.
It can be difficult to know what to put in a design portfolio, as there are no standards for what a good design document is or how a game economy should be laid out. The best possible thing to have in your portfolio is shipped games. With tools like Unity and Game Maker Studio and the ease of self publishing, it is my opinion that a prospective game designer should exit college with one game on the app store for each year in school. There is no stronger proof that you are a capable designer than being able to show that:
1.You know how to finish a game and release it to the world
2.You took the time to listen to your players, either through
metrics, comments, reviews or other feedback
3.You can tell a meaningful story about how you improved your game based on player feedback
Being able to tell me that story in the initial phone interview is an instant ticket to a full team interview.
Building a proper portfolio will take months, if not years. In college, I tried on multiple occasions to assemble a team to make a game. I got plenty of interest from programmers or artists who wished to talk about a game and collaborate, but when it came time to start working on the game they did not deliver. Unless you have a team you truly trust, my advice is to start out by making small but completed and polished games that you can build on your own. If you don’t know how to code, it’s time to learn!
Feature portfolio material
What you build for your portfolio is highly dependent on your mountain. No matter what type of design job you have, the tools exist to prove you are capable of doing high quality design work. If your mountain is to work on open world RPGs, then dive into the Dragon Age or Skyrim mod tools and make quests. If you want to work on multiplayer FPS, then dig into Unreal Engine 3 or Hammer and release levels to the world. If you want to work on a MOBA, then get cozy with the WarCraft III or Starcraft II editor and prototype a new MOBA style gameplay mode.
No matter what your mountain is, you cannot wait till you “land that gig” before you start learning how to design content. Only by proving you can finish content, release it to players, listen to their feedback and improve your content based on feedback will you be able to land that first professional gig. And if your goal is as targeted as working on a specific game or at a specific company, if they have publicly available tools you better invest time in mastering them.
Other portfolio material
A designer’s job is much more dynamic than simply creating levels or quests. There are a number of other documents or types of content you can create and share as part of a portfolio. Here are some suggestions based off the varied types of work I do on Enhanced Wars and other projects:
Game Treatment – no one is going to read a 75+ page game design document when evaluating you for a position. But they will scan a 5-7 page game treatment that outlines a game, its market and its core features at a high level.
Feature Brief – a detailed document that explains the full implementation of a single feature for a game, including UI wireframes and flow, goes a long way to impress. Design a new feature for an existing and well known game in the genre you wish to get hired in. Make sure that in the early part of the brief, you have a section explaining why this feature needs to be added to this game.
Game balance evaluation – much of a designer’s job is tuning and balancing game variables. Pick a game and write a report evaluating balance of a particular system or economy. Take detailed notes on multiple play sessions, compile and summarize fan and review feedback and come up with a series of recommendations on how this system’s balance can be improved.
UI/UX redesign – most of my work in mobile/tablet games involves designing or evaluating UI. Designing UI is a difficult task, especially if you’ve never done it before, but it is critical to a modern game’s success. Pick a screen or flow from a popular game that you think is broken or unintuitive, and propose a detailed redesign.
System balance spreadsheet – most of my time as a designer is spent in spreadsheets or JSON files tweaking values. If you have followed the earlier advice and built some games, you will likely have a system values spreadsheet to share. Clean it up and add annotations so that another human can read it.
Pen & Paper prototype – many games start as simple ideas prototyped on pen & paper. Although you cannot easily share the results, you can share your process. Fully document with text and pictures the process of building a pen & paper prototype complete with your final rule set. Explain the design problem you are trying to solve and show the steps you took to solve it, pointing out what does and does not work.
These are just a few examples based off my experience. If you’ve done your homework and spent time identifying job postings you would like to apply to, you may have other design deliverables you would want to build to prove one requirement or another.
People are busy
The hiring managers who will be evaluating your portfolio are likely to be some of the busiest people on the game team. They will not have a lot of time to review all the materials that you have spent months or years preparing. They will probably not install your game. They will probably not read your full document. They will probably not open your spreadsheet.
If you really want to shine, then for each piece in your portfolio you should create a 90 second or less video on youTube. In this video, show the piece of work, whether it is a level, design document or UI flow. Talk about the process of designing the work. What were your design goals? How did you achieve them? What feedback have you gotten from players or peers and how have you reacted to that feedback?
So, why go through all the effort to make materials that will likely only be glanced at? This will all be explained in the next part of the series about how to sell yourself.(source:gamasutra)