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   GAME DESIGN BULLETIN BOARD

WELCOME to the Sloperama Game Design Bulletin Board.   It's a place to ask questions about designing games (videogames, board games, table games, computer games, handheld games...). You'll get answers, here on this board.

PLEASE READ THE FAQs BEFORE YOU ASK!!!

And read the questions and my answers below, before you ask me anything.

Privacy policy: "ALL YOUR EMAIL ARE BELONG TO ME." Questions and answers are handled in this public forum only - I don't give free private answers. The "price" of the free answers is that they are given in this public forum for the education of all readers. No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes permission for your email to be made public. I won't reveal your email address unless I think you're a spammer. DO NOT come back later and ask me to anonymize your email in any way. If you do not want your personal information to appear on this board, do not put any personal information in your email to me. If you do not want your question to be used in this public forum, then be prepared to hire my professional services, or do not send your question to me. This privacy policy is stated in numerous places on this website.

I'M NOT HERE TO BABY YOU. I'm here to teach you, to help you learn about game design and about the business of making games. Have you seen The Karate Kid or Kung Fu or those martial arts movies where the hero has to learn from a hardnosed sensei -- a rough-edged taskmaster with a secret heart of gold? I'm a little like that. As Randy Pausch said, "When somebody rides you, they're doing that because they care to make you better." Dumb questions and sloppy writing habits aren't exactly welcomed with open arms here. Babying isn't helping. If you want somebody to just pat your head and tell you how clever and talented you are, or to commiserate while you whine about how unfair the world is, go to your mama -- don't email me. If you want realistic game biz advice, though, I'm your guy.

I DO NOT REVIEW résumés, demos, websites, portfolios, schools' curriculums, or amateur designs. I do not choose schools for you. I do not make your decisions for you.

I AM NOT A PROGRAMMER, so please don't ask game programming questions here. There are other forums for that topic. This board is about game DESIGN. And game career advice.

EMAIL YOUR QUESTION to WebmasterSloperama.com, or any email address you know to be mine (it doesn't matter which Sloperama email address you use to get email to me) -- or click the picture below to submit your question or comment. In order for me to give you the best game career advice that's tailored for your individual situation, the first time you write me, I need to know these 5 tidbits about you:
How old are you?
What's your level of education?
What's your current occupation? (If student: "student")
Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?
And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?).

And make sure you write an appropriate subject line for your email. Read http://wordwise.typepad.com/blog/2007/03/subject_to_chan.html.


To ask a question, click the image or email the address above.

After you submit your comment or question, RETURN TO THIS BOARD SOMETIME LATER (like several hours, or the next day) to see the response (below) - and keep coming back to see followup discussions. Clicking the picture above might not work for everyone. If you do not see a reply (below) within 24 hours, then email your question directly to WebmasterSloperama.com.

On this website, all the marbles are mine -- so you have to play MY game. Here are the rules:

  • Rule #1: read what I wrote above, and act accordingly.
  • No shouting. Nobody is allowed to shout here but me. (^_^) If you type your question in all caps, I'll convert it to lower case. Then everybody will think you're a sissy poet, or beatnik, or chatroom pervert... or something.
  • Don't send me confidential information and expect me to keep it to myself. It all goes right here.
  • Don't send me your game design for my "thoughts" about it -- the only way I can comment on it is to post the whole thing right here for everybody to see.
  • In fact, don't send me any attachments, photos, or anything. This board is for words. Ask me a question in your own words - I'll answer it in mine - or just send me your comments and I'll respond with mine.
  • Please do not try to friend me on Facebook or link with me on Linkedin. If I don't know you, we're obviously not friends. If we haven't worked together, we're obviously not colleagues.
  • I do not recommend you send me a PM on some other website (like GameCareerGuide or GameDev or LinkedIn or ReachMahjong...) for a number of reasons, but especially since if you do that, I might never notice that you did that. If you want to contact me, email me. Don't PM me.
  • Humor and entertainment for the readers is also part of what's offered on this site. Don't ask me for advice if you can't take a little good-natured ribbing. Oh OK, so I'm kind of like Dr. House or Mr. Miyagi sometimes. Take it like a man!
  • Don't use the word "gaming" to me. Look it up at dictionary.reference.com if you don't know why I dislike the term.
  • I give this free advice only by email - please do not telephone me with any game career advice questions! Business or journalist queries are of course welcome. If you do phone me with a business query, please make it clear very quickly that it is a business query and not an advice call.


  • The time of the season

    >From: Zach L
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 10:29 AM
    >Subject: Game Industry Question: Hiring Seasons
    >Dear Tom,
    >I'm writing to ask if there's a specific "hiring season" in the games industry. I've been to GDC a few times (and to the newly revamped ECGC) and have seen the value of job hunting at these conferences. My wife is debating which school she wants to accept for her Ph.D. -- UCLA/UC Irvine/UC Berkeley or Stanford -- and we currently live in NC. I'll be juggling the tasks of graduating this semester, coordinating the cross-country move and getting a job and I'm trying to maximize my opportunities for the job hunt. I'm looking to obtain an AP or Producer job at either a publisher or developer (I'm also looking at software companies such as GameSpy).
    >So, is there a specific time from today until this summer that I should be putting my resume in? Is today too far off?
    >Thanks,
    >Zach

    Hi Zach, you wrote:

    I'm writing to ask if there's a specific "hiring season" in the games industry.
    No, there isn't. Things are slow in December, but you can still apply pretty much anytime.

    My wife is debating which school she wants to accept for her Ph.D. -- UCLA/UC Irvine/UC Berkeley or Stanford -- and we currently live in NC. I'll be juggling the tasks of graduating this semester, coordinating the cross-country move and getting a job and I'm trying to maximize my opportunities for the job hunt.
    As soon as she decides, you can use the game company map sites (see Game Biz Links, above left) and start researching companies in the vicinity of her chosen school.

    So, is there a specific time from today until this summer that I should be putting my resume in?
    When an almost-grad should start applying is a completely different question from the seasonality of hiring. I recommend waiting until two months before graduation before contacting any companies. Until that time, you can research the nearby companies and keep on networking. Go on their websites and learn everything you can about their company and their products and their people.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 28, 2011


    Your wacky theory on black holes, part 2

    >From: Jeff
    >Sent: Saturday, December 24, 2011 1:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: Wacky Theory On Black Holes - Awesome
    >Thank you for your response. I would not mind at all having the postings published. Kinda neat actually.
    >I agree with everything you have said. The thing about the alternate universes in which you pass an exam or choose not to take it in another universe is a little crazy too. I assume what they mean is that over the course of infiniti every possible permutation of events have occurred. I can believe that but not the multiple universes at the same time. That seems a little whacky to me too.
    >Jeff


    Your wacky theory on black holes

    >From: Jeff
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 12:14 PM
    >Subject: Wacky Theory On Black Holes - Awesome
    >Tom,
    >I recently came across your theories on the relationship of black holes to big bangs. I have been thinking along very similar lines for quite a while. I have about the same credentials as you do in regard to mathematics and degrees.
    >
    >I think you would be able to expand on your insights in a couple of ways. I imagine that if we both think the same way, we would both agree on the expansions. Anyway, those theoretical physicists say that Einstein's theories breakdown at the singularity of a black hole.... something about a formulation that requires the radius to become 'zero' in size. I believe that the method of thinking we share answers that by simply pin pricking the space/time fabric and depositing the shredded particles of matter into another 'universe'. Afterall, the big bang was supposedly a bunch of non atoms that came together and formed a bunch of hydrogen and maybe some helium... but mainly hydrogen. It makes since that the atoms would have to be torn apart due to the amount of black hole intensity it would cause to pin prick the fabric, it would make sense that the hole would be easiest to make the smaller it was. A hole twice as big might need twice as much energy or maybe something exponentially larger. Who knows.
    >
    >I actually visuallize this as a kinda hourglass. The point at the middle being the singularity.
    >
    >I have a theory about the whole thing I would want to run by you. I am not so sure that the black hole will deposit the matter into another universe (maybe a semantic thing but stay with me). If time breaks down to a large degree, couldn't the black hole simply put the matter in another time or another area in the same universe? I think of it like this.... the odds that two black holes will form 'big bangs' in the same area would be much less likely than two bullets, being fired from the moon, aimed out of our solar system in different directions, and them eventually hitting each other intact.
    >
    >Anyway, just thought I would send you an email and see what you thought.
    >Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your email.
    I think your analogy of the singularity being a pinprick in the universe makes sense. From what I have heard from physicists like Brian Greene on PBS lately, it may be that pinprick holes in spacetime occur all the time at the quantum level.

    And your idea that black holes aren't gateways to other universes is quite sensible; they might instead be pockets in the spacetime of our universe. Or maybe a pocket in our universe is the same thing as another universe.

    Those PBS shows about recent work on this has made me see that the physicists are also considering these sorts of possibilities, so it appears that these ideas aren't as wacky as I'd originally posited them.

    I don't buy the quantum time thing, though - that another universe branches off if a person decides to skip a school exam, making two versions of him with different lives after that branching off point.

    But other multiple-universe ideas do make sense. But the thought that our universe's laws are so finely tuned as to permit our universe to exist implies that there are other universes where the laws are different thus preventing the existence of stars there...? Not so sure about that one. If there are other universes, the fact that ours exists isn't (of itself) proof of their existence. Maybe the same laws apply in all universes.

    I hope you don't mind that I post this on my bulletin board, since that's what I do with all correspondence that comes through my website (except business correspondence and correspondence of close friends). I'm not showing your last name, since past correspondents have requested that level of privacy.

    Tom Sloper - Game Development Consultant
    - Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers; "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done." http://www.sloperama.com/business.html
    - Faculty, Video Games, Information Technology Program, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California. http://itp.usc.edu
    - Helpful information and bulletin boards for game industry hopefuls. http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
    - The Mah-Jongg FAQs. Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg. http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    - Author of The Red Dragon &The West Wind, the definitive book on official Chinese & American mah-jongg.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 24, 2011


    How generous! So much free information!

    >From: Alex W
    >Sent: Monday, December 19, 2011 5:26 PM
    >Subject: Generosity(On your part that is)
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: _16
    >The level of education I've completed is: _Sophomore year
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _Game Programmer
    >The country I live in is: _United States
    >My game biz question is: How can someone be so generous as to put tons of information about the getting into the games industry online for free?
    >All of your FAQs and Q & A's have helped me solidify my decision to try as hard as I can to get into the industry and I want to thank you personally for
    >putting this on the internet for, shall I say it again, free.

    Hi Alex, I'm glad you find my information helpful.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 19, 2011


    What tools should I use to get where I want to go?

    >From: sai k
    >Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2011 10:32 PM
    >Subject: how to start?
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: _17
    >The level of education I've completed is: _ 10+2
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _ student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _lead game designer
    >The country I live in is: _India
    >My game biz question is: _
    >dear tom,
    >My name is sai kumar, I hav finally got the moment im waiting for,christmas holidays. I hav got approxly 15days left after which i will be leaving to my hostel. I would like to improve my designing skills(like designing character dat i have already doodled,vehicles, etc). I would also like to make a game using simple game designing software. I have already a few but those lag user friendly interface and tutorials. Im still a starter and i have never designed anything using a software.should u suggest a game making software?.it can be complicated but with a good tutorial and my interest im sure im going to make it.i have surfed web for such a software and got this(http://www.stormthecastle.com/mainpages/videogametutorial/tutorial_videogame1.htm). Is this a good software to start with or is it too early to make a firstperson video game.should i get any character designing software so dat i wil know the basics of designing?.I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    >thank u for ur time and consideration.

    Hello Sai, you wrote:

    I would like to improve my designing skills(like designing character dat i have already doodled
    I'm not sure I understand exactly what it is you want to do, Sai. Are you saying you want to take your 2D doodles and turn them into 3D models? If that's what you're saying, all I can suggest is that you take some courses in 3D modeling. I've never learned how to do that myself.

    I would also like to make a game using simple game designing software. I have already a few but those [lack] user friendly interface and tutorials.
    If you want to try some other programs, read FAQ 56. I have not used any game making software myself, so I can't recommend one over another, and I can't tell you which one is friendliest. You just need to try a number of them patiently until you find one that works for you. None of those programs will be perfect or will have everything you're looking for. The more powerful (more capable) programs will be those that are the most difficult to use. Flash 4 Actionscript has a lot of support at the university where I teach.

    stormthecastle.com... Is this a good software to start with
    Anything you can start with is good to start with. Read FAQ 56 (click the FAQs link above left). And read my July 2006 IGDA column (click the Games Game link above left).

    or is it too early to make a firstperson video game
    It's not 8:00 AM yet, so I think it's pretty early. Haven't had my breakfast yet!

    should i get any character designing software so dat i wil know the basics of designing?
    If you want to, but you don't have to. You said your goal is to become a lead game designer, so you can blaze any trail you want to. Read FAQ 3 and FAQ 14.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 19, 2011


    Seeking my path

    >From: Dhiraj A
    >Sent: Saturday, December 17, 2011 9:56 AM
    >Subject: Advice regarding career in game design
    >Hey,
    >My name is Dhiraj. I'm 17 years old and i'm from India. I'm a student currently in class 12(which is the equivalent of the last year of high school) and i will be completing my school education in march.
    >I decided to finally look online and search for some guidance regarding my career choice and i stumbled upon your site right and found what you have to say very interesting and i will be reading more of the articles and FAQs on your site.
    >I'm one of the brighter students among my peers and have loved the idea of designing games myself since i was about 10 or 11. Few of my friends(actually no one i know) has ever wanted to have anything to do with game designing/development and i have always thought even wanting to be part of an industry which does not have a firm footing in my country is very ambitious but still i want to do it. Thankfully i have a lot of support from my parents and they wish to help me by all means possible.
    >Regarding your question - "Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? " This is where i find myself in a confused spot at the moment. I like writing stories and poems. I'm good at computer science at school(which is mostly beginner C++ programming and i like it). So it would seem i would like to pursue something in the storyboard or programming section of a game development team. However my interest really lies in concept art and design before these things even though i have no art skills at all. I do draw but i'm not terribly good at it.
    >So my question is - If i do choose to pursue a career in game development, should i work extra hard on trying to hone my art skills(via classes or some other means) which is apparently what i wish to do, OR should i try to build up on what i have a knack for?
    >Hoping for a swift reply.
    >Thank you.

    Hello Dhiraj, you wrote:

    Regarding your question - "Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? " This is where i find myself in a confused spot at the moment.
    Read about all the different jobs, search your soul and think about what you enjoy doing, and make a decision grid. Read FAQs 7 and 70.

    However my interest really lies in concept art [DELETED] even though i have no art skills at all. I do draw but i'm not terribly good at it.
    Ridiculous. If you're not artistically gifted, you cannot aspire to concept art. Try something else. Read FAQ 53.

    However my interest really lies in [DELETED] design [DELETED] even though i have no art skills at all. I do draw but i'm not terribly good at it.
    Ridiculous. You don't have to be an artist to be a game designer. Read FAQs 3, 14, and 34.

    If i do choose to pursue a career in game development, should i work extra hard on trying to hone my art skills
    It depends on you. If you want to practice art and improve, then do it. If you don't want to, don't. It also depends on which game career you want to go for. If you want to be a designer, then it's extremely useful to be able to make at least rudimentary sketches. You don't have to be as great as a concept artist, but you should be able to make sketches and use Photoshop.

    should i work extra hard on trying to hone my art skills... which is apparently what i wish to do,
    To repeat: If you wish to do it, do it. If you don't wish to do it, don't.

    OR should i try to build [upon] what i have a knack for?
    You should build upon what you have a knack for, certainly. But at age 17 you probably haven't really discovered much about yourself since you haven't really tried many things. That's what college elective courses are for. And if your school has a guidance counselor, I suggest you go visit him or her, discuss your college and career thinking. You can get a lot of help that way too.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 17, 2011


    The full breadth of my situation, part 2

    >From: Chris T
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 9:39 PM
    >Subject: Re: Some pointing in the right direction
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for the advice. I'm wondering if a minor in business would be a sufficient amount of education to help propel me and my brother in the right direction, or would finding someone who has/wants to major in business be a better idea? I'm also curious as to what your reasoning for steering clear of for-profit colleges are.
    >Thanks,
    >Chris

    Hi Chris, you wrote:

    I'm wondering if a minor in business would be a sufficient amount of education to help propel me and my brother in the right direction
    I don't think it would be "sufficient" to "propel" you and your brother, no. Even a major in Business wouldn't do that. The propellant must come from within. Do you WANT to minor in Business? If you don't, then don't.

    or would finding someone who has/wants to major in business be a better idea?
    That depends on you and your brother. Do either of you WANT to take courses in Business? If you don't, then don't.

    I'm also curious as to what your reasoning for steering clear of for-profit colleges are.
    Read these:
    http://scientificninja.com/blog/on-game-schools
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For-profit_education
    http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009
    http://www.igda.org/games-game-august-2011
    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=for+profit+education+controversy

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 13, 2011


    School interview project

    >From: Andrew C
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:20 PM
    >Subject: An interview for a school project
    >Hi, my name is Andrew and I'm a junior in a high school in the United States. I need to interview someone as one of the sources for my project on what I want to be and that's becoming a game designer. If you could please answer some of my questions, it would be helpful.
    >1. What made you want to become a game designer?
    >2. What was your first day working like?
    >3. What was the work environment like?
    >4. Was there anytime you wanted to quit?
    >5. If you could change anything in the career of game design, what would it be?
    >I'd be happy to know if you could answer this as soon as possible.
    >P.S. I'm sorry if I couldn't read all of the FAQs, but I needed an interview that I could print as proof.

    Hi Andrew, thanks for numbering your questions for me.
    I perceived that it would be more fun than making models for my grumpy boss.
    I wrote about that in FAQ 18.
    Very creative. A lot of smart, talented, creative people who were a treat to work with.
    Sure. There are bad days in any job.
    I would make it more like how I described in FAQ 55.
    Why? Did your teacher give you a too-short deadline, or did you procrastinate getting started?
    I do not believe you couldn't read them (not that I insist that you read ALL of them; you should read at least FAQs 3, 14, and 37). And sure, go ahead and print this as proof. But if you want to ask some follow-up questions to beef it up more, read those FAQs I mentioned first.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 13, 2011


    The full breadth of my situation

    >From: Chris T
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:38 AM
    >Subject: Some pointing in the right direction
    >Dear Tom,
    >First off I'd like to thank you for your website and all the valuable information it provides. As it stands I haven't read through all of the FAQs/Lessons but managed to get through 1-5 as well as number 34. Anyways, I suppose I should start by answering some of your questions about myself and my current situation regarding my aspirations to become a game designer.
    >I'm 18 years old and graduated high school in the class of 2011.
    >I wouldn't call myself a student, as I'm not actually studying anything right now. However I am partaking in an internship.
    >As I said earlier, I aspire to become a Game Designer. Although long term goals do involve creating my own studio with my brother (who plans to do programming).
    >And last but not least, I'm from the states. California to be exact.
    >Anyway, back to my dilemma. After graduating high school, I was more or less at a loss for what I wanted to do with my life so I didn't manage to apply to any colleges right off the bat and instead decided to take a year off and gain some life experience. Currently I've been living in the Philippines and have been working as an intern for my uncle at the Department of Budget and Management, mainly to get some professional experience as well as some spice for my resume. I've always had a passion for games and after some long needed introspection I've found the video games are the best outlet for my creative and technical prowess.
    >But all of this seems rather irrelevant to the problem at hand, and I apologize for that if these emails are meant to be concise but when seeking advice I'd like the adviser to understand the full breadth of my situation. Prior to stumbling upon your website I had planned to go to an art school that offered a BS in Video & Game Programming which offered courses ranging from 3d art, programming languages, and animation. I thought this would be a good base to understanding the mechanics behind video game production while granting me the abilities to create games on my own. However after I read through your site I noticed that you suggested a regular 4 year university as opposed to an art school that offered "game design" courses for someone who wanted to become a game designer. I greatly understand the angle you're coming from which brings be back to square one where I'm now second guessing my choice to go to the art school. Given my circumstances and goals a little advice and a nudge in the right direction would be much appreciated.
    >Many thanks,
    >Chris

    Hello Chris, you wrote:

    I aspire to become a Game Designer.
    And you say you already read FAQ 3, so I don't need to say "read FAQ 3."

    Although long term goals do involve creating my own studio with my brother (who plans to do programming).
    You should read FAQ 29. Which one of the two of you will study business in college, or are you planning to take on a partner who'll handle the business side for you?

    Prior to stumbling upon your website I had planned to go to an art school that offered a BS in Video & Game Programming
    A BS is a 4-year degree, isn't it? If that degree interests you, and that school is reasonably affordable for you, you can't go wrong taking it. See my June and July 2009 Games Game columns on IGDA.org (link above left).

    However after I read through your site I noticed that you suggested a regular 4 year university as opposed to an art school that offered "game design" courses
    Art schools are for aspiring artists. Is your target art school a for-profit school? If so, you should Google "for-profit education" and I'd advise steering clear.

    I apologize for that if these emails are meant to be concise but when seeking advice I'd like the adviser to understand the full breadth of my situation.
    For you, Chris, based on your unique story as I now fully understand it, my tailored recommendation for you is that you decide what interests you, and that you get an affordable 4-year degree from a mainstream university (not a for-profit school). Then get some experience working in games before you and your brother strike off on your own and start your own company.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 13, 2011


    Creating the AI (Was: Managing my student team)

    >From: chris p
    >Sent: Sunday, December 11, 2011 3:09 PM
    >Subject: Another Question
    >Hey Tom,
    >I asked a question the other week about working with a team of programmers that work in another city.
    >You asked me some questions, that got me thinking. Sometimes, being asked the right questions is more helpful than getting the right answers.
    >Now I have a different question about the same project.
    >My game design is based for a large part around AI. If my AI is poorly designed, the game will be rather worthless.
    >Therefore I have to make sure that the AI is good, before we go in full-production.
    >I had an idea on how to to this:
    >The game is actually single player offline, but what if I made an online version, wherein I, as the designer, would control the AI in the game (manually), while my playtesters play the regular player-character. This way I can adapt the AI behaviour very easily and quickly (because it is my own behaviour), before we actually start the long, hard and less dynamic process of programming the AI.
    >My question is basically: Is this something that is being done in the industry, or did I just come up with a crazy, stupid idea?
    >Thank you for all the advice!

    Welcome back, Chris. You wrote:

    Sometimes, being asked the right questions is more helpful than getting the right answers.
    Good, I'm glad I got those points across.

    what if I made an online version, wherein I, as the designer, would control the AI in the game (manually), while my playtesters play the regular player-character. This way I can adapt the AI behaviour very easily and quickly
    I can't tell if you're talking about a neural network (in which the computer learns AI by watching you) or if you'd be taking notes about how you played, and then designing the AI based on your experience. If the latter, it might not work unless you get the right kind of opponents to learn from. And if the former, the computer might learn the wrong things by watching you (actually, kind of the same thing I guess).

    Is this something that is being done in the industry,
    Irrelevant.

    or did I just come up with a crazy, stupid idea?
    Also irrelevant. The only thing I question is making a PvM game and not a PvP game in this social age. But for all I know, your game design works that way.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2011


    It came out this idea

    >From: Malpas
    >Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2011 8:45 AM
    >Subject: help me!!!
    >Hello I am Andrea,
    >I write across the world, Italy, beautiful country with regard to the landscape and food, to cry for bureaucracy and politics. And some that are behind a project that concerns a new type of console, based on existing technologies, but reused in order to be able to merge the virtual world to the real world. It occurred to me one day, because of avid videogame, swarming was my desire to play, because I think that belonging to the graphical enhancements you're not thinking of anything new. That's why I thought of something that would really please me, and it came out this idea. The problem that I believe will remain just an idea, Italy from this point of view has its own blinders. Who do you think I could contact?? excuse to vent the moment but among the hundreds of sites visited in an attempt to give life to my idea it happened on your own.
    >greetings and best wishes for your site.

    Hello Andrea, you wrote:

    it came out this idea. The problem that I believe will remain just an idea
    Now you need to make a plan, then. You need to do research about the business aspects of your idea, and write it all down.

    Who do you think I could contact?
    That depends on what you want to do. You can't assume that I know what you want to do! I have no idea what you want to do. I also don't know if you're a high school kid or a semi-wealthy entrepreneur or what. I recommend you read some of my articles: #1, #31, #43, #29 for starters. (You can click the FAQs/articles link above left.) Then, after you've done that reading, if you want to write me again, give me information I need in order to help you:

    How old are you?
    What's your level of education?
    What's your current occupation?
    Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?
    What country do you live in?
    What is your REAL question? What is it you really want to know, and why? FAQ 65 discusses how to ask a good question. You can access the FAQs via the FAQs link, above left.

    And if you are a businessman and what you want to do is discuss a business proposition, in private (rather than on this bulletin board), make that clear in your email.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 10, 2011


    Managing my student team (i.e. herding cats)

    >From: chris p
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 9:43 AM
    >Subject: Voluntary side-project teamplanning
    >Hello,
    >I am a 20 y/o game design student, and I have started a voluntary project with about 7 programmers from another school. They will be solely responsible for programming, and I for design. I have the idea that they are pretty motivated to make a good game, but our schools are in different cities, so we can't meet very often.
    >I am trying to make the teamwork go as smooth and fast as possible, but the problem is, that up till now, nobody is online on skype at the same time. I really believe, from past experience, that meeting together on fixed intervals, or at least meeting on skype, is really important for good teamwork, but I don't know how I can make this happen at this point. Primarily because this is a voluntary project, and they know eachother better than I know them, I'm reluctant to come across as the annoying teamlead who is 'forcing' them to come online on skype.
    >I may come across as whining, but thi is not my intention at all. I'm trying to learn how to manage this situation, and am asking for your advice.
    >* How important do you think meeting face to face is vs. meeting on skype?
    >* Should I be strict on a set interval of skype meetings?
    >Thank you

    Hi Chris,
    Wow, this sounds like a very delicate position to be in. It's tricky enough to lead a team of offsite programmers when you're in the role of designer, let alone to have them all be at another school where they have different pressures than you do.

    In a departure from my usual "Q&A" format, I have some questions for you. Note: I do not care what the answers are. I only ask these questions so as to inform you about questions you have to ask yourself.

    Do you have a collaboration agreement in place?
    Do you have a thorough understanding of the expectations of each team member -- what motivates him or her to contribute to your project?
    Is everybody motivated by the same expectations, or do some of them have different reasons for working on your project?

    As I said, I don't need you to tell me the answers to those questions. I don't care what the answers are. But you need to care what the answers to those questions are. You asked:

    How important do you think meeting face to face is vs. meeting on skype?
    Face to face is always more powerful than Skype, but video Skype is better than phone, voice Skype is better than IM, and IM Skype is better than snailmail. Email has a place in there, too, but in my experience, some students never use email (they only like texting).

    Should I be strict on a set interval of skype meetings?
    I don't know if you can be strict at all, since I don't know how much power the others have given you over them. Let's back up a moment. The main reason for everyone to get together at once is so that any blocks or issues can be identified and resolved. Under best agile practice, the team should all get together at least once a week. But I don't know about the scope of your project or your deadlines or what motivates your people to keep working on your design.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2011


    can i become a game designer?

    >From: sai k
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:27 AM
    >Subject: can i cecome a game designer?
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 17
    >The level of education I've completed is: 1st year of graduation
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: lead game designer
    >The country I live in is: india
    >My game biz question is: my name is psycho(my gamer name) i have opted engineering, information technology for my graduation.but i have read in your FAQS that to become a game designer it is necessary to opt for a game designing branch(4 years).in india there are very few colleges dat opt this branch and its too late for me to change my branch now since i have already completed one year os my graduation.my plans are to to an additional course in game designing after my graduation i.e after 3 years.is this decision good.i need your guidence in this matter.
    >thank you for reading my mail.

    >From: sai k
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:29 AM
    >Subject: sorry, my subect:can i become a game designer?

    Namaste, Sai. You wrote:

    i have opted engineering, information technology for my graduation.but i have read in your FAQS that to become a game designer it is necessary to opt for a game designing branch
    I don't know exactly what you read, but you must have misunderstood my words. Because I never said any such thing. Read FAQ 3. You can study anything you want, and become a game designer.

    my plans are to to an additional course in game designing after my graduation i.e after 3 years.is this decision good.
    It sounds reasonable to me. Read my June and July 2009 columns, The Games Game - you can get to them by clicking the IGDA link above left.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2011


    Without level design, there are no entry pathways!

    >From: Veselin T
    >Sent: Monday, December 5, 2011 1:37 AM
    >Subject: Question about 2D game design
    >Dear Tom,
    >I want to express my warm thanks for this website and the information you share with all of us.
    >Here are my details:
    >My approximate age is: 25
    >The level of education I've completed is: Bachelor Computer Science
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Master of Science (currently studying)
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game Design
    >The country I live in is: Bulgaria
    >My game biz question is:
    >What I read is that if I want to become a Game Designer, one of the ways is that I have to start with level design first. But that is for companies which make 3D games. What is the entry position for the 2D casual or browser social games when I want to reach the position Game Designer? I am not an artist and also not a programmer, but have some knowledge related to both of them. So far I have some experience on my own with Flash and my strengths are more related to be able to express my ideas with flash game prototypes and some small functional games, and that is what I am passionate about. Then what path should I take if I want to work in company, which makes 2D games or mobile phone games?
    >Thank you for your answer.
    >Best Regards,
    >Vesko

    Hi Vesko, you wrote:

    one of the ways is that I have to start with level design first.
    Yes - that is "one of the ways," you are right. Very good!

    What is the entry position for the 2D casual or browser social games
    There isn't just one! Why is it that you know that there's more than one entry pathway for 3D games but you don't know that there's more than one entry pathway in 2D games? Don't forget QA, for one.

    So far I have some experience on my own with Flash and my strengths are more related to be able to express my ideas with flash game prototypes and some small functional games, and that is what I am passionate about.
    Good, so you are building a portfolio, then.

    Then what path should I take if I want to work in company, which makes 2D games or mobile phone games?
    First, research game companies and identify a likely hotbed to move to. Then move out of Bulgaria. Go to a hotbed and obtain legal work status there. Start applying appropriately, be patient and don't give up. See FAQ 27, FAQ 4, and my Game Biz Links page. Good luck!

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2011


    I hate math

    >From: acy e
    >Sent: Saturday, December 3, 2011 2:02 PM
    >Subject: my plan
    >My goal is to create a multiverse of stories similar to comic books. I thought making it interactive will add to it an edge i.e. games. From the movie, The Lookout, I want to explain is clearly to explain my plan from the end to the start.
    >
    >End: My game line up and running
    >Enough money/experience/connections/confidence to start a company
    >Working as a writer/designer
    >Gaining experience
    >Getting an entry level job
    >Now/Start: Getting a degree
    >
    >My questions are
    > I really hate what I'm doing now in my computer science degree, programming is fun for me and all but the math is unbarable, is there a way to gain a sufficient education in programming to get hired without getting through all the math?
    >What do you need to start your own company?
    >Thank You,
    >Asaph.

    Hello Asaph,
    It's very weird to get this email from you whining that you hate math, when today there's also a thread by yudencow whining the same thing on GameCareerGuide.
    Look, when you eventually start your own company, you're going to need math. Even if you can manage to program games without it.

    is there a way to gain a sufficient education in programming to get hired without getting through all the math?
    I don't know. Ask your advisor in college.

    What do you need to start your own company?
    Read FAQ 29. The FAQs link is above left.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2011


    I have a game idea, part 3

    >From: Dave P
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:17 PM
    >Subject: RE: Great site
    >I still had to re-read more on your site. Still a great site. I think I figured out how I will deal with this. I do not need a NDA. I will let you know how it works.

    OK, Dave. Good luck 2 U.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2011


    I have a game idea, part 2

    >From: Dave P
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 10:58 AM
    >Subject: RE: Great site
    >I will see what I can do to come up with some type of standard NDA. After that it will take me a few days to write this up. Do you have a standard one laying around?

    Yes, I do, Dave, but if you simply Google "nda template" you will find lots of them. I don't know what you're going to write up, but if you're planning to send me your game idea, don't bother. If you want to hire my services, I don't need to know what your game idea is -- I need to know what your business idea is. I need to know what you want me to do, and how long you want me to do it. Read those FAQs.
    And if what you want to do is hire my services, please make that clear up front.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2011


    My American Dream, part 2

    >From: Andrius M
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 9:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: I need advice for the near future in game biz.
    >Thank you for the response Tom, the answers helped me and showed, me about what should I research more.
    >About that "deciphering", I would need time to get used to the way of speech there and that would take time... which means i wouldn't be able to work until I get used to it since whats the point of going to a job interview if you can't understand the interviewer...
    >Thats the reason I "threw out" UK from the list.
    >I still have one more question though, what would u suggest i should work on at home in producing since i didn't notice anything about that in lesson 12
    >Regards,
    >Andrius

    Hi Andrius, you wrote:

    About that "deciphering", I would need time to get used to the way of speech there and that would take time... which means i wouldn't be able to work until I get used to it since whats the point of going to a job interview if you can't understand the interviewer...
    >Thats the reason I "threw out" UK from the list.
    And I say "ridiculous!" Watch some British movies, even James Bond movies. This is a VERY silly excuse. When you come to America you will find that a LOT of people here have different accents and ways of speech. So if you can't understand Brits, you won't be able to understand half the Americans you meet. Stop poisoning your mind with this nonsensical idea.

    what would u suggest i should work on at home in producing since i didn't notice anything about that in lesson 12
    There isn't any producing you can do at home. But you can read Gamasutra, subscribe to GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers. You can write analyses of games, you can try helping out amateur/indie game teams - just offer to help them do anything they need that you are able to do.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2011


    I have a game idea

    >From: Dave P
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 9:53 AM
    >Subject: Great site
    >Tom,
    > I am certainly not a developer. I have been researching a game idea and I cannot find that anything like it is in the works anywhere. I am curious as to what someone like me does with this. As a parent I am sure this will go over but I know this will be a pretty large development operation. Any ideas?
    >Thanks, Dave P

    Hello, Dave.
    That's great that you have a game idea. But what is your purpose, your goal -- what end do you have in mind? You must not assume that I just know what you plan to do, because I can't know that. Before you write me again (and you are welcome to write me again), please read FAQ 1 (that's Frequently Asked Question #1), FAQ 43, and FAQ 31. You can link to the FAQs above left. Before I can advise you, I need to know what your realistic end goal is (what you want to do with your game once it's developed, or what you want to do with your game idea).

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2011


    My American dream

    >From: Andrius M
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 7:58 AM
    >Subject: I need advice for the near future in game biz.
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 17
    >The level of education I've completed is: Middle School
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Producer/Game tester
    >The country I live in is: Lithuania
    >My game biz question is: Where should i chose to study for better chances to get in the game biz.?
    >Hello Tom,
    >My name is Andrius and I wanted to ask you for advice, on what and where should I study to have higher chances in becoming a producer/game tester.
    >
    >I'm in 11th grade, I live in Europe, Lithuania. It's more of an early game biz. stage here and there are no game industries here as far as I know.
    >I always thought that a game tester is just a person that plays games and tells if they are good or not. It seems I was wrong.
    >After I read your lessons about gaming biz. (I'll be honest, I didn't read all of them) the thought about the game tester's role clearly changed, however that made me even more excited about it.
    >
    >First why I want to become a game tester, is to use that steppingstone to become a producer (yes I know, producers job is hard, but since when easy is fun?).
    >Second is to prove my father that you CAN earn money from video games, which is obvious what I need to do to prove that.
    >Why I decided to become a Producer, is because I like to take charge and being responsible, it makes me better at work because I hate to mess up (more like i fear to mess up, but hey this way it makes you work harder to not mess up eh? ( ^_^ ) )
    >
    >Now to cut to the deal, as stated before, there is no game industry here (or I didn't found one) which means, that if I want to work my dream job in game biz. I'll have to move somewhere where there are some game industries.
    >
    >Taking in mind that other then my native language, I'm best at English, the main 2 countries that I can choose are UK and USA and because I can't decipher most of what UK people say because of their accent, it leaves me with only USA.
    >
    >Now my question would be which way is the best to choose to start my career?
    >#1. Try to get into a university at my own country, continue studying and when finished move to USA and try to get into one of the game industries.
    >#2. Try to get into a college in USA get a degree there and try to get into one of the game industries.
    >#3. End online school move to USA and try to get into one of the game industries.
    >
    >Regards,
    >Andrius.
    >P.S. Sorry if I made any grammar mistakes, I'm still learning English.

    Hello, Andrius.
    Your email was very long, and when that happens I just look for the question marks. So I might have missed some piece of information in your email; if so, please forgive me. You asked:

    Where should i chose to study for better chances to get in the game biz.?
    Your chances are perfectly good no matter where you get your degree. But if you can afford to get your degree in the UK or the US, all the better.

    ... in becoming a producer/game tester.
    A tester doesn't need a degree, but if you want to move up into production, then a degree is a big plus.

    there are no game industries here as far as I know.
    Have you checked the maps of game companies, which can be linked to on my Game Biz Links page?

    prove my father
    Read my November 2009 IGDA column. You can link to the columns archive above.

    because I can't decipher most of what UK people say because of their accent, it leaves me with only USA.
    Hogwash. People speak perfectly understandable English all over Europe and Scandinavia and even in Canada and Australia. The USA is not your only hope because American English is all you can "decipher." You are just making a convenient excuse. What is your real reason for insisting on the USA? Have you read FAQ 72, and my July 2011 IGDA column?

    which way is the best
    Have you read FAQ 66? "Best" and "worth it" are subjective. Only you can determine what's "best" to you.

    Try to get into a university at my own country, continue studying and when finished move to USA and try to get into one of the game industries.
    That's a perfectly good plan. But you will have to obtain legal work status in the USA (or whatever country you seek work in).

    Try to get into a college in USA get a degree there and try to get into one of the game industries.
    That's a perfectly good plan. But you will have to obtain legal work status in the USA (or whatever country you seek work in).

    End online school move to USA and try to get into one of the game industries.
    Read my September 2007 IGDA column. Online education is not as good as a brick-and-mortar college education.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2011


    Academic writing, part 2

    >From: Scott W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:53 AM
    >Subject: Re: Interview on writing in game design
    >Thanks for the response! This will actually help me make a point.
    >Would you say that there is a lack of academic writing in this field? If so, then why might that be?
    >If authority comes with experience, then (comparatively) how important would following common writing conventions be?
    >Thanks!
    >Scott

    Hi Scott, you wrote:

    Would you say that there is a lack of academic writing in this field?
    I wouldn't say that, because I don't know anything about it. I don't like making up opinions on things I know nothing about. I have not been involved in, and have not looked into, academic writing at all. Not yet, anyway.

    If authority comes with experience, then
    Normally, an "if then" is followed by a sequitur. Your question looks to me like a nonsequitur. Academically speaking, of course.

    how important would following common writing conventions be?
    I don't understand what you're getting at (what you're really trying to ask), but I will say that conventions generally exist for a reason.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2011


    Academic writing on game design

    >From: Scott W
    >Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 5:04 PM
    >Subject: Interview on writing in game design
    >Hi, Tom, I have to write a paper focused on academic writing in the field of game design, I was hoping you could answer some questions.
    >What are the different types of texts you encounter in this field?
    >What citation style do you find is most common?
    >Have you done a lot of writing in this field?
    >If so, what have you focused on in the past? When including information from others, do you usually quote them, paraphrase them, or just refer to their ideas? How do you usually begin a paper?
    >What resources are available for students writing in this field?
    >How might students write with authority in the field of game design?
    >Thanks!
    >Scott W

    Hi Scott,
    I recognize you from the gamedev.net forums. Welcome to Sloperama.
    But I'm sorry to disillusion you -- I have not done any academic writing on game design, and have not read any academic papers on game design. To answer your last questions (the only ones I can answer):

    What resources are available for students writing in this field?
    There are lots of books, and lots of postmortems on Gamasutra. There are also lots of experienced game designers. There are also lots of opportunities to work in student and indie teams to build one's own design chops.

    How might students write with authority in the field of game design?
    Authority only comes with experience. Either be an experienced game designer before going for the degree (and writing the paper), or interview some experienced game designers.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2011


    My game concept, part 4

    >From: Aaron A
    >Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 3:35 PM
    >Subject: gravityball business model
    >Hi Tom,
    > I have been thinking about the advice you gave me about gravityball last time I contacted you. So here is a business model, do you think this is a possible way to try to proceed?
    >The game is to be created free for any student that wants to use it and for a very small upfront fee to any player world wide. The game would be paid for and maintained by sponsorship through in game advertisements. As the game is a new esport and meant to be a sport of the future, there can be ingame advertisements on the pitch and in statistics and game announcements. Also the equipment and design of the game could be done in cooperation with sports equipment manufacturers.
    > I know I am still looking at a 99% fail rate, but is this at least on target?
    >Also if I wanted someone like you to consult professionally (to attract sponsors with a well known professional ) how much money would you need to become involved?
    >Thanks,
    >Aaron

    Hi Aaron,
    Your business model is still an incomplete puzzle. The missing pieces I perceive at this time are:
    1. Who would be disseminating this game to the end users -- an existing publishing company? Or would a new company have to be established for the purpose?
    2. How will the game be disseminated to the end users -- online? Retail? Or through schools?
    3. How will the game be marketed? (What techniques will be used to make students and players aware of the game?)
    4. On what platform will the game be played? I assume it's a personal computer game. Can it also be played on tablets or smartphones? Do multiple players play against one another, or is it a solo game? This sort of information is fundamental because it's part of the business model. You may have already discussed this in your pitch writeup (which I have not read), but you didn't mention it in your email. I mainly mention it now because some platforms and genres have more hotness (as far as investors are concerned) than others.

    As for my services. I am not an agent, so I don't represent startups to potential business partners. I am a designer/producer. I can critique a design or manage a development project. As a consultant, I can help refine a business plan. The rate I charge varies depending on the length of a project. For a short consultation, I use a high hourly rate. For a project of long duration, I charge a different rate measured in weeks or months depending on the length. I don't divulge my rate in public.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 28, 2011


    Really worried about QoL

    >From: Nikhil R
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 11:16 AM
    >Subject: Quality of Life concerns
    >Hello Tom,
    >I have always been a fan of your terse advice and had asked you another question about getting into game development colleges a long time ago. I had to deviate from my path for some reasons , but am planning to apply for game development courses pretty soon (actually I am doing that in parallel with writing this e-mail). However, searching the web for info about game dev Jobs turns up so many disturbing results about the hard life that programmers have to lead. Now, I'm not lazy and I dont mind working (even a lot if its warranted) but it seems from most reviews that many Game companies are exploiting employees and treating them as expendable commodities. As I said I dont mind working hard , but I would want to have some semblance of a life , I do want to settle down , have kids and all that shit. But I don't see how that is going to happen if I work for 12 - 16 hours a day.
    >On a related note , I "will" definitely go through with my plan and try to become a game developer (I would regret it my whole life if I did not) , but what if I do , in fact "burn out". What other avenues would I have coming out of a Game dev job ? In your opinion would the switch be hard or easy to manage ? Would I be able to get a job which , though maybe not as satisfying , does not fall into the "Did you file the TRP reports with the PDG's?" category ! You have given a lot of advice about getting into the game company , how about telling us how to exit gracefully ?
    >Again, many thanks for your insight.
    >Nikhil
    >Info about me :
    >I am 24 years old
    >Have a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science
    >Working as a software engineer for Infosys (2 years)
    >I want to work as a Programmer
    >I am from India

    Namaste, Nikhil. You wrote:

    I do want to settle down , have kids and all that... But I don't see how that is going to happen if I work for 12 - 16 hours a day.
    Then don't. Not as a lifestyle, anyway. There may be times when it's necessary, but you can find companies where they reject perpetual crunch.

    what if I do , in fact "burn out". What other avenues would I have coming out of a Game dev job ?
    Anything you want. Basket weaving. Automobile sales. Software development. Chef. Professor. Marketing research. Literally, anything you want.

    Would I be able to get a job which ... does not fall into the "Did you file the TRP reports with the PDG's?" category !
    Sure. Whatever you want. Some jobs may need some extra training, of course.

    how to exit gracefully ?
    But you aren't asking about the exit. You're asking about the landing. I can only tell you about the game industry.

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 23, 2011


    Wanna animate in North America

    >From: ashok s
    >Sent: Friday, November 11, 2011 2:45 AM
    >Subject: Animation for Games -
    >Hello sir,
    >I have some questions regarding "Animation for Games". I am 23 and just completing my 2 year diploma in animation. Please note that i am from India. I plan on making it to a game company in Canada or the US some day. So here are my questions :
    >1. If i am looking to make it into the Game Biz as a Game "Animator", would you recommend me to take a Bachelor in Arts degree. It should be my stupidity, but isnt that a plus point for Game artists ? Or for Animators too ?
    >2. And if I need to, how important is it to get the degree from Canada or the US, now that I plan to reach up there ?
    >Waiting like hell for your reply..
    >Thank You
    >Ashok.

    Namaste, Ashok. I am so sorry I didn't find your email until today. It somehow wound up in my spam folder, and I found it when cleaning out spam today. You asked:

    would you recommend me to take a Bachelor in Arts degree.
    I ALWAYS recommend the B.A. over the A.A.

    isnt that a plus point for Game artists ? Or for Animators too ?
    Yes. A four-year degree is twice as good as a two-year. But you say you are 23. So maybe you've had jobs, you already have a résumé? Work experience compensates for shorter degree.

    how important is it to get the degree from Canada or the US, now that I plan to reach up there ?
    It might make it easier to get work in those countries if you are already in school in those countries. I cannot answer any questions about getting work visas or immigrating, though. You really need to do your own research on that. The important thing is to have a degree and a portfolio (and a résumé helps too). And -- since you're talking about North America -- legal work status.

    Sorry like hell for the delay!
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 18, 2011


    Does my beard hide the fact that I'm a worry-wart?

    >From: Steve B
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 1:50 PM
    >Subject: Bearded Interview?
    >Tom,
    >I am currently growing out my beard for the challenge of the Diableards (diablo 3 challenge). Obviously that wouldn't fly for a non-gaming job interview, but for a game company, would that actually help or hinder me?
    >Thanks again for the awesome site!
    >Steve

    Steve,
    Nobody cares about facial hair. But the fact that you had to ask this question makes me wonder what other unreasonable worries you burden yourself with!
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The ides of November, 2011


    Passion

    >Game Career Guide Forums > User Control Panel > Private Messages > Inbox
    >Private Message: About passion
    > 11-04-2011, 09:18 AM
    >yudencow
    >Junior Member
    > About passion
    >To say the truth, I don't feel passionate about programming though I know how and am studying it.
    >I am far more passionate in writings rules, lore and lists and other sutff like that.
    >I went to study programming because there are alwyas more jobs open for programmers, and after seeing the 2011 salary survey they make the most money after business and production it rreafirmed my notion I'll penetrate the industry through that angle.
    >How can I make sure I'll do both programming and writing/desiging?

    yudencow,
    My gamedev.net sig asks people not to use that site's PM feature to send me private mails, for multiple reasons.
    (1) I have an easy-to-find email address which I check numerous times daily...
    (2) It usually happens that I fail to realize that I've even gotten PM for WEEKS...
    (3) Also if you'd visited my website before PM'ing me, you would have read that I don't give free private advice (that information is plastered all over my site).
    Anyway, you have PM'd me:

    I don't feel passionate about programming though I know how and am studying it.
    >I am far more passionate in writings rules, lore
    Okay, but you also know that you can't break into the industry as a game designer or a game writer. So you have a quandary between your passion and the hard eggshell around the job you're passionate for.

    and lists
    Game designers don't write lists. Lists are a programmer thing, an accounting thing, an organizer thing.

    I went to study programming because there are alwyas more jobs open for programmers, and after seeing the 2011 salary survey they make the most money ... it rreafirmed my notion I'll penetrate the industry through that angle.
    Okay, if you can do well at programming.

    How can I make sure I'll do both programming and writing/desiging?
    Just do it. You can do writing in your free time - stories do not belong to your employer, unless you write stories about the characters in your employer's games. As a member of the game team, you will find many times when there are design problems that need to be solved, and when your opinions about the best solution can be heard and taken into serious consideration. Read my April 2006 IGDA column, "Playing the Upgrade-To-Designer Game" - http://www.igda.org/games-game-archives


    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/13/11


    11/11/11

    Here it is 11/11/11 (at 11:11) - and nobody has written me a question all day. Well darnitall, I say! I just have to say it's 11/11/11,11:11 without being prompted, then!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/11/11,11:11


    Trying to figure out how to write a GDD, part 3

    >From: Josh R
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:10 PM
    >Subject:
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 19
    >The level of education I've completed is: High school.
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: At this time nothing.
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: I'm unsure at this time but most likely Artist/Designer.
    >The country I live in is: USA
    >My game biz question is: I do have a few GDD's that I downloaded but most of them are just outlines of how it should look, but none of them go into detail.
    > I wasn't trying to insult you when I asked if you knew what Dragon Age 2 was, I was just wondering that's all, sorry that it came off like I was trying to insult you.
    >Thanks for the link I'll take a look at it.
    >That sucks, I've never been good at writing, even when I was in school I would get C's since I could never seem to remember anything about writing, I mean I can come up with some really good ideas but I just have a really hard time writing them down, but I could explain them to someone if I were to talk to them.

    Josh,
    My brain is still capable of remembering someone after I've received two emails from him. What I'm saying is that you do not need to give me the answers to my first-time-visitor questions every time you come back. If there's a gap of six months or more, okay. But not when you write to me three times in as many weeks.
    So you've found some GDD outlines only? Then you haven't been looking hard enough. Do you know how to do a good Internet search? I think you must have been using poor search techniques. I also think that at least one or two of the 11 links at the bottom of FAQ 2 surely ought to provide you with something more detailed than just an outline.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/10/11


    How do I write this thing a potential employer wants me to write?

    >From: "rgilbert
    >Sent: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:55 PM
    >Subject: question about game testing reports
    >I am applying for a game testing position and they are asking for a mock
    >analysis of a recently played game. They want it to be no more than 5
    >pages (they said the average length was 3 pages). They don't say if this
    >should be submitted single or double spaced. Which format are typical
    >reports written in?
    >I would have checked to see if this question had be asked before, but all
    >your "Game Design Bulletin Board" links take me to the "Mah Jongg Bulletin
    >Board."

    Hello Mr. or Ms. Gilbert,
    Sorry about the site mixup -- I had uploaded the wrong file yesterday. I blame jetlag (a convenient scapegoat).

    You won't find that question asked and answered in other Q&As below, but you will find it has been asked and answered on other forums. Somebody asked it not too long ago on either the gamedev.net Breaking In forum or one of the GameCareerGuide forums (either Getting Started or Other Careers - maybe even both). I shall encapsulate the answer:

    We don't know what they want. They know what they want. You can ask them. Or you can write it in whatever way you think best. My preferred style is single-spaced, with a double space between paragraphs. But I can't guarantee that's what they would prefer. What they're mainly looking for is your thought process, to see if you would be a valuable contributor to their QA team.

    Good luck.
    Tom Sloper

    Daegu, S. Korea (Korea Games Conference 2011)
    November 8, 2011


    Trying to figure out how to write a GDD, part 2

    >From: Josh R
    >Sent: Saturday, November 5, 2011 8:57 PM
    >Subject: GDD help 2
    >
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 19
    >The level of education I've completed is: High school.
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: At this time nothing.
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: I'm unsure at this time but most likely Artist/Designer.
    >The country I live in is: USA
    >My game biz question is: Well I still donít know how to write the combat. do you know of any GDD's I could look at? it would have to be for a game that has a RTwP (Real Time w/ Pause) Combat system. since that is what Dragon Age 2 had. btw do you even know what Dragon Age 2 is?
    >I do need some more help with something else right now, when writing a level that will be in the game in the GDD how should it be written? Because in my game there will be multiple dialogue choices and multiple outcomes.
    >(See Dragon Age 2 or Mass Effect 1-2 to get an idea of how the dialogue would work in my game idea)
    >This is how I have to write it so I wont get confused when Iím adding choices or different dialogue outcomes. But Iím unsure if itís how a level should be written in a GDD. I would just Email the level to you but I donít want you to publicly post it. So here is part of it only censored.
    >
    >(Description of whatís going on)
    >(Name of person talking: what they say.
    >(Name of player talking: what they say.
    >(Descriptions of certain stuff)
    >(Options for the presented choice)
    >(Name of player talking: what they say.
    >(Name of person talking: what they say.
    >(The Conciseness of deciding which one of the choices youíre going to make)
    >I really hope you are able to understand everything since written is not something I'm really good at.

    Welcome back, Josh. You wrote:

    The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: I'm unsure at this time but most likely Artist/Designer.
    It's not unusual that you haven't yet chosen a career at your age. You can go to college and maybe by the time you graduate you might have chosen one. (I hadn't chose one by the time I graduated college, but I'm glad I went to college and got a degree.) If you're interested in art, you should go to a school that offers art degrees. If you're interested in design, you should make sure that your school offers courses in English and writing, and lots of other liberal arts courses (like those listed in FAQ 3).

    Well I still donít know how to write the combat. do you know of any GDD's I could look at?
    As I told you last time, I have links to several sites where you can read example GDDs. Did you look? You won't find exactly what you're looking for. You'll simply have to work at written communication and put your thoughts in writing.

    btw do you even know what Dragon Age 2 is?
    Are you trying to insult me?

    when writing a level that will be in the game in the GDD how should it be written? Because in my game there will be multiple dialogue choices and multiple outcomes...
    You're talking about "dialogue trees." There isn't one way to write a dialogue tree, and only you can decide which one is "best" for your purposes. I saw a discussion thread on dialogue trees on the gamedev.net Writing For Games forum. Go to http://www.gamedev.net/forum/32-writing-for-games/
    There's a thread there called "Story mapping / Dialog Tree Software" and an older one called "'Best' technique to write multiple choice dialogue"

    I would just Email the level to you but I donít want you to publicly post it. So here is part of it only censored.
    I'm glad you didn't email that to me, then. What you need to do is figure this out for yourself, based on what you read in those two threads on gamedev.net and the particular needs of your game design.

    written is not something I'm really good at.
    If you want to design a game, you have to get better at it. Work harder. Go to college. Those are my recommendations.


    Tom Sloper

    Daegu, S. Korea
    11/7/11


    I want to make a game

    >From: Brendan M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 5, 2011 9:14 AM
    >Subject: I want to make a game.
    >I've got an idea for a game I want to make, I've played a fair amount of games by now and it will mainly be MMORPG/RPG focused, it will be multiplayer, co-op and singleplayer, third-person and have a really smooth UI and a completely rotatable/angle-able (you get the gist) camera. There are a lot more details I've started to go into detail with- I'm not focused on making money or selling the game and have it become incredibly successful, I want to put a lot of work into it and make a game that I myself would love to play if I found it on the internet somewhere and I hope that other people would like it themselves also. I've got no idea where to get started, with coding or 3D modelling and I'm looking for any help I can get.
    >Do you have any advice for me?

    Hi Brendan, you wrote:

    I've got an idea for a game I want to make... I've got no idea where to get started, with coding or 3D modelling and I'm looking for any help I can get.
    Well, Brendan, the answer I give you is "it depends." It depends on whether you're rich or not, on what your career aspirations are (or if you already have a career) and other stuff like that. Which is why I ask (above) that people give me that kind of info the first time they write me to ask for advice. So:

    How old are you?
    What's your level of education?
    What's your current occupation?
    Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?
    What country do you live in?
    What is your REAL question? What is it you really want to know, and why?

    Do you have any advice for me?
    Yes, I do. You can find lots of advice in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're easy to find since they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Bookmark the FAQs page for your future reference. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.

    Standing by to answer follow-up questions after you've checked out the FAQs.
    Tom Sloper

    Daegu, S. Korea
    11/7/11


    Burnout -- is it as bad as they say?

    >From: Chris J
    >Sent: Friday, November 4, 2011 1:10 AM
    >Subject: Industry Burnout, is it as bad as they say?
    >How old are you? 24
    >What's your level of education? In pursuit of a degree.
    >What's your current occupation? (If student: "student") Student
    >Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? Programming.
    >What country do you live in (where in the world are you)? (OK, so that's 5.) Ohio, US.
    >Hello, I would like to pursue a career as a game programmer, however I'm hearing all sorts of talk about the game industry burnout rate.
    >For instance: http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/9598/what-is-the-average-job-length-in-the-game-industry
    >Where some people state their average job length being 5 years in the industry, and usually anywhere from 1-3 years invested into each company until they either quit or are let go.
    >Also we have the infamous "death march": http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/05/the-death-march-the-problem-of-crunch-time-in-game-development.ars?comments=1&start=0#comments-bar
    >Or the Fable 1 crisis: http://kotaku.com/5172743/fable-caused-burn-out-games-developer-got-bad-ideas-while-drinking
    >I can understand that some jobs require large amounts of time, and a game programmer is probably no different. However, have you or some other co-workers experience any serious cases of burnout throughout your game development careers?
    >Are most studios doing anything about improving their job quality?
    >So, is it as bad as they say?

    Hi Chris,
    None of your articles mentioned the more recent L.A. Noire flap:
    http://www.vg247.com/2011/06/21/uncredited-l-a-noire-staff-describe-team-bondi-crunch-conditions/
    http://mediakick.org/2011/06/28/industry-outraged-over-la-noire-teams-crunch-period
    And you didn't bring up the "E.A. spouse" brouhaha, either.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EA_Spouse
    http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

    The central issue is QoL -- Quality of Life.
    http://www.igda.org/quality-life

    Nobody denies that QoL is an issue in the game industry. But I find your questions problematic in the wording you chose:

    have you or some other co-workers experience any serious cases of burnout
    Are most studios doing anything about improving their job quality?
    is it as bad as they say?

    Do I know people who've left the industry? Yes. Do I know people who've been through stressful crunches and are still in the industry? Yes. Have I been through a stressful crunch? Yes. The worst one was Shanghai Great Moments -- I worked all the way through Christmas-New Year break, taking only a few hours off on Christmas Day. I was the producer and the designer on that game, coordinating with numerous external vendors. It was incredibly tough, but was it "burnout"? I don't know how you define the term.
    All studios recognize the importance of QoL. Not all are good at dealing with it successfully. And maybe nobody is able to uphold good QoL 100% of the time. Are "most" studios doing "anything"? I don't know how to answer that.
    It can be bad. Those articles are not lies, if that's what you're asking.

    It comes down to the individual. If you're passionate about working in games, go in with eyes wide open. It also comes down to the company. During the interview, ask about QoL and crunch. Look at the people who work there -- do they seem happy enough? If there's a silence hanging over the work area, they might just have their heads down because they're busy, or they might be internalizing stress. If you don't want one iota of stress in your life, well, you're in trouble, because the world will give you stress. And a game job will entail some pressure, but it's also a better job than many. You have to figure out what your own priorities are. I ran into EA Spouse a couple weeks ago at an industry workshop. She's still in the industry.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 4, 2011


    Trying to figure out how to write a GDD

    >From: Josh R
    >Sent: Monday, October 31, 2011 8:40 PM
    >Subject: GDD help.
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 19
    >The level of education I've completed is: High school.
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: At this time nothing.
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: I'm unsure at this time but most likely Artist/Designer.
    >The country I live in is: USA
    >My game biz question is: I'm trying to write a GDD for this game idea I have, but I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to write a few thing. The thing that I'm having the hardest time trying to write right now is how I want the Combat to be, I know I want it to be like it was in Dragon Age 2 but I'm unsure how to write it other then saying "It's like Dragon Age 2".

    Hi Josh,
    Well, then you have to describe how the combat works in Dragon Age 2. Describe how the player controls the player character. Describe how an enemy behaves. Describe how the onscreen UI reacts when one character gets hit.
    It might be useful for you to take a look at some example GDDs. Look for links in FAQs 2 and 13. You won't find exactly what you want, but you ought to be able to get the idea well enough.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/1/11


    What it's like to be a game designer

    >From: Max P
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9:29 AM
    >Subject: Question about a game designers life
    >Hi Tom, 5 things you want to know about me:
    >1. 14
    >2. High School as of now
    >3. School
    >4. None in the gaming field as of now
    >5. Canada
    >So here's my question:
    >I'm doing a project in school in which you have to choose a person to research in depth. I chose Shigeru Miyamoto, the head game designer of Nintendo. i can get all the information about him and his life on the web or on books, but I can't find any information about what it's like to be a game designer. I hope that you can help me with that, what's the daily life/routine of a game designer? What's the steps you go through when you design a video game? What sort of talents/special traits do you need? And is it a difficult path to choose with many challenges but great rewards or is a a relatively safe career choice but not many benefits? (From my experience jobs are one of those two, if there's something else I missed, please inform me.)
    >Thank you!
    >-Max

    Hi Max, you wrote:

    what's the daily life/routine of a game designer?
    Read FAQ 14, and FAQ 37. Link to the FAQs above left.

    What's the steps you go through when you design a video game?
    First, research the topic (hopefully you already have a topic or an assignment before step 1). Then see if a particular game genre is clearly right; if it isn't, list the possible genres. Then list some possible focuses for the game. Choose one gameplay focus, either by yourself or by consensus with the project leads/stakeholders, then start writing.

    What sort of talents/special traits do you need?
    I think that's covered in FAQs 14 and 37. If you find that this question is not answered in there, then list for me the talents/special traits you think a designer needs, send the list to me, and we can discuss.

    is it a difficult path to choose
    Choosing it is easy. It's a difficult path to follow.

    with many challenges
    Yes. Everything desirable or worthwhile is difficult and has many challenges.

    but great rewards
    Not many designers get rich, but money is not the "great reward" most aspiring designers shoot for. Job enjoyment is.

    or is a a relatively safe career choice
    No.

    but not many benefits?
    It has benefits.

    From my experience jobs are one of those two,
    I believe your experience is likely very limited, young Jedi.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 26, 2011


    Do I have to learn programming if I don't like it?

    >From: Eric M
    >Sent: Saturday, October 22, 2011 11:31 AM
    >Subject: Question on the relationships between the artists and the programmers
    >Hi Tom, before I get started, here are the details about me:
    >Name: Eric
    >Age:19
    >Education Level: College Freshmen
    >Occupation: Student
    >Possible Game Job Aspiration: Game Artist/Animator, then in the long run: Design
    >Country: United States
    >Okay, here is my question:
    >I understand that I should study what interests me (In my case, I am looking into art classes right now for later semesters) although I should take in a broad education when studying to be a game designer. In FAQ 34, you wrote that if artistically inclined, then I should study art. However, should game artists and animators know some programming? I am thinking that since they have to collaborate with the programmers, it would be helpful if the artists know some of the languages the programmers use (i.e C++, Java).
    >My intended major is Multimedia Computing (In my school, it applies computing to art, especially with computer games) and I am required to take courses in programming. At first, I thought it would be a good idea because of the theory I thought up listed above. Unfortunately, I realized that I am a bad programmer in my C++ Intro class and I find it difficult to "like" programming. Already, I am considering majoring in Art like you suggested in FAQ 34 but at the same time, I am wondering if I should be resilent about it by sticking to my original plan since it seems like a good way to prepare for a career in design for the long haul.
    >Thanks for your input on this, my apologies if any of these questions I wrote annoy you in some way as I understand that you are not a fan of them, I am currently working on asking good questions like one of your FAQ's suggested.
    >Eric

    Hello Eric, you wrote:

    I am thinking that since they have to collaborate with the programmers, it would be helpful if the artists know some of the languages the programmers use
    So if you were a chef, and you were collaborating with an architect to prepare a meal for his clients, you would need to be able to design a building? If you were an artist, and an auto mechanic hired you to make a sign for his business, you would need to be able to take a car apart and put it back together?

    Instead of asking "should artists know some programming, why don't you instead ask these:

    Do I have to know some programming?
    No.

    Do I have to take some programming courses?
    Do you WANT to? Take them if you WANT to. Or if your chosen degree program requires you to.

    Let's get back to a question you really did ask:

    I am wondering if I should be resilent about it by sticking to my original plan
    Only if you WANT to. Don't force yourself. If it would make you reluctant to get out of bed to go study it, then it would be a mistake to go that way.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 22, 2011


    My game concept, part 3

    >From: Aaron
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:04 PM
    >Subject: last question I promise! (2 questions actually)
    >Thanks for your advice Tom, I'm taking notes.
    >First question is one I asked before (now you've seen the correspondence).. How do I determine whether games developer Q likes my game idea because its actually a good idea, or if they say they like the idea because they want the development money?
    >If I was a potential investor I might say.. "Well of course they would say that they like it, they have a vested interest in making the game."
    >Question 2. (Hypothetically) If I wanted the game to be free, freely available for children's education, that's a definite deal breaker right? Noone is going to say "Yes! that would be great for my emerging company, engine, whatever!"
    >Thanks for your advice, I think you have at least pointed out to me where my planning has got to progress to, to have that 1% chance on your table. I really appreciate your efforts:)
    >Aaron

    Hello Aaron, you asked:

    How do I determine whether games developer Q likes my game idea because its actually a good idea, or if they say they like the idea because they want the development money?
    What difference does it make? Why do you ask? Are you just looking for "validation"? As it says above, I don't validate. You apparently did not understand the underlying concept of FAQ 31. All ideas are good. All ideas can succeed. All ideas can fail. It all depends on you and what you do with the cards you're dealt. BTW, I never read your whole email thread. I only saw the uppermost part, and knew instantly that I had to delete it all.

    If I wanted the game to be free, freely available for children's education, that's a definite deal breaker right?
    No. Think about grants rather than investments. Foundations interested in doing good, as opposed to investors interested in getting richer, are out there and looking for good works to get involved in. It's up to you to figure out what your overall idea is (not just your game idea). It's time to get creative in the big picture (what you can do with your game and who would help you make it and who would benefit from it and how you'll disseminate it), not only in the small picture (what the game is and how it's played).

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 20, 2011


    My game concept, part 2

    >From: Aaron
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:58 PM
    >Subject: Gravityball - conversation with Unity
    >Hi Tom,
    >On the business plan... I guess I was more interested in the educational outcomes. I work with underprivileged indigenous kids here in Australia and have had some great success getting Autodesk to give cutting edge software to let these kids participate in the new emerging industries of 3d design, visualisation and simulation. They do this as a Corporate good deed and for good PR. I was hoping that I would be able to consult about the educational angle for this game and maybe do some modelling and animation. I was not planning on making much (or any) money but I thought a game company that could see commercial potential or that would like to be associated with Autodesk certified curriculum (which as an ACI I can design for their STEAM portal http://curriculum.autodesk.com/student/public/index/index )might be interested. After having read your FAQ I have now been disillusioned. It did seem like a good idea at the time:)
    >Here is the full conversation with Unity ....(in reverse!) Thanks for your time, interest and mostly for your sage wisdom. Aaron
    >[CORRESPONDENCE WITH UNITY DELETED]

    Hi Aaron,
    If you want to get your well-intentioned educational/serious game made, you still need to think through the entire business angle, and figure out who might be able to use it and fund it. Then you'd need to pitch it to them and see if they're willing to fund it.
    I cannot publish your email conversation with another party. But what I saw of it confirms that you did have a conversation with them, and that they replied in ways consistent with my advice.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 19, 2011


    Design a serious parlor game for me

    >>>From: nusaibah n
    >>>To: "Webmaster
    >>>Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 10:31 AM
    >>>Subject: creating a real life game for accounting students
    >>>Dear Sir,
    >>>First and foremost, these are the details that you wanted to know :
    >>>1. I am 20 years old.
    >>>2. I am currently a student in University Technology Mara (UITM) Shah Alam.
    >>>3. Student
    >>>4. I am interested in creating a game for students
    >>>5. I live in Malaysia
    >>>I would like to ask your help on creating or more like arranging a game to be held for accounting students. I want the students to experience a real life scenario of the whole 'working in a company' . I've been searching the internet all over and mostly suggested for a business simulation games and did not help a bit. And also found out only of those cliché business game like 'starting a business' game. I want the game to be tough and brain killing, so that the students are challenged. This will be for professional students taking a professional accounting courses.
    >>>I will appreciate a reply from you, your wise one. Do help me create this game.
    >>>Thank you very much.

    >>From: Tom Sloper
    >>To: nusaibah n
    >>Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2011 1:51 AM
    >>Subject: Re: creating a real life game for accounting students
    >>Are you saying you want to hire me? Or are you asking for free advice?
    >>I can help you either way, but if you want to hire me, I need to understand your business idea (how you are going to make money from your game idea).
    >>Tom Sloper - Game Development Consultant
    >>- Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers; "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done." http://www.sloperama.com/business.html
    >>- Faculty, Video Games, Information Technology Program, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California. http://itp.usc.edu
    >>- Helpful information and bulletin boards for game industry hopefuls. http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
    >>- The Mah-Jongg FAQs. Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg. http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    >>- Author of The Red Dragon &The West Wind, the definitive book on official Chinese & American mah-jongg.

    >From: nusaibah n
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 11:13 AM
    >Subject: Re: creating a real life game for accounting students
    >Hi,
    > I am asking for a free advice on how the business game should be. This is for a career week activity.
    >Thank you.

    Hello Nusaibah,
    This is what you are asking:

    I would like to ask your help on creating ... a game ... for accounting students. I want the students to experience a real life scenario of ... 'working in a company'... I want the game to be tough and brain killing, so that the students are challenged... I am asking for a free advice on how the business game should be. This is for a career week activity.
    I assume there isn't enough time to create an electronic game, so perhaps you're thinking of a board game, or card game, or a parlor game (a social interaction in which the participants needn't be seated at a table).

    And you want me to come up with ideas for you?! For free. Right now. That goes way beyond "advice." You're asking me to do unpaid game design for you... in an arena and a platform with which I am unfamiliar. I'm sorry, but you are asking too much.

    I think you should do more research. I just did a quick Google on "games for networking events," and it turned up some promising links. You can also try "parlor games" and "serious games." If you want to bounce some ideas off me, I'll be glad to offer feedback on them. But I won't do your ideation for you.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 19, 2011


    My game concept

    >From: Aaron
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:43 AM
    >Subject: gravityball game concept
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have a Bachelor of visual arts and a bachelor of education, I am a senior teacher in Cairns nth Qld Australia. I have also travelled to Vancouver recently to become an Autodesk certified Instructor. I have a game pitch that I hope would make for exciting and compelling game play but also allow for educational outcomes if used in an educational facility. I know it is a bit Naive of me to pitch a game without being a game designer, but I am hoping that my experience can bring something to the game design.
    >Here is the pitch
    >I think this could have the potential to develop a "culture" with clans and teams participating in a world championship series of events, with fans, supporters and sponsors.....
    >Unity have given me a quote for 171,000 euro to develop the project. Question.. Are they telling me they like the idea because they want to get the money to develop it or do you think it might actually be a good idea?
    >They want me to go out and start finding investors.... is there another/better way to get this idea moving forward. i realise that my IP is a very small part of a finished project, but I would really like to get involved and be a part of the process.
    >If you want to see the full Unity breakdown and timeline I can provide it.
    >I know you can be a bit brutal, but do your worst, I am interested to hear what you think, if I am wasting my (and your) time, someone needs to tell me.
    >Thanks for your time, interest and sage wisdom
    >Aaron

    >From: Aaron
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 2:20 AM
    >Subject: gravityball- a public link and my age
    >Hey sorry mate just a few additions,
    >I am 39.
    >Anyone can read the pitch here
    >http://area.autodesk.com/forum/game-developer-zone/general-game-development-forum/game-pitch---gravityball/
    >I know my email might not fit your "rules of engagement" so sorry if I have wasted your time.
    >Cheers
    >Aaron

    Hi Aaron, you wrote:

    I have a game pitch
    Okay, so you have a game idea. What is your business idea? In other words: what do you play to do with your game, if it was made? (Don't assume I know -- because I don't know what you are planning to do with your game, if it is made.)

    I know it is a bit Naive of me to pitch a game without being a game designer
    Well, no. What's naïve is to pursue a game idea without a business idea, or without being a game developer (which is a completely different thing from a game designer).

    I think this could have the potential to develop a "culture"
    Sure. Anything is possible. Anything has the potential for anything.

    Unity have given me a quote for 171,000 euro to develop the project.
    US$236,000+. But I don't understand. You approached Unity Studios in Denmark, and asked them if they'd be interested in developing your game, and they quoted you a price? Is that what you're saying?

    Are they telling me they like the idea because they want to get the money to develop it
    I don't know, because I don't know what you asked them, and I don't have a picture of what your conversation was like.

    do you think it might actually be a good idea?
    I'm sure it's a great idea. But so what? What are you going to do with your great idea?

    They want me to go out and start finding investors.
    You're confusing the heck out of me. I don't think they "want" you to go find investors. I think they're telling you that's what is normally done. The guy with the business idea writes a business plan, then takes that around to get investment so he can act on his plan. In this case, the "guy with the business idea" is YOU. What is your business idea? I don't know what your business idea is. So far, you just sound like a guy with a game idea. Game ideas are a dime a gross, and guys with game ideas are so thick you can't walk down the street without passing a dozen of them in the first 10 minutes.

    is there another/better way to get this idea moving forward.
    Moving forward towards what? I have no idea what you're trying to do. All I know is you have a game idea, and you've been posting it on numerous online game forums.

    Maybe you ought to read my FAQs 11, 21, 31, 35, and 43. You can access my FAQs by clicking the FAQs link above left.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 19, 2011


    The internship boat is sailing without me!

    >From: Brennan S
    >Sent: Sunday, October 16, 2011 3:32 PM
    >Subject: Education needed for Game Design Internship:
    >Hello, Tom!
    >I saw that you offered to act as a short term "Miyagi" for aspiring game designers, so I thought I'd drop you a line and ask for some advice.
    >I am a twenty-three year old computer science student in my junior year at Brigham Young University in Utah, working part time as a research assistant in the Advanced Database Applications lab. I have always had a passion for game design, but only recently have I decided that I needed to act upon it, lest I accidentally end up in networking or software analysis or some-such. My end goal, like surely many others, is to become a game designer.
    >As a junior, we are told often by our professors that we should be looking for internships. Recently, I discovered that Nexon of America was hiring a game design intern. What luck, I thought, but then looked at the qualifications. Not only did I not meet any of them, but nothing taught at my university looked like it could meet any of them. (The qualifications are included after the end of the E-mail.)
    >I have spoken to several people who majored in game design at specific universities that are marketed towards game enthusiasts. They tell me that specialized "game design" universities simply do not teach the material needed to become a game designer, and are not worth the time and effort. I've also heard that the most important thing to do to get into the game design industry is to have a four year degree in some sort of related field, which I am in the process of doing. Where, then, would I acquire the knowledge necessary to secure an internship like this? And once I did, how would I prove, on a resume, that I had acquired said skills? If I start a dedicated program of self-study, reading dozens of books on game design in addition to earning a computer science degree, would I be able to put that on a resume? Or are they looking for something specific to prove an applicant has knowledge of, for example, "...design system and the relationship between gameplay elements within the level and overall game." Or, on an entirely different train of thought, is the term "internship" misleading, and I will probably never score an internship of this kind immediately upon exiting college?
    >Seeing an available position like this gives me hope that a similar position will appear again, after I have had time to prepare myself to qualify for it. I missed an interesting boat, and I want to do what I can to be ready at the harbor next time an opportunity like this comes along.
    >Your site, for instance, looks like it will be most instructive. I plan on printing the contents and reading them with a highlighter in hand.
    >Thank you for making yourself available for questions. We all appreciate it.
    >~B. Smith
    > From: http://www.nexon.net/corporate/careers/open-positions/. Because this is tangential to the body of the question, described above, I certainly wouldn't blame you from omitting it when posting it on your website.
    > Game Design Intern:
    >[OMITTED]

    Hi Brennan, you wrote:

    several people who majored in game design... tell me that specialized "game design" universities simply do not teach the material needed to become a game designer,
    Which you would have found out here on my site, too. See FAQs 3, 14, 44. And my June and July 2009 columns on IGDA.org. (Links to everything above left - scroll up now to see.)

    and are not worth the time and effort.
    "Worth" is subjective. Only YOU can decide if that's "worth it." Read FAQ 66.

    Where, then, would I acquire the knowledge necessary to secure an internship like this?
    There are actually some schools that do educate students about the workings of the industry, and design practices. Like the one where I teach. Other than that, you could have been reading my site for the past 3 years, and participating on GameDev.net, and networking through IGDA chapter gatherings and through game conferences. And of course building a portfolio.

    how would I prove, on a resume, that I had acquired said skills?
    You wouldn't. You would prove it in your portfolio.

    If I start a dedicated program of self-study, reading dozens of books on game design in addition to earning a computer science degree, would I be able to put that on a resume?
    No, of course not. And nobody would be impressed by a list of books you'd read. You can prove that you've read books by referring to them in context during an interview, and by applying the learning you'd gotten as you build your portfolio.

    is the term "internship" misleading, and I will probably never score an internship of this kind immediately upon exiting college?
    No. Now you're just horriblizing, letting your fears run away with you. Stop it! Read FAQ 47. Oh, and FAQ 71, while you're at it.


    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 16, 2011


    HELP! part 3

    >From: Lauren H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:21 AM
    >Subject: More questions from Lauren H
    >OK....wow Game Central Productions was a job referred by my college after I graduated from ITT Tech. So I looked them up but I guess I didn't do ENOUGH research. (I feel DUMB lol) But thanks for the FAQS and telling me like it is. Now you asked do I have a game job I plan to study for? No I really don't but honestly, I live in Alabama and there are no Gaming companies here for real. So I may have to save up to move the closest place is in Texas because my sister stays there and I know there are game companies out there.

    Lauren,
    I do not know if GCP is trying to charge people for their training, but if they are, you should not pay. I do not know if GCP is a scam, but let's say it just looks wonky to me from what I could see in my brief look this morning.
    And seriously, if you read the FAQs I pointed you to before, you'll see that you do need to have a career plan. I don't think you've had enough time yet to read them and absorb them. Even if you have read them, it would be a good idea to sleep on it, and read them again tomorrow.
    When you are ready to leave Alabama, you should start by researching game companies in your planned destination. Use my Game Biz Links page, check out the lists and maps of game companies. Find out what cities in Texas are best suited for your move. Don't just up and move to, like, Amarillo or Lubbock. Know where the game hotbeds are, and check out the companies themselves.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2011


    Resource for board game designers

    >From: Michael Mindes
    >Sent: Monday, October 10, 2011 11:39 AM
    >Subject: Additional Game Publishing Resource
    >Tom,
    >I came across your extensive game design resource online. I thought that you and those that find your resource might be interested in my guide "How To Make Your Own Board Game - A Publishing Guide" which is based on my experiences as a board game publisher.
    >You can find it here: http://playtmg.com/pages/how-to-make-board-game
    >Have a nice day.
    >--
    >Cheers,
    >Michael Mindes, Founder
    >Tasty Minstrel Games

    Hi Michael,
    Very nice, thanks! I'll be happy to put that link in my FAQ 20.
    Cheers back atcha.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2011


    HELP! part 2

    >From: Lauren H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:09 AM
    >Subject: More info on Lauren Harris
    >Laure H
    >I'm 21 and I am currently training at Game Central Productions from home. I plan on working for Square Enix but if I don't start working there it's ok with me. As long as my foot is in the door somewhere. I live in the U.S. So my question is how do I at least get THAT job where I can just get my foot in the door? Even though I only have an AAS Degree.

    Hello Lauren, you wrote:

    I am currently training at Game Central Productions from home
    I had no idea what that was, so I looked it up. I hope you are not paying any money for that training? Have you seen what I wrote about online game tester websites in FAQ 24 and FAQ 27?

    I plan on working for Square Enix but if I don't start working there it's ok with me.
    See FAQ 24, "over-reaching." You are probably setting your sights too high.

    how do I at least get THAT job where I can just get my foot in the door?
    Read FAQs 24 and 27 in their entirety, then read FAQs 5 and 7 and 4. PLEASE read the FAQs -- these questions you're asking are ones I've been asked MANY times before, and you should find good information in the FAQs.

    Even though I only have an AAS Degree.
    You don't need a degree to work in QA. Depending on what job you aspire to, though, the degree might matter. You never told me the answer to my question #4, so I still don't know enough to be of much help to you.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2011


    HELP!

    >From: Lauren H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 5:59 AM
    >Subject: Lauren H
    >Thanks for the cover letter info. It really opened my eyes to Game Design. I have graduated from ITT Technical Institute last September with a AAS Degree in Visual Communications. I am now pursuing my Bachelor's Degree a Full Sail University Online. Im applying for Game jobs on Gamasutra.com and I really don't have a Cover Letter or Portfolio actually ready. I have an portfolio online at wix.com but its not in my URL so its not officially my website. I also have a magazine portfolio from college but its not about Game Design..... HELP! LOL Oh and the Wix website is that magazine portfolio as well so its the same thing just online.

    Hello Lauren, you wrote:

    HELP!
    I would like to help, but I don't know what you need help with (you did not ask a question). When someone asks me for help, I need information so I can give the best answer. You already gave me information about your education, but I still need to know:

    How old are you?
    What's your current occupation?
    Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?
    What country do you live in?
    What is your REAL question? What is it you really want to know, and why? FAQ 65 discusses how to ask a good question.

    After I understand what you want help with, I can try to help.

    Also maybe you have already read FAQ 27, where I advise that a job seeker should put his or her name in the email subject line? That does not mean that your name is suitable as a subject line in and of itself -- nor does it mean that your name has to be in the subject line for every conceivable type of email. A good email subject line tells the recipient a little about what the email concerns. The name is needed in the subject line (as part of the subject line) when it's a job app, but is otherwise probably not useful in an email subject line.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2011


    Looking for a book

    >From: sebastian g
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 6:03 PM
    >Subject: Recommendation: combat design & combat balancing book?
    >How old are you? 26
    >What's your level of education? Profesional
    >What's your current occupation? (If student: "student") PM
    >Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? n/a
    >What country do you live in (where in the world are you)? Argentina
    >Hello Tom, This is my second note to you, first was a thank. Now I am here to ask you a favor. I am looking for book about combat balancing and combat design for an strategic video game. Like ( helth, armor, damage, etc.) We would like to design a System and Test System to try all variables and results and any good book you can recommend. I know this is one of the hardest part and time consumming, since most of the companies do this by a third-party Company.
    >My apologies for the poor English.
    >Regards.

    Hi Sebastian,
    My initial reaction: I don't know if there is a book that covers this or not. Why don't you scan the titles in FAQ 8, then go on Amazon and read the summaries of the books?
    But then after flipping through some of the books in my library, I think you're trying to seek for something too narrow. Check these chapter titles:

  • Working with System Dynamics (Tracy Fullerton's book, Game Design Workshop)
  • Pros and Cons of Hit Point Systems (F.D. Laramee's book, Game Design Perspectives)
  • Strategy Games (Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design)
  • Games as Systems of Conflict (Salen & Zimmerman, Rules of Play)

    I don't think you'll necessary find exactly what you're looking for, but you should find useful information in pretty much any good game design book.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    10/11/11


    When should audio development begin?

    >From: Chris van M
    >Sent: Sunday, October 9, 2011 12:34 AM
    >Subject: When to bring the sound guys in
    >Hey Tom,
    >I'm Developing a game with 2 friends. We're students at a game design school. 20 years old.
    >Right now we've got a rudimentary part of the core gameplay, an art style, a concept and blueprint for the first level, and our medium term goal is now to make a first-playable game, so that we can playtest it as quickly as possible.
    >My question is this:
    >When should we bring a sond guy in? right now, or AFTER we've made a level with actual art, and modelled and animated characters?
    >I can imagine that sound designers would want to actually see something visual in the gameplay, before they can make audio, because right now the gameplay consists of only cubes and balls. The art is not in-game yet.
    >What would be the best choice?

    Hi Chris,
    Your question can be looked at in two ways: when is it too early for audio, and when is it too late?
    It's too early if there isn't enough information for the audio staff to know about every bit of audio that is needed for the game.
    It's too late if the audio staff can't have enough time to create the audio, before the game has to be at Beta.
    It can be tricky sometimes. Last-minute feature changes can necessitate the creation of additional audio. If in doubt, start earlier rather than later.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2011


    I, too, am confused, part 3

    >From: karan <iamigo
    >Sent: Sunday, October 9, 2011 6:07 AM
    >Subject: Game Industry Q+A
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: 21_
    >The level of education I've completed is: 10+2_
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _ game tester cum graphic designer/ character artist
    >The country I live in is: _ India
    >My game biz question is: _ a) how stable is job of game tester?
    >b) how about applying for q/a with graphic designing or character designing/ modeling as add-on skill?
    >c) which will be more preferred character modeler or graphic designer as add-on for q/a?
    >Note:- the reason I opted for q/a is bcs. of my unconditional love, passion n desire for games.
    >d) I contacted a local game testing company which is basically outsourcing the testing services, they offered me Rs.6000/ month as starting salary, is it good to start with this salary?
    >Thanks for your lessons..

    Karan,
    You wrote me just a few days ago -- so I don't need you to tell me again how old you are and what country you live in. I do not suffer from dementia. You asked:

    how stable is job of game tester?
    Not very. But you can parlay that job into a career in games, if you play your cards right.

    how about applying for q/a with graphic designing or character designing/ modeling as add-on skill?
    Please rephrase the question. I don't understand what you're asking.

    which will be more preferred character modeler or graphic designer as add-on for q/a?
    You have to choose your own passions. I cannot tell you what your passions should be. I cannot tell you how to live your life.

    they offered me Rs.6000/ month as starting salary, is it good to start with this salary?
    I do not know anything about payscales in India. In the US, a QA tester usually starts at around $10 per hour ($2 above the minimum legal hourly wage).

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2011


    Will I get mocked for the collegeS I went to?

    >From: Jeromy N
    >Sent: Sunday, October 9, 2011 2:29 AM
    >Subject: I feel less intelligent for asking this..
    >Hello sir, I am 24 years old and currently I have over forty credits at the local community college and I had been considering majoring in Computer Information Systems through a local college, but I am more interested in working in the video game industry. Currently I am working as a logger in the woods with my father until the winter semester. At the moment I am thinking about working as a game designer, and I currently live in the state of Michigan in the United States.
    >They say no question is a stupid question but I think this question is self-explanatory. The only reason I wanted to make sure was.. I don't know just in case.

      "I'm planning to go to the local community college, because that's the only one my family can afford. Will I get mocked when I show up at a game company with that pitiful little degree on my resume?"

    >I copied this from lesson number 34 and it worried me for a moment. Then I realized I will be transferring to another college, and the degree won't be for the community college, it will be the college I transfer to. That is why I said it was a pretty stupid question, but I just wanted to make sure I was right, even though I have to be, the degree will be from the college I transfer to.

    Hello Jeromy,
    You didn't ask a question. You only quoted a question from one of my Frequently Asked Questions, and you seem to have ignored the answer. I don't know for sure what you're asking, but it seems like you're asking if you'll be mocked for the college you go to after community college (the college where you'll get your degree). The answer I wrote in FAQ 34 still applies: people don't mock you for what colleges you went to. All they care about is what you do with your degree, how you use that learning to make a great portfolio and to make yourself a valuable contributor to the workplace.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 9, 2011


    I, too, am confused in India (part 2)

    >From: karan v
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 12:07 AM
    >Subject: RE: Game Industry Q+A
    >namaste sir,
    >you are such a inspiring guy in the way you are. especially your cats, gosh.. u really loved them. bob was amazing cat.
    >well, as u said (q.1) what should i choose job or study ba in game develop.. or game design?
    >(q.2) i feel like loser and i fear to fail, because i hadn't brought much out of my 2.5 yrs. study time (although i am clear about basics), what should i do to overcome this?
    >(q.3) please tell me the way, how to get fastest growth in industry?
    >(q.4) well i meant 300$-400$ monthly, don't you think that its really low?
    >(q.5) i want to make myself famefull like you, tell me key thing?
    >(q.6) i want to get job in us, or uk, or maybee japan would be good, aahh.. anyplace where videogames are worshipped?

    Hello Karan,
    Read FAQ 40. Then read FAQ 7 and FAQ 70. YOU have to make this choice -- it's YOUR life, not mine.
    Read FAQ 47 and FAQ 71, and get more education. 2½ years is not enough.
    There is no fast route. It will take time. When my October IGDA column comes out (any day now), please read it.
    I don't know what Indian pay scales are like.
    Follow your passions and work hard at what you enjoy, for your whole life.
    Read FAQ 48, FAQ 72, and FAQ 73. Also go to my column on IGDA.org, click Archives, and read the July 2011 and July 2010 columns. And check out gamedevmap and gameindustrymap (on my Game Biz Links page).

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 4, 2011


    I, too, am confused in India

    >From: karan <iamigo
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 4:01 PM
    >Subject: Game Industry Q+A
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: _21
    >The level of education I've completed is: _ 10+2, doing diploma in digital designing.
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _character designing and character animation.
    >The country I live in is: _india
    >My game biz question is: _The diploma i am doing is gone through several rough patches and on verge of completion, so I was thinking to take admission in some game designing bachelor's coarse. But I also think that if I will start my job now, even if with low salary, then that 3 yrs. time will be counted as industry experience.

    >From: karan v <iamigo
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 5:22 PM
    >Subject: Game Industry Q+A
    >My approximate age is: _21
    >The level of education I've completed is: _ 10+2, persuing diploma in digital 3d designing.( 5 months. approx left)
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _ student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _character designing or character animation.
    >The country I live in is: _India
    >My game biz question is: _well in short (a) i am confused and (b) i want to make big money.
    >well sir, my diploma has gone through several rough patches so its like i hadn't done much as output from my coarse, but i want to make my next 4-5 months count.
    >But the case is i was thinking to get admission in some game designing or game developement bachelor's coarse to make it smooth.
    >But on other side i was thinking about starting up job after completion of diploma. But my faculty says that as starter i will get max 300$-400$ and that's like a nano drop of water in a desert for me. That makes me think about gaining some extra skills to make myself more expensive artist.
    >Its like "work experience VS extra skills".

    Namaste, Karan. This is quite a day for questions from India. You wrote:

    My game biz question is: _The diploma i am doing is gone through several rough patches and on verge of completion, so I was thinking to take admission in some game designing bachelor's coarse. But I also think that if I will start my job now, even if with low salary, then that 3 yrs. time will be counted as industry experience.
    There was no question in those words. In your second email you wrote:

    i want to make big money.
    Then the game industry might not be for you. Read the latest game industry salary survey (you can find it using my Game Biz Links page).

    my faculty says that as starter i will get max 300$-400$
    Are we talking US dollars? Per what time period: per day? per week? Here in the US we usually talk about the yearly rate for employed personnel, or hourly for contract people. $300 would be a very high hourly rate -- an expensive lawyer might get that much. $400 per day would be $50 per hour -- still a fairly high rate for a raw graduate with no work experience.

    That makes me think about gaining some extra skills to make myself more expensive artist.
    >Its like "work experience VS extra skills".
    Karan, when you have a question to ask, the proper way to get an answer is to phrase your request in the form of a question. Here's a website that might be of help (it walks you through taking a statement and turning it into a question): http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/exercises/questions/form2.htm

    When you ask me a question, I will do my best to give you a helpful answer. Also, you might want to read the answer I gave Jaspreet, below.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2011


    Confused in India, part 2

    >From: Jaspreet S
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 1:58 PM
    >Subject: Re: Game Industry Q A :Tips AIM: Owner/Creative Director - Who controls ideas behind a game
    >Hi Sir,
    >I really appreciate your advice.
    >I followed from your advice: i should start my own company in INDIA itself and hire required personals to do the job for me i.e convert my own ides into reality. Thank you , i have this planned this but in near future say 3-4 years after completing my degree. But i want to grow as powerful Game designer, who can convert his into real games.
    >Inspired by your articles (you present reality in a good manner) i organized my ideas and started giving them shape into a game design.
    >Right now, i have 1year left in completing my bachelor degree, so how can i use my time for max output. I also wrote : total creative control or given importance.
    >So, i want that as i complete my post-graduation , i should be at a position/level where i am considered as a GOOD GAME DESIGNER. Starting a COMPANY at this stage in a sector would mean Struggling in BOTH - Business and Game Designing Aspects. And believe MBA dont help at all STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY, why waste 2 years in MBA when in these two years you can struggle and push your company to a good position.
    >W.r.t to MBA , i will take care of it , BUT i want your advice to be specific for my Situation right now.-1 year till graduation
    >RIGHT NOW
    >+ i am writing my first Third Person action Game story and Game-Play scenes. don't know where it will go.
    >+ Enhancing my Entrepreneur Skills - Also own a small venture
    >+ Other skills - Research good movies, games, novels
    >+ Writing skills, communication Skills

    Hi Jaspreet, you wrote:

    how can i use my time for max output
    Study hard, follow your passions, build a portfolio. Read FAQ 40 and FAQ 12. Also watch http://www.igda.org/games-game for my October column -- it should go online any day now. (I just looked, and my September column (Disagreement By Design) is still the active column.)

    I also wrote : total creative control or given importance.
    That's incomprehensible. Is there a question there?

    i want that as i complete my post-graduation , i should be at a position/level where i am considered as a GOOD GAME DESIGNER.
    I want that on that date I have a million dollars, there is world peace, an end to hunger, and a better health system in the United States.

    Starting a COMPANY at this stage in a sector would mean Struggling in BOTH - Business and Game Designing Aspects.
    True.

    And believe MBA dont help at all STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY, why waste 2 years in MBA
    I suggested the MBA because a company means "business." If you already know how to do business, then you don't need to be educated in business. But I think getting educated about business would be a good thing, if you want to go into business for yourself.

    when in these two years you can struggle and push your company to a good position.
    If you can do all that in two years, then I'll be very impressed!

    i want your advice to be specific for my Situation right now.-1 year till graduation
    >RIGHT NOW
    >+ i am writing my first Third Person action Game story and Game-Play scenes. don't know where it will go.
    >+ Enhancing my Entrepreneur Skills - Also own a small venture
    >+ Other skills - Research good movies, games, novels
    >+ Writing skills, communication Skills
    You haven't told me what advice you want. Read FAQ 7, FAQ 70, and FAQ 65.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2011


    Confused in India

    >From: Jaspreet S
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 11:35 AM
    >Subject: Game Industry Q A :Tips AIM: Owner/Creative Director - Who controls ideas behind a game
    >Hi, Sir
    >I am a beginner or say wannabe Game Designer
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: _
    >The level of education I've completed is: Last year of Post Graduate - Bachelor of Technology
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Student
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game Designer or Owner of Game Company - Basically i want to get my idea converted to reality with no bosses or if bosses involved i am one who has importance or credit for CREATIVITY in game , importance to my IDEAS
    >The country I live in is: _ INDIA
    >My game biz question is: _
    >"A programmer needs ARTISTS,animator, story for a game
    >a Artist needs Programmer, story,animator for a game
    >a animator needs programer, story, artists for a game
    >but a Game designer needs all of them but no one needs game designer because everyone has a game designer in himself as everyone of above skilled persons have game ideas and write GDD.
    >So, what makes a Game designer different is he the real guy that is needed by everyone what really are his skills..."
    >Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? Game Designer or Owner of Game Company - Basically i want to get my idea converted to reality with no bosses or if bosses involved i am one who has importance or credit for CREATIVITY in game , importance to my IDEAS
    >What country do you live in (where in the world are you)? (OK, so that's 5.) -- INDIA, There are not much studios in INDIA .Can you suggest me career path (optimal) .
    >And one thing i would like to mentioned after reading your articles , all my game ideas that were random , i collaborated them into my First game design,
    >One more thing , that being a chemical engineer and outside US/UK what are real possibilities for entry to a game Studio.
    >Basically, Anyhow whatever i know i will end up a Owner or creative director for a Game studio , so where do i get started (SKILLS TO BE ACQUIRED - Still one year left to complete my degree- Chemical, INDIA) i need directions from a experienced person like you and velocity , execution will be mine.
    >I have really great ideas (i know everyone wit no industry experience would say that ), still it boosts ups...
    >SKILLS i think i have:
    >+ Good game sense
    >+ Creative Ideas anytime
    >+ Can generate Ideas when needed under pressure.... i breathe , i live in game design ....ay its in my blood, head , heart
    >+ Writing skills (though i have correct many words in this letter by right clicking)
    >+ Basic story - writing (but needs time to think)
    >+ Entrepreneur skills (Marketing,Sales , promotion , publicity) - Also started my Venture in field of Discount Coupons
    >+ Special : 3-D imagination (not modelling), I can imagine cut scene (fresh ideas), with every little detail of video,animation, sound,emotion, fun etc. ---- But this skill is not a standard but this always inspires to become a Game Designer
    >+ Basic or very little- Maya, C++, UDK Editor etc...
    >I know i am a little or may be more confused right now.....
    >AIM: Owner/Creative Director - Who controls ideas behind a game /given importance to ideas though not at starting level yeah but ultimate dream is that....
    >What skills i really need .........
    >Hope to hear from you soon.........bye
    >--
    >JASPREET S

    Namaste, Jaspreet. You wrote:

    The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game Designer or Owner of Game Company - Basically i want to get my idea converted to reality with no bosses
    If your goal is to have total creative control, then you have to start your own game company. And it's good that you live in India, because it'll be easier to start a company there than in a country where there is already a lot of competition. But since you want to start a company, I recommend you get an MBA.

    A programmer needs ARTISTS,animator, story for a game
    And more programmers, and a producer, and a designer, and a business plan, and marketing or a publisher...

    a Game designer needs all of them but no one needs game designer because everyone has a game designer in himself as everyone of above skilled persons have game ideas and write GDD.
    You can believe that if you want. But I disagree. Not everyone on the team has the ability or time to write a GDD.

    So, what makes a Game designer different is he the real guy that is needed by everyone what really are his skills..."
    Read FAQ 14. The FAQs link is above left.

    being a chemical engineer and outside US/UK what are real possibilities for entry to a game Studio.
    Read FAQ 41. And FAQ 12. And use gamedevmap and gameindustrymap (on my Game Biz Links page).

    creative director for a Game studio , so where do i get started (SKILLS TO BE ACQUIRED
    You probably ought to get a job at an Indian game studio (using those map sites to locate them).

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2011


    Marketing an educational game, part 2

    >From: Dick G
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 11:03 AM
    >Subject: Re: How to market a teaching tool game
    >Hello Tom,
    >Thank you for your quick reply.
    >Sorry for the misuse-use of terms. My basic question is whether educational games follow a different path from brainstorm to customer than recreational games. Do the two types of games have different trade shows, agents, manufacturers, etc.?
    >By educational game I mean something like "Periodic Quest" http://www.periodicquest.com/
    >Thanks again,
    >Dick G

    Hi Dick,
    A completely different path. Your customers are teachers, not the entertainment consumer? I really can't advise you on that stuff. Have you read FAQ 20 yet?

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2011


    Marketing an educational game

    >From: Dick G
    >Sent: Monday, October 3, 2011 9:43 AM
    >Subject: How to market a teaching tool game
    >Good morning Tom,
    >I am a 71-year old self-employed consultant, writer, and editor of educational materials for science students. I have a PhD in chemistry, and I live in California.
    >Work in my line will be sparse for a few months while the National Education Standards are being rewritten. I've been using the free time to design a game that is primarily a teaching tool for high school and college freshman chemistry students. The game requires too much nerdy science knowledge to sell as a fun family game.
    >The rules of the game are those of rummy card games, but it is played with Scrabble-sized tiles. An electronic version would also be possible. I'm working on a good-looking prototype to test on chemistry classes.
    >Finally, my question: Does the marketing of an educational, teaching tool game follow a different route than games designed basically for entertainment? If this type game is outside your realm, could you point me in the right direction with some web sites or other information?
    >Thank you very much.
    >Dick G

    Hello Dick,
    I don't know enough about marketing to advise anyone about marketing. But perhaps you are using the word "marketing" to mean "self-manufacturing, self-publishing, self-distributing"? Have you read FAQ 20? That might be informative (unless you're using "marketing" to mean what I understand it to mean). You can access the FAQs link above left. After you've read that, you're welcome to come back to me, but I don't know what I can tell you except that the educational marketplace is pretty tough, and beyond that I don't know much about it.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2011


    Startup advice

    >From: James/Malid T
    >Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 1:47 PM
    >Subject: If you only had one position left open...
    >Mr. Tom Sloper,
    >I apologize in advance that I am not using your standard information template. I don't have access to your website from where I am, at least not for several more hours. This a more or less hypothetical question anyway. I'd like to get your impression on the situation.
    >
    >So, hypothetically, this is a small start-up self-publishing game development studio. The studio has five staff and funding for six. The Producer is also the owner, the development team itself consists of one Programmer, a 2D Artist, a 3D Artist and a Game Designer, all relatively entry level or with less than 3 years experience, all being paid roughly average Southern US industry salaries.
    >
    >What kind of individual would the Producer benefit the most from hiring on in that final (full-time) slot for under 65k a year? This hypothetical producer is weighing the possibility of bringing on an accountant, but given that everything from marketing to figuring out distribution to legal forms to managing the team and project will be largely on his shoulders, balancing the budget might not be the area he struggles with the most.
    >
    >Given the possible insanity that this hypothetical owner/producer might be afflicted by, let's assume that he is already aware that this might not be the most ideal situation to start up in. As a follow up, if this same group where looking to build a game in roughly a year or so, about what level of quality or complexity in creating a game might be the point at which one would describe the teams efforts as "over-reaching" their capabilities (assuming that the team has access to choice software and hardware, but outsourcing options are primarily limited to the essentials)? The terms quality and complexity in this context are flat out vague. Instead, what game currently on the market would best represent something that might be a bit outside the scope of this team?
    >
    >Unrelated to the above hypothetical, my final question is this: I'm thinking of the quote "You can have it fast, good, or cheap; pick two." From a Producers perspective, if time, quality, and cost are all constant factors then which two do you find tend to get selected over the third more often than not. If any! I certain each situation calls for a case-by-case look to determine what loss should be sacrificed for what gain, but have you noted any trends? Any one of the three that often gets left behind more often than one might care to admit? I'm not sure, it might be balanced, but if a trend does 'seem' to appear, I would be interested in understanding why!
    >
    >Thank you for your time! Also, I just got "The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition" in the mail and I was surprised to see "Foreword by Tom Sloper" on the cover. I found this rather energizing.
    >Respectfully
    >James B.

    Hi James, you wrote:

    The studio has five staff and funding for six. The Producer is also the owner, the development team itself consists of one Programmer, a 2D Artist, a 3D Artist and a Game Designer... What kind of individual would the Producer benefit the most from hiring on in that final (full-time) slot for under 65k a year?
    If you have to ask, you don't need anybody, so I wouldn't hire anybody. Not until the need became apparent. My guess is that the key task is going to be programming. You didn't say whether your game designer is facile with level building tools. I certainly hope so.

    if this same group where [sic] looking to build a game in roughly a year or so, about what level of quality or complexity in creating a game might be the point at which one would describe the teams [sic] efforts as "over-reaching" their capabilities...?
    Anything bigger than a mobile app is more than your small team can chew in a year.

    what game currently on the market would best represent something that might be a bit outside the scope of this team?
    Limbo might be within reach. Angry Birds (the initial release) is within reach. Farmville is probably beyond reach, but maybe not (depending on the scope of the initial release).

    [re the Evil Triangle] which two do you find tend to get selected over the third more often than not. If any!
    It varies depending on the needs of the company. If "good" implies size, length, fun, and graphics quality, there's a lot of slop within the term "good." Most of the time* there are strict limits on time and money. So it's quality that usually has to give in some way or another. Fewer levels, fewer features, these are the sort of tradeoffs that usually have to be made. But even if "fast and cheap" have to be set in stone, then that doesn't mean the game has to suck totally. One still must strive for the best possible game, even if the budget and schedule are extremely tight.

    *"Most of the time" you are not building a AAA game. With a AAA game, you can often get some leeway on the budget and the schedule, because the sharpest point of the triangle must be the game's Quality. There can be other times when quality cannot give, and schedule cannot give (like with a yearly recurring series, like some sports franchise games), but the budget can. Not that it would need to. Interestingly, I was lecturing on the Evil Triangle to my students this past Tuesday, and I am going to speak on it at KGC 2011, so I thank you for asking this today. This helps me focus my thinking, and that's good because I have to submit an abstract in a week.

    I just got "The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition" in the mail and I was surprised to see "Foreword by Tom Sloper" on the cover.
    Yes. The author was my associate producer during my last couple years at Activision. She taught me that I'm all that and a bag of chips.

    Good luck to you and your enterprise. Please come back sometime and let me know how it's going.

    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2011


    How do I use my time, part 2

    >From: John D
    >Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 11:44 AM
    >Subject: Re: How do I use my time effectively?
    >Thank you so much for your expedient response! I had a little bit of trouble navigating the FAQs page to find the one that I needed and your reply pointed me in the right direction. I will begin building my portfolio in my spare time and I hope to keep the main focus on my job and my education.
    >Thanks again,
    >John

    Glad I could be of help.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2011


    How do I use my time effectively?

    >From: John D
    >Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 9:04 AM
    >Subject: How do I use my time effectively?
    >My name is John
    >I am 18 years old
    >I am currently enlisted in the U.S. Air Force (DEP) awaiting my ship date, AKA unemployed
    >I aspire to be a game designer
    >I live in the United States
    >I would like to know how I could use my spare time effectively in the U.S. Air Force to prepare myself for becoming a game designer (video games specifically). I will be attending Community College while on base and I plan on getting my education at a 4-Year University after my 4 year enlistment is completed. In high school I took an advanced English and Computer Science course. Most people thought that the two fields of study were foolish but I believe studying both is perfect for a game design concept. Some simple ideas I have come up with is building my own gaming computer (for the hands-on experience) and creating mods for video games such as Fallout (programming experience). Even though these ideas are helpful, I would like to focus directly on game design experience. I am trying to use my time as effectively as possible to help ensure my chances of being successful in such a competitive industry.
    >Thank you,
    >John

    At ease, John.
    I think your plan sounds fine. Just remember your priorities. Job #1 is the job you're being paid for at the moment. Job #2 is your education; gotta get that degree. And doing the FAQ-12 stuff to build your portfolio is job #3. Have you looked at FAQ 12? You can access the FAQs above left.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2011


    Is it too soon?

    >From: Ben
    >Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 9:54 AM
    >Subject: When, if ever, is it too soon to apply when switching in from another career?
    >How old are you? . . . 25
    >What's your level of education? . . . graduate school (law school)
    >What's your current occupation? . . . lawyer
    >Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? . . . game designer (or best way in)
    >What country do you live in (where in the world are you)? . . . United States
    >Dear Tom,
    >First of all, thank you for your time, your website, and your honest Mr. Miyagi-esque advice. I've been carefully reading your website and so I apologize if I've missed a direct and obvious answer to my question.
    >
    >I am one of those people who, having gone down the wrong path in life, now realize that my passion has always been in game design. Now that I'm working toward making a career change, I have one concern: is it too soon for me to apply?
    >
    >Although I don't have the game industry experience other applicants will have, I do believe that I have something to offer companies. As a lawyer, I'm a professional writer, storyteller, and sometimes salesman. I understand that these tasks form much of the day-to-day work that a game designer does. I can also offer writing samples, video game concepts (carefully or online, of course, to avoid submission problems), and non-digital game designs. And I have the kind of interdisciplinary educational background that you suggest for designers. But, I respect that I do not have actual professional experience in the gaming industry, or certain technical skills. I am working to address my lack of technical skills by studying programming and working with game editors in my free time.
    >
    >I know that I may need to use QA testing as my in, but I've also seen a number of game design jobs open, and I'd like to take a shot at them. My fear is that, by applying too soon, without more to offer by way of experience or playable digitital samples, I will run the risk of giving myself a bad name with whatever company I apply to. Is shooting myself in the foot like that a valid concern (i.e., should I hold off until I have a sample game, mod, or level in my portfolio)? Or should I go ahead and apply where I can now?
    >Thank you again for your time and advice,
    >Ben

    Hi Ben, you wrote:

    When, if ever, is it too soon to apply when switching in from another career?
    When you aren't yet ready, it is too soon.

    seen a number of game design jobs open, and I'd like to take a shot at them.
    If you do not meet the requirements asked for in those job openings, don't apply for them.

    My fear is
    Do not take counsel of your fears. -- Stonewall Jackson

    I will run the risk of giving myself a bad name with whatever company I apply to. Is shooting myself in the foot like that a valid concern
    A bad name like that has a term of six months. After six months have gone by, you can apply again.

    It's possible to get game industry experience as a game lawyer, then migrate into game production. I know someone who did that. A producer can migrate into design. I went from design to production and took up design again.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 22, 2011


    How do I project earnings, part 2

    >From: Martin S
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 10:48 PM
    >Subject: How do I project earnings from scratch? pt 2
    >Thank you for your quick response! I'll try to give as much info as I can.
    >The investors haven't set out to give us a specific number so I assume we will have to ask for a certain amount. If that is the case we do have a stable business plan that would work on 500,000 dollars for 2 years that would include a office, payroll, and other such necessities that we were writing up before we had this opportunity. We would probably get it in installments with bonuses as we reach milestones if the investors were to agree.
    >Since we are being funded by a board of investors our projected income should only be from projected sales for 5 years that would include 2 separate games. We wont be making any profit/revenue until the first game is finished hopefully sometime before year 2.
    >So with this information we need to make revenue, gross profit, and EBITDA projections for the next 5 years. How would we go about doing this with a hypothetical product with no data to help us predict how its going to sell?
    >Do you know of any good resources we could use to create this projection?
    >Again, I eagerly await your insight and guidance!
    >Sincerely,
    > Martin S

    Hi Martin,
    You say you have a stable business plan, but you're asking how to project earnings. So I say you do not yet have a business plan. Because a business plan by definition includes projected earnings. It sounds to me like all you have is a budget, a spending plan.

    I said yesterday that I couldn't be more specific without knowing your business model. You haven't told me what it is -- perhaps you didn't know what I meant (or perhaps you can only envision one business model, or you assume that I envision the same business model you do). But I can make some inferences from what you said. I infer that you are going to self-publish. You said your first game will be made in two years with a budget of $250K [you said you're making two games for $500K, so I just divided by two]. You must have a very small team for a low-budget title like that to take so long -- and a low-budget title like that can't be a packaged console game. That budget is too high for a mobile game, and it's rare to make an XBLA game for so little, these days. So maybe you're making a Steam game or a Facebook game. Or maybe you're going to sell the game through your own site, which means you have to budget more for marketing and web design.

    So to make sales projections, you have to look at other games of similar genre and scope, on the same type of delivery platform, and see how many units those sold, at what price. Finding data like that could be a challenge. Perhaps my IGDA column, "Data in the Haystack," will offer some help. Click the "Games Game" link above, then on the column page, click Archives, then look for that March 2007 column. Also see http://www.vgchartz.com, maybe you can find useful data there too. And of course you should already be subscribed to gamesindustry.biz and industrygamers and Gamasutra, devouring news articles daily.

    You should also work it backwards; figure out what sales you have to achieve in order to make back the investors' money (that's called the "break-even"). And figure out what sales you have to achieve in order to make back a reasonable profit percentage for the investors, and still have profit left over for your new company.

    Once you've arrived at those figures, you should make targets, and figure out how you can achieve them. THEN you'll have a business plan.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 21, 2011


    How do I project earnings for the investors?

    >From: Martin S
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 6:08 PM
    >Subject: How do I project earnings from scratch?
    >I have been reading alot of your articles and I was hoping you could help me out with this predicament. As an Independent studio we have a chance at wooing some investors. As part of our pitch we need to project how much money we will make in a 5 year scale using their start up.
    >How does an independant development company looking for start-up investors go about projecting how much money they expect to make within 5 or so years..from scratch?
    >I eagerly await your insight and guidance!
    >Sincerely,
    > Martin S

    Hi Martin,
    You tell me. Where will the money come from? From direct sales? Or from contracts? When will it come, in what payment sizes and with what frequency?
    It's standard practice to set targets; then all you have to do is hit them. Make a plan.
    I don't know enough about your business model to be more specific than that.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 20, 2011


    My pathway to design

    >From: Lee M
    >Sent: Thu, September 8, 2011 10:45:43 AM
    >Subject: Unsure of my path into the games industry
    >I'm 22
    >I just got into College (level 1)
    >Student
    >Game design/software dev
    >England
    >Hello my name is Lee and i just started college at the lowest level, i plan on working my ass off to get to level 3 then into uni but my problem is, i suck at math and i don't really find it intresting as actually programming. I wanted to be a programmer but i got a F in maths at school, i recently got it up to a D with 5 weeks self study but i'm thinking that to be a games programmer you need to be at degree level in maths.
    >My goal was to get a job as a programmer then slowly work my way into a game designer role. Should i just give up on being a programmer and focus on being a designer? I know i'd be better off having a degree in computer science but what i want to know is if i will beable to get in the industry with just a game design degree? I was told that it's just a mickey mouse degree, which i disagree with but i'd like your advice please.
    >Thanks for taking the time to read this, i've only just started learning english at a GCSE level, so i'm sorry for any mistakes.

    Hi Lee, you wrote:

    i've [sic] only just started learning english [sic] ... so i'm sorry for any mistakes.
    This English lesson will be very easy and simple. The word "I" must always be capitalized. And the word "English" must always be capitalized, too. And proper names like Lee, and Tom, and Mickey Mouse, also have to be capitalized.
    A very simple rule. Very easy to remember.

    i [sic] suck at math and i [sic] don't really find it intresting [sic] as actually programming. I wanted to be a programmer but i [sic] got a F in maths
    What kind of programming do you want to do? Do you want to program iPhone apps, or Flash games? Physics, or AI, or 3D? Those specialties do not all involve heavy math. Some of them do, but some don't.

    My goal was to get a job as a programmer then slowly work my way into a game designer role.
    Do you enjoy programming? What kind of programs have you written so far? Would you enjoy being a programmer for 5 or 10 years? Read FAQ 40. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Should i [sic] just give up on being a programmer and focus on being a designer?
    If you don't enjoy programming, or if you're not good at programming, then you could re-assess your planned pathway to design. Read FAQ 7 about the different game jobs, read FAQ 70, and make a decision grid.

    I know i'd [sic] be better off having a degree in computer science
    How do you know that?

    what i [sic] want to know is if i [sic] will beable [sic] to get in the industry with just a game design degree?
    Well, my crystal ball is broken, but would you like me to do a Tarot reading for you? Read FAQ 3.

    I was told that it's just a mickey mouse [sic] degree, which i [sic] disagree with
    I'm glad that you realize that you can have your own opinions. That's good! You can make up your own mind about things. Read FAQs 34 and 44.


    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 8, 2011


    What is a game analysis?

    >From: Alec G
    >Sent: Tue, September 6, 2011 8:55:20 PM
    >Subject: Game Analysis...What is this...Game Analysis?
    >I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, you need to know that...
    >My approximate age is: _20
    >The level of education I've completed is: _High School
    >My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _Courtesy Clerk
    >The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _Game Designer
    >The country I live in is: _United States
    >My game biz question is: _I am currently attending Collage and am trying to get a job at Blizzard Entertainment as a game tester, but in order to submit an application, I must write a 3-5 page Game analysis on a game of my choice. My question is, What exactly is a Game analysis, but more importantly, where can I find an example of one. (to use as a guideline) I did a google search to try and find one, and found only one useful article, but as I said, I want an actual Game Analysis paper to work off of something more solid.
    >And thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Hi Alec,
    I don't see how you're going to balance a full-time QA job with being a full-time student, but hey. More power to ya.
    An analysis is an examination of a thing, in detail. So to analyze a game, you would consider one of its features to determine the feature's positive and/or negative aspects. Then you would do the same thing with another one of its features. Then another, then another. You can find lots of examples of them online, generally referred to as "reviews." Reviews, though, are usually focused on the commercial aspects of a game, whereas for a QA analysis you ought to focus on the design choices, usability aspects, playability, and balance. I am not going to try to find a sample game analysis for you. You can do that your own self, or you can just try to write one based on the information I've given you. If you want to become a game designer eventually, this is something you shouldn't have too much trouble with.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2011


    When I leave the military, 10 years from now, part 2

    >From: Randy S
    >Sent: Tue, September 6, 2011 4:28:07 AM
    >Subject: Long term planning Pt 2
    >Thank you for your answers to my previous questions.
    >From reading more of your FAQs and doing other research, I came to realize that one of the better routes(for me) into the industry could be through production.
    >Q1: Given my military background and the fact that most of my current applicable job experience is in management, would you agree that production may be the best path for me?
    >Q1.2: I haven't seen any FAQs relating specifically to entering the game biz through production(maybe a tidbit here and there). Did I miss the FAQ, or do you otherwise have any advice on using this route to break in?
    >Q2: As a game designer, have you had instances where you put forth a design or elements of a design where someone, be it the programmers, artists, etc came back to you and said "This is too hard, expensive, or simply not feasible".
    >Q2.2: If so, did you find a way around the problems and can you give some stories about the experiences?
    >Q2.3: How many times has this happened to you, or to other designers/teams that you have known?
    >Q2.4: Have you had design ideas that you intentionally withheld due to the fear that they would be too hard to implement or perhaps even too hard/controversial to sell?
    >I have seen one of your FAQ's that illustrates how the cost structure generally works when publishing a typical game. However, I assume that is for your standard box & disc distribution and marketing model.
    >Q3: Do you have any knowledge of how much it would cost to publish a game on a service such as Steam(assuming the game is created and ready to go), or perhaps the cost in comparison to standard publishing?
    >Q3.1: If you are familiar with Steam and how it works, how have you as a designer viewed it's rise in the PC space?
    >Thanks again for your time.
    >Randy

    Hi Randy, you wrote:

    would you agree that production may be the best path for me?
    A viable one. I don't know what would be "best" for you.

    I haven't seen any FAQs relating specifically to entering the game biz through production(maybe a tidbit here and there).
    There are many pathways to jobs in production. I've seen people get there by breaking in through QA and marketing and by joining straight from another industry or even from college.

    Did I miss the FAQ, or do you otherwise have any advice on using this route to break in?
    Other than FAQs 42 and 41, the other applicable ones would be FAQs 4, 24, and 27.

    As a game designer, have you had instances where you put forth a design or elements of a design where someone, be it the programmers, artists, etc came back to you and said "This is too hard, expensive, or simply not feasible".
    Sure.

    did you find a way around the problems and can you give some stories about the experiences?
    No. Scrap it and start over. Unless it can be scaled down.

    How many times has this happened to you, or to other designers/teams that you have known?
    It happens a lot, to everyone.

    Have you had design ideas that you intentionally withheld due to the fear that they would be too hard to implement
    I don't act based on fears.

    or perhaps even too hard/controversial to sell?
    Yes/yes.

    I have seen one of your FAQ's that illustrates how the cost structure generally works when publishing a typical game.
    OK, hold on. What costs are you talking about? Manufacturing and distribution?

    However, I assume that is for your standard box & disc distribution and marketing model.
    >Q3: Do you have any knowledge of how much it would cost to publish a game on a service such as Steam(assuming the game is created and ready to go), or perhaps the cost in comparison to standard publishing?
    I assume Steam keeps a percentage. Why don't you just go on their site and explore?

    If you are familiar with Steam and how it works, how have you as a designer viewed it's rise in the PC space?
    I don't see what Steam has to do with design. As a producer, consultant, advisor, and teacher, I view Steam as a viable delivery method for smaller-scale products.

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2011


    How did you break in, part 2

    >From: Augie K
    >Sent: Mon, September 5, 2011 11:58:41 AM
    >Subject: RE: Your story
    >Thank you so much for helping me locate the requested items. Oh and sorry I didn't see the rules and proper format before I emailed you.

    You're welcome, Augie. And no apology necessary -- I didn't need to know how old you are to tell you which FAQ to read. (^_^)

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 5, 2011


    How did you break in? (FAQ 18)

    >From: Augie K
    >Sent: Mon, September 5, 2011 12:12:45 AM
    >Subject: Your story
    >Hello
    >I am a student at DeVry, I came across Gamedev.net my first semester. I just recently stumpled on to your website sloperama.com. I have learned alot from reading your lessons the passed couple nights. I too hope to be a game designer.
    >My question is this, what is your story? Mainly, how did you first start out. I read in one of your lessons, "i couldn't program a game if my life depended on it - and I couldn't animate one either". This makes me wonder, what about you stood out, or how did you get your foot in the door. Maybe I haven't looked well enough, but do you have the story of how you 'broke in' to the industry anywhere on the internet?
    >Thanks,
    >August K

    Yes, I do, Augie. It's FAQ 18, continued in FAQ 19. Parts also told in FAQ 48 (see "My Experience") and FAQ 37 (see "Getting Personal"). You should also click the "Designing Spike" link in the nav frame, and listen to the Spike story.
    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 5, 2011


    International internships, part III

    >Date: Fri, September 2, 2011 8:51:34 AM
    >Subject: International student Inquiry
    >From: Clancy (generalsnake)
    >Hey Tom,
    >I have been following you website for quite a while. It is really great what you are doing with helping out people get in the game business.
    >I don't wanna bore you so let get to it...
    >- Name : Jamal
    >- How old are you? 19
    >- What's your level of education? High school diploma and currently a freshman in college(Computer Engineering major).
    >- What's your current occupation? Student
    >- Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? Game Programming with focus of graphics programming.
    >- What country do you live in?? Turkey
    >I know this has been asked a near billion times, and you did say it a lot in many FAQs, but humor me. If i want an internship in a company, what should i do location-wise??
    >If i want an internship i will have to take it in the summer vacation. I will start emailing and calling companies as soon as i can, but should i start calling the companies WHILE already being in USA/Canada or should i get a confirmation and then move???One more thing, I did read a lot of good graphics theories books and i did a lot of advanced demos, but i have never done a full game. Do you think i should keep doing demos and read advanced effects books or should just focus on making full games instead of demos for my portfolio??
    >One more thing(last thing, i swear :) ). Is it a good idea to take some classes on creative writing, filming, theater as electives if i want to become a game designer ???

    Hi Jamal, you wrote:

    I have been following you website for quite a while. It is really great what you are doing with helping out people get in the game business.
    Nice of you to say that. (^_^)

    I know this has been asked a near billion times, and you did say it a lot in many FAQs, but humor me.
    Why? How about you humor me instead. What answer do you already know I'll give you to any location, location, location question? Have you read the June 28 Q&A with Mohit R, entitled "International internships" (below)?

    If i want an internship i will have to take it in the summer vacation. I will start emailing and calling companies as soon as i can, but should i start calling the companies WHILE already being in USA/Canada or should i get a confirmation and then move???
    The time to make inquiries about summer internships is in late winter (February/March), not late summer the year before. Why don't you do a year of study abroad (in the US or Canada), so you can be local for the internship? Also the time to do an internship is when you're a junior or senior. Not when you're a freshman, or even a sophomore. I don't suppose you've read my July 2011 IGDA column, "Coming to America"? http://www.igda.org/games-game-july-2011

    i have never done a full game. Do you think i should keep doing demos and read advanced effects books or should just focus on making full games
    Nobody expects or requires an individual's portfolio to include completed full games he'd made all by himself. I wrote about portfolios in FAQs 12 and 27.

    Is it a good idea to take some classes on creative writing, filming, theater as electives if i want to become a game designer ???
    Do you want to take those classes? If so, it's a good idea to take them. Have you read FAQ 3?

    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 2, 2011


      Color key


        Blue = an FAQ, a question that's been asked frequently or is answered with a frequently given answer.
        Purple = an unhappy email from a dissatisfied reader.
        Green = a happy email from a grateful reader.
        Red = a career interview from a student (usually but not always high school).
        Orange = a strange, weird, unusual, or off-topic email.
        Black = none of the above. Regular question or comment.

    CLICK HERE to read older Q&A postings!


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