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nosmoke44.com keeps spamtexting me, using different phone numbers so I can't block them. BOYCOTT these jerks! "Hey Tom, not sure if you or anyone you know still smokes. But www.etc. is giving away free e-cig trials. - John" ... Jerk. I never smoked cigarettes in the first place.
   GAME Q&A BULLETIN BOARD

WELCOME to the Sloperama Game Q&A Bulletin Board.   It's a place to ask questions about the game industry and game design. You'll get free 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 / terms of service: "ALL YOUR EMAIL ARE BELONG TO ME." Questions and answers are handled in this public forum only - I give free answers, but 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. Emailing me, or sending me a PM on any website, with a question or comment on this site's topic constitutes permission for your email to be made public. No information you provide with request for free advice shall be deemed confidential. 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 follow links to read stuff for you. 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, game producing, 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:

  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.


  • What degree, part 3

    > From: Akhil P
    > Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:49 AM
    > Subject: One more if you dont mind :P
    > Hello again..
    > In my last post, the first question, i believe the answer i received was not specific.
    > I specifically asked 'if i graduate with a B.Arch' degree..will it be harder compared to the graduates having an Animation or CS or any other degree?
    > Fingers crossed, i will work hard and get my Portfolio just right!!!
    > Just that, and thank you. All your replies have been fantastic, i will keep in contact with you Mr. Sloper! And thanks for that Acheivement thing, lol.

    Hi, Akhil. You wrote:

    if i graduate with a B.Arch' degree..will it be harder compared to the graduates having an Animation or CS or any other degree?
    It depends on what job you're applying for, and what other candidates you're up against, and your portfolio compared to theirs, etc. It also depends on where you apply. I imagine that in India, hirers expect to see a degree that's very much in line with the job (much more so than here in America). Here in America, it's fairly common to major in one thing and then pursue a different career. Also, as I said before, architecture is an excellent background for level design (or environment art).
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 16, 2014


    Now I know why tigers eat, part 2

    > From: Al Capone
    >Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 7:54 AM
    > Subject: Thank you Sensei
    >Sensei i really appreciate you answering my questions. You have been a light in the field of Game Design , guiding the lost souls to their ultimate yet exiting path in the 'game biz'.
    >And yes Sensei my real name is not Al Capone, I only copied his name for making my email id. My real name is Abbas H████ and i have contacted/emailed you before using a different email id.
    >You rock Sensei, I'll send you more questions.
    >And the hardcore gamer thing, its very intelligent to play games for knowing new features, i even look at youtube walkthroughs to know new 'cool' features.
    >Hope to see you one day, even work with you.
    > Bye:-)

    Hi Abbas,
    Yes, sometimes we designers watch YouTube videos and walkthroughs too.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2014


    What degree, part 2

    > From: Akhil P
    > Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 7:36 AM
    > Subject: Thank you and a few more questions!
    > Thanks for you quick reply, that was fast :) ..
    > And also sorry for the "gaming" part. By the way, i read all the FAQ's you asked me to read and it did help.

    > 1. Regarding the architecture part, even if i graduate with a B.Arch degree, will life be hard to get into the industry?
    > 2. Is the degree going to restrict me only to the level designing area?
    > 3. What other side courses can i make myself open to, in order to end up with a strong resume?
    > 4. Are there any business aspects of the industry that anyone can hope to get into even without a commerce background?
    > I really appreciate your quick replies, and sorry for any inconvenience! Will keep asking more questions if thats any fine :)

    Hi, Akhil. You wrote:

    will life be hard
    Yes.

    hard to get into the industry?
    It will seem that way until after you are in.

    Is the degree going to restrict me only to the level designing area?
    No.

    What other side courses can i make myself open to, in order to end up with a strong resume?
    Read FAQ 3.

    Are there any business aspects of the industry that anyone can hope to get into even without a commerce background?
    I suppose, but the question is much too broad to know how to answer it.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2014


    Now I know why tigers eat their young. - Al Capone

    > From: Al Capone <gtaalcapone@gmail.
    > Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 3:22 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, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: 17.56438
    > The level of education I've completed is: O level
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: student
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game Designer
    > The country I live in is: Pakistan
    > My game biz question is:
    > 1) Who writes the main script/plot of the game's story ?
    > 2) How exactly do we catch eye of our 'boss' while we are a QA tester, I mean how the path from QA tester to Game Designer works? (Dont be mean , I'm just curious and need to have an idea of how things work.)
    > 3) Will being a blogger with a nice reputation online concerning 'game biz' help in a path leading to be a game designer , provided that certain conditions are met?
    > 4) In my previous question's first line, should there be a comma between will and being?
    > 5) Sensei , why are you so mean in the instructions which guide us on how to send questions to you? (I guess shortage of time?)
    > 6) Sensei , are all game designers or most of them , hardcore gamers?
    > 7) Why is the internet and people , specially Japanese obsessed with cats?
    > Looking forward to your answers.

    "Al Capone," I must assume that most of your questions are facetious. And I am skeptical that "Al Capone" is really your name. Your questions 1 and 2, at least, though, are deserving of serious answers.
    Either a game designer, a narrative designer, or a professional writer. At Naughty Dog, they have full-time narrative designers, who work together with combat designers to design a game. Not every company does it the same way.
    Read FAQ 85. The FAQ links are above left.
    Nobody can foretell a hypothetical future. Blogging is independent journalism. It's possible to become a game designer from a start as a game journalist (I heard a vague rumor that one guy did it, but I don't know his name), but I don't know what kind of circumstances and flukes of fate would need to come together to make it happen.
    No.
    To show that I'm serious and to discourage bad questions (of which I've gotten plenty).
    All? No. Most? I don't know - probably not. See what Raph Koster said in his book, "A Theory Of Fun." Most of them may do what Raph and I do - play a game for a while (often without finishing it) to learn how it works, then get back to work. Now that I said I don't finish games, I have finished some, and just recently I finished "Gone Home" and "Beyond: Two Souls."
    Because cats are hilarious.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2014


    Okay, but how - part 2

    > From: Julio D
    > Sent: Friday, April 11, 2014 4:31 PM
    > Subject: Thank You
    > Hello Mr. Sloper my name is Julio Delgado, I emailed you the other day with a question (that you answered!). I just wanted to send another email thanking you for all your topics and articles. I was extremely lost when I finally decided to pursue a career in game design, and after countless hours of research I came across your site. I've read most of the topics and my path is a lot more clear now. At first I thought that going to a game school would ensure a career in game design but now I know that a mainstream college will do as long as I learn some important factors along the way. I plan on either majoring in business management or English while having electives in calculus, writing, sociology, psychology, statistics, and art. Once I get my BA I plan on going for a masters degree at a game school for game design. My hopes are to enter the gaming industry, form bonds and make contacts, work my way up so that some day I'll own my own developing or producing business. So I truly want to thank you Mr. Sloper for taking the time to produce those articles. I know you've helped a lot of others besides myself.
    > -Julio D

    Julio, this achievement's for you:
    (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 13, 2014


    What degree, and what can I start doing now?

    > From: Akhil P
    > Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 2:33 AM
    > Subject: Future In Gaming Industry
    > Hello there, my name is Akhil, currently a passed out high school student residing in Bangalore, India. Im interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry. There are not a lot of options here regarding the courses related to the industry, except for a few bachelor courses like Computer Engineering, animation, journalism etc. In addition to this, i really dont have much of knowledge about computers as i myself am an biology student! Interests do change..but im sure that anything related to gaming is surely my type. I myself am an avid gamer.
    > So what are the bachelors degree quite apt in order to pursue the career i want?
    > Also im aiming for the bachelors in architecture course, will it be a barrier or will it really help, regarding the artistic area?
    > How can i start learning now that will help me further and strengthen my portfolio?
    > I want to move and study abroad after my bachelor's degree, work hard and get employed by some of the biggest names like Ubisoft, EA, Rockstar, Activision..etc Please do guide me, i will eagerly be waiting for a reply.
    > Thanks!!

    Namaste, Akhil. You wrote:

    Im [sic] interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry.
    Please don't use the word "gaming." I know I'm fighting a lost battle here (people in my industry use the word), but the word always sounds like "gambling" to me (since the gambling industry uses the word "gaming" to refer to their industry).

    what are the bachelors degree quite apt in order to pursue the career i want?
    You should study any subject that genuinely interests you. Read FAQs 40 and 34. You can also read FAQ 3, but FAQ 3 is addressed primarily to aspiring game designers. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    im [sic] aiming for the bachelors in architecture course, will it be a barrier or will it really help
    I can't predict what "will" help (I cannot foretell the future), but in general, I think architecture is an awesome course of study, especially for those who might go into level design. Read FAQ 69.

    How can i start learning now that will help me further and strengthen my portfolio?
    Read FAQ 12. FAQ 12 is primarily addressed to aspiring game designers, but I think it'll give you some ideas.

    I want to move and study abroad after my bachelor's degree, work hard and get employed by some of the biggest names like Ubisoft, EA, Rockstar, Activision..etc
    Sure. Everybody wants to get a job with the big boys. But you should not ignore small companies and lesser-knowns. See http://legacy.igda.org/games-game-january-2008 (I haven't yet migrated that article to my site). *

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 13, 2014

    * Now it's FAQ 88 here on Sloperama.


    Okay, but how do you make a complete game?

    From: Julio D
    Sent: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 2:06 PM
    Subject: Lesson #11- Publishing Your Game Idea
    Good afternoon Tom my name is Julio Delgado. This is my first time writing to you and I've read some of your articles posted on sloperama. I'm 19, my highest level of education is two years of college (I'm still enrolled), my current occupation is student as well as retail associate, as for what I plan to study I hope to study a little bit of everything regarding game design at NYU (programming, and animation specifically), and I live in the United States of America, New York specifically. Ok so I plan on getting a masters degree in game design and getting into the gaming industry. I plan on creating some minor indie games for practice, hobby and experience. I have game ideas that I've had since I was in the first grade that I have touched up on over the years and have interest in making these games reality (mind you these games are not indie games but bigger projects to be put on a console.) My question is directed more so to Lesson #11 on sloperama where making the final game and presenting to a producer is the more likely way to get it published: even after landing a job in the gaming industry and working for several years how would you go about making the final game? I might have the skills and knowledge but how would I go about making this entire final game? Thank you for your help and time, I look forward to your reply.
    -Julio D

    Hi, Julio.
    You're talking about the success/rejection matrix in FAQ 11. Being a professional developer and having a complete game gives you maximum chance of success in getting a publishing deal for your game. You didn't ask how to become a professional developer, you asked how to get to the "complete game" part. The thing is, if you become a professional developer, you don't have to ask that. So the answer is, "become a professional developer." Read FAQ 29. After you read that one, I'm always here to answer follow-up questions.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 9, 2014


    Thanks for FAQ 5

    > From: Melvin
    > Sent: Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:09 AM
    > Subject: lesson 5
    > Overwhelming but inspiring & enlightening material.
    > Otsukaresama desu.
    > M

    > From: Melvin via PayPal
    > Sent: Thursday, April 3, 2014 12:49 AM
    > Subject: Notification of donation received
    > PayPal
    > You've Got Cash!
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    > This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.01 USD from Melvin
    > Donation Details
    > Total amount: $10.01 USD
    > Currency: U.S. Dollars
    > Reference: GD@Sloperama
    > Confirmation number: ####...
    > Purpose: Sloperama Game Career Answers
    > Contributor: Melvin
    > Sincerely,
    > PayPal

    Melvin!
    Re the first email: dou itashimashite. どういたしまして。
    Re the second: arigatou gozaimasu! ありがとうございます!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 3, 2014


    What about a 3-year degree, part 3

    > From: Ignis L
    > Sent: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 10:48 AM
    > Subject: RE: Diploma or Degree?
    > Thank you for answering my questions again, I really appreciate it.
    > I've made a decision grid like you suggested and I think I have a better idea on what to do now.
    > Thank you for your help :)
    > P.S I find your FAQ(s) really helpful and informative, I'll be sure to refer to it from time to time to help me along the way

    Cool, Ignis. Glad you're making headway with your decision.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 2, 2014


    What about a 3-year degree, part 2

    > From: Ignis L
    > Sent: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 1:09 AM
    > Subject: RE: Diploma or Degree?
    > Thank you for the quick response and I'd like to apologize if you find my questions confusing.
    > The reason I pick the college is because it is one of the best school for animation courses around and it has a partnership with Ubisoft and occasionally there will be scouts looking for talents in the school.
    > As for a bachelors degree, I'd have to continue my studies overseas if I choose to do so.
    > I'd like to ask your opinion if I should start working for job experience or should I continue my studies for a bachelors degree?
    > Is job experience in the industry a very important factor?
    > Thanks again I really appreciate you taking your time answering my questions.

    Hi, Ignis. You wrote:

    As for a bachelors degree, I'd have to continue my studies overseas if I choose to do so.
    > I'd like to ask your opinion if I should start working for job experience or should I continue my studies for a bachelors degree?
    You mean, after you've finished the 3-year diploma program? What you should do with your life must be YOUR decision, based on all the information you can gather to inform the decision. I recommend you make a decision grid. See FAQ 70. You can find the FAQ link above left.

    Diploma or Degree?
    Based on a cursory Google search, it appears that the diploma shows that you have completed high school, and a degree shows that you have completed a college/university course of study.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 1, 2014


    What about a 3-year degree?

    > From: Ignis L
    > Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2014 10:59 PM
    > Subject: Diploma or Degree?
    > I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: 18
    > The level of education I've completed is: High school
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Student
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game designer, Game Artist/Animator
    > The country I live in is: Malaysia
    > My game biz question is:
    > Hello Tom,
    > I'd like to ask a question about FAQ 3, You've written that one is required to get a 4-year degree.
    > I am leaning more towards the art & design part of making a game and I am thinking of taking a course in animation, however the course offered at the college of my choice is a 3-year diploma programme.
    > Will this make a big difference or any difference at all when I'm applying for a job for game companies?
    > And if I have a very good portfolio as a diploma holder, would employers consider me instead of a degree holder with a not so good portfolio?
    > That is all the questions I have for now, Thanks for your time

    Hi, Ignis. You wrote:

    Diploma or Degree?
    I'm not sure if you're making a distinction between two different things, or are lumping the two together for purposes of the overall question.

    You've written that one is required to get a 4-year degree.
    I wrote that a four-year degree is preferred over a three-year or two-year degree. I imagine lots of artists get hired with just a two-year associates degree. The way most people judge worthiness of degrees isn't the year count -- it's the name of the degree. A bachelors degree is better (more impressive) than an associates degree.

    the course offered at the college of my choice is a 3-year diploma programme.
    I would prefer that you get a four-year education, but I don't know anything about the school or the program, and can't make a judgment about it. And I don't know if you are using the word "diploma" in a way that distinguishes it from a "degree."

    if I have a very good portfolio as a diploma holder, would employers consider me instead of a degree holder with a not so good portfolio?
    All else being equal (both of you with a three-year degree), then the candidate with the better portfolio will get the job. If both have equally good portfolios and one has a four-year bachelors degree and the other a three-year bachelors degree, I imagine most hirers won't do math to figure out that one was shorter; then it'll probably come down to personality and other factors.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 31, 2014


    Game school

    > From: Digvijay J
    > Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2014 9:11 AM
    > Subject: conusultaion regarding game designing admission
    > Hello sir,
    > I am Digvijay from India. i studied your blog and thinks you will help me out in making a very important decision of my life.
    > I am very interested to enter in the game industry, hence visited a school in India known as DSK Supinfocom. Its the only international school in India for game designing, providing level 7 certificate. i have completed my diploma in computer technology. So should i go for that school as its fees is really high.
    > For the admission i will have to give an online exam, then i will be called for an personal interview and they ask for my portfolio. So what documents should i place to make a strong portfolio and how to prepare for personal interview as it picks only 30 students every year.
    > Can u also tell me that a pass out from this school can have a good career in game industry as game designer or not. I hope you will help me sir and guide me to be a successful game designer for a big gaming company like EA, Capcom, etc. Expecting a quick reply eagerly. Thank you.

    Namaste, Digvijay. You wrote:

    should i go for that school as its fees is really high.
    You should look at a number of schools, and consider cost as one important criterion. You don't have to go to a game school -- a good degree from a reasonably priced school is just as good. Read Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") 25, 44, and 77. (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 .)

    what documents should i place to make a strong portfolio
    See FAQ 12. And check the schools' application requirements.

    Can u also tell me that a pass out from this school can have a good career in game industry as game designer or not.
    Read FAQ 3 and FAQ 50. After you read those FAQs, you're welcome to come back and ask me more.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 23, 2014


    See you at GDC

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Saturday, March 8, 2014 5:02 PM
    > Subject: See you at GDC!
    > Hi Tom,
    > I'm coming to GDC on Wednesday, March 19. Could I buy you a drink or dinner on one of the nights?
    > There is much I would like to talk to you about regarding combining theatrical experience and gameplay. I read your FAQ 40 many times over the years and came to the realization that theatricality and affiliation to musical plays were always a part of me, and I would become a happier person if I can channel theatrical experience into another passion that I have, which is making video games. I have been developing a thesis towards this topic for months at this point and I think talking to people with backgrounds like yours will be extremely beneficial.
    > Let me know if you are up for it!
    > Cheers,
    > Tiantong (Don) X

    It would be nice to meet you, Don. My dinner schedule is rather full, but we'll see if I have time for a drink.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 10, 2014

    P.S., March 23. Don, it was great to meet you! Best wishes going forward.
    Tom


    Where to get started as a tester?

    > From: Mr. T.
    > Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 5:20 PM
    > Subject: video game tester
    > Hello,
    > I was just wondering where to go to get started as an entry level video game tester?
    > Kind Regards, Nick

    At game companies, Nick. Have you read FAQ 5? Have you looked at gamedevmap and gameindustrymap? Have you read FAQ 4? FAQ 24? You can link to the FAQs above left.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 10, 2014


    Do I maybe will have problems if I have an illegally cloned game on my laptop when I go abroad?

    > From: "bojan89m
    > Sent: Sunday, March 9, 2014 4:11 PM
    > Subject: question
    > Hi,
    > I read your articles about legal stuffs of copyright. I have question about your explanation. I downloaded game named Mario Sobr for PC,clone of Mario.It has freeware license which I accepted.Is that game legal? Do I maybe will have problems if I have that game installed on laptop when I go abroad?

    Hello, bojan.
    My articles are written for the benefit of people who make games (or who want to make games). My articles are not meant for consumers (people who buy games and play games).

    Is that game legal?
    Maybe not.

    Do I maybe will have problems if I have that game installed on laptop when I go abroad?
    Highly doubtful.

    It's not illegal to own a counterfeit Rolex watch (you won't go to jail for owning one). The people who make and sell counterfeit goods are subject to being sued by the genuine makers. If you wear a counterfeit watch while going through Customs, they might confiscate and destroy the watch. Chances are, nobody in Customs will ever look in your laptop and find out that you have a game that was cloned without the trademark owner's permission. If they did somehow see it, the worst they could do is ask you to delete it and empty the trash.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 9, 2014


    Two interests, part 2

    > From: Iman S
    > Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 3:19 AM
    > Subject: Re: Game Industry Q+A
    > Thank you very much for such a swift reply!
    > The term "Scripting", which I used in my previous message, was an error: I meant script writing. I understand that most games have a script; a storyline (or perhaps multiple storylines), not unlike that of a movie or a television series. Lately, I have been getting quite a few ideas regarding some of the games I play, and I have been writing them down. I have formed an entire novel in my head but, unfortunately, can't seem to get myself to get down and write it down properly.
    > Then again, on the other hand, is the field of programming. I have been learning Java, Python and JS, but I've heard that C++ is probably the language I should be looking at.
    > * WAVE 2 *
    > 1. Is script writing really a field I should look into, as opposed to computer programming?
    > 2. How do I get my work (both, in terms of programming and writing) to be noticed in the Game Development World?
    > 3. Which programming language should I focus on? [I know that you have mentioned that asking programming questions might not be answered on this forum, but it's worth a shot anyways.]
    > * BONUS QUESTION *
    > 4. Can I expect to see you on Twitter any time soon again?
    > Thank you, I really appreciate all the help.
    > Iman S

    Hi, Iman.
    Read FAQ 32.
    It's unlikely that you'll get your work noticed -- more likely, you have to shove it down their throats. But your programming can get noticed if you make a game that attracts a lot of attention in a student or indie game competition, or becomes a hit commercially. Your writing can get noticed if you write a comic book or novel or script that becomes a media sensation (even a minor one). But as I said, that's unlikely. The usual thing is to make a portfolio website.
    It depends on what platform you'll make your games for (the language used for mobile games is different from the language used for console and PC games). But when you learn programming, it's really programming that you're learning; languages are not a big deal. Read FAQs 15 and 56.
    I'm not much of a Twitter user.
    In regards to your last question yesterday: collectible card games are also worth playing, but are usually not a quick between-classes thing. But check out Uno, a very quick and fun card game.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 28, 2014


    Two interests

    > From: isyad
    > Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 7:07 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, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: 16
    > The level of education I've completed is: Grade XI
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Student
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: UndecidedĖUnsure between Programming or Scripting
    > The country I live in is: India
    > My game biz question is:
    > Hello Tom,
    > First of all, I would like to thank you for sharing your experiences of the Gaming Industry. I have been following your "Game Biz Advice" for a while now and have found it very helpful. My questions:-
    > 1. I have equal interest in programming and writing; I have taken up both of these subjects in school. Is it possible to land a job which involve both of these aspects in Game Development?
    > 2. Should I look out for any particular internships/jobs to help me out?
    > 3. Does playing a variety of video games help out in this field?
    > 4. Are there any quick activities/puzzles I can carry out in short periods of time (e.g. in between classes or in the car) to keep me sharp and zealous? Are there any in which I can include my budz too?
    > Well, I suppose this was the first "wave" of questions heading your way (from me. I can see you've dealt with more than a few waves before).
    > Thank you, I really appreciate what you've been doing for all us little hatchlings out here.
    > Iman S.

    Namaste, Iman. You wrote:

    Unsure between Programming or Scripting
    > 1. I have equal interest in programming and writing;
    Now I'm not sure what you mean by "Scripting." Scripting is not the same as writing -- it's more like programming. I'm guessing that instead of "Scripting," you meant to say "writing."

    Is it possible to land a job which involve both of these aspects in Game Development?
    Anything is "possible" (as I wrote in FAQ 50), but there is no job function that clearly requires both skills.

    Should I look out for any particular internships/jobs to help me out?
    Programming internships are easier to find than writing internships. You could also look into scripting (which is less difficult than programming but more common than writing).

    Does playing a variety of video games help out in this field?
    Absolutely.

    Are there any quick activities/puzzles I can carry out in short periods of time (e.g. in between classes or in the car) to keep me sharp and zealous? Are there any in which I can include my budz too?
    Definitely. There are games you can play without any electronic device. Google "car games" and "road trip games" and "travel games" for starters. Games keep you sharp, and all games give you a broad repertoire of game knowledge that you can use in game brainstorming sessions. Have fun, and do some thinking about why you had fun.
    [Edit] You could also play "Counterfactuals." Just Google it.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 27, 2014


    Suggestions for programs for beginners

    > From: Cody V
    > Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2014 9:13 PM
    > Subject: Help!
    > If you had any suggestions for level editing programs or software for beginners what would they be.
    > i'm 17 Name is Cody student
    > want to be level editor or environmental artist
    > -Thanks

    Hi, Cody.
    You should read Frequently Asked Question #56. 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 ). I last updated the FAQ last summer.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 24, 2014


    Thanks for responding!

    > From: Matthew M
    > Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:27 PM
    > Subject: Re: Please Help!
    > Thanks for responding! I really needed those answers.

    You're welcome, Matthew. I couldn't find any questions from someone named Matthew (either on this board or on my other board), so I'm guessing (based on your subject line) that you are the mysterious "Twilight Link" who wrote me on Tuesday. Live long and prosper.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 20, 2014


    School interview question

    > From: Twilight Link
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 3:51 PM
    > Subject: Please Help!
    > Hello Sloper, i need your help for my class! I'm 13 in middle school, and plan to study to be a game designer! i need someone to ask questions and i'm running out of options!
    > So here are my questions:
    > 1.What's the best part of being a designer?
    > 2.What sort of high school classes would you recommend?
    > 3.What are the easiest parts of doing this job
    > 4.is this a job where you must be dead serious or can you joke a little?
    > 5.What is the hardest part of designing?
    > If you decide to answer please send to: [DELETED]@gmail.com, please?

    Hello, "Twilight Link." Thanks for numbering your questions for me.
    The best part is that it's a fun job, and you work with interesting people. Read FAQ 37.1. You can click the FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) links above left, indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this .
    I recommend you take classes in theater, science, mythology, literature, martial arts, computing, art, and music. Read FAQ 3.
    Easiest?? Nothing about the job is easy. Nothing about anything is easy. Why are you asking what's easy? Read FAQ 26.
    Absolutely, joking is appropriate sometimes.
    The hardest part is dealing with the fact that the designer rarely gets to work on his own game concepts.
    Some advice: you should not call your elders by their last names. It's okay to call your buddies by their last names, but that level of familiarity is inappropriate with strangers. And it can be counterproductive when seeking a favor.
    It's polite to introduce yourself (by name) when emailing a stranger. I don't need your full name, but first names would put us on a human level.*
    Last piece of advice: you should always capitalize the word "I." Game designers always do (except maybe when texting their budz who they call by last names).
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 18, 2014

    * I don't for a minute believe that there's a Mrs. Link who has ever hollered out the door, "Twilight! Twilight! Time to come in for supper!"


    Small indie companies

    > From: Chris H
    > Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:52 AM
    > Subject: Game Dev Small Scale
    > Hi Tom, great site and thank you for sharing your experiences with us. A good reality check helps you reaffirm a practical approach to anything that you wish to master one day. Your blog covers a lot of ground for big companies and the big money. The team that brought us Botinicular is what inspired me to enter at a hobby level, is there any chance you could cover the scopes of small teams, can point and click games make a team of ten money realistically? I am friends with a guy who did the sound engineering for The Darkness 2 and he says big companies throw away a lot of money by being fickle with creativity, I imagine small companies have some advantage.
    > Thx again,
    > Chris

    Hi, Chris. You wrote:

    is there any chance you could cover the scopes of small teams,
    You mean, write an article? I don't really have much experience in that world.

    can point and click games make a team of ten money realistically?
    You mean, games like "The Wolf Among Us"? Sure, it's realistically possible. That doesn't mean it's probable.

    a guy who did the sound engineering for The Darkness 2 ... says big companies throw away a lot of money by being fickle with creativity
    Not quite sure what that means. But big companies are rather focused on their franchises and triple-A hit games.

    I imagine small companies have some advantage.
    Advantages and disadvantages. With small size comes nimbleness, but hampered by lack of resources.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 13, 2014


    How to suppress... part 3

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 3:20 PM
    > Subject: Re: Student projects are lame
    > Hi Tom,
    > I did a lot of thinking (maybe too much for the fact that I have so much work to do) and made more compromises than I would normally do. I'm not sure if the results will be better, but at least I feel better. It means so much to me that you still remember the first emails I sent you. Maybe I was too focus on the fact that the game I'm working on now is going to GDC, and don't realize it would just be one of many games I make in the future.
    > Anyway, thank you!
    > Don

    Not sure how to respond. Partly because I didn't follow those first two sentences. Keep on doin' and learnin', Don.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2014


    School project

    > From: Mike B
    > Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 12:04 AM
    > Subject: Project for my Entrepeneur 120 class, Starting a small business.
    > I did not see these answered in your FAQ's and could not locate an actual forum board to post this on.
    > If you would have time to answer these 14 questions about one of you own small business ventures I would appreciate it.
    > What were your first steps?
    > How did you arrange financing?
    > If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently?
    > How large a part does creativity play in your business?
    > What are you tangible rewards?
    > What are your intangible rewards?
    > What was your best marketing technique?
    > What portion of gross sales do you spend on advertising?
    > Did you hire more employees than originally expected?
    > What makes your business unique?
    > How do you use social media?
    > Did you write a business plan? If not do you wish you did?
    > Are gross profits what you expected them to be?
    > Would you ever do it again?
    > Thank you in advance,
    > Mike B

    Aloha, Mike. You wrote:
    I... could not locate an actual forum board to post this on.
    Well, here you are!
    But I'm sorry, I can't answer any of your questions, since I have not started a business. I work freelance on the side, while my primary job is teaching about games.
    Good luck with your project.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2014


    How to suppress... never mind!

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 8:44 PM
    > Subject: Re: Student projects are lame
    > Hi Tom,
    > Please disregard the email I just sent you. I think it's time for me to bush up the rules in professionalism again, sign.
    > Best Regards,
    > Don


    How to suppress my arrogance?

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Saturday, February 8, 2014 6:25 PM
    > Subject: Student projects are lame
    > Hi Tom,
    > I have some interpersonal relationship questions to ask you. It strikes me as crazy that I never have those kinds of problems in workplace, but when I have student projects, things are just difficult.
    > I think deep down I believe I know better than most of my peers in school about how games should be done. If not for all the countless games I made in the past, at least I worked and am working in a game company. When I have this kind of belief, it's really hard for me to make friends in the major. Because even sometimes I don't imply it, maybe my attitude has already give it away. For me, my attitude implies I know what I'm doing; but for others, it just implies arrogance.
    > I don't really worried about keeping harmony with my peers, or being that different guy to work with in school. However, I'm afraid similar scenario will happen at some point in my professional career. So, just for a future reference, how can I suppress my attitude a little and be ok with following someone's direction when I don't even believe it? Or let me rephrase the question, how can I be a follower when I don't even want to follow?
    > Hope to hear from you soon!
    > Tiantong (Don)

    Hi, Don. You wrote:

    I think deep down I believe I know better than most of my peers in school about how games should be done.
    Yes, and the other students believe the same, about themselves. Students haven't yet learned what professionalism and collaboration really mean. You haven't yet learned what professionalism and collaboration really mean.

    However, I'm afraid similar scenario will happen at some point in my professional career. ... how can I suppress my attitude a little and be ok with following someone's direction when I don't even believe it?
    Something is bound to happen to show you that you are still just a dumb kid who doesn't really know much of anything. When that happens, the arrogance will start to diminish.

    how can I be a follower when I don't even want to follow?
    Starve for a while. When you get hungry again, you'll see the need to stifle your arrogance. Do you remember when you first wrote me? You said you wanted to become the greatest game design star the industry has ever seen. High ambition is probably at the root of arrogance. When you learn how to do everything better than everybody else, then you can be arrogant. When you see that there are people who do some things better than you, and that you need them, you'll see that arrogance is not helpful.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2014


    Thanks

    >www.gamedev.net Ľ Messenger Ľ My Conversations Ľ thanks Tom
    >From: Gard3
    > Member
    > Members
    > Reputation: 112
    > 0 warning points
    >Sent Today, 12:52 PM
    >Great read, thanks for the links.

    You're welcome, blue man. Don't know why you couldn't say that in the forum, since you were replying to a forum discussion. [http://www.gamedev.net/topic/653177-whats-a-good-way-to-approach-game-devs/] Good luck with your project.
    Tom Sloper
    February 8, 2014


    Help with contacting, part 2

    > From: bryan s
    > Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 5:04 PM
    > Subject: Re: Help with Contacting
    > I would mostly ask them questions about their jobs. Specifically what problems they had faced and how they had overcome them, or if there was something that they had learned when they were younger. I am mostly looking to ask video game programmers for right now.

    O I C. Well, why don't you do what most folks do - go on a forum like gamedev.net (for instance) and ask your questions there.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!


    Help with contacting

    > From: bryan s
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 1:54 PM
    > Subject: Help with Contacting
    > Hi Tom.
    > I am 20 years old, and I am a college student. I plan to get the the job of Computer Programmer.I have read all of your articles when I was younger, and it answered so many questions I had at the time. I know that you said I should go through past FAQs, but I have always wanted to send you an email. My question is; Is there a way of contacting Video Game employees other than through Video Game conferences?
    > I apologize for my grammar. I am working on improving it.
    > From Bryan.

    Hi, Bryan. You wrote:

    Is there a way of contacting Video Game employees other than through Video Game conferences?
    Yes, but why? Why do you want to contact someone who works in the industry?

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 29, 2014


    Will learning another language help, part 2

    > From: Abbas H
    > Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2014 6:31 PM
    > Subject: Multiple language........
    > Ok ok , i get the point sensei.
    > Does learning a wide range of languages help a game designer improve his portfolio?
    > And does it (knowing multiple languages ) improve chances of an experienced person to get the post of a game designer in a game studio?
    > And is my English poor (very bad) or regular( needs improvement)?
    > And you have a magic 8-ball !!! That's cool.

    Hi, Abbas. You asked:

    Does learning a wide range of languages help a game designer improve his portfolio?
    No.

    does it (knowing multiple languages ) improve chances of an experienced person to get the post of a game designer in a game studio?
    I can imagine situations in which it would not have an impact, and I can imagine situations in which it would help. I cannot imagine situations in which it would hinder one's chances. I have no idea why you're asking this. What actions might you take given one answer, as opposed to different actions you might take given a different answer?

    And is my English poor (very bad)
    No.

    or regular( needs improvement)?
    In your previous email (below) you misspelled "game" in the subject line, and you didn't put an apostrophe in "portfolio's", and you didn't capitalize Russian or Japanese. In today's email, you should have said, "Okay, okay, I get the point, Sensei." Your English is pretty good, with small flaws that many native English speakers also make.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 24, 2014


    Will learning to speak/read/write another language help?

    >From: Abbas H
    >Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2014 5:16 AM
    >Subject: Re: Game Industry Q A Gam designer language
    >Will learning more then one language (not programming) help improve my portfolios chances of acceptance?
    >Example : russian, japanese etc.

    I have two responses to that, Abbas.
    When you use the word "will," you are asking for a definitive view of the future. Nobody can see the future. Nobody can foretell your future for you!
    It depends.
    I asked my magic 8-ball to foretell your future for you, and it responded, "Cannot predict now."
    Think about what it is you're trying to know, and why. What actions might you take given one answer, as opposed to different actions you might take given a different answer? Maybe the thought process and a rephrasing of the question will be very revealing, making it unnecessary to ask me anything after all -- or at least you might have a better question (or a better-worded question) to ask me.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 23, 2014


    Thank you so much

    > From: Facebook
    > To: Tom Sloper
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 9:00 PM
    > Subject: New message from Thiago A...
    > Thiago A... 8:30pm Jan 21
    > Thank you so much for the SLOPERAMA
    > Make a great to the game world o/
    > View Conversation on Facebook ∑ Reply to this email to message Thiago A...
    > This message was sent to tomster@ sloperama. If you don't want to receive these emails from Facebook in the future, please unsubscribe.
    > Facebook, Inc., Attention: Department 415, PO Box 10005, Palo Alto, CA 94303


    I want to be a level designer but I'm not a good artist

    > From: Cody V
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:36 PM
    > Subject: Help
    > I'm 16 years old I have a sophomore education I'm a student I would like to go into the level editor part of video game design but I don' know if I can do it with the skills I have. The question I would like to ask you is that for any portion of level design do you have to be a good artist because that is the only weakness I can see me having because I am more then creative but just not a good artist

    Hello, Cody. You wrote:

    I would like to go into the level editor part of video game design
    That's a confusing statement, Cody. I gather from another part of your email that what you want to do is become a level designer.

    for any portion of level design do you have to be a good artist
    Well, you need to be able to sketch out your plan for the level. It doesn't take great art skills to do that. You just need to be able to use a pencil, and you need to be able to use a mouse. Do you have a PC game that has a level editor built in? If so, just try building some levels.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 2, 2014


    Aspiring QA tester, part 4

    > From: Ricardo C
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 10:32 AM
    > Subject: Re: Quality of Work
    > Tom,
    > You just answered my question 4 before. Thanks.
    > So, describing a bug as below is correct and perfect for the Game Tester?
    > "Create a Fighter character. Go to the training hall and visit the spell trainer. Leave the spell trainer's room and jump up onto the wall across from his door. The character can move around along the wall but cannot jump down to resume playing the game."
    > I thought it was part of the Game Tester the test those variables; with other characters, different ways, etc.
    > I mean, it would be over my leader expectations if I describe the bug as below:
    > "Create a Figther character. The same happen with the Wizard. Go to the training hall and visit the spell trainer. Any other door won't make it happen. Leave the spell trainer's room and jum up onto the wall across his door. This is the only wall to show this situation. The character can move around along the wall but cannot jump down to resume playing the game."
    > The last description would be better than the first one? Or both will do the job and has not difference?
    > Obrigado!
    > Best Regards,
    > Ricardo C

    Hi, Ricardo. You wrote:

    So, describing a bug as below is correct and perfect for the Game Tester?
    No, it's not perfect. You're only writing the replication steps, for starters (you are not writing any of the other parts of a bug report). And before "the character can move," I recommend you tell the reader to "observe" that. ("Observe that the character can move around...")

    it would be over my leader expectations if I describe the bug as below: [?]
    No. That would not exceed expectations. Reporting bugs demands specificity and clarity. "Create a Fighter or Wizard (I tested the Chef, the Shopkeeper, and the Jester, and observed that this did not happen with those other characters). Go to the training hall and enter the Spell Trainer door. Turn around and leave the Spell Trainer's room, and go straight across to the opposite wall. Jump up onto the wall by pressing Y while pressing towards the wall, and get your character walking on the wall. Now try to jump back down by pressing X, and observe that the character does not jump down to resume playing the game."

    Ricardo, it is not obvious to me that you have read FAQ 75. If you haven't read that FAQ, please read it. If you have already read it, maybe you should read it again.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 21, 2014


    Aspiring QA tester, part 3

    > From: Ricardo C
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:40 AM
    > Subject: Re: Quality of Work
    > Good Morning, Tom. How are you?
    > I found out a book over the internet, "Game Testing All in One by Charles P. Schultz, Robert Bryant and Tim Langdell" quite interesting about Game Testing.
    > However, I still having some doubts about few parts in the book as below (still reading - it has over 500 pages).
    >
    > Question 01:
    > Picture this situation from the book.
    > "[...] in NBA Street Vol. 2, you have the ability to unlock special player jerseys by achieving certain results during a game or a series of games. Imagine having to define or follow a button-by-button series of steps to complete an entire game! So you, the tester, need to know the game well enough to pick the right players for your team and then play the game well enough to reach the goals that unlock each of the jerseys.[...]"
    >
    > My questions are:
    > I will have to find out (as a tester) which are the players are good and which team is the best to unlock the new features?
    > As I am working with the designers and programmers, can't they just tell me which character are good (working together) so I can move on in the game?
    >
    > Question 02:
    > Supposed that I found a bug that it is really hard to make it happen again. I spent over 3 or 4 hour trying to reproduce and nothing. Can't I use screenshots of the game and/or recording videos to show when and how the bug happened? Or course, not a 30 minutes video, but the moment that it happened, about 10 seconds or something.
    >
    > Question 03:
    > How Am I supposed to know what cause the bug in a chained bug? (really don't know if it exists, but let me explain.)
    > Please, note this description from the book, about a NeverWinter Nights report:
    > "Create a Fighter character. Go to the training hall and visit the spell trainer. Leave the spell trainer's room and jump up onto the wall across from his door. The character can move around along the wall but cannot jump down to resume playing the game."
    > By that, I understand that the problem may be in the character OR going through the training hall OR visiting the spell trainer OR leaving the spell trainer's room OR jumping into the wall across from the door? Or everything together, chained, created the bug?
    > If this thought is correct and If I had received something like that, I would try to create, first, another character to check if the problem is with them. After, would try to reach the spell trainer with another path. Then, trying to just directly at the wall (maybe this should be the first step...).
    >
    > Question 04:
    > Is that kind of thought correct or I am going to far from the real world?
    >
    > Thank you one more time for your help.
    > Obrigado!
    > Best Regards,
    > Ricardo C

    OlŠ, Ricardo.

    Of course the GDD and information about how the game works is shared with the QA team.

    Yes, of course a good bug database includes the ability to attach screenshots and videos. But if a bug is difficult to reproduce, it's difficult to fix. A good bug video shows the conditions and events leading up to the occurrence of the bug.

    If the tester can determine the causality, that's great. But it's the programmer's job to fix the problem, so the programmer might have to be the one to determine causality. It's cheaper and faster for the project if the tester can provide this.

    I don't know what your question #4 is.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 21, 2014


    The Catch-22 of Game Design

    > From: Niko S
    > Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 8:16 AM
    > Subject: No game studio in area
    > Mr.Tom Sloper , I read your lessons and I am keen to follow them. I have almost all facilities excet that there is no game studio in my area.
    > I wanted to ask you that are there any online game designer partime jobs ??? And if some game studios do give online jobs would they add an inexperienced person (me for example) in their team ?
    > I wanted to do it partime even if it doesn't pay, I only need experience ?
    > After getting online job (if there are any) how would I get a proof of experience on my portfolio, is it a document?
    > And one last thing ,I was wondering that all game studios I have seen (online) give job to an experienced person, so if a newbi doesn't have experience he cant join any studio, and if he cant join a studio where will he get the experience from?
    > And where do newbis get experience?
    > Sorry if I was not detailed and easy to understand.

    Hello, Niko. You wrote:

    there is no game studio in my area.
    Then move. My lessons say that, don't they? Read FAQ 84.

    are there any online game designer partime jobs ???
    No.

    would they add an inexperienced person (me for example) in their team ?
    As designer? No. I thought you said you'd read my articles?

    I wanted to do it partime even if it doesn't pay, I only need experience ?
    That's not a question. It's a wish, with a question mark tacked onto the end.

    how would I get a proof of experience on my portfolio, is it a document?
    You put the experience in your résumé. You put screen shots and documents and review clippings in your portfolio. You provide the phone numbers of past employers as references.

    all game studios I have seen (online) give [GAME DESIGNER] job to an experienced person,
    Yes. My FAQ 14 says "'Game Designer' is not an entry level position. That means that if you do not have any experience working in a game company, you won't be getting hired to fill the title 'Game Designer' right off the bat." I thought you said you'd read it?

    so if a newbi doesn't have experience he cant join any studio
    Like I wrote in FAQ 14 and FAQ 85, you have to start in the industry in some other position, then level up to "game designer." Like QA, for example. But your writing is not good enough to get you hired as a QA tester or a game designer (assuming English is your native language, but perhaps it isn't -- you did not give me any of the "5 tidbits" I need to know in order to give the best advice, as stated above). So you need to find an entry pathway from which you can grow into a design role.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2014


    Am I ready to be hired as a game designer?

    > From: Abbas H
    > Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2014 3:11 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, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is:17.5
    > The level of education I've completed is: olevel
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: student
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: game designer
    > The country I live in is: pakistan
    > My game biz question is: studio accepting a guy like me
    > Mr.Sloper , by my current level of education and place of living will any game studio accept me as a gane designer , provided that i have a nice portfolio .
    > My current experience is that i have wrote a couple of game plots , a lot of gameplays , ingame cut scenes (they are basically some climax in war games genre) , i have created some small 2d games like Contra . My typing speed is steady (not slow) . And finally i know alot about gaming since i read alot of reviews and blogs and i can write gameplays in full detail .
    > (1)Mr.Sloper do you think i can be accepted by any game studio ?
    > If no ,then please guide me a little as to what should be in my portfolio.
    > (2)Do you think that some of my ideas (if they are credible and brilliant) will be rejected due to my nationality . If yes , then can you give me an advice (except the one saying get a degree) , or should i just stick to lone wolf mode?
    > Your help will be quite a guidance for me , thankyou.

    Hello, Abbas. You wrote:

    by my current level of education and place of living will any game studio accept me as a gane designer , provided that i have a nice portfolio ... do you think i can be accepted by any game studio ?
    No. You are not qualified to be a game designer. Read FAQ 14.

    If no ,then please guide me a little as to what should be in my portfolio.
    You need a degree, or at least you need several years of game industry experience. Read FAQ 3.

    Do you think that some of my ideas (if they are credible and brilliant) will be rejected
    No. Not some of them. All of them. Read FAQ 1.

    due to my nationality .
    No, absolutely not.

    can you give me an advice (except the one saying get a degree)
    Get a job in the game industry.

    or should i just stick to lone wolf mode?
    The lone wolf needs to be, in addition to a game designer, a programming expert and a businessman and an artist and an audio whiz as well. Do you think that's the right path for you?

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 18, 2014


    Update

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 1:22 PM
    > Subject: I found a coop!
    > Hi Tom,
    > Just to give you an update of what happened since the last time I wrote to you. I found a game developer position with Pennsylvania Game Studio, a newly founded game studio in Philadelphia. I will start part-timing next Friday and go into full time whenever school term ends. You were right about finding a game job around school, it gives me and my boss more flexibility. It's surreal to find a game developer position while It's only my third year into college. Compare with four other teammates, I am definitely least experienced with programming and I will try to use the stress as a motivation to get better.
    > On the other hand, Intel sponsors a horror game I worked on in school last term to showcase in GDC 2014. It was rather a surprise to everyone on the team, because none of us thought the game was that good. With that said we are going to continue making the game with a bigger team( 4 times bigger). I will most likely to take on the art director role, since the game's art concept and large amounts of assets were done by me. I'm not familiar with student game showcase at GDC, what kind of impact it would bring? How many student games showcase at GDC each year?
    > It's going to be a pretty rough term, but I'm grad that I have all those opportunities. Here is a cookie for you: delicious-cookie-450x300.jpg
    > Thanks for all your help!
    > Tiantong (Don)

    Great, Don. Thanks for the update. Oh, and you asked some questions:

    what kind of impact it would bring?
    I can't foretell the future. Some students get job offers or publishing deals. Some don't.

    How many student games showcase at GDC each year?
    I don't know. Expect to be very busy at GDC. And look at all the name badges -- one of them might be me.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 12, 2014


    Aspiring QA tester, part 2

    >From: Ricardo C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 8:07 AM
    >Subject: Re: Quality of Work
    >Hi, Tom.
    >Thank you for the reply.
    >About: "What are they thinking" question, was a joke. Not so good....
    >I didn`t think about sales at a game publisher. Will study that a little more.
    >I am studying Blender 3D by myself, built a blog with my portfolio and also reading many articles as I can about the game biz, QA and 3D. In 5 years I`d like to be working as a game designer or 3D design.
    >Just though that tester would be a good start because of my resume.
    >Another question: Do you know people that like that picture of QA, or better, like to work like that? What they say about it?
    >Just to say, I don`t care about over time and working late. Was just worried about that kind of place to work.
    >Many thanks.
    >Ricardo C.

    Olá Ricardo, you wrote:

    In 5 years I`d like to be working as a game designer or 3D design.
    >Just though that tester would be a good start because of my resume.
    Your résumé says you are way overqualified for QA. It would be difficult to migrate to design from sales, but working in game sales could enable you to make contacts and relationships with designers and producers over time - and of course you learn the industry from the inside.

    Do you know people that like that picture of QA, or better, like to work like that? What they say about it?
    Of course I know people who enjoy working in QA. I know people who stayed in QA (in lead positions) because the job suits their abilities and way of working.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2014


    Aspiring QA tester(?!)

    > From: Ricardo C
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 6:27 AM
    > Subject: Quality of Work
    > Hello, Tom. How are you?
    > First, I would like to congrat your for your wonderful website. It is really helping me a lot to understand the Game biz.
    > Furthermore, there we go with my answers.
    > - I am 28 years old;
    > - I have 2 Bachelor degrees - Tourism & Hospitality and Foreign Trade;
    > - I am a Sales Executive in a Foreign Trade Company;
    > - I aspire to work as a QA tester and build up my career into the game Biz. The sky is the limit;
    > - I am from Brazil.
    > After checking a few web sites and forums over the internet, I came to some people saying how horrible being a Game Tester could be and describing stories that could be a horror movie easily. Some of them told that big companies in USA and Canada made them test Video Games for 10, 12 hours with no rest, in a basement room with no windows or sun light. Another Guy that describes his workplace as a room with small windows got the following answer from another user: ďSmall windows? You lucky bastardĒ.
    > As an aspirant to get inside this area and after working a lot to build this blog and some kind of portfolio, I am not going to lie to you that this kind of scared me. Even more after they say that companies like Sony and Ubisoft Montreal were doing this sort of thing.
    > In your experience, can you say that this is true?
    > Have you heard any of those stories or even saw something like that? If yes, can you dscribe the situation?
    > What are they thinking when they wrote that?
    > Hope to hear from you,
    > Best Regards,
    > Ricardo Cristofolini

    Olá Ricardo, you wrote:

    I have 2 Bachelor degrees - Tourism & Hospitality and Foreign Trade;
    > - I am a Sales Executive in a Foreign Trade Company;
    > - I aspire to work as a QA tester and build up my career into the game Biz.
    What?! That's crazy! I think it'll be difficult to get hired as a tester with that kind of résumé. They won't even call you in for an interview, most likely. Tell me, what is your five-year goal? (Your one-year goal is to work in QA, but to what kind of job are you hoping to migrate from QA?) Could you achieve your five-year goal by starting in Sales at a game publisher instead?

    can you say that [this picture of QA] is true?
    Sure. Long overtime, windowless room. And low pay, too. See the latest game industry salary survey (link in the Game Biz Links page).

    Have you heard any of those stories or even saw something like that? If yes, can you dscribe the situation?
    At Activision in the late 1990s, QA was located in the basement. No windows. But it was an impressive sight, and the highlight of the tours I gave to visitors. A beehive of activity, colorful screens, sounds, and bustling testers. Yes, when it's getting near to releasing a game, the hours are increased. Testers are required to put in overtime when requested to do so, and not allowed to work any overtime when not authorized to do so.

    What are they thinking when they wrote that?
    I don't know what you're asking me.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2014


    Tough decision

    > From: Yu
    > Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013 11:30 PM
    > Subject: A few questions I need to consult you.
    > Hello Senior,
    > It is quite exciting and nervous for me to send this email to you.
    > First of all, as what you wrote at your website, this is the first time I write to you. I will give you my information at beginning:
    > 1. I am 27 years old and I am a Chinese Game Designer and work for [identifying information deleted].
    > 2. I graduated from MSc Information System, in University of [identifying information deleted], UK.
    > 3. This is the first job of my career coz I wasted a lot of time to find my path.
    > 4. I expect to have a job at America. Although any game company would be fine, I tend to find an AAA game company like Valve, RIOT, Blizzard, Bethesda or w/e. Actually I do not really care about this.
    > 5. I am living in China, as what I wrote above.
    > my question is: "Is there any chance for a Chinese guy to find a game designer job at America?"
    > Here is the reason below, and context of mine. Perhaps it will help you to understand why I ask this so weird question.
    > I am actually very satisfied my current job. I am a Game Designer. I am a gear of the big game developing machine. But unfortunately my girlfriend has to go to america to study and she has a big possibility to work there because her job will be much better than China. It is good for her but bad for me. If I do not have any chance to find a job at America, I will probably need to consider if I have to change my job to programmer (I have a Programmer context and I heard it is easier to find job at America) and give up my dream forever. Alternatively, I give up my girlfriend and keep working in China, and, maybe find a new girlfriend. Both the two options are sad news for me. I rather find a lowest designer job even designer assistant and go to America to live with her together. I do not fear difficulties and challenges but I do not know if there is a hope.
    > Whether I try to wrote a independent game by using spare time will increase the possibility to find a designer job there? Or perhaps I can apply a game design course in America and then find a designer job?
    > My advantages are I have the experience to cooperate with programmers and artists. I know what should I do as a game designer. I had a good score when I took the designer examination of [company name deleted]. But my colleagues told me that it is hopeless that Chinese game development experience is not helpful at all even you are in [company name deleted].
    > Perhaps you can give me an advice, or direction, senior. I had read your articles since I was not a game designer. And just your articles helped me a lot to have such a job here. So if you are not able to give me any advice, it is still a good chance to say thanks to you.
    > Best wishes and ??,
    > Yu

    Niihau, Yu.
    You are asking about switching companies, and I didn't feel good about all the identifying information you provided in your email. So I deleted your company name and your full Chinese name in the above. To get to your questions:

    "Is there any chance for a Chinese guy to find a game designer job at America?"
    Read FAQ 50. (And your question also touches on FAQ 72, and in a sense, FAQ 48).

    my girlfriend has to go to america
    Okay, but what city is she going to? And are there game companies in that city? Use gamedevmap and gameindustrymap and do some preliminary research.

    I was going to suggest that you ask for a transfer to an American office of [company name deleted], but since this all hinges on where your girlfriend is going, that might not be an option.

    Whether I try to wrote a independent game by using spare time will increase the possibility to find a designer job there?
    Not necessarily. Long experience at [company name deleted] looks stronger, in general. However, another issue is the market segment. [company name deleted] makes games for a particular game market... Darn, it's too hard trying to maintain confidentiality and still give you good advice. [company name deleted] makes mobile games. If you make an independent game that is for another platform entirely (say, web games), that would help you break out of mobile (if you want to break out of mobile) and perhaps broaden the possibilities of companies where you could successfully apply.

    Or perhaps I can apply a game design course in America and then find a designer job?
    Possible, but you already have a masters degree -- you don't really need more education, do you?

    my colleagues told me that it is hopeless that Chinese game development experience is not helpful at all even you are in [company name deleted].
    Your colleagues are wrong.

    The main thing is that you need to make a decision. Read FAQ 70, and realize that no matter what decision you make, you will have regrets, but everything will work out in the end. Good luck, Yu. Maybe we'll run into each other at GDC, if not this year, then another time.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2013


    Aspiring game designer returns

    > From: John A
    > Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013 3:23 PM
    > Subject: Re: Game Design Questions
    > Hello again, I've read your answers and I greatly appreciate them. However, I still have one main one. I will now definitely pursue Uni, but what courses would best? The only things I can only really say that is linked with what I want to do in the futur is that I am currently studying graphic design and IT at school, are these courses helpful?
    > Thanks again,
    > John.

    Hi, John. You asked:

    what courses would best?
    Read FAQ 3 and FAQ 40.

    graphic design and IT at school, are these courses helpful?
    Sure. Look, don't ask if anything is a "waste of time" (which is what your question implies) -- questions about wasted time are a waste of time. All required courses are "helpful." Any course you take that you are interested in is "helpful." Read FAQ 51.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 29, 2013


    Aspiring game designer

    > From: John A
    > Sent: Sunday, December 29, 2013 4:28 AM
    > Subject: Game Design Questions
    > Hi, I'm 15 years old, and currently studying my GCSE Courses. I'm a student and I aspire to become a game designer. I am from the UK. There are two main things I would like to ask: what do I need to do low to ensure I can pursue this type of careers, and would the best option be to go to university for a course or try and get an apprenticeship? Thanks.
    > John.

    Hi, John. Your questions and my answers:

    what do I need to do low to ensure I can pursue this type of careers
    You are already able to pursue any career you like. Nothing will ensure, however, that you will become a game designer. But you can do plenty to improve your chances of attaining an enjoyable career. If the word "low" was supposed to be "now," see FAQ 12. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs (the "Frequently Asked Questions"), above left (they're easy to find since they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    would the best option be to go to university for a course
    You absolutely should go to university, but not to take just one course but rather a full 4-year bachelors (baccalaureate) degree. Read FAQ 3, if you haven't yet.

    or try and get an apprenticeship?
    This is the 21st century, not the 18th century - we don't have apprenticeships in the game industry. Rather, we have internships. But you are positing an either-or situation here, where no such choice exists! It's not "either a degree or an internship," because it's very difficult to get an internship without a degree (unless you've happened upon a development studio run by a self-taught programmer who is anti-university, and you have already taught yourself well enough to have made several games). So go for the degree. Read those FAQs, and I'll still be here to answer any follow-up questions you might come up with.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 29, 2013


    Help me make this decision (three options)

    > From: Ciei D
    > Sent: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:49 AM
    > Subject: Sloperama Game Q&A - Decision-making
    > Hello My name is Roman .
    > I am 28 years old . I am from Russia.
    > Currently I am working as a designer.
    > I'm planning to change my job and the country.
    > Since that time, with my first letter I have a lot of that has changed.
    > I updated my website with a portfolio. Became a member in the IGDA, which gave interesting features and tips. I've got a pipeline and Experience all that is needed for the games, except animation. I specialize in character design.
    > Now I'm learning the game engine UDK. I like some companies and their projects, released on this engine, I aimed at them. Since the beginning of the new year I plan to start developing my demo-game on this engine to confirm receipt of my knowledge and experience.
    > Not so long ago I received a letter from an employee Activision proposing to collaborate and work on a new project.But because of the problems in this year with the visa did not work. I was glad that the man saw my blog, appreciated my work and wrote a letter. Nice to know that I can be useful to someone. So my passion as planted grain begins to germinate. Now I continue to work in my country at the office as a designer. At this position, the design looks like a child, and I think I'm from degrade. As if, trampling on one place.It so happened that I bought an apartment and I still had six years to repay the loan and keep working at my job to be able to pay for it.
    > When I started to engage in the field of 3D graphics I had a great desire to get the job done my dreams. Work in that direction, which I like. My job takes me a lot of time and effort. I can not develop and move on because of this.
    > All time after work I spend on improving and search right way. Solutions, which will spend less time to achieve their goal. I have 6 hours of free time after work. And two weekends, this 29 hours of free time. Usually after work I'm doing 3d for 2-3 hours a night.
    > And on the weekends I can all day and night to sit and not notice it.
    > At the moment I do not know how to act. In any case, the choice I have to make, but I want to know your opinion.
    > 1) Focus on the creation of new works for the portfolio to attract attention and be competitive.
    > If you develop this area, it may be possible to go to freelance and work from home, which is a big plus for achieving my goal. And also allows me to get rid of the main job, which slows me down.
    > But it provided, if I can earn the same money as the main job.
    > P.S. Work for a foreign customer. Why? Because I do not see in my country firms that can provide the experience that I would get.
    > And the level of work that I would not be ashamed to put in my portfolio)
    > 2) Focus on learning English. This will establish a connection with people. If you develop this area, it will be easier for me to understand and communicate with people.
    > In the case of moving to another country for work, knowledge of the language will be very important to me.
    > 3) Since I do not know what I should do if I am invited to work in the gaming industry, when I need to repay the loan. I guess that can be paid through a bank account number.
    > I have no idea whether it is possible to move to another country to work without the hassle of bringing a studio that wants to hire me.
    > Personally, I think that it might alienate them from collaborating with me.
    > Each of these pathways is important, but the time to achieve very little.
    > Thanks for your article. I really appreciate your work.
    > Happy new Year!
    > Sincerely Roman.

    Hello, Roman. You wrote:

    Currently I am working as a designer.
    A designer of what? Interiors? Automobiles? Manufactured products? Clothing?

    Since that time, with my first letter
    Does that mean you wrote to me before? Oh, yes. I did a search just now and found a previous email from you. You wrote me last February, about 10 months ago.

    I've got a pipeline
    I'm not sure what you're saying, Roman.

    and Experience
    I have to tell you that "experience" has a particular meaning in the game industry (especially when you are talking to someone who hires game developers). Read FAQ 83.

    I received a letter from an employee Activision proposing to collaborate and work on a new project.But because of the problems in this year with the visa did not work.
    Yes. This is what I was talking about in FAQ 72.

    the choice I have to make, but I want to know your opinion.
    My opinion is that you should make a decision grid (see FAQ 70).

    [My options, which I have to decide between, are: 1) Keep building the portfolio, 2) Improve my English, 3) Repay a loan]
    I think you should do all of those!

    I have no idea whether it is possible to move to another country to work without the hassle of bringing a studio that wants to hire me.
    > Personally, I think that it might alienate them from collaborating with me.
    Right. That's what I was talking about in FAQ 72. Work, pay off your loan, save money, build your portfolio, take English classes, and then when you've saved up enough money, figure out how to move to another country and get a proper job visa.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 27, 2013


    Help me make this decision, part 2

    > From: Josh K
    >Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 12:49 PM
    > Subject: Re: School decisions - Could I get your opinion?
    >> Why? What is it you hope to accomplish back in school? Is it to learn some specific thing (and if so, what?), or is it to get another degree...? ...
    > Hi Tom,
    > When it comes down to it, the reason I'm heading back to school is because I don't have the knowledge and skills necessary to make a successful impact in the industry. I can see myself going in a lot of different directions to be honest. So maybe I need to do another grid on specific roles within the industry and then do some soul searching.
    >Thanks for the help Tom!

    So you're doing this to learn something, not to get a degree. As you say, now all you have to do is figure out what it is you want to learn. Glad I could be of help.
    Tom


    Help me make this decision

    > From: Josh K
    > Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 11:43 AM
    > Subject: School decisions - Could I get your opinion?
    > Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > I'm a long time reader of your work and I've constantly referred to your guides when I've had industry interviews. So first and foremost, thank you for your insightful knowledge and helpful advice! I'm in a situation where I could use your professional opinion and I would extremely thankful if you could help.
    > For past couple years, I've been an accountant and business intelligence consultant. But I came to a point where I wanted to change my career because I wasn't fulfilled or happy. So I followed a lot of advice on your website; I got involved with IGDA, went to a couple of conferences (Games for change for example), networked with professionals, and in general self-studied and started creating whatever I could. I knew that I wanted to do game design and/or production. After conversing with a couple of professionals I decided that it would worthwhile to go back to school, so I started applying for Master programs.
    > Although, I'm having difficulty choosing between two programs; Drexel University's Master of Science in Digital Media and The University of Utah's Entertainment Arts and Engineering program. I was already accepted to Drexel late last June (but had to defer to next year because classes started the next week) but my gut is telling me that Utah would be a better choice. When I visited Drexel, it seemed their program was geared less towards video games and more towards animation and development of new technology. Whereas Utah's program is all about video game development.
    > I used a decision grid and came roughly to the crossroads I'm at now. Frankly, I'm not sure what to do. Should I complete my application to Utah and hope I get in? Or is a less specific and all-around degree like Drexel's a better choice? Does my choice even matter once I graduate and start looking for jobs? I only have one shot at this and I have to make it count. I'd love to hear your take on it.
    > Thanks in advance for your help sir. Keep up the fantastic writing!
    > Best Regards,
    > Josh

    Hi, Josh. You wrote:

    I decided that it would worthwhile to go back to school, so I started applying for Master programs.
    Why? What is it you hope to accomplish back in school? Is it to learn some specific thing (and if so, what?), or is it to get another degree (and if so, what is it that another degree is going to do for you, in the short term and the long term)? If you know the answers to those questions, I think you'll be able to make your decision.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2013


    Two choices, part 3

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Saturday, November 9, 2013 9:36 PM
    > Subject: Re: A Difficult Dilemma -- Make more games or Apply for more game companies
    > Hi Tom,
    > You made a really good point here. That's why I decided to get more creative with my situation. There is an opportunity in front of me now, and I'm writing a business proposal for it. Hope that it will turn into something I wasn't even dreamed of.
    > Thanks so much for your continious support. Much Appriciated! :)
    > Don

    You're welcome, Don

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 10, 2013


    Two choices, part 2

    >From: Don X
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 8:09 PM
    >Subject: Re: A Difficult Dilemma -- Make more games or Apply for more game companies
    >Hi Tom,
    >I fully aware that I should focus on my studies and not dropping them while I'm looking for internships, and that is what makes it difficult. I do have a great shot with one of the professors to work under him and maybe I will have a published game after the experience... I think I know better what to do now. Thank you!
    >On a side note, was it because of the "stupid location" I'm in makes it unreasonable to apply for 20 more internships?

    Applying for an internship is exactly the same as applying for a job. Are there 20 game companies within daily commuting distance from where you are in Philadelphia?
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2013


    Two choices

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 10:55 AM
    > Subject: A Difficult Dilemma -- Make more games or Apply for more game companies
    > Hi Tom,
    > The internship application process takes too long than what I was expecting. And I think I spend too much time applying for internships and don't spend enough time making more games. Right now, I can choose to spend more game making games and hope the 5 or 6 game internships I applied would bring some good news, or apply for 20 more game internships.
    > I'm sure I will get a paid internship, but I really don't know what to spend time on now. Any suggestions?
    > Tiantong (Don) X
    > Drexel University 2016

    Hi Don,
    So you're faced with an "A or B" decision. That's what you think! As I wrote in FAQ 52, I think you should also consider other options, like "C or D."
    Make games
    Apply for internships
    Both of the above
    None of the above

    Seems to me that a truly driven candidate would be doing C - creating games while applying at more companies. However...

    I see by your signature that you are still a student (you graduate in 2016). That tells me that your focus needs to be:
    Focus on my studies

    And I also see that your university is in Philadelphia. That tells me that there probably are not 20 more companies that you can reasonably apply to.

    My recommendation whenever faced with a tough decision: make a decision grid (FAQ 70).

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 6, 2013


    Which major should I take?

    > From: amanda A
    > Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 9:41 AM
    > Subject: Career Advice
    >To whom it may concern,
    >I am writing to you as I am gathering information that will hopefully enable me to make the right choices throughout my degree. I am currently studying a two year Fd Design for Games and have an option to choose either Design for Games or Fashion for my BA conversion year and would like to know which degree would make me more employable to the major players in the games and movies industry.
    >
    > My main interest lies within the area of character modelling and clothing creation focussing on period costume design and creation. During an industry based module, when focussing on my specific interests, I learnt about a software by the name of Opitex and was instantly drawn to the realistic appearance that this software achieved. Having spoken with Opitex, I understand that this software has been used to create more complex garments within many games and movies, although it was mentioned that this work was typically outsourced to professional pattern cutters.
    >
    > I have been fortunate enough to purchase a student version of the Opitex software, which I intend to use within my second year of games. To ensure I am able to fully utilise the software I have also enrolled on a pattern cutting course which will aid my designs. The combination of these two elements should allow me to create more detailed clothing for characters as well as understand the conversion of the required files to be suitable for game engines and other media.
    >
    > My question to you is, from an employment perspective when applying for positions as a character modeller, would it be more advantageous for me to top-up my Fd Design for Games with a third year in Fashion or to continue with Design for Games?
    >Yours faithfully,
    >Amanda P

    Hi Amanda,
    I think you'll be happier in life if you take the major that interests you more. If your passion is for costume design, then the Fashion track should lead you to your bliss. If your passion is for game character creation, then maybe the Design For Games degree track is the way to go. But you asked a completely different question:

    from an employment perspective when applying for positions as a character modeller, would it be more advantageous for me to top-up my Fd Design for Games with a third year in Fashion or to continue with Design for Games?
    From that narrow perspective only (since you insist on that narrow perspective only), most Human Resources folk would mainly see value in the design track. I suppose some art directors would value the fashion track.

    I imagine that it is possible to specialize in costume design for games, but I think that's a narrow (limited) specialty that would make it hard to find jobs. It's likely that you'd mainly find work with triple-A game companies, which limits your options. In most cases, I suppose, character artists costume their own creations. If you want to take the fashion track, then you should do it!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 4, 2013


    Fact check, part 2

    > From: Bigfoot Supervisor
    > Sent: Sunday, October 27, 2013 6:34 AM
    > Subject: Re: Fact Check on Game Design FAQ 50
    > Hi, I have another fact check on your response to my previous fact check. Your following response was:
    >> Hi, Bigfoot Supervisor. You're saying:
    >>> Is it possible that the United States constitution can be changed?
    >>> No. Absolutely not. Never. No way. That's absolutely impossible.
    >> Well, Bigfoot Supervisor, I have news for you. The United States constitution CAN be changed, and in fact, it has been. Twenty-seven times. So however unlikely, it is technically possible for a foreign-born citizen like Ahnold to become President.
    > Of course, I appreciate your quick and to-the-point response. However, the Constitution has not been changed twenty-seven times. Yes, there are 27 amendments, but 10 of those were ratified at once. Therefore, the Constitution has been changed eighteen times. I appreciate your effort and time.


    Fact Check: FAQ 50

    > From: Bigfoot Supervisor <area51bigfootresearch>
    > Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 1:41 PM
    > Subject: Fact Check on Game Design FAQ 50
    > Hi, at your FAQ at http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson50.htm, you posted the following Q&A:
    > Is there a chance that Arnold Schwarzenegger will become President of the United States?
    > Yes. There is.
    > I would like to point out that this is false; foreign-born citizens can never become President of the United States.

    Hi, Bigfoot Supervisor. You're saying:

    Is it possible that the United States constitution can be changed?
    No. Absolutely not. Never. No way. That's absolutely impossible.

    Well, Bigfoot Supervisor, I have news for you. The United States constitution CAN be changed, and in fact, it has been. Twenty-seven times. So however unlikely, it is technically possible for a foreign-born citizen like Ahnold to become President.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 26, 2013


    Big in India

    > From: Paresh H
    >Sent: Monday, October 14, 2013 12:03 PM
    > Subject: Game Designing & Development
    >Sir,
    > I am studying civil engineering and will complete my graduation next year. I hope you will read this mail and might help me. I am from Nagpur city in Maharashtra State, INDIA. Mumbai (Bombay) is the capital of the state now you might know which state i'm trying to refer to, anyways now I'll come to the point I want to become a CEO of a company the one which makes games. India does not have a thriving game industry like that of the Bollywood (it rhymes with hollywood and stands for Indian Film Industry just so yo know). My ambition is to run a Game company that is what i want to do. I am preparing for the MBA degree for post graduation. I have read many articles and I am quite upset and frustrated after learning the conclusion that this industry is very fluctuating and lots of people have gone bankrupt. I know this is quite a great dream but nobody have tried to think it on this level i mean there are small interactive groups that are working but making a commercial and big budget gaming company is new and unique concept here. I just want to know is it possible nobody not any bank will grant me a loan of rs.15 crore (20 million$). Is this possible and if it is i'll work my ass off to do it if you reply to this mail by sparing me your precious time then i'll consider it a blessing and start working right from the moment. Will you mentor me in the future If i ask you to? and I've read your articles and I'm pretty much working my way up into the list.(I am a guy by the way just so you know "paresh" is the common name of an indian boy )......
    >Awaiting for your reply
    > paresh.............

    Namaste, Paresh. You wrote:

    is it possible
    Sure, of course. You have to start small, but there's no reason why you couldn't build it big over time.

    nobody not any bank will grant me a loan of rs.15 crore (20 million$)
    No, of course not. You need to get experience in the game industry, build contacts, and inject at least 25% of the startup capital yourself (it'll take time for you to get there). And you need to start small. Read FAQ 29.

    Will you mentor me in the future
    I give free advice here on this bulletin board. My paid consulting services are also available.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 14, 2013


    How can I get better at pitching ideas?

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 8:32 PM
    > Subject: Applying for an internship
    > Hi Tom,
    > After two months of hopeless waiting and occasionally e-mail spamming, I finally heard back from the company I was applying for. They were interested in knowing more about my experience with game art and game design, which is great. They sent me the designer questionnaire and coding test two days before they posted about that intern opportunity on their website. When I read their requirement section, they wanted the applicant who can design,do art, code and worked in a game company before. Luckily, I met all those requirements. ;P I have a pretty good feeling about this application.
    > While that is going well, I do find myself having problem communicate my game idea to others. Sometimes my ideas are too vague even for myself to refine it. How can I get better at pitching ideas?
    > I will keep you posted as usual, hope you don't mind it. :)
    > Tiantong (Don) X

    Hi, Don. You asked:

    How can I get better at pitching ideas?
    There are several ways, and I recommend you use them all.

    You need to have a long version in writing that you can hand over upon request, a 2-page version for executives, a one-paragraph version elevator pitch, and a one-sentence "high concept." As I wrote in FAQ 13, you need to keep in mind the "inverted pyramid" -- deliver the most important and exciting pieces of information first, and stop talking the instant you see your audience's eyes wander. The inverted pyramid requires you to prioritize and organize your thoughts.

    You should take the time to prepare a Powerpoint or Prezi of your game concept, obeying Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule. Even if you never show your presentation to someone, creating it will help you prioritize and organize your thoughts.

    Practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your pitch. And try it out on an audience so you can identify unclear points, so you can reword and clarify them.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 13, 2013


    A matter of degree (a masters degree)

    > From: Dhruv C
    > Sent: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:33 PM
    > Subject: Masters in game design
    > Hey There, I don't know if you remember but I've messaged you before but I'll just go ahead and put down all my details anyway.
    > My name is Dhruv
    > Age 19
    > I'm in my second year of b.tech in the field of information technology
    > I aspire to be a game designer someday
    > And I live in India.
    > I read your articles from time to time. I even go back to ones previously read when I need help on something I'm working on. They've been really helpful so thank you.
    > Anyways, I needed some help. I'm planning to do my masters in game designing from a university like vfs or full sail once I get done with my undergraduate studies. I want to know if that would be the right move for my career and also if getting a masters in game design would make me eligible to directly apply for a "game designer" position.
    > At first I thought I'd stick to getting into the industry through the programming route as I believe I am pretty good at it and also have plenty of time to work on and improve my programming skills.
    > Thanks

    Namaste, Dhruv. Your questions for me today are:

    I want to know if [doing my masters in game designing from a university like vfs or full sail] would be the right move for my career
    I don't know, Dhruv. I cannot foretell your future. If you want to get that masters degree, go for it.

    and also if getting a masters in game design would make me eligible to directly apply for a "game designer" position.
    No. I already covered this in FAQ 3. "Even with a degree in hand, you will not get hired as a Game Designer right out of school without industry experience," I said. You need a breaking in plan -- a way to get your foot in the door so you can eventually attain that design position.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 3, 2013

    P.S. Since the IGDA website was relaunched this week without my column, "The Games Game," I can no longer point people to my old columns there. So as needed by questions asked here, I'll re-up those columns as FAQs here. The Masters Degree column is now FAQ 76.


    Is game design really sweaty?

    > From: Mikkel C
    > Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 5:02 PM
    > Subject: Slight confusion regarding Game Design 101 on your website sloperama
    > Dear Tom Sloper
    > I was reading through your website, specifically the #1 FAQ. (http://www.sloperama.com/advice/idea.htm)
    > While I thoroughly enjoyed all the pertinent advice in regards to taking an idea and forming it into a product, i.e. a game, one phrase in particular rather confused me.
    > In the 5th paragraph you go on to writing: ďBoth of those paths require passion, perseverance, & perspiration.Ē
    > It could be, that me not being a native speaker of English, I am just not grasping the context properly, but do you in fact mean to say, that game design requires sweating?
    > Thank you.
    > A slightly confused Dane.

    Hej, Mikkel.
    "Sweat" is a euphemism for "hard work." I wanted a word that starts with P and means "hard work," so I chose "perspiration." I hope my other articles don't raise too much confusion for you!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 30, 2013


    Space-N-Counter

    > From: Scott L
    > Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2013 9:07 PM
    > Subject: Space-N-Counter
    > Hi there. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for Space-N-Counter. I got
    > one of these when i was a kid (I'm 40 now), and I loved playing it and
    > the novelty of sliding the front back and forth. I just found mine in
    > my basement. Although it's missing the battery cover, I have a
    > feeling it probably still works. (I took it apart a lot as a kid, so
    > there's a chance that it doesn't work...)
    > Anyway, I got many, many hours of enjoyment out of it, so Thank you!
    > -s

    Scott, I appreciate that. My grandfather played his Space-N-Counter a lot, too. I got it back after he passed away; the paint had worn off and the housing was dented from the button being pressed repeatedly. Your story reminded me of that.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 26, 2013


    The Black Box of getting to Production

    > From: Battery Master
    > Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 11:49 AM
    > Subject: The Black Box of getting to Production
    > Greetings Mr. Sloper.
    > First of all, thank you for your time reading and answering the aspiring game developers' questions.
    > This is the first time I am emailing you, so here are the answers of the tidbits you need to know:
    > 1. How old are you?
    > I am 25 years old.
    > 2. What's your level of education?
    > I am finishing my 4-year Bachelor's Degree in Economics, which consists of a Major in Finance and a Minor in Computer Science.
    > The Computer Science Courses which I studied were Introduction to Computer Science, Computer Systems Design and Architecture, Statistical Analysis with Microsoft Excel, Telecommunications, New Technologies, Principles of Programming including Visual Basic Lab, Business Information Systems.
    > I am also planning to attend another course, although it is not necessary for finishing my degree, which is a Matlab Programming lab.
    > Also, after finishing my army duties, I plan on studying a Master's Degree, hopefully Data Science.
    > 3. What's your current occupation?
    > Student.
    > 4. Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?
    > As far as job aspirations, I hope to work in a company which makes products that I really care about and inspires me to work at the highest level. That involves other sectors than Video Games, but since I care about Games and their importance both as entertainment/socializing and education/training tools, I would love to see if I could be a part of this industry.
    > Now, as far as game jobs are concerned, I am more interested in Game Production. I think it is a position which fits both my present and future education and my psychological type. (I am an INTP by the way.)
    > Of course I know already (by your articles among else) that Production is not an entry level job, not even as a Junior or Associate Producer.
    > So, my question is which other Game Job I should focus on to get my foot on the industry.
    > Art/Audio: Although I love the aesthetics of a game, as much as its mechanics, I am not interested in those areas.
    > Game Programming: I like problem solving, therefore I like Programming, but since I have not studied any other language except Visual Basic (and currently Mathematica independently) I do not think that I will make a very good programmer at this age. This is why I am not thinking about a Computer Science Master's Degree, and not because I am not interested. Well, what do you think, is it possible to have a good enough grasp of C++ for entry-level games programming, during just a Master's Degree?
    > Game Design: This is the area that I am most inclined to focus on. Especially since the mechanics and battle systems are a topic I really care about and I think I can add to their design with data analysis and statistics.
    > But then what about the portfolio?
    > I have already written a RPG world map and story, and I am eager to make it a game with RPG Maker VX Ace. Do companies care about something made with a not programming language oriented development tool?
    > How many personal projects in a portfolio would you consider enough as an employer to prove that a possible employee is really serious about game design? Do ''modded'' versions of pre-existing games count? (Like Magic: The Gathering with modified rules or stats.)
    > Any other comment that you happened to think while reading my e-mail would be appreciated!!
    > Thank you,
    > Peter

    Hi, Peter.
    Wow, it's a good thing I didn't hit the Spam button on your email. "The Black Box of getting to Production" sounds like a marketing message, but your From tag said "Battery Master," which didn't sound at all like a company or newsletter that would be sending out Production-related spams. The disconnect between the subject and the From tag gave me pause long enough to stay the Spam button click. You should keep working on your subject line writing. And you need to work on your brevity, too. My "5 questions" are meant to be answered with bullets, not essays.
    Anyway, your questions:

    my question is which other Game Job I should focus on to get my foot on the industry.
    That's not a question I can answer. Only you can answer that one. Search your soul. Try stuff. Find out which things interest you more. Figure it out. Make a decision grid!

    But then what about the portfolio?
    > I have already written a RPG world map and story, and I am eager to make it a game with RPG Maker VX Ace. Do companies care about something made with a not programming language oriented development tool?
    "Do companies care." That's your question. "Companies" have no feeling. You need instead to think about the people who would be interviewing you for whatever job you're applying for. The question here is whether or not one measly world-map-and-story and one possible RPGMaker demo that you're asking if it's worth making, is "enough." Read FAQs 49 and 66 (if you're not too lazy). And I can't tell you if this thing you've done and this thing you might do are appropriate for the job you're going to apply for, since you're asking me which job you should apply for!

    How many personal projects in a portfolio would you consider enough as an employer to prove that a possible employee is really serious about game design?
    49 (FAQ 49, that is).

    Do ''modded'' versions of pre-existing games count?
    It depends. Which job are you applying for?

    Any other comment that you happened to think while reading my e-mail would be appreciated!!
    Read FAQ 65.

    As I was getting ready to post this, I noticed a question I'd missed while skimming your overly lengthy answers to my 5 questions:

    Well, what do you think, is it possible to have a good enough grasp of C++ for entry-level games programming, during just a Master's Degree?
    Read FAQs 50 and 49.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, September, 2013


    To whom should I submit my MMORPG concept? (version 2)

    > From: akshay G
    > Sent: Friday, September 6, 2013 9:19 PM
    > Subject: MMORPG Game companies
    > Name- Akshay.G
    > Subject: About a game
    > Age= 17years
    > LEvel of Education= 10th passed
    > Country= India
    > Current Occupation= Student
    > i wanted to know that are there any mmorpg big game company who accepts our concept ????

    > From: akshay G
    > Sent: Friday, September 6, 2013 9:20 PM
    > Subject: akshay G has invited you to open a Google mail account
    > I've been using Gmail and thought you might like to try it out. Here's an invitation to create an account.
    > You're Invited to Google Mail!
    > akshay G has invited you to open a Google Mail account.
    > Google Mail is Google's free email service, built on the idea that email can be intuitive, efficient and fun. Google Mail has:
    > Less spam
    > Keep unwanted messages out of your inbox with Google's innovative technology.
    > Lots of space
    > Enough storage so that you'll never have to delete another message.
    > Built-in chat
    > Text or video chat with akshay G and other friends in real time.
    > Mobile access
    > Get your email anywhere with Google Mail on your mobile phone.
    > You can even import your contacts and email from Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL or any other web mail or POP accounts.
    > Once you create your account, akshay G will be notified of your new Google Mail address so you can stay in touch. Learn more or get started!
    > Sign up
    > Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, California 94043

    Hello, Akshay.
    Same answer as I gave you when you wrote three days ago. Scroll down and read the answer I gave you on September 3.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2013


    Some more questions, part 2

    > From: Mohan Kl
    > Sent: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 5:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: About degrees and general q's
    > Tom
    > The reason I asked you about STEM is because of the work related benefits it gives to foreign students who get a STEM certified degree. As in once we complete the degree it allows candidates to work for some extra time as compared to non-STEM degrees. I'm sorry that I didn't provide this info in my previous mail. So now I hope you understand the importance attached to it. Though the list includes Interactive Technology in it, I heard many game school degrees do not actually mean the same thing and hence the confusion. Since you too are in the educational domain, I wanted your opinion on it.
    > I agree that the question I asked regarding your personal favorite games was really only out of idle-curiosity and now I realize that is out-of-context here. But the succeeding question about Kickstarter was to get an industry veteran's opinion about the changing landscape of the games industry. I actually hinted at the "purpose" there when I said "more studios more jobs more games...". So in brief do you think more indie studios using Kickstarter to fund their projects would continue to do so in the long run and is it good for the industry? My opinion is that this gives a great platform to everyone, including just-graduating game-school kids to work on a project and hope to be funded to realize their dream. I hope now you see the reason for my question.
    > Cheers

    Good morning, Mohan. Your questions are much clearer now.

    First: Are game non-masters certificates/diplomas considered STEM? You say there are work-related benefits to foreign students. You would need to check with the givers of those benefits whether or not an entertainment technology counts towards STEM. In my opinion, games are entertainment more than they are technology.

    Second: Is Kickstarter changing the landscape of the game industry in a way that will increase jobs? I don't think so. It just means that there is a source of funding outside of the old publisher model, which in turns means that publisher risk aversion is a bit less of a factor in job volatility. Is Kickstarter good for the industry? I don't see how it could be bad. The buying public is more involved than before.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2013


    To whom should I submit my MMORPG concept?

    >From: akshay G
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 4:28 AM
    >Subject: About a game
    >hi sir,
    >My self Akshay.G
    >Age= 17years
    >LEvel of Education= 10th passed
    >Country= India
    >Current Occupation= Student
    > Sir i have a concept of MMORPG Game and i wanted to know that whom should i submit my game concept...since i dont own any company nor i have any good connection with big people.. i know it is hard to submit a concept to a company like valve,EA sports etc....

    Namaste, Akshay. You wrote:

    [To] whom should i submit my [MMORPG] concept
    You have to do research, Akshay. You have to consider which companies might have an interest in your MMORPG. Please read "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") 11, 21, and 35. To get to the FAQs, scroll up and find the links above left (they're easy to find since they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question.

    i know it is hard to submit a concept to a company like valve,EA sports etc.
    The way I see it, Valve isn't a publisher - rather, they're a portal/platform holder. They only accept submissions of finished games (as far as I'm aware), and they have a formal process for submitting ("greenlighting") finished games. And I don't know if they host MMORPGs on their system. As for EA Sports, obviously you wouldn't submit an MMORPG to EA Sports (a division of EA) unless it's a sports MMORPG -- you would need to determine (through your own research) whether EA (rather than its sports division) might be interested in funding and publishing your MMORPG. Good luck!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2013


    Some more questions

    > From: Mohan Kl
    > Sent: Monday, September 2, 2013 9:28 AM
    > Subject: Re: About degrees and general q's
    > Hello Tom
    > I was looking into quite a few programs offered at some colleges in US that are not full-on Masters degrees but rather sound like "Professional certificate in ..." or "Advanced Diploma of ..." and they accept bachelors degrees holders for it. Moreover the curriculum also matches with the Masters degrees but maybe some courses are missing. I wanted to know do these sort of courses "count" at the Masters level or are they just going to appear to potential employers as a jack-of-all certificates. Also could you tell me if any of the game degrees count as STEM-designated degrees. I did see Interactive Technology in that list here http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/stem-list.pdf. But most schools name their programs differently, so should I be worried about it or do they all come under the same thing and are STEM certified?
    > I wanted to ask you some general questions out of curiosity. What games are you currently playing, any of the recent ones that really got you hooked? Skyrim was the one that did it for me recently, and also Guild Wars 2 briefly. I know you love your Mahjong but are you still playing video games on a regular basis? If there was one game in the recent past you would've loved to have been on the dev-team which one would it be?
    > Also what's your take on Kickstarter? I read somewhere that Indie studios are really gung-ho about it since it changes the production model entirely and thanks to it we have more studios making some awesome quirky games which no one cared to do before. I guess it's a good thing overall; more studios more jobs more games that are NOT run-of-the-mill and creativity at it's best. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
    > Cheers

    Hi, Mohan. You wrote:

    I wanted to know do these sort of courses "count" at the Masters level or are they just going to appear to potential employers as a jack-of-all certificates.
    So you're saying you think employers want to see a Masters degree? That might be true in India, but it's not true in the West. You mustn't make too many assumptions about the world and how things work. Western employers might think you were overeducated if you apply for an entry level job and have a Masters degree. That said, I still have not answered your question, so here goes. If a certificate or diploma does not say "masters degree" on it, then it does not count as a Masters degree. Because it isn't.

    Also could you tell me if any of the game degrees count as STEM-designated degrees.
    The T stands for Technology. Is the degree based on technology? Answer that question and you have the answer to your question. But note that your question ("does X count as Y") is missing a part of the equation -- you have to state it as "does X count as Y in the eyes of Z for the purposes of P." When you ask a question, you have to provide the askee with enough information as to the purpose of the question, so he can give you the answer you're looking for.

    But most schools name their programs differently, so should I be worried about it or do they all come under the same thing and are STEM certified?
    What difference does it make? For what reason are you asking this question?

    I wanted to ask you some general questions out of curiosity.
    I'm not here to satisfy curiosity. I'm here to answer career questions. I hope you understand that I have other things to do with my time. If we were having lunch together then there would be time to chitchat, but here on this board I'd rather stay on topic.

    Also what's your take on Kickstarter? I read somewhere that Indie studios are really gung-ho about it since it changes the production model entirely and thanks to it we have more studios making some awesome quirky games which no one cared to do before. I guess it's a good thing overall; more studios more jobs more games that are NOT run-of-the-mill and creativity at it's best. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
    For what reason are you asking this question? Idle curiosity? Or are you writing an essay? Or are you planning to start a company? The answer depends on this -- I can give you a better answer if I understand why you're asking.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 2, 2013


    Applying for an internship, part 2

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 7:29 PM
    > Subject: Thank you for your advice
    > Tom:
    > Your advice helped me sleep better. Thank you!
    > It's a great point that I should treat it as a normal application and convinces them that I will be a good fit in the company.
    > I will keep you posted if I have more news about my application. I hope you don't mind.
    > Best Wishes,
    > Don


    Applying for an internship

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2013 4:19 PM
    > Subject: How to land a intern, when I have direct contact with comapny's CEO
    > Hi, Tom
    > I canít describe how lucky, excited but anxious I feel right now. This could be one of the luckiest things happen in my life.
    > I will try my best to keep this short. I met a professor in another university that does researches on social issues in games. I was just having a casual conversation with her on some game design ideas that we have. During the conversation, she mentioned she works with a game company that makes great games and spend a lot of time building positive community. Since I would be looking for an internship soon, I asked her if she would introduce me to her company. And she did. She introduced me to [company]'s CEO and art lead. The more I look into [company], the more I like it. Not just an internship, I would totally work for them for a few years.
    >
    > How can I do my best in this situation to land an intern? I mean they may not be looking for an intern in half a year. I replied in that e-mail with myself introduction, how I met the professor, link to a game I made and my portfolio, this Friday. I read your job application page. And I'm playing more of their games, so I could talk about them in interviews, if they come up.
    >
    > I have never been introduced to a game companyís CEO by someone in a close relationship with the game company. Does that mean they would take my application more seriously than a random application in a pile? What would be the nice thing to do in this situation?
    > Best Regards,
    > Don

    Hi, Don. You asked:

    How can I do my best in this situation to land an intern?
    The word here is "internship." You would be the intern, and you would be in an internship, or have an internship -- you would be interning.
    The answer is, do the things in FAQ 27 and don't do the things in FAQ 24. Getting an internship is exactly the same as getting a job. The process is the same.

    introduced to a game companyís CEO by someone in a close relationship with the game company. Does that mean they would take my application more seriously than a random application in a pile?
    Maybe slightly. But not a lot.

    What would be the nice thing to do in this situation?
    Treat it like a normal internship application. Do not assume that you have an edge. Listen carefully, and give good answers to questions. When asked if you have questions, have at least one good question that shows that you've done your research and you've done some thinking.


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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2013


    What path should I take?

    > From: SHIVAM K
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 4:01 AM
    > Subject: Game-Industry Q and A
    > Hello, sir,
    > My name is Shivam K and I'm from India. I am only 14 years old,
    > but I already know that one day I will be a game developer.
    >
    > I recently decided to spend a little less time only playing video
    > games, and more time learning how to create them. I've started
    > learning C language through online courses as well as gaining
    > experience in using pre-existing game engines to create simple 2D and
    > 3D games. I've started my first project, named Pointer Practice. It is
    > not complete yet, but a trial version will be available soon, which I
    > would love to share with you. Pointer Practice is a
    > simple game. There are objects moving on the screen at varying speed,
    > and when the user clicks them he will be awarded with points. Points
    > are awarded according to the speed of the object. There are areas on
    > the outer wall through which the balls will try to escape. The object
    > of the game is to score as many points as possible before all the
    > balls escape. Pointer Practice includes animations, sound effects, and
    > many other features.
    >
    > The reason I am writing to share this information with you is that I
    > am anxious to work for gaming industries. While I am only 14, I want
    > to now begin learning the skills I need to gain the correct
    > experience. I am seeking guidance in what I should learn in order to
    > become an attractive employee. Are there specific computer languages I
    > should learn, and other development tools your company values its
    > employees know? Also, are there any colleges in India you would
    > recommend I attend, and specific courses of study I should focus on? I
    > think practical experience is very important in order to enter the
    > gaming industry, which is why I plan to work on a significant project,
    > which I will create using Unity or UDK. As I want to devote
    > significant time to my creation, and since I am also a dedicated
    > student, this will likely take a long time.
    >
    > I would like to request you to tell me in what procedure should I
    > start doing things. I mean that should I learn programming languages
    > first, if yes then start from which one and them move on to which?
    > Your help means a lot to me as in our country there is not a great
    > hype of gaming.
    >
    > I desperately love to play games and study how they are created. I see
    > even the smallest element with very sharp eyes and figure out how to
    > reproduce them. I have some experience in game files; I typically peek
    > into a game's
    > file structure and try to edit the elements. I find that sometimes
    > editing the files brings new and unexpected elements into the game.
    > For instance, if I replace one sound effect with another, sometimes it
    > ends up glitching.
    >
    > I really appreciate your time and attention to this letter. I am
    > confident that I will become a motivated and strong asset to gaming
    > industries. I anticipate your response to this letter so I can become
    > the most effective game developer possible.
    > Respectfully,
    > Shivam

    Namaste, Shivam. You wrote:

    a trial version will be available soon, which I
    > would love to share with you.
    I'm sorry, but I don't review demos (as it says above).

    I want
    > to now begin learning the skills I need to gain the correct
    > experience.
    It sounds to me like you have already started, and are already off to a good start.

    I am seeking guidance in what I should learn in order to
    > become an attractive employee. Are there specific computer languages I
    > should learn, and other development tools your company values its
    > employees know?
    You should get a Computer Science degree, and you should learn some of the tools listed in FAQ 56. Every developer starts off learning different tools, and someday you'll run into someone in the industry who started with some (but maybe not all) of the tools you did, but that's okay. There are many paths, and any path you choose should be fine.

    Are there specific computer languages I
    > should learn, and other development tools your company values its
    > employees know?
    Yes, but every company values different tools, depending on a game's target platform and on preference.

    are there any colleges in India you would
    > recommend I attend
    Any college that teaches CS is fine.

    and specific courses of study I should focus on?
    Get a CS degree, and for your electives take any courses that interest you.

    which is why I plan to work on a significant project,
    > which I will create using Unity or UDK.
    Those are fine. But by the time you are ready to start applying for jobs, you will have more than one project in your portfolio.

    should I learn programming languages
    > first, if yes then start from which one and them move on to which?
    It doesn't matter which language you start with, and it doesn't matter which ones you move through next in your path to the CS degree. It's only important that you learn the concepts of programming and the concepts of programming languages. Read these:
    http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/path_programming.htm
    http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson56.htm
    http://www.gamedev.net/index.php?app=forums&module=forums§ion=rules&f=31
    http://www.gamefromscratch.com/post/2011/08/04/I-want-to-be-a-game-developer.aspx
    http://gamecareerguide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1862
    http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/how-do-i-make-games-a-path-to-game-development-r892

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2013


    Help me get in touch with a trademark attorney, part 2

    > From: Zoran S
    > Sent: Thursday, August 8, 2013 11:14 PM
    > Subject: Re: Game trademark attorney reccomendation
    > Hi Tom,
    > Thank you for your answers.
    > I forgot to stress it out - I have really read ALL the relevant FAQs on your site - on legal advice, IP and some things from glossary and on how to write a question.
    > I have read all the relevant articles by Mona and Gamasutra, Yeti town legal case, some Zynga lawsuit case articles and some others - some 2 full days of research(I'm only mentioning it to show I respect your time and I did my homework before asking)
    > So I am looking for a trademark, not copyright lawyer.
    > I will definitely afford a lawyer, but will need to find one with an average rates.
    > I have another question - by reading this article:
    > http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=22815
    > and it says this:
    > Unlike copyright, trade dress rights don't subsist from the moment of creation. Like trademarks, trade dress rights arise from use. Trade dress in a video game is best defined as the overall appearance of a game.
    > In order to establish trade dress rights in product designs, the trade dress must acquire "secondary meaning," That is, consumers have come to associate the "look and feel" of the product with a single source -- Tetris, in this case.
    > To prove trade dress infringement, Tetris must articulate the elements of its distinctive trade dress, show that it has acquired rights in those elements as a whole and that the overall appearance of Blockles is likely to cause confusion in consumers as to the source of the game (i.e., consumers may believe that Tetris created Blockles or granted a license to the owners of Blockles).
    > The elements Tetris has detailed as its distinctive trade dress are:
    > - "Geometric playing pieces formed by four equally-sized, delineated blocks;"
    > - "The long vertical rectangle playing field, which is higher than wide;"
    > - "The downward, lateral and rotating movements of the playing pieces;"
    > - "The appearance of a shadow piece at the bottom of the playing field matrix to indicate where the Tetrimino will drop;"
    > - "The appearance of a trailer effect after the Tetrimino during a 'hard drop' command;"
    > - "The display of the next Tetrimino that will fall down the matrix in a small box next to the playing field;"
    > - "The disappearance of any completed horizontal line;"
    > - "The display of a flash effect when a completed horizontal line disappears;" and
    > - "The subsequent consolidation of the playing pieces remaining on the playing field as a result of the downward shift into the space vacated by the disappearing line."
    >
    > So I was thinking about the trade dress, apologies.
    > If I have read correctly, trademark and trade dress must be protected because they dilute and lose value with each successive clone.
    > So the question is - did I understood it correctly? If you make a game that has similar look-and-feel, the company with the title that is well-known must/should go to court because your game dilutes the trademark value?
    > Thanks,
    > Zoran

    Hi, Zoran. Thanks for the donation. You wrote:

    I did my homework before asking)
    > So I am looking for a trademark, not copyright lawyer.
    Okay, good. I've given you all the lawyers information I have at hand.

    I was thinking about the trade dress, apologies.
    > If I have read correctly, trademark and trade dress must be protected because they dilute and lose value with each successive clone.
    > So the question is - did I understood it correctly?
    I don't know, Zoran. I'm not an attorney.

    If you make a game that has similar look-and-feel, the company with the title that is well-known must/should go to court because your game dilutes the trademark value?
    It's recommended. If someone has cloned your game, the real question is how good a case do you have and does the defendant have deep enough pockets - if not, then can you afford to take the legal action. A lawyer could better advise you.

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

    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 9, 2013


    Help me get in touch with a trademark attorney

    > From: Zoran S
    > Sent: Thursday, August 8, 2013 1:10 PM
    > Subject: Game trademark attorney reccomendation
    > My approximate age is: 36
    > The level of education I've completed is: Master of Science
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Programmer
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game designer
    > The country I live in is: Croatia
    > My game biz question is:
    > Hi Tom,
    > I am working on my first game and need would need a lawyer advice regarding trademark (I would need to know if some of the things I plan to implement would interfere with trademark of the existing games).
    > I tried doing my homework, and among other things found your definition of a fool - a person who hires a lawyer without recommendation.
    > So I tried contacting Mona Ibrahim, as she appears to be active in the field, however she was rather busy.
    > I currently can't afford Tom Buscaglia, and he really sounds good.
    > Could you please point me to some solid game trademark lawyer(s) (or a person who could point me to one)?
    > Thanks,
    > Zoran

    Hi, Zoran. You wrote:

    would need a lawyer advice regarding trademark (I would need to know if some of the things I plan to implement would interfere with trademark of the existing games).
    Are you really concerned about trademark? Or are you actually concerned about copyright? If you don't know the difference between trademark and copyright, you should do a lot more reading. To avoid trademark violations, don't use a title or a character name or a logo of another country. To avoid copyright violations, don't use anybody's graphics or audio or exactly copy somebody's user interface and level design.

    Could you please point me to some solid game trademark lawyer(s) (or a person who could point me to one)?
    All I've got for you are these URLs (some of whom you've already checked out):
    http://www.obscure.co.uk/directory/directory-legal/
    http://charnelaw.com/
    http://maientertainmentlaw.com/
    http://thegameattorney.com/
    http://www.kevinreillylaw.com/

    If you can't afford legal advice, maybe you can't afford to go into business. At least you should have a conversation with an IP attorney, if you can't afford to retain one to do whatever it is it's determined that you need an attorney to do.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 8, 2013


    Wanna be, part 2

    > From: Mohan Kl
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:34 AM
    > Subject: Re: About production
    > Namaste Tom
    > Thanks for taking the time out and replying to a noob like me with these sort of noobish questions. But you have spoken in a cryptic way so I'm more confused now :(
    >
    > By reading FAQ42 I get the feeling that a Producer needs to have the qualities (not necessarily degrees) of an MBA graduate, a Finance guy, Statistics maybe and a HR person. None of this fits into my profile :(
    > And when I asked if doing my Production track is good in terms of employ-ability, I meant when applying for other positions like QA, associate designer or even junior programmer (assuming I get my programming skills upto the mark as the job demands). You see the main concern is that if I'm done with production track and apply to non-production related jobs, what are my chances depending on current scenario of job market. In your articles you have given the egg depiction and how once you are inside you can move into other related areas. So does this also apply to the role of a Producer where if one starts as a junior producer position can one move onto other areas as effectively as coming from programming or arts? Have you seen a lot of this happening or is it just too rare?
    >
    > You said that you have been contributing to the creative side of things even though you worked as a Producer. So you're saying that you are an exception to this and most people who become producers do not get to do this? I want to know the ground reality of what actually goes on in studios. Also when I apply for "junior production" as you said, will my roles be the same as a Producer except taking up less responsibilites than a Producer?
    > Lastly you said I don't need a full-time degree and instead take up some courses related to level design. I would like to add two of my concerns to that -
    > 1. This may seem strange to you but getting a Masters degree is kind of "big thing" to my parents (also for many in my country) like you know it increases my "marriage" potential. This may also seem funny to you but it is an actual fact that I have to live with.
    > 2. I don't really know which courses you talked about and whether you meant to take them up in India or elsewhere. And I don't think it makes financial sense to invest in a foreign education for some part-time courses where I don't have much control over the outcome. These are the actual concerns of both me and my parents. Also it may affect my work-permit and other related stuff.
    > So I hope to have made things a little more clear and you can advice me the right way :)
    > Thanks and regards
    > Mohan

    Hi, Mohan. You wrote:

    By reading FAQ42 I get the feeling that a Producer needs to have the qualities (not necessarily degrees) of an MBA graduate, a Finance guy, Statistics maybe
    Sorry if I gave you that "feeling." A producer is responsible for the project's budget and schedule. She doesn't have to finance it (unless she's also running the company), and I don't know how you figure statistics figure into his job duties.

    and a HR person.
    Not fully, but the producer does have to be involved when hiring is going on, to varying degrees (depending).

    when I asked if doing my Production track is good in terms of employ-ability, I meant when applying for other positions like QA
    It might make you appear overqualified for that position.

    associate designer
    The Production degree probably wouldn't help, but shouldn't hurt either.

    or even junior programmer
    Likely wouldn't help much; shouldn't hurt.

    what are my chances depending on current scenario of job market.
    It depends on many more things besides that.

    In your articles you have given the egg depiction and how once you are inside you can move into other related areas. So does this also apply to the role of a Producer where if one starts as a junior producer position can one move onto other areas as effectively as coming from programming or arts?
    Yes. That's what the egg parable means.

    Have you seen a lot of this happening
    No.

    or is it just too rare?
    No.

    You said that you have been contributing to the creative side of things even though you worked as a Producer. So you're saying that you are an exception to this and most people who become producers do not get to do this?
    I don't think my situation was rare. I'm sure there are many other producers who (despite the common wisdom) get some creative input on the project. Every single person on the team has that opportunity.

    I want to know the ground reality of what actually goes on in studios.
    Then you should read lots of postmortems and blogs. Start with Gamasutra and GamesIndustry International.

    when I apply for "junior production" as you said, will ...
    I cannot foretell your future.

    ... my roles be the same as a Producer except taking up less responsibilites than a Producer?
    You'll take on whatever tasks the producer needs doing.

    This may seem strange to you but getting a Masters degree is kind of "big thing" to my parents
    I am aware of that. We have lots of Indian grad students at USC, so I've seen the importance attached to the degree there.

    you know it increases my "marriage" potential.
    No. I did not know that.

    I don't really know which courses you talked about
    Take whatever courses you most want to. Read FAQ 40. The courses that interest you are the ones you'll do better in, and will lead to a more fulfilling life.

    and whether you meant to take them up in India or elsewhere.
    It doesn't matter where you get a degree.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2013


    Wanna be a game designer so I'm planning to get a masters in Production

    > From: Mohan Kl
    > Sent: Friday, August 2, 2013 12:30 PM
    > Subject: About production
    > Hello Tom
    > Some things you need to know about me -
    > 1. How old are you? - 23
    > 2. What's your level of education? - Bachelor's in Engineering
    > 3. What's your current occupation? - Student
    > 4. Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? - Game Design
    > 5. And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?) - India
    > I've been reading a lot of your articles and they have helped me in many ways in deciding my career ahead. I will be graduating soon and am interested in getting my masters degree in game related course (i.e game designing as that is what I'm interested in). My current course of study is in Electrical sciences hence my programming skills are not upto the mark. Thus I am not going to be applying for any programming related courses for my masters study, also because I'm not interested in being a programmer my whole life. I am looking at colleges that offer any game design or level design programs for my masters and the choices are limited there. I have been looking into a few colleges that are offering masters in production track (I will not be naming any colleges here as I know you will not recommend any colleges). I think apart from the programming and arts track; both of which I'm not into; this production track seems ideal. However I need to know few things from you since you have been a games producer for a long time-
    > a. What exactly is the job of the producer? Is it only in dealing with the business side of things or also technical?
    > b. Since my intention is to be a game designer or level designer, will getting my masters in Production be a good choice in terms of employability?
    > c. After my graduation if I apply for junior design positions, will it look odd to employers since I would be graduating from Production track? If so what would you recommend?
    > Here are some of my concerns -
    > I've read that Producers are leaders who get the game completed. I am not a natural leader and don't have people management skills, I am more inclined to the technical side of things. So would you suggest me not to get into the production track? If the producer only gets the work done from all the other people, does he or she not contribute to any creative stuff in the game?
    > If you could help me with these things I would be most obliged since I have to take a very big decision in my life, both personally and financially and just want to know of as much things before I apply.
    > Thanks and regards
    > Mohan

    Namaste, Mohan. You wrote:

    What exactly is the job of the producer?
    Read FAQ 42.

    Is it only in dealing with the business side of things or also technical?
    Neither. It's managerial. It's not so much about money or technology as it is about people.

    will getting my masters in Production be a good choice in terms of employability?
    (1) I can't foretell the future. (2) It depends on you, how you pursue the career, and luck. Read FAQ 27.

    After my graduation if I apply for junior design positions, will it look odd to employers
    No. Everybody wants to be a designer. But "junior design positions" are rare, and usually require industry experience.

    since I would be graduating from Production track?
    Why wouldn't you apply for junior production positions, then?

    I am not a natural leader and don't have people management skills
    Then why are you planning to take Production? Maybe you should rethink your major.

    If the producer only gets the work done from all the other people, does he or she not contribute to any creative stuff in the game?
    That's what most people in the industry will tell you, but in my career I have often contributed creatively. If you want to be a level designer, you should go for level design. You don't need a Masters degree. You can just take some courses (rather than a full degree program) -- it costs less. With your EE degree already in your pocket, you need the extra learning (level design), not another piece of paper.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2013


    What should I do after (part 2)

    > From: udit g
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:03 AM
    > Subject: Re:
    > Hello Sir,
    > Its Udeet again. I read your rules and will comply by them. I know the distinction between game design and programming.....but the thing is I would like to design as well as program the game. You might think I am overambitious but it's something that I want. Right now my plan is to graduate.....get some work experience as a programmer (not necessarily in the game industry) and then get my masters in game design from a good institute(most probably out of India). These are my doubts:
    > 1.Can recommend some good institutes to get a masters in game development?
    > 2.What is the criteria of getting selected in these institutes?
    > 3.What should I do to get into design as well as programming?(I suck at drawing.....by design I mean developing the story line of the game)
    > 4.And will all this be enough to get my career on track?
    > Thank You,
    > Yours sincerely
    > Udeet G
    > P.S.: I really appreciate you taking out time to address my doubts.

    Hi, Udit. You wrote:

    I would like to design as well as program the game. You might think I am overambitious
    I don't.

    Can recommend some good institutes to get a masters in game development?
    I can, but I won't. Because I don't do that.

    What is the criteria of getting selected in these institutes?
    That's not a question I can help you with.

    What should I do to get into design as well as programming?
    When you have time, start doing some of the things I've outlined in FAQ 12, and read http://www.igda.org/games-game-april-2006 -- But more importantly, design some games and program them. But until you've graduated, your schoolwork is priority #1.

    (I suck at drawing
    I don't need to know that. It has nothing to do with any of the things you're asking about.

    by design I mean developing the story line of the game)
    Nobody but you calls that "design." The game industry calls that "writing." Stories are not games. Games are not stories. If you want to be a writer, get a writing degree.

    will all this be enough to get my career on track?
    Now you've asked FAQ 49. You can link to the FAQs above left. Your plan as you stated it above sounds fine, for starters. But is it enough? Read the FAQ.

    P.S. You should write a subject line when you email someone. The subject line should give the recipient an idea of what the email is about. Good luck to you!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2013


    Seeking advice for my son

    > From: simon t
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 9:48 AM
    > Subject: seeking advice for my son
    > Dear Mr. Tom
    > I have a son about 17 years old who is gung-ho about making a career in the gaming industry. I don't pretty much agree with his choice and in my research on the internet stumbled upon your site. I hear you give good advices on young wannabes about how to go about this. Now I'm not much of a computer person but my son is. Although I'm proud of him in the way he thinks and goes about his life, I'm not sure if this whole "gaming" business is really cut out for him. Not that I'm an expert on the matter but most of my friends say this industry is very volatile and there's hardly any job security even here in US. I've had many talks with him but he's adamant on pursuing this. Please tell me from your own experience is it ok for him to continue on this path. I know college tuition can be very taxing but honestly that's not my major concern here. I'm just more concerned about him and the career he chooses to pursue. Regarding my son, he is creative and knows what he is doing, atleast most of the time. Please advice me the right approach in dealing with this situation and advice what to tell him.
    > Sincerely
    > Simon

    Hi, Simon.
    I hear often from sons who want to know what to say to convince their dads to let the sons pursue their dream of working in games. So it's a refreshing change to get your letter!
    I don't know how serious your son is, but you can find out. If he's playing games and says he wants to make them, that's one thing (it shows that he likes to play games but says nothing about his desire or aptitude for making them). But if he's making games and apps, or writing game concepts, that's a sign that he's serious. You say he's a computer person, but I can't tell from your words if that means he's a budding programmer or if he's just online a lot. If he's cut out for programming, a Computer Science degree is great for getting work in games and also for getting work in many other fields as well.
    I sincerely believe what I've written in my advice articles, that a young person should pursue the things he's interested in. That he should not take a major that his parents push him to take, but one that he wants to take. You asked if the business is really cut out for him -- I have no idea. It's not for everyone. But a lot of people like me have made lifelong careers in the game industry, even with its wild volatility. I also know (or knew) people who started in games and then moved on to careers in other arenas. You must know plenty of people who majored in one thing and now work in a completely different field.
    I think it would be awesome if you would tell your son that you support him in whatever path he chooses to take. Even if he starts down one path, he may wind up going down another one at some point. No learning is wasted, in my opinion. And a person who works at something he enjoys generally has a better life than one who doesn't.
    Hope that was helpful.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2013


    What should I do after my bachelor's?

    > From: udit g
    > Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 11:38 AM
    > Subject:
    > Hello Sir,
    > I am a 19 year old guy living in India. I am currently completing my bachelor's degree in computer science......and I would like to work in the field of game development in the future. But in my country people are not aware of the possibilities in this field. So the people that I look up to like my parents and my teachers, are clueless on how i should go about in establishing a career in this field and so am I. I would like to seek your advice on what I should do after my bachelor's. I still have three years to complete it and my college scores were off the chart last semester! So i could take up other things like history music etc. that you were talking about in your article. I would really appreciate your input.
    > Thank You,
    > Yours Sincerely
    > Udeet G

    Namaste, Udit. You wrote:

    the people that I look up to like my parents and my teachers, are clueless on how i should go about in establishing a career in this field and so am I.
    You could get hired by a game company in India, or by a game company in another country, or you could start your own business.

    I would like to seek your advice on what I should do after my bachelor's.
    You should build a portfolio. Maybe pursue a master's degree. Network. Look for a game job. There are some game companies in India now; in three years I imagine there will be more. See gamedevmap and gameindustrymap.

    i could take up other things like history music etc. that you were talking about in your article.
    I don't know which article you mean. #3? That's about game design (not game programming), but for your electives, I think you should be taking courses that interest you.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 29, 2013


    Is there a decent market for this?

    > From: Elliot M
    > Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2013 6:23 PM
    > Subject: Chexster - abstract strategy market
    > Is there a decent market for abstract strategy these days, in chess-like games?
    > The objective of Chexster is to get across the board and occupy your opponent's home row while avoiding and trying to capture pieces.
    > At Gamescape in San Rafael, CA, Andre S████ told me abstract strategy was a very small market these days.
    > The production game pieces would be hollow with a ball bearing inside for balance and stability.
    > Elliot

    Well, Elliot, I'd have to agree with that fellow in the game store. Don't you think he would know?
    You should also go into Toys Я Us. Browse the game shelves. Look at the expensive games especially. Maybe ask a clerk how well those sell.
    The reason I mentioned price is that although your game looks really intriguing, I'm sure it would be expensive to make in large quantities. With the right marketing campaign, it could catch on with upscale folks interested in playing board games. Your audience would have to be upscale since your game will be expensive, and your players would have to be interested in board games and Tetris, and they also need to have time on their hands, which a lot of upscale folks don't. So your market size is kind of limited. But...
    Have you seen the games they sell in Starbucks? Those games are high-end games targeted at Starbucks customers (upscale folks). Those Starbucks games might or might not sell at Toys Я Us or that game shop in San Rafael.
    If you do get your game published, I'd love to get a chance to play it. I think it looks really cool.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 27, 2013


    Expat in Japan

    > From: Jonathan B
    > Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:35 AM
    > Subject: Expat in Japan wanting to transition to become Game Designer
    > Hi Tom,
    > I'm an American expat who's been living in Japan for over 7 years, and I've recently rediscovered myself. I want to become a game designer.
    > How old are you? 30 with wife and 1 child
    > What's your level of education? Bachelors in computer and electrical engineering. Minor in Japanese
    > What's your current occupation? Field service engineer manager
    > I'm planning my transition as I write this:
    > I'll quit my very busy full-time job
    > Get a high pay part-time English teaching job, study game development like crazy, and create a game or two
    > Create a nice portfolio and join a game dev studio.
    > Problem:
    > I'm afraid of the Japanese work culture -- Long overtime, complex vertical relationships, and indirect communication, and the pressure to suck it up and be subservient. I've worked in a Japanese company before so I have some experience. I can't say that they are all the same though. I could try to find a foreign game development company is Japan, but they are rare....
    > I've passed the JLPT level 2 exam and can communicate OK but not enough to read deep into what a Japanese person really wants to say or read what they really mean. Ex. Saying something but meaning something totally different or agreeing with you without understanding what you said. If I do join a team as a "game planner" I fear that I won't be able to get my ideas across or worse not accurately receive what my Japanese peers are trying to communicate to me.
    > Summary:
    > 1. Should I worry about working at a traditional JPN game company or find that rare foreign game company?
    > 2. Is my communication worry with Japanese workers reasonable? If I wanted to become a programmer or artist I wouldn't be so worried, but a game designer needs strong communication.
    > Maybe I shouldn't work in Japan, but since I am here already it is at least an ideal stepping stone.
    > Please let me know what you think, I'd be very grateful.
    > -J.B.
    > P.S. Do you have any twitter accounts from American expats working in Japan that you can share?

    Konnichiwa, J.B. You wrote:

    I want to become a game designer. [in Japan]
    First you'll need to get a job at a game company in Japan. You need an entry pathway other than game design. Whatcha got?

    current occupation? Field service engineer manager
    Read FAQ 41 and FAQ 7, and see what game job you can most easily switch into.

    Get a high pay part-time English teaching job
    Really, those are high-paying? I didn't know that.

    I'm afraid of the Japanese work culture -- Long overtime, complex vertical relationships, and indirect communication, and the pressure to suck it up and be subservient. I've worked in a Japanese company before so I have some experience.
    I'm afraid of earthquakes -- not the shaking, but the damage it can do and the possible upheaval in my life and my finances. I've been in two really big earthquakes before, so I have some experience. Yet I still live in Los Angeles.

    I guess you don't currently work in a Japanese company, even though you live in Japan and are working as a field service engineer manager. Dude, you can't let fear rule your life. Read FAQ 47, the wise quotes about fear.

    The game industry has a bad reputation for overworking its people, and that reputation is not undeserved. The Japanese work culture also has a bad reputation, as you pointed out. What I don't know is how those two intersect. Although I worked in Japan, at a game company, I didn't work in a game studio (my office was a small overseas office of Activision, then "Mediagenic"). I imagine that the intersection of those two cultures does not magnify the problem, but rather the game culture is merely sort of reinforced by the Japanese work culture.

    I could try to find a foreign game development company is Japan, but they are rare....
    Rarity is no reason not to try.

    I've passed the JLPT level 2 exam and can communicate OK but not enough to read deep into what a Japanese person really wants to say or read what they really mean. Ex. Saying something but meaning something totally different or agreeing with you without understanding what you said.
    Your Japanese is undoubtedly much better than mine. I totally understand what you're saying. And I believe your "poor" mastery of the language makes you a poor candidate for a game design position in Japan. Communication is the most important skill of the game designer. You may not be able to attain the job you seek.

    Should I worry about working at a traditional JPN game company or find that rare foreign game company?
    No, you should not worry. Worrying is futile. And I hate compound questions.

    Is my communication worry with Japanese workers reasonable? If I wanted to become a programmer or artist I wouldn't be so worried, but a game designer needs strong communication.
    Right. I think it's a Quixotic quest.

    Maybe I shouldn't work in Japan, but since I am here already it is at least an ideal stepping stone.
    Ideal, really? That first step is a doozy. Maybe you need different stepping stones.

    Do you have any twitter accounts from American expats working in Japan that you can share?
    I'm not much of a Twitter user. I suppose broadcasting a Twitterer (Tweeter?)'s @address isn't verboten (だめ) like broadcasting a phone number or an email address is. So I'm stifling my impulse to chide you for making an inappropriate request. But honestly, no. I don't know of any American expats working in games in Japan. My expat friends in Japan are mah-jongg players, not game industry folk. I don't suppose those are of much interest to you.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 27, 2013


    Character design and perhaps the backgrounds

    > From: samm b
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 9:57 PM
    > Subject: questions about game design
    > hi I've been thinking about game design but after reading your website I am not sure if what i want to do is part of designing a game. what i exactly want to do is design the characters and perhaps the backgrounds, is there a job in the game industry that i can do this? what skills do i need to learn and what should i study? could you give me any extra information about this, something i should know. thank you

    Hi, Samm. You wrote:

    I am not sure if what i want to do is part of designing a game. what i exactly want to do is design the characters
    I am not sure if you mean the look of the characters or the personality and backstory of the characters. The former is the job of an artist; the latter is the job of a writer.

    and perhaps the backgrounds
    You might be talking about writing, but youíre probably talking about art. If youíre more inclined towards art than writing, are you more inclined towards concept art (beautiful art that shows an artistís concept of what the game might look like) or environment art (art to be used in the game, so more detailed and "livable").

    is there a job in the game industry that i can do this?
    Yes. There are art jobs and writing jobs in the game industry.

    what skills do i need to learn and what should i study?
    Read FAQs 53 and 34. Also read (cut and paste these addresses):
    http://gamecareerguide.com/getting_started/
    http://www.creativeskillset.org/games/careers/profiles/index_1.asp
    http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/path_art.htm

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 25, 2013


    A Handful, part 2 (or is it 3)

    >From: Daniel K
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:52 PM
    >Subject: Re: Fw: Form submission from: Ask Tom
    >Oh, sorry! I just realized I didn't read your first email closely enough. Please forgive my impudence.

    No prob, Daniel.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2013


    A Handful of Big Ideas

    >From: Daniel K
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 6:13 PM
    >Subject: Re: Fw: Form submission from: Ask Tom
    >Thanks Tom. I suspected as much, but it is good to finally have it in the open.
    >I'll post my ideas online, try to get feedback on them. If it does turn out they are really good, then I'll be happy no matter what happens to them. If not... then I'm glad I came to you sooner rather than later.
    >
    > On Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 12:07 PM, Tom Sloper wrote:

      >> Hello, Daniel.
      >> My answer to your IGDA question has been written but I don't know when it will go up on the website, at http://www.igda.org/games-game. So as not to keep you waiting indefinitely, I am sending you the reply below. If you wish to ask follow-up questions, I will answer those on my own bulletin board, at http://sloperama.com/advice/bulletinbd.htm
      >> Best wishes for you in your endeavors!
      >> Tom

    > From: Daniel K
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:08 PM
    > Subject: Re: Fw: Form submission from: Ask Tom
    > Another question, if you have the time: Do you know of any other game design forums, that are higher-quality than the one on GameDev? The poor site seems swamped with mediocre ideas presented without much thought.

    Hi, Daniel.
    Well, if the concepts presented on GameDev are so far beneath the level of yours, your concepts should look brilliant by comparison, so I donít see how that's a bad thing. Also, I hope you're not saying that the feedback given on GameDev is also beneath you, because I think a lot of good feedback is given there. And no, I don't know of any "better" places to post your ideas. You might want to just build your own blog and do it there.
    Either way, good luck!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2013


    Ideas For Degree Choices

    > From: Austin H
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 3:46 PM
    > Subject: Ideas For Degree Choices
    > Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > I am 16 years old and currently entering the 11th grade. I'm currently a student; I aspire to be a game designer and writer, and I live in Texas. I've known that I want to create the idea of and write for video games for a very long time, and I've been actively looking for colleges that would best suit me in order to achieve this goal. I've really been attracted to Champlain because of its degree in Game Design, but after reading some of your articles and advice, I'm not sure if I should go there. Writing completely enraptures me, but I'm very fearful that writing skills alone won't be enough to gain entry into the game industry which is what I ultimately aspire to do. With that thought, I started looking into colleges with degrees in English and Computer Science so that I might double major, but I have no experience in programming (as of now); I don't know if it's necessary to for what I want to do, and I'm not sure if it's something that I'll enjoy seeing as I'm completely involved with the premise, idea, and writing in video games. Several people also find a degree in computer science much better to have a fall-back jobs. In terms of questions, I would like to know if having a degree in computer science will be more effective than game design. I would like to know if it would be better to have a degree in game design seeing as they have you create games and work in teams as opposed to computer science, so I'll have more experience. I would also like to know if a degree in English would mean anything to a gaming company on it's own and its value if it were to be paired with a degree in computer science or game design. Thank you for your time.
    > Sincerely,
    > Austin H
    > (Student)

    Howdy, Austin. You wrote:

    I started looking into colleges with degrees in English and Computer Science so that I might double major, but I have no experience in programming (as of now)
    In general, majoring in something you don't know much about or aren't passionate about is not a good idea.

    I don't know if it's necessary to for what I want to do
    You'll need to know a little about programming, no matter what career you go into. That doesn't mean a CS degree is needed.

    and I'm not sure if it's something that I'll enjoy
    Then you shouldn't major in it, unless you find out soon that you do enjoy it.

    I'm completely involved with the premise, idea, and writing in video games.
    So a degree in games probably would be enjoyable. Be advised that it will absolutely involve programming to some extent. But probably not very much writing. People who aspire to write for movies or TV or video games or comic books (or anything) are advised to study writing.

    I would like to know if having a degree in computer science will be more effective than game design
    I can't foretell the future. And "more effective" is vague. I think that degree would be very effective in giving you a miserable time in college, if you aren't a natural born programmer.

    I would like to know if it would be better to have a degree in game design seeing as they have you create games and work in teams as opposed to computer science,
    I can't foretell the future. I suppose you would enjoy that degree more than CS. Be advised that it will absolutely involve programming to some extent. But probably not very much writing. I don't think many college game programs teach much about writing, even though game design involves a lot of writing. Technical writing as well as creative writing.

    I would also like to know if a degree in English would mean anything to a gaming company on it's [sic] own
    Nobody cares what degree an applicant has. They only care what the portfolio shows. But you need a four-year degree or they won't look at the portfolio (when the applicant has no game industry experience). An English degree could help you become a good writer. No piece of paper will get you a job.

    and its value if it were to be paired with a degree in computer science
    That would be good, if you had a great programming portfolio to go with it.

    or [paired with] game design.
    That would be good, if you had a great design/writing portfolio to go with it. And if you were qualified for some entry-level game job that the employer has open.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2013


    Big In Japan

    > From: Asa S
    > Sent: Saturday, July 20, 2013 11:51 PM
    > Subject: Ideas for educational path
    > How old are you? 20
    > What's your level of education? High-School Diploma
    > What's your current occupation? (If student: "student") Starbucks Coffee Master
    > Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? Producer
    > And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?). San Francisco
    > Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > I am writing to you today to ask for your advice on becoming a Producer of sorts. After reading some of your writing I noticed that you are well equipped with knowledge in not only the gaming arena but in educational paths and production. I am currently unsure of what educational path to take but know exactly what I want out of life. I have a passion for entertainment (not the bad kind lol) and I would ideally like to become a producer in either the gaming, movie, or animation industries. If I were to choose gaming or animation I would likely go to Japan to manage my own design team. I could go at length about the why's and how's but I am here to ask for your advice...Basically, I would like to know if you know much about the gaming industry in Japan and what education would best suit my journey there.
    > I thank you in advance for reading, I am sure you are a busy man.
    > Sincerely,
    > Asa

    Hello, Asa. You wrote:

    I would ideally like to become a producer in either the gaming, movie, or animation industries.
    Well, hmm. The preparation for each of those likely requires different preparation and education, and certainly requires different experience, so your decision between those industries needs to be earlier rather than later.

    If I were to choose gaming or animation I would likely go to Japan to manage my own design team.
    Wow, you just raised the bar really high. It's going to be hard enough to rise to the producer level in the country of San Francisco. Rising to the producer level in the country of Japan is a really really big challenge.

    I could go at length about the why's and how's
    That would have been useful information to have included with your question.

    but I am here to ask for your advice...
    My advice is "pick one" (games, movies, or animation).

    I would like to know if you know much about the gaming industry in Japan
    Worked there, lived there. Read FAQ 48.

    and what education would best suit my journey there.
    Read FAQ 42, the section on Preparing. And master Japanese (written as well as spoken). When you can write a budget, a schedule, and a business analysis in Japanese, you'll be ready for that journey. (Actually, you should start that journey and get that education in Japan, to get the longest possible head start.)

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 21, 2013


    What about this plan? (Was: Is it possible?)

    > From: adam c
    > Sent: Friday, July 19, 2013 9:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: Breaking into video game industry as a business guy
    > Thank you very much for your reply Mr. Sloper.
    > I had a few more questions. Do you think I should go back to school for a degree in computer science? Is it more probable that I break in to the design department through the finance/sales route or through the programming route. Although I want to note that being a game programmer is not my end goal, I merely plan to use it as a stepping stone to design role. Do you think it's foolish to get a computer science degree, if I don't have aspirations of being a career game programmer?

    Welcome back, Adam. You wrote:

    Do you think I should go back to school for a degree in computer science?
    No.

    Is it more probable that I break in to the design department through the finance/sales route or through the programming route.
    In general, it is more likely to get there through programming. But that does not mean that a business guy who aspires to be a designer should get a programming degree and try to get a job as a programmer so he can migrate eventually into design.

    Do you think it's foolish to get a computer science degree, if I don't have aspirations of being a career game programmer?
    Yes. You don't need a degree. You need a way to get into the game industry, you need to develop your design skills and prove them, and you should pursue your passions. Read FAQs 41 and 40, and read some more of them, and read everything you can find about how the game industry works.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 19, 2013


    Is it possible?

    >From: adam c
    >Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:38 PM
    >Subject: Breaking into video game industry as a business guy
    >Hi Tom,
    >My name is Adam C, and I'm a finance professional. I have a bachelors in economics, and I have worked as in the financial service industry for 3 years now. I was wondering, is it possible to get a job at a video game company in a finance/marketing/sales role, and then move into the development/design side? I do have some programming experience, but I definitely don't have the skills to be a game programmer. I have written some simple games use pygame, and numerous text based games.
    >Thank you very much,
    >Adam C

    Hi, Adam. You asked:

    is it possible to...
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question #50. You can 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 ). In short, yes. Anything is possible (with two exceptions discussed in the FAQ), so that question isn't very interesting. I'll still be here, if you want to ask me a more interesting question.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 18, 2013


    Please delete my post or your [sic] a bad person

    > From: Steven A
    > Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:54 PM
    > Subject: Re: Hi, could you delete my post-email on the board
    > ? Take them off, why can't you take them off are you that bad of a person

    > From: Steven A
    > Sent: Thursday, July 11, 2013 5:36 PM
    > Subject: Take them off or your a bad person
    > Take them off, why can't you take them off what are you a bad person

    Steven, when you came here and asked me for my advice, you implied consent for your question and my answer to be posted here, per the prominently posted Terms of Service of this website (above):

      Privacy policy: "ALL YOUR EMAIL ARE BELONG TO ME." Questions and answers are handled in this public forum only - I give free answers, but 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. Emailing me, or sending me a PM on any website, with a question or comment on this site's topic constitutes permission for your email to be made public. No information you provide with request for free advice shall be deemed confidential.

    You got advice from me, and the only "price" was that your question would be posted here. I gave you my advice. I cannot un-give you my advice (there is no way possible for you to return it to me for a refund). So here your previous post stays. In the future, you should always make yourself aware of the Terms of Service (TOS) of any website or service you utilize.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 11, 2013


    Please delete my post

    > From: Steven A
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 5:28 PM
    > Subject: Hi, could you delete my post-email on the board
    > Hi, could you please delete my post below on the board where it says january 14 like I mean where my post says my names steven da da da da~ that one's mine could you delete it
    > Thanks in advance

    It depends, Steven. When you say "the board," which board are you talking about? Do you mean "I have designed a board game," on January 14 below? I do not delete Q&A posts - see this website's policy, clearly stated above.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 10, 2013


    Do I need to have programming in my design portfolio (v2)

    > From: marcus m
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 10:10 AM
    > Subject: Re: Design portfolio
    > Dear Tom
    >You said that I asked a poor question when I'd asked "how essential is it for someone with a design portfolio to have knowledge of programming or anything else." I'm sorry but I don't see what you meant, maybe if you could elaborate more on this I'd know where I went wrong. The thought behind it when I asked it was that I read in Gamecareerguide forums that most every one with a design portfolio HAS to have some programming bit in it. So if I do break away from that mould would I still have some chance.
    >I did read the faqs 3 and 14 and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was already following some of the tips you'd mentioned because it was part of my hobby/to fuel my creative pursuits :)
    >You've asked me to focus on my desired career but without first focussing on my portfolio how can I do that? I hope you find the question I'm about to ask to be more appropriate -
    > I'm working in the field of CAD when I said I'm in the mechanical industry. So with the spare time I actually get, how much percentage of it should I use to work on my designs/level creations/mods and programming? Because with programming I'd have to start almost from scratch. Hence I wanted to know what level of expertise in programming do employers usually look for in entry level design jobs including level design. Thus I can plan my preparation more effectively.
    >Ciao
    > Marcus

    Buongiorno, Marcus.
    You wrote:

    You said that I asked a poor question when I'd asked "how essential is it for someone with a design portfolio to have knowledge of programming or anything else." I'm sorry but I don't see what you meant, maybe if you could elaborate more on this I'd know where I went wrong.
    Please understand that I am a university teacher, as well as a picky taskmaster as a game producer, reader of game designs and bug reports. So I may have been a little too teacherly. When you said "how essential is it for someone with a design portfolio to have knowledge of programming", I should have read it as "how essential is it for an aspiring game designer to have knowledge of programming." The way you wrote it, I could easily imagine someone having a design portfolio but not aspiring to be a designer, or someone having a portfolio in interior design or product design. I was perhaps a bit too persnickety, especially if English is not your primary language. I hope you see now how you could have worded it better.

    I read in Gamecareerguide forums that most every one with a design portfolio HAS to have some programming bit in it.
    If you had said that before, I would have had more context! In my previous reply to you, I too said that everybody who lives in the future needs to know at least a little bit about programming, But the way you asked before, it sounds like you would rather skip it if you can. A game designer is endlessly curious, a voracious learner. It's possible to become a game designer without knowing anything about programming. But it's better to know some.

    I'm working in the field of CAD
    Nice! That means you probably could get into level design pretty easily.

    how much percentage of it should I use to work on my designs/level creations/mods and programming? Because with programming I'd have to start almost from scratch. Hence I wanted to know what level of expertise in programming do employers usually look for in entry level design jobs including level design.
    I see. You're looking for the easiest path, the sure route to where you want to go, with no time-wasting detours. That's too bad, because "the straight tried-and-true path into game design" does not exist. Read FAQs 49, 51, 66, 26, and 30. Stop looking for the easy route. You should try designing some levels. I think you'll see a lot of parallels with CAD. That, together with some Python scripts, should make a nice level design portfolio.


    Tom Sloper

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 10, 2013


    Do I need to have programming in my design portfolio?

    > From: marcus m
    > Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 10:25 AM
    > Subject: Design portfolio
    > Dear Tom
    > I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, the first time I write you, you need to know that
    > How old are you? - 28
    > What's your level of education? - Graduate
    > What's your current occupation? - Mechanical Industry
    > Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? - Game design
    > And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?) - USA
    > I've always been interested in working on the design aspects of games. And I know it's important to have knowledge of other aspects of the game development process. However how essential is it for someone with a design portfolio to have knowledge of programming or anything else. Mind you I'm no artist so programming is my only other best bet, also I'm not averse to learning it. I've started to teach myself some scripting (Python). So when I make a portfolio do I necessarily need to add programming aspects in it because it's the accepted norm??
    > Or is it like just a nice thing to have to beef up my resume to make me more skillful in diverse areas so that I'm a valuable addition to a team? Looking forward to hearing from ya.
    > Marcus

    Hi Marcus. You wrote:

    how essential is it for someone with a design portfolio to have knowledge of programming or anything else.
    Your question is asked very poorly. The way you asked it, the right answer is "not very essential, since merely having a design portfolio, with no game industry experience, is not going to get you a design job." Have you read FAQ 3 and FAQ 14?

    Mind you I'm no artist so programming is my only other best bet, also I'm not averse to learning it.
    Well, that's nice, because everybody who lives in the future needs to know at least a little bit about programming, no matter what job he aspires to.

    when I make a portfolio do I necessarily need to add programming aspects in it because it's the accepted norm??
    Oddly worded question (you are only focusing on the portfolio, and not your desired career). "No, not necessarily."

    Or is it like just a nice thing to have to beef up my resume to make me more skillful in diverse areas so that I'm a valuable addition to a team?
    You haven't said what your breaking in plan is. You're in the "mechanical industry," you say. I'm not sure what that is, or how you can leverage that background to get into a game job. Read FAQ 41, and read FAQs 24 and 27 too. And maybe you should read more articles besides those.

    After you've read those FAQs and absorbed my answers, maybe you'd like to come back and ask different questions. I'll still be here.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2013


    Discrimination in game industry?

    > From: Raghav S
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 12:24 PM
    > Subject: Discrimination in game industry?
    > Hello Mr. Tom, first the things you asked
    > How old are you? - 27
    > What's your level of education? - Bachelors
    > What's your current occupation? (If student: "student") - IT Engineer
    > Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? - Game Design/Programming
    > And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?) - Mumbai, India
    > I have a rather unusual question to ask of you if you don't mind. I am planning to study in the US in the near future. Having heard how the game industry is a little informal when compared to other tech companies, I wanted to know - Is there any discrimination based on your caste, creed, religion or color (yes I mean racism)? I would like to know the general situation in the game industry and your personal opinion on the above. I'm sorry if you've already answered it for someone but I glanced through your website and didn't find anything similar. It may seem irrelevant to you but since I'm from the subcontinent it is of some interest to me. Thanks in advance for replying.
    > P.S- Your website rocks!

    Namaste, Raghav. You wrote:

    Is there any discrimination based on your caste, creed, religion or color (yes I mean racism)?
    No.

    I would like to know the general situation in the game industry
    Are there racists in the industry? I suppose there could be. Is there a monolithic discrimination tendency in the industry? Absolutely not. "Caste" is a non-issue in North America (that's a peculiarly Indian notion, as far as I know). Not sure what "creed" is. Religion is a person's personal business, of no concern to anyone else. A much larger issue in the game industry is gender discrimination. Hirers typically do not discriminate against females, but the "bro gamer culture" indigenous to the industry sometimes causes a female employee's coworkers to behave insensitively.

    and your personal opinion on the above.
    I'm glad that the industry is not racist, and I'm hopeful that the gender bias will improve. Most hirers care only that an applicant is qualified, will do a good job, and will make a pleasant addition to the team.

    P.S- Your website rocks!
    Thanks. (^_^)

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2013


    Best way to express concerns about the process?

    > From: birkenm1983
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 11:48 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, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: 30
    > The level of education I've completed is: bachelors
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: game producer
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: lead producer
    > The country I live in is: us
    > My game biz question is:
    > Hi Tom,
    > I recently had a meeting with some important people at the co i work at. I raised a few concerns I saw in our current process of doing things. The vips seemed interested when I raised the concerns, but other managers I work with immediately covered up what I said with positive remarks trying to assure them what I said isn't something to be worried about.
    > My main question is how to raise concerns properly without sounding like an alarmist? Should i speak when spoken to or is it a good thing I speak mind? Common sense says lesson learned don't do it anymore. But I wanted a second opinion.
    > Thanks
    > Robert

    Hi, Robert.
    It's interesting that you asked this question. It's very similar to a question asked recently on GameDev.net's "Game Industry Job Advice" forum: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/644626-bringing-really-bad-news-reccomendations/
    You did the right thing. And it sounds like you did it the right way. In my experience, it's rare that an idea sees instant acceptance, agreement, and adoption. You planted a seed. Watch and see how it grows. If things go downhill, you can offer a suggested solution. Just offering it will have to be enough, if you get shot down again (I'm saying, don't harp on it).
    There's a saying: "don't give me problems -- give me solutions." When pointing out a problem (or a potential problem), always offer at least one solution. Offering multiple solutions is even better -- that way, people have some that they can safely reject.
    Sometimes, people will forget that it was you who planted a seed that takes root in someone else's mind, causing him to take the action you suggested. Don't worry about getting credit for your ideas -- the important thing is that the project succeeds. You work on enough successful projects, and you look good even if other people are taking credit for your ideas. If you want, you can document your suggestions by simply writing them in an email (either instead of, or in addition to, suggesting them verbally).
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2013


    The Idea Man, part 2

    >From: Jesper B
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 3:29 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question about a computer game Idea
    >Tom,
    >Whats the difference between a idea for a game and a script for a movie? Im having a hard time understanding why a script for a movie should require for the writer to also publich a prototype for the actual movie, in the same sense as you claim that an idea is worth shit and is only useful if you also create the actual game

    Hi, Jesper. I've been waiting for you to return so you could ask me specific questions about your game concept. But now you've expressed the classic "idea whine." You're frustrated by the reality of the game industry, and you demand an explanation. This explanation has been given several times recently on other forums, and I ask you to go have a look there.
    In GameDev.net's Game Industry Job Advice forum, see the thread "How to become the 'idea guy'" and in the GDNet Lounge, see the thread "What's the true worth of an initial game idea?" And on GameCareerGuide.com's Getting Started forum, see the thread "Production of an idea." Read all threads from beginning to end. Here are the direct URLs (copy and paste, please):
    http://www.gamedev.net/topic/644615-how-to-become-the-idea-guy/
    http://www.gamedev.net/topic/642973-whats-the-true-worth-of-an-initial-game-idea/
    http://gamecareerguide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6387
    After you've read those, you're welcome to come back and continue the discussion about how movie scripts are different from GDDs.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2013


    The Idea Man Writeth

    > From: Jesper B
    > Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 6:50 AM
    > Subject: Question about a computer game Idea
    > Hi Sir Tom,
    > I have just read your tips about what to do and not do with the procedure of a video game idea. I have to admit that ive been under the spell that a great idea for a game would be someting that could be shared with a publisher/developer, but am I wrong?
    > Would you mind reading my idea and providing me some feedback? I can tell you that I would love to get into the industry, but I havent been able to find a good fit. My background is in psychology and a masters degree in social work. My gaming intrest comes from personal gaming but I have no raw skills in art design or programming. However, I still believe that I would add some great insight within a gaming company and therefore I still believe that a great idea can be shared and dont have to be produced by myself. My goal is to be part of creating a game, and therefore I want to share the idea to see if someone catches on.
    > Here is my game -
    >
    > Title Ė Number 85 (In dark, bloody letters)
    > Genre Ė RPG with real time focus
    > Age Group Ė 16 +
    > About the game Ė
    > This game is a cat and mouse hunt, such as the movie Hunger Games. However, there are no cats or mouses in the game, and theres deffinetly no connection with the movieÖ
    > 100 players sign up for a game. Each is given two numbers between 1-100. The first number represent their own tag, and should be kept until the game ends. The other number represents the target you set out to hunt. If you are able to PVP-kill your target, you are then able to kill any other player you come across. The game is set in a randomized map that allows for dungeons, caves, neutral farming zones, roaming monsters, big boss fights, an arena for duels with the brave souls who dares to enter. There is dropping loot that can be used, a huge variety of heroes to play such as wizards, warriors, assasins, and a jack of all trades robot and so on.
    >
    > Groundbreaking ideals Ė
    > This game will allow players who enjoy to play with high risk and high rewards to enjoy a very challenging game. If you die, you remain dead and have to sign up for a new game. If you end up as one of the 10 last survivors, or actually remains the last man standing you gain fame , loot to keep for future games, and so on. This will allow players to try to win and make it to the top, where there is much more than what first meets the eye. I truly believe that this type of game will lure casters, streamers, commentators, tournament play and much more based on the idea of following a group of players that all try to not die, while at the same time trying to become stronger while at the same time looking back to see that no one is hunting them. The game is also set in 3 different time periods, that gives players a choice to play either a 2 hour hunt, 4 hour hunt or 6 hour hunt. This adds to many positive gaming aspects such as re-playability, variety, real life measures and hard core gaming.
    > Also, since there is no focus on team play, single-players are able to rise within the game to be picked up by a sponsor or a clan to compete for future tournaments. I see a huge venue for this to be played during a lan-event where maybe a smaller scale of players are invited to play during a bigger hunt that might last for 12 hours or so.
    > There is also room to add more maps that allow for tag team hunts, or side vs side or some type of defending the castle, or capture the flag. I have also thought about a version that allows the dead persons to pick up a npc-monster and control it, kind of like that left for dead game.
    > This game has been on my mind for a long time and I have gathered inspiration from many of the rpg-games that I have wished for, but never been able to play because they donít exist. Games I find interesting in todays market comes from the genre MOBA (dota, hon, lol etc). The problem is that these games tend to be boring after a long time of grinding. My game would break this spell by giving the players a feeling of relief when they are able to win and collect some small treasure that can be used again, and therefore adding to the relationship between player and avatar. I also want to add another psychological aspect that allows the players to soulbound 1 item, which becomes stronger as the game goes on, and for example a sword becomes stronger for each target they kill, or a shield becomes stronger for every game you survive. Most games if not all have a limit as to how much you can level up etc, but I want to have a larger cap where for example someone that really want to maximize poisen damage for example is able to add bits and bits by having the sword gain damage over time.
    > As far as balance goes, I want the skill tree and level up system to be unique in the sense that the players are totally free to invest their points in the most meaningful skill for them. However this will come at a cost of losing in some other skill or stat, but if a player want 1 powerful spell instead of working with 4 skills, I think this should be possible. Many games seems to forget about giving the players the freedom in this area, but I donít want to make this mistake, and therefore my focus will be 100% on the player perspective.
    >
    > My role comes from a psychology background (bachelor degree) and soon a masters degree in social work. I have written all my exam-essays on gaming addiction, and I am now aware of many of the elements that make a game truly addictive. I turn to the dark side, not to create more addicts, or gain money, but to give the players the ultimate gift- the perfect game.
    > I have tried to explain my vision in the easiest way possible. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or would like to work with me. I donít have any technical skill in terms of physically making a game, and thatís why im turning to you.With backup we could fund this game by kickstart, or if you believe in it maybe we can find someway to finance it with the backup of a gaming company.
    > Yours Truly,
    > /jesper

    Hello Jesper, you wrote:

    ive been under the spell that a great idea for a game would be someting that could be shared with a publisher/developer, but am I wrong?
    It can, but the chances that a publisher or developer would actually want to pursue your idea are very low, for reasons outlined in FAQs 1, 11, 21, 31, and 43.

    Would you mind reading my idea and providing me some feedback?
    I haven't read it yet, because you did not say what kind of feedback you want. As I wrote in FAQ 43, I'm sure your idea is great. But so what? An idea by itself is not enough.

    I would love to get into the industry, but I havent been able to find a good fit.
    Huh? Read FAQ 7, find a job that fits, then read FAQs 24 and 27, and go get that job.

    I want to share the idea to see if someone catches on.
    Well, that's what you're doing. Hope it goes well for you. Personally, I think it's a bad idea to just go around sending your game ideas to strangers and posting them on the internet like this, but whatever floats your boat down the fjord. Wait, I guess fjords are Norwegian, not Swedish?

    I have tried to explain my vision in the easiest way possible. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions
    My only question is "what questions do you want to ask me?" You just said you want "feedback," but that's a very vague word. I need concrete focused questions.

    or would like to work with me.
    My services are available, for pay, to those with funds and a solid business idea.

    I donít have any technical skill in terms of physically making a game, and thatís why im turning to you.
    You're turning to me with nothing but a game idea, though! Have you read FAQs 11, 21, 31, and 43 yet?

    With backup we could fund this game by kickstart, or if you believe in it maybe we can find someway to finance it with the backup of a gaming company.
    Once you have funding and a solid business idea, you're free to contact me and request my services in a normal businesslike manner. I'm not here to help idea guys get funding.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2013


    Stuck in India

    > From: Dhruv Chopra
    > Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 3:08 AM
    > Subject: Game Industry Q+A Living In India
    > Hi, Im Dhruv Chopra
    > I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: _ 19
    > The level of education I've completed is: _ B.Tech 1st year, Information Technology
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _ Student
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _ Game Designer
    > The country I live in is: _ India
    > My game biz question is: _ Iím currently a second year student in a well-known University here in India studying Information technology
    > Iím an aspiring Game Designer, and Iím really serious about it.
    > I live in India, Thatís the problem, I canít get any exposure to the gaming industry here, there arenít any such events where I could go and meet professionals
    > And get some career advice, and there aren't even any good courses here I could take up.
    > I read your blog from time to time, and I canít thank you enough for the insight youíve given me, itís really helped.
    > Iíve played loads of games, Iíve had loads of ideas, Iíve put them all down on my laptop, Iíve written reviews and sent them over to magazines, lots actually, just one got published, rest returned as rejection letters.
    > Iím doing all that I can. But I just donít feel that all this is enough.
    > Iím only a second year student so I know I still have time, and I want to make good use of all of it.
    > I just need to know what there is that I can do living here?
    > Eagerly waiting for your reply
    > Thank you

    Namaste, Dhruv. You wrote:

    I live in India, Thatís the problem,
    I don't see it as a problem.

    I canít get any exposure to the gaming industry here, there arenít any such events where I could go and meet professionals
    Those are lies. I just googled "Game Developers Conference India" and I found lots of India-centric game events. You are not using proper Googling techniques! Also try gamedevmap and gameindustrymap.

    there aren't even any good courses here I could take up.
    That's another lie. Read FAQ 3.

    Iíve played loads of games, Iíve had loads of ideas, Iíve put them all down on my laptop, Iíve written reviews and sent them over to magazines, lots actually, just one got published, rest returned as rejection letters.
    > Iím doing all that I can.
    No, you're not. You're an impatient dreamer and quitter who thinks everything should happen overnight just because you want it to. You have only begun your long journey. Do you want to compare stacks of rejection letters? I'll bet mine is twice or three times thicker than yours! You can't just get discouraged and give up -- not if you're ever going to get somewhere interesting. You'll have to suffer through university... then your real struggle will begin.

    But I just donít feel that all this is enough.
    Well, of course it's not enough! Nothing is enough. Read FAQ 49.

    I just need to know what there is that I can do living here?
    The same thing any aspiring designer can do, living anywhere. EXPLORE. LEARN. CREATE. DISCUSS. LISTEN. READ. REPEAT. Have you read FAQ 12, FAQ 8, and FAQ 54?

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2013


    Where to find undiscovered programmers?

    > From: David O'Donoghue
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:41 PM
    > Subject: Ok, game studio is up and running, we need to hire a new programmer
    > Hi Tom,
    > I emailed you before thanking you for your website and how it contributed to myself getting into the game industry. Thanks againÖ
    > Our studio is at a point now where we need a to hire a programmer (I am feeling lonely amongst the artists at work) and we've put adverts out through normal job seeking sites. I was wondering if you had any gold nuggets of info on where undiscovered game programmers may be lurking?
    > Regards,
    > David O'Donoghue
    > ODD Games

    Hello David,
    You want "undiscovered" talent, you say? I assume, then, that you mean "cheap," as in low-budget. That means young and inexperienced. Your local colleges probably have career placement departments. They'd be happy to hear from local employers so they can let their students and grads know about you. Of course, you should also be networking through your local IGDA and other high-tech mixers and business organizations. You should contact the webmasters of gamedevmap and gameindustrymap, and let them know your company exists and should be added to their sites. See my Game Biz Links' "listings of game companies" and get your company added on those as well. Good luck!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2013


    Military, part 3

    > From: Mike S
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:05 PM
    > Subject: Just a thank you
    > Read you loud and clear, I got my plan set up, been accept to a technical university and doing what I can in my free time to build my portfolio to get the ball rolling while I wait to get out of the service.
    > Thank you for your advice and your time, and thank you for creating and maintaining this website, it has given me a clear view on what to do, and continue to do to build upon myself and stand above the rest.


    Military, part 2

    > From: Mike S
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:48 AM
    > Subject: Military service (round 2)
    > Hello again, thank you for the very quick response, and thank you for doing everything you do to support us from the home front (even if you dont claim to be active in military support, working in the entertainment industry is a big help, without people like you and all those you work with, we would have nothing to keep us sane on our down time while deployed)
    > Now, on to my follow up question :), I'm fully aware that most everyone is different with how they hire and look at people, was just curious if military background would hinder me, but I'm guessing not, all depends on my personality (floating between intp/intj not sure which fits best).. ok now on to my question, when it comes to my resume should I list my deployment? Or only bring it up if asked? I know most every case will be different but is their a general consensus on this?
    > And no I didnt hear about the aliens, I'm sure if you write a letter to your congress men or women they will get back to you in a timely fashion (4-6 years) :P

    Hi Shep, you followed up:

    was just curious if military background would hinder me, but I'm guessing not, all depends on my personality
    No. It comes down to your degree and your portfolio to get the interview, and in the interview you need to demonstrate ability to do the job and yes, fit into their team and culture. A McDonalds job on the resume is irrelevant to working in games -- except that it shows that the applicant understands what it means to work in a job. A stint in the military is also irrelevant to working in games. Neither a McDonalds job nor a stint in the military is a "hindrance."

    when it comes to my resume should I list my deployment? Or only bring it up if asked?
    You have to list your time in the military. If you had had a McDonalds job, you would have to list it. The resume is supposed to show an accounting of your time since high school.
    Details of your service like where you were assigned duty while in the service can be covered in conversation. A straightforward accounting of your duties and training should be listed briefly.

    is their a general consensus on this?
    No. I'm giving you MY advice.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 27, 2013


    Military service

    > From: Mike S
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:25 AM
    > Subject: Quick question about the Game Biz
    > I understand that, in order for you to give me the best game career advice suited to my unique situation, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: 23
    > The level of education I've completed is: High School, Plus military education
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: Military (transportation)
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: Game Programmer
    > The country I live in is: US
    > My game biz question is:
    > Hey Tom, thanks for taking the time to read and reply to this, I'll keep it short because I'm sure you are a very busy man.
    > I've been reading the FAQs for a few days now and practically have a book of notes to get me started, but one thing that I have been curious about is how well does the Game Biz receive combat veterans?
    > I have been hearing a lot of hype (and hopefully its all just rumors) about the civilian world and companies being afraid of hiring military due to media outlets labeling us basically as a stigma and walking time bombs that could lose it at any minute.
    > Do you have any knowledge or experience with how well military vets are accepted into the Game Biz? Granted your answer is not going to send me packing, I just want to get a feel of what to expect once I go to stick my foot in the door
    > (Not necessary to read just answering a common question I receive: Yes I currently drive anything with wheels in the military, and yes I'm aware game programmer is computer orientated, I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none... at the moment Haha, but i've always had a passion for games and everything that goes on behind the scene with the unsung hero's, driving and automotive maintenance is just a hobby, my real "drive" is with computers and video games)
    > Best Regards,
    > Shep

    Hi, Shep. First off, thank you for your service. You wrote:

    how well does the Game Biz receive combat veterans?
    You think the game industry is monolithic, that everybody in the game industry has a uniform way of thinking and reacting to everything. You think everybody in the game industry likes just one flavor of ice cream -- just one pizza topping on one thickness of crust! The game industry isn't like that. Every person in the game industry is different (kind of like in the real world), and has different thoughts about every issue.

    I have been hearing a lot of hype (and hopefully its all just rumors) about the civilian world and companies being afraid of hiring military due to media outlets labeling us basically as a stigma and walking time bombs that could lose it at any minute.
    I've been hearing a lot of hype about the aliens living among us and controlling our brains with radio waves. You haven't heard that one too? (^_^)

    my real "drive" is with computers and video games)
    You need a solid portfolio that shows you fully understand all the ins and outs of programming for games. Maybe after discharge you could take your GI education benefit and get a CS degree. A degree and a portfolio is better than just a portfolio. Read my March 2010 column. There are surely several veterans in the game industry. I've worked with an ex-Marine and an ex-officer myself. Military experience is not a stigma -- but it is experience that does not relate to games. Working at McDonalds also does not relate to games, but all experience should still be listed truthfully on the resume.

    As you were!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 27, 2013


    Subject: game design questions

    > From: akhil f
    > Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 7:37 PM
    > Subject: Hi, let me introduce myself, my name is Akhil. I am from India. My age is 17.
    > I successfully made my first board game design and i also done the documentation of the board game. Now I want some help, I want feedback about the game. Where do i can get feedback about the game if I posted my game on internet? I don't want this game to sell and make money, I just want to design the game more and more fun and to sell it for free. To me some points or rules in my game sound odd but i accepted it from my friend's advice.
    > I am going to do my 3 years game design degree course in India. I read some of your lessons and with my experience I understood that "passion or ambition or desire or loveĒ on games or game designing is different from while we are selling our game to the industry it requires a lot of communication skills and need to explain briefly. I have less communication skills; I want for advice from you "How to develop communication skills?" I know it is a bad question, but if you face the same problem like me in your past i want to know how you solved it.
    > I am not talking all these with a simple idea in my mind about the game i designed a board game and two small games in PC. I understood that I should have to show a lot of dedication while on work. Interest or passion is different from dedication while on work.
    > Artist - Create characters
    > Designer - Make rules and writes documentation
    > Programmer - Creates the software
    > I think the above three responsibilities of the three persons are correct if any wrong in them please correct them.
    > And I want to know who creates music? I know there are separate group of people for creating music but my question is any responsibility of the designer in creating music or sound.
    > And who are most important people in game industry and who works with the designer.
    > Responsibility of the GAME DESIGNER:
    > 1) Write a clear documentation of the game.
    > 2) Adding new things when something in the game sounds odd.
    > 3) Communicate to other people about the game how it works.
    > 4) Creating new levels.
    > 5) Controlling story flow.
    > 6) Develops game concepts.
    > If you think any wrong in the above six statements please correct them and add more responsibility of the game designer. What qualities should develop to be a good game designer?
    > Finally tell about how the game industry works? What I mean is after completing of a game in the industry how it comes to the people and what is the role of a designer after completing a game, and who are main persons the designer is going to talk with?
    > Eagerly waiting for your feedback.
    > Give me a reply as soon as possible.

    Namaste, Akhil. You wrote:

    Where do i can get feedback about the game if I posted my game on internet?
    You can set up your own site (like a free blog, for instance) and get people to post responses right there. Or you can announce your game on gamedev.net's Your Announcements board, and ask for feedback there.

    To me some points or rules in my game sound odd but i accepted it from my friend's advice.
    I like that you are flexible and willing to use your friend's ideas. Many people are very territorial: "I am using MY ideas only; no outside ideas wanted." Game designers need to be collaborative, so it's good that you are not one of those "not invented by me" guys. But if you don't see the validity of your friend's ideas, or when someone makes suggestions you think do not fit with your overall concept (the heart of the gameplay), you don't need to adopt them in your game.

    I want for advice from you "How to develop communication skills?"
    Take courses in writing and speaking and drama and English. Write articles, write stories, take opportunities to speak to your class, or to act in plays. Apply to the campus radio station or TV station (if your campus has them). I did all those things, and I also learned to operate the campus planetarium, and gave planetarium lectures to local and student groups.

    > Artist - Create characters
    > Designer - Make rules and writes documentation
    > Programmer - Creates the software
    > I think the above three responsibilities of the three persons are correct if any wrong in them please correct them.
    An artist does a lot more than just characters. Read FAQ 53 and also these:
    http://gamecareerguide.com/getting_started/
    http://www.skillset.org/games/careers/profiles/
    http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/career_paths.htm

    And I want to know who creates music? I know there are separate group of people for creating music but my question is any responsibility of the designer in creating music or sound.
    Your question is unclear. If you are asking if the designer creates music, then the answer is "it depends." Usually the answer is no, but it is possible that the designer has the musical ability to create the music for his own game. I don't know of any examples.

    And who are most important people in game industry and who works with the designer.
    You need to read FAQ 7 and those articles I listed above.

    If you think any wrong in the above six statements please correct them and add more responsibility of the game designer. What qualities should develop to be a good game designer?
    You said you've read some of my articles. Perhaps you haven't read FAQs 3 and 14. Please read them.

    Finally tell about how the game industry works? What I mean is after completing of a game in the industry how it comes to the people
    Well, it depends on whether it's a packaged game, whether it's a console or PC game, or it's going to be delivered digitally. If it's a packaged game for a console, then the platform holder (Nintendo or Sony or Microsoft) tests the game to be sure it meets requirements, then it's manufactured and distributed. You can Google "what does a video game publisher do" or you can go on Wikipedia and look up "video_game_publisher."

    what is the role of a designer after completing a game
    It depends. If it's a one-off (a game that will not be made into a sequel or a series), then the designer is off the project and waits for another project. If the game is part of a series, then the designer probably goes online and watches reactions from the end users, to gather feedback for fixes, DLC, and sequels.

    who are main persons the designer is going to talk with?
    Your question is unclear.

    One last thing. You didn't write a subject line. You wrote the first sentence of your email in the subject line of your email...

    Subject: Hi, let me introduce myself, my name is Akhil. I am from India. My age is 17.
    That's not a good way to write a subject line for an email. You said you want to develop good communication skills, so I'm going to give you a tip on how to write the subject line for an email. It's this: write the email first. Then, think to yourself, "what is this email about?" Is this an email all about Akhil? No. Is this an email about how old Akhil is? No. Is this an email in which an aspiring game designer asks questions about the job of the game designer? Yes. So here are some better subject lines you could have written: "Aspiring designer with questions about the job." "Questions about game design." "Game design questions."

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 24, 2013


    Localization career advice

    > From: Josuť
    > Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 4:03 AM
    > Subject: Localization career advice. Cover letters and portfolios.
    > Dear Tom,
    > First of all, those are the 5 tidbits you need to know about me:
    > 1. How old are you? 23
    > 2. What's your level of education? I have just finished my BA (4 years) in Translation and Intepreting.
    > 3. What's your current occupation? Unemployed and planning my career strategy.
    > 4. Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? Video game localization/interpreting. Maybe it could be interesting to start off as a tester or in the QA department.
    > 5. And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?). I live in Spain. By next September I will be living in Geneva (Switzerland), as I have relatives there and, of course, there are more chances to begin my video game career there than here at the beach.
    > Thank you for the invaluable information you provide in your articles about video games FAQs on your website. I have read most of them and I actually have seen some tips I can extrapolate to my career (games localization [translation]).
    > I do not know whether or not you are familiar with the ABCs of this job, but, in case you are, have you ever thought of posting some tips so that we video game translators can sweeten our portfolios and cover letters? Also, I have thought about improving my cover letter as a tester with some activities I can do at home, but my priorities are related to the localization/interpreting department.
    > As you provide game career advice, I thought you may know something about it given your experience. If you are not familiar with it, do you happen to know other websites as detailed as yours covering this department? I would be really grateful if you could provide me a few links dealing with those topics.
    > Kind regards.
    > Josuť

    Hi Josuť, you wrote:

    (Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for?) Video game localization/interpreting.
    For the most part, localization jobs are not available at game companies. Typically, a game company contracts a translation company to do the localization for them. When you work for a translation company, you won't be working on only video games. Translation companies translate all manner of things, so you might work on a video game for a few weeks, then a website, then a book...

    Maybe it could be interesting to start off as a tester or in the QA department.
    You can't become a translator/localizer by starting in QA, since localization jobs are extremely rare inside the game industry. BUT you can get work as a localization tester. Major publishers contract bilingual testers to check out the work of translation companies to ensure that they're well localized. It's a branch of QA.

    By next September I will be living in Geneva
    So, you should use gamedevmap and gameindustrymap and find out how many game companies are located in Geneva. I know of no resource you can use to find translation companies in Geneva, but there could be some. You should find out.

    have you ever thought of posting some tips so that we video game translators can sweeten our portfolios and cover letters?
    The idea never occurred to me.

    I have thought about improving my cover letter as a tester with some activities I can do at home, but my priorities are related to the localization/interpreting department.
    You can play localized games and see if you can identify some places where the text could have been better, and make a collection of such cases.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 13, 2013


    My brother's senior project

    > From: tiffany C
    > Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 9:47 AM
    > Subject: History of video games, need help please
    > Good Afternoon,
    > I have a little brother that is having a hard time with his senior project. The project is on the history of video games. The project is almost complete and has to be turned in next week but he meeds someone to answer some questions for him. I have provided the questions below. Do you think you will be able to help him out. I have been googling all day to find someone who knows something about games and I foud your website.
    > Thanks.
    > Hi here is some questions for his senior project. Thanks again for your help.
    > Questions:
    > 1. How did games get developed?
    > 2. Are there other reasons why video games are developed than for entertainment?
    > 3. Are there other reasons video games are so interesting other then fun?
    > 4. What makes video games so obsessive?
    > 5. What collage courses would I take to make this my career?

    Hi, Tiffany. If your brother is a senior in high school, then he's about 17 or 18, and I would think he ought to be able to do his own research. But of course I don't know anything about his particular situation.
    Very vague question, to which the only answer I can give you is also necessarily vague: "The same way they get developed today." Read my article #10. You or your brother can get to my articles by clicking the FAQs/Articles link above left. If you're asking about the history of games (not about how games are developed), your brother should visit http://lmgtfy.com/?q=history+of+video+games.
    To make money. Games are a business.
    Engagement also makes games interesting. Players can become attached to the characters. Some game activities are educational, and players enjoy the mental challenge of solving puzzles.
    Games aren't obsessive; players are. Some players get more obsessed than others. In multiplayer and social games, sometimes there's a sort of social pressure to play (a player feels like he owes it to his clan mates or squad mates or Farmville neighbors to continue playing).
    That depends on which game career you aspire to. Read articles 7 and 34 for starters.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2013


    Remember me?

    > From: Don X
    > Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 6:30 AM
    > Subject: A Greeting From An Annoying Guy
    > Hi Tom,
    > I'm not sure how well you remember me. I sent you tones of e-mails during the first time I got a job with a indie mobile game company. Since then, I made more games, went to more game conferences, read more game design books and got accepted to an accelerated master degrade in Digital Media. I'm doing pretty well~
    > I don't have any particular question in mind, but I wish your game design site will keep inspiring others to become more professional game developers and wish you well.
    > Best Regards,
    > Don

    Welcome back, Don. Thanks for the update. Keep on keepin' on!
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2013


    What to study and where, part 2

    > From: shaheed w
    > Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:20 AM
    > Subject: follow up on your answers
    >> For that job, you can get any 4-year degree, and you need to start being very active and helpful on multiplayer game forums.
    > Helpful on Multiplayer game forums?? I know everyone thinks they are but i feel like i've been pretty helpful to people in the past on forums but it was always overlooked...

    >> You don't really need a "game degree." Especially if the cost is very high. Read my June 2009 article, "The Whole Game School Thing" -- http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009
    > Ok, I was thinking i did need a specific degree and that was cutting my selection pool of schools pretty deep!

    >> I'm not sure I follow why the GED means no state school.
    > Just a assumption! I hear bad things about GEDs sometimes, so i thought i would need to go to a community college/ or tech school first to get a grade point good enough to transfer.

    >> If you're going to put yourself through school, you can make your own plan. If you're counting on family to put you through school, their opinion matters a lot.
    > True. It's just always something to think about because i never know when i may need something.

    >> So when are you planning to start studying Japanese?
    > This is something i always ask myself as well. I think i may study Japanese as a minor in college, because i've wanted to live/work in japan even longer than i've gamed seriously!

    >> I do not know anything about it.
    > This is something that worries me about Baker college no one seems to know much about it... Even though i do know for sure it's accredited and its a non profit school.

    >>> Do you know any better schools around michigan
    >> I do not know anything about it.
    > ok thanks anyways....

    >> You don't tell them something that would surprise them. You start showing them what your passion is by DOING IT. Start working on making games. There's stuff you can do yourself, at home (FAQ 12) and you can start joining forces with like-minded people online. Be a helper in an indie team, for instance.
    > Such a simple & mind mindbogglingly obvious answer, that i sincerely needed ! If i just do it, & do it good it'd take a load of ignorance from my family to disagree with me about going to college or starting a career in it.
    > I'm still not sure how to find people to make a game with! I'm not sure why but i never attract gaming friends or business associates in my life... what forums would i go to? I've tried twitter but most don't reply or follow back...

    >>> Is it any gaming careers that i didn't name
    >> Not sure what you're asking.
    > was just asking if any niche routes in the gaming industry wasn't named by me.

    >> Not sure what you're asking. You go to school in one country the same way you go to school in another country. You fill out an application.
    > -____________-
    >> " I see that you were displeased with my response the last time, especially as regards to my lack of knowledge about community colleges and their offerings. While I'm glad that you chose to come back and ask my advice again, I'm a little surprised (given how poorly I advised you the last time). I wish you the best.
    > I was displeased with your response, but i've never been displeased by your faqs or sadly your answers to other posters! it seems like i get better answers to my problems by lurking others on here, but anyways my grudges aren't held that long.

    Hi Shaheed, you wrote:

    Helpful on Multiplayer game forums?? I know everyone thinks they are but i feel like i've been pretty helpful to people in the past on forums but it was always overlooked...
    If you're not still doing it, then Community Manager is not where you're headed. Again, I was talking about the principle "just do it." It doesn't happen overnight. The forum moderators don't see one helpful post and say "wow, I'm recommending that guy for a community management job." It takes a pattern of helpfulness over years, and even then it's not a sure thing. I'm just saying, if you are seriously interested in community management, be an unrelenting community activist. If you're not deeply involved in the forums, you're not a budding community manager.

    Just a assumption! I hear bad things about GEDs sometimes, so i thought i would need to go to a community college/ or tech school first to get a grade point good enough to transfer.
    There is a stigma, but there's also an upside. Yes, there's a downside in not having gotten the diploma "on schedule" in the first go-round. But to go back and apply yourself and get the GED shows a change of heart and a change of attitude, not to mention gumption. As for college entry requirements, don't make assumptions -- do research.

    I'm still not sure how to find people to make a game with! I'm not sure why but i never attract gaming friends or business associates in my life... what forums would i go to? ... I've tried twitter but most don't reply or follow back...
    That's not what Twitter is for. I know of gamedev.net and indiegamer forums, but there must be a lot of places where indies find one another. Your problem at this point is that you don't have anything to show. Start with FAQ 12 for now. Be aware that indies don't need "idea guys." They need people with solutions to problems.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 30, 2013


    What to study and where

    > From: shaheed w
    > Sent: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 5:25 AM
    > Subject: Game design degree choices & your opinions
    > how old are you? : I turned 20 a couple months ago
    > level of education?: Ged
    > Current occupation?: Cashier -_-/ Soon to be student
    > which game job do you plan to study?: Game design, community management, or marketing, or game devoloper
    > Where in the world are you: USA pacifically michigan
    > I've been really motivated to start a game design or game developer degree at a college or technical school. obviously i read all the facts, you may not remember but i messaged you a while ago! Long story short i'm going to need to find a community college or technical school because a lot of things happened when i was younger which led me to getting a GED, But there's another twist i also need the school to dorm, which most community colleges don't. I really want to do this and follow my dream but my family wants me to go into culinary a more "Practical" former passion of mine, which i will have to do if i can't find a school to study game design, or game marketing/gaming careers. My final goal which is years ahead in my mind is to work in japan & i read your faq thanks :) even though my plan was already to get some money after getting a degree then teaching english until i find a gaming job. I learned about english jobs in japan from the youtube community
    > 1. Baker college a renown career college in my state accepts everyone lol serious, so i was wondering whats your opinion on their game software developer degree? Have you ever heard anything bad?
    > 2. Do you know any better schools around michigan that are not too choosy, & that dorms?
    > 3. Do i need to move away from michigan to get a good gaming design/developer/marketer degree?
    > 4. How do you tell your family your making such a ballsy career choice, when everyone else is just nurses etc?
    > 5. Is it any gaming careers that i didn't name
    > 6. Your a proffessor so how does schools judge Geds?
    > 7. And how can i go to school in japan if i'm willing to take a loan out for the massive debt?
    > sorry if this isn't very clear! Honestly i've been up all night till the morning thinking about all this, it's 8 in the morning now! Excuse me

    Hi, Shaheed. You wrote:

    which game job do you plan to study?: Game design...
    As I wrote in FAQ 3, you can get any 4-year degree (you don't need a "game design" degree per se), and you need to start building a portfolio (FAQ 12) and networking.

    community management,
    For that job, you can get any 4-year degree, and you need to start being very active and helpful on multiplayer game forums.

    or marketing,
    For that job, you need a 4-year marketing degree. Not a "game marketing" degree. Just a plain vanilla marketing degree.

    or game devoloper
    Not sure what you mean.

    I've been really motivated to start a game design or game developer degree
    You don't really need a "game degree." Especially if the cost is very high. Read my June 2009 article, "The Whole Game School Thing" -- http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009

    i'm going to need to find a community college or technical school because a lot of things happened when i was younger which led me to getting a GED
    I'm not sure I follow why the GED means no state school.

    I really want to do this and follow my dream but my family wants me to go into culinary a more "Practical" former passion of mine
    Your family wants you to be practical and solid. That's great, they care about you a lot. If you're going to put yourself through school, you can make your own plan. If you're counting on family to put you through school, their opinion matters a lot. Read my November 2009 article, "The Parents Discussion" -- http://www.igda.org/games-game-november-2009

    My final goal which is years ahead in my mind is to work in japan ... after getting a degree then teaching english until i find a gaming job.
    So when are you planning to start studying Japanese?

    Baker college a renown career college in my state accepts everyone lol serious, so i was wondering whats your opinion on their game software developer degree?
    I do not know anything about it.

    Do you know any better schools around michigan
    I do not know anything about it.

    Do i need to move away from michigan to get a good gaming design/developer/marketer degree?
    You don't need a "gaming design" degree. You don't need a "gaming developer" degree (whatever that is). There is no such thing as a "gaming marketer" degree, to the best of my knowledge.

    How do you tell your family your making such a ballsy career choice, when everyone else is just nurses etc?
    You don't tell them something that would surprise them. You start showing them what your passion is by DOING IT. Start working on making games. There's stuff you can do yourself, at home (FAQ 12) and you can start joining forces with like-minded people online. Be a helper in an indie team, for instance.

    Is it any gaming careers that i didn't name
    Not sure what you're asking.

    Your a proffessor so how does schools judge Geds?
    I do not know anything about that.

    And how can i go to school in japan if i'm willing to take a loan out for the massive debt?
    Not sure what you're asking. You go to school in one country the same way you go to school in another country. You fill out an application.

    Shaheed, I looked back in the archive (http://sloperama.com/advice/bulletinbd-archive16.htm) and found our previous correspondence. There are two threads there: "Marketing or community management" and "College: yes or no." I see that you were displeased with my response the last time, especially as regards to my lack of knowledge about community colleges and their offerings. While I'm glad that you chose to come back and ask my advice again, I'm a little surprised (given how poorly I advised you the last time). I wish you the best.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 29, 2013


    Thanks, and please move #74 closer to the front

    > From: "d_h
    > Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:05 PM
    > Subject: Just a thanks for the 75 Lessons / FAQs
    > Tom Sloper,
    > Firstly I suppose after answering so many questions for your readers I could supply you with some answers of my own.
    > You asked:
    > 1. How old are you? 31
    > 2. What's your level of education? One year of college (eleven years ago).
    > 3. What's your current occupation? (If student: "student") Between jobs at the moment (seasonal layoff) and looking at furthering my education in Game Art and Design.
    > 4. Which game job, if any, do you aspire to or plan to study for? As specified above, Designer, but more specifically, Level Designer.
    > 5. And depending on your question, I may need to know what country you live in (where in the world are you?). Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. And I beg to differ that the climate on your "Decision Grid" in F.A.Q #25 does not matter. I'd much rather be located in Canada's western interior where it doesn't snow for 7+ months of the year. Also the industry seems to be thriving in Vancouver B.C and surrounding area... (for the most part).
    > Thank you for numbering your questions, it is much appriciated and makes answering them that much easier.
    > My Turn!
    > Secondly I have to thank you. So "Thank you", for all of the great advise, the laughs and most importantly the great berth of knowledge regarding the gaming industry, what our likelyhood of entering our chosen fields are and how best to go about them. After reading all 75 Lessons, FAQs and tips (with the exception of #45) a person can really come away with a lot. Not just in regards to the industry of digital media, entertainment and gam**g (Ya i went there. /poke) but also how to approach the "real world". Quit whinning, ask proper questions to recieve proper answers and if you want something done, go work hard and get it yourself. I know I definately came away with a few life lessons as well as the information I came here in search of.
    > Thirdly, comes my extensive list of questions:
    > 1. Could you please move FAQ 74 to the top 5 somewhere? I said please.
    > As a thirty~something myself I found it semi-discouraging to read the advise given (though not to be taken as a rule as those damned things are meant to be broken) after reading through 73 previous lessons over the course of most of my late morning to early evening. Do not misconstrude this as whinning, but having #74 at the end would be like placing a spoiler alert at the end of the spoiler, I hate when they do that everytime. I know, bad analogy is bad. =(
    > 2. Is the list of books in FAQ #8 "Books on Game Design" up to date? If so, great. If not, will you be updating it at all?
    > Should you choose to update the already extensive list please feel free to leave me an email and I'll return to it to update my list of selected titles I'll be looking into.
    > Anyway Tom, thats my huge list of questions, I have nothing further to ask or add other than to against thank you for your time, effort and kind hearted humor.
    > Kindest Regards,
    > Darryl (Lucid) H

    Hi, Darryl.
    That would defeat the purpose of numbering them. Actually, that would make the numbers confusing. No, wait, they already are. They're numbered in the order they were written, of course. But I've already referred to them by number for over 10 years now, and not only here on my own site. And if they're not listed numerically, then when somebody comes here looking for a numbered article, it's hard to find (and that's "unfriendly" organization).
    But I do have another plan, one that I haven't yet figured out all the details of. I plan to create a second way of listing them (one that groups them by category, rather the way I did in the gamedev.net Breaking In FAQs). And I would need to provide a mechanism for readers to choose which way they'd like them organized (categorized or numerically). One of these days I want to do that. But then I also need to build a handheld-friendly version (which would do away with the nav frame), and that one is a bit more daunting. Anyway, I am aware of the need for better organization of the articles.
    Which one is 74 anyway? Oh, I see. The Thirtysomething one. Well, now you have to consider my readership. What percentage of my readers are thirtysomething? Probably considerably less than 10% - which means even when I categorize the articles, that particular one is still likely to be not near the front of the list.
    I looked at it the other day and didn't see anything that needs to come out. There is a book that needs to be added, when I get around to it. That FAQ was massively reworked a few years back.
    For your effusive and polite email, you have earned this:

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 28, 2013


    Should I post my designs? What if they're based on existing IP?

    > From: Joan R
    > Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 6:44 PM
    > Subject: A couple of questions regarding public GDDs
    > Hi Tom!
    > I'm a 24 year old recent graduate in Multimedia Engineering in La Salle URL (Spain), and I'm an aspiring game designer. My objective is to get some money and experience from real life companies while I program and prepare a couple of games and a cool portfolio, and then jump into the industry (as soon as I can).
    > I'm reading your page in my free time, and I understood the importance to write down everything you do/think. I'm working on a simple web page at the moment, and I thought about posting some samples of my game documentation there, but of course the GDDs are a tricky matter. Should I, in some form, publicly show my work, or just get it hidden until applications?
    > Alongside some minor (ongoing) mobile projects, I have some bigger ideas in my head. And some higly improbable (imposible) ones, like sequels or games related to existing big IPs. Could I upload them as sample game documentation, as I did them just for the fun of it?
    > Thanks for writing down your knowledge and experience!

    Hi, Joan.
    The main benefit in posting your original game ideas on your own site is to get around the "unsolicited submission" problem I cited in my FAQs. Note, though, that if you have ideas you really intend to execute some day, maybe you don't want to post those online.
    Game ideas that involve extending someone else's IP could be a problem in several ways:
    ▲   The IP owner might object and tell you to take it down;
    ▲   You might someday want to apply for a job with the IP owner, and they might not appreciate the "homage" implied by your concept;
    ▲   You might someday want to apply for a job with a company that competes with the IP owner, and they might be unhappy that you never saw fit to pay "homage" to THEIR game that's roughly similar to the one that "inspired" your design.
    It should be a given that you would never actually make a game inspired by someone else's IP. Writing a game design, though, basically amounts to little more than "fan fiction," which might or might not make the IP owner upset. Is there ever a reason to write one (a game concept based on someone else's IP)? Well, I know that aspiring TV writers are encouraged to submit scripts to TV shows they want to write for. I've never heard of game companies soliciting designs for their IP, so this may not be so much a parallel as a tangent. Hard to say.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 20, 2013


    Thanks

    >From: Tarek G
    >Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 6:18 AM
    >Subject: Thank you
    >Thank you very much for the advice on everything a game developer needs to know about themselves and the industry, i've donated to you because i'm constantly referring to your posts and never have i felt so calm to have an actual understanding from someone that explained the experience so vividly and many fragments of the game development process, and more.
    >i hope you finally develop the board game you always wanted to make,
    >Much obliged,
    >Tarek G

    Tarek, thank you very much for the donation. I'm glad my site has been helpful to you. Good luck with your career!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 20, 2013


    Thanks

    > From: JMW...
    > Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 2:49 PM
    > Subject: Hi Tom!
    > Hi Tom!
    > Just a quick email to say thanks for the design write ups! I'm 27 and I've been making games (if you could call them that!) since the age of 8 for my Spectrum, Amiga and then PC. I'm totally self-taught, I used to be independent (got a few of my personal projects on Steam, PS3, PS Vita etc) but now I work as a lead designer for a company. I always knew how to make a game fun but didn't know how or why. After reading your site (and saving it all as a PDF so I could read it on the way into work :)) it really helped me just nail down what was floating around in my head for years.
    > I actually found your site when I was looking for what I should be doing as a working games designer. Previously, as a one-man-band type outfit, I'd just have a little idea, run a prototype and then write it up whilst making it. But obviously you can't do that all the time, and in a proper company.
    > I could read your site all day. Each time I go through I pick up a new technique or something becomes solid in my mind. I think it's a great read for anyone of any ability or position in the industry.
    > Thanks again!
    > -James

    I appreciate that, James. Good luck with your career!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 20, 2013


    Please tutor me in programming

    >GameDev.net > Messenger Ľ My Conversations Ľ Tutoring Programming
    >haotian
    > Member
    > Reputation: 101
    > 0 warning points
    >Sent Today, 02:28 AM
    >Hey there, I would like to be tutored in programming.
    >I'm 23 and mature and sending this message on this purpose.
    >If you would like to give me a hand please contact me via Skype,
    >my ID is haotian██
    >With my best wishes Tom,
    >O?uz C

    Merhaba, O?uz.
    If you had ever visited my website, you would know that I am not a programmer. And unless you are in Los Angeles and have a lot of money to pay me, I could not tutor you even if I was a programmer. Also note that my GameDev.net signature plainly says: "Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice." So I think you would probably not be a very good student, and I would not enjoy trying to teach you.
    If you want to learn about game programming, I recommend you get a Computer Science degree.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 19, 2013


    Should people learn to code?

    > From: Eric M
    > Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:09 PM
    > Subject: Should people learn to code?
    > Age: 20
    > Education: College Sophomore majoring in Studio Art
    > Occupation: Student and Customer Service Associate for Old Navy
    > Game Job to apply for: Video game art (Concept art ,animation, or 3d modeling)
    > County: United States
    > Hi Tom, I'm the same person who posted on GameDev.net about choosing a second major or a minor in Multimedia Computing, Business, or Marketing.
    > Recently, I read articles that suggested that people should learn to code, no matter what profession people wish to be:
    > http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/tech/innovation/code-video-gates-zuckerberg
    > http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2011/03/01/want-to-be-a-game-designer-learn-to-code/
    > And this website has leaders and celebrities thinking the same thing if you scroll down the bottom:
    > http://www.code.org/
    > Now, I realize that coding may not be for everybody (I mentioned that I was not so good a programming the first time I took a class in it in previous posts. I may just teach myself coding instead if I don't give the major a second chance). However, I would like to ask your opinion about people learning to code either way. Thanks in advance.
    > --
    > Sincerely,
    > Eric M

    Hi, Eric. You wrote:

    I would like to ask your opinion about people learning to code...
    > Subject: Should people learn to code?
    Yes. They should.

    I was not so good a programming the first time I took a class in it
    Okay. You're off the hook now. You took a class. That's what I think people should do. If it's not for you (if you don't enjoy it and/or aren't good at it), then you've learned a little about it. People should learn to cook. Not everybody should be a cook. People should learn to sew. Not everybody should be a tailor. People should learn to write. Not everybody should be an author or playwright. People should learn what programming is about. Not everybody should be a programmer.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 14, 2013


    I just blurted out that I was a forum mod

    > From: Jordan
    > Sent: Saturday, May 11, 2013 5:27 PM
    > Subject: Is this worth mentioning?
    > I've e-mailed you before, but quite a bit ago so I will re-do the questions for 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?).
    > 1. 22
    > 2. Associates Degree in Game Design. Currently in Junior year pursuing Computer
    > Science degree.
    > 3. Student
    > 4. Ideally design, perhaps level design. I'm expecting and pursuing QA at the moment just to get my foot in the door.
    > 5.USA, Massachusetts.
    > I have two questions that I'd like your opinion on. Last time we spoke you were rather blunt, which is appreciated.
    > 1. I am an active, volunteer forum Moderator on EAs official forums. I've been one for about 3 years now. I know you are a Moderator on forums for other websites, so I'm hoping you could help me with this one. I'll background you on it.
    > In my quest to submit applications to various internship / QA tester positions, I have received some call backs. Some of these callbacks resulted in jumping into a quick over the phone interview on the spot. As I was being interviewed, being asked about my interests, hobbies, if I have had any connection to the Gaming Industry before etc...I had blurted out I was a forum Moderator for EA. Now normally I would think this is about as useful as getting an interview with Activision and telling them you have a 3.0 Kill Death ratio in Call of Duty. Thing is, the interviewer seemed genuinely intrigued when I had mentioned this to him and asked more questions about it. I shrugged it off and nonchalantly said I am slightly involved in communication between the developers, community manager, and community itself. I do receive some perks but I made sure to state I don't test anything or work on the game.
    > Leading into my first question here, is this something I should or shouldn't be mentioning in an interview for an entry level position / internship at a gaming studio? As I said, he seemed genuinely interested and I sparked his curiosity, but I'd like to know if it would make any difference to you or an interviewer.
    > 2. Secondly, I do not enjoy programming. We've been learning Java, and I have been learning a lot, but thus far I haven't been as good at it as I had hoped. At the moment, my train of thinking is to just tough through it until I can achieve the CS degree and then move onto something I am truly interested in, such as Design. Ultimately, I do want to make it into the Gaming Industry one way or another. I 100% do not view myself as becoming a programmer. I know that ideally for that profession, it's good to know a lot about a lot of things. My struggling in programming has been slightly discouraging. Knowing where I want to be and what I want to do, is the CS degree still the best road to take or would there be something else more suitable to attain that goal?
    > Thanks for taking the time for reading and for any insight given.

    Hi, Jordan. You wrote:

    Currently in Junior year pursuing Computer
    > Science degree... pursuing QA at the moment
    I don't get it. How can you be pursuing a QA job at the same time you're in college pursuing a difficult subject?

    pursuing QA at the moment
    > 5.USA, Massachusetts.
    I don't get it. How many game companies are there in Massachusetts that hire QA testers?

    blurted out I was a forum Moderator for EA. ... is this something I should or shouldn't be mentioning in an interview for an entry level position / internship at a gaming studio?
    Of course you should. The enthusiasm of the interviewers should have been your first clue.

    Currently in Junior year pursuing Computer
    > Science degree... I do not enjoy programming. ... my train of thinking is to just tough through it until I can achieve the CS degree and then move onto something I am truly interested in, such as Design.
    Knowing some programming is great, but I would not have advised that you pursue a degree in something you do not enjoy.

    is the CS degree still the best road to take
    Better question: was it ever the best road to take?

    or would there be something else more suitable to attain that goal?
    Sure. Anything on my FAQ 3 list that you would enjoy. Let's get back to your work as a forum moderator. Yes, that's volunteer, but companies that maintain online games and MMORPGs need full-time community management people. That might not lead directly into design, but you could collect a lot of usability design information that would be useful for the design team. If you proved yourself useful over time, it could lead into design...

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 11, 2013


    Too many levels - part 2

    >From: Redfox B
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 6:53 PM
    >Subject: Re: I am having trouble with my story
    >Before I let you know anything. I am a 18 year old Senior student from the United States and I aspire to be a game designer or a artist.
    >I'm sorry I forgot to let you in all of the information. I rushed into this.
    >Okay, so since you are willing to know according to your response I will tell you.
    >So, I am looking for free advice pretty much. If you can.
    >Just like you said, I am looking for story writing help. The story is too convoluted and the time and money it will take to make it is just insane.
    >So here is the thing, the game is a multigenre game. It is over worth 50 levels. Think of it like Tron but with multiple settings.It has 3 RPG , Puzzle , Platforming , Racing , (FPS/TPS/SHMUP) Shooter , Sports , Adventure, and Fighting levels.
    >The main story is about a boy who goes to a different world because of his evil clone he has invented who has blown up the earth in a nuclear explosion. Now that he is on this separate universe he is supposed to fight in gladiatorial challenges,gather friends, and defeat his evil clone.
    >Anyway, the story in my opinion is pretty good so far before in the world of size and flow the Shooter levels. But, the thing is that the story of the shooter levels is so convoluted and too numerous.
    > There at least like 15 levels in the shooter area.
    > I don't know where to start with my story. Should I go with what I have already or should I go with something else?
    > I already made some elaborate storyboards. Should I put them aside for now for a new story and/or fit them in later?
    > Also, would it help to let you know the levels of my game?
    >I have been working in design for so long it's crazy.
    >Now if you can't help me with my game can you link me to a forum for help?
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Redfox. You wrote:

    I am looking for story writing help. The story is too convoluted and the time and money it will take to make it is just insane.
    It doesn't cost any money to write a story. It just takes time. And then you can just tell it to somebody by opening your mouth and speaking. So I don't know what you're talking about when you say "money."

    the game is a multigenre game. It is over worth 50 levels. Think of it like Tron but with multiple settings.It has 3 RPG , Puzzle , Platforming , Racing , (FPS/TPS/SHMUP) Shooter , Sports , Adventure, and Fighting levels.
    Why? Why does it have to have so much stuff in it?

    the story of the shooter levels is so convoluted and too numerous.
    You know the problem, and coming to that realization is not easy, so good for you that you know this. Since you know what the problem is, you can fix it.

    I don't know where to start with my story. Should I go with what I have already or should I go with something else?
    If you're stuck (if you've gone as far as you can with it), then why not move on to something new? But if you're passionate about it, and you want to improve it, start chopping.

    I already made some elaborate storyboards. Should I put them aside for now for a new story and/or fit them in later?
    If you're stuck (if you've gone as far as you can with it), then why not move on to something new? But if you're passionate about it, figure out which parts MUST be kept (what's the core of the concept -- what is the key gameplay at the heart of your idea), and chop out the rest.

    would it help to let you know the levels of my game?
    No. I can't help you with your story. It's YOUR story. Or your game (are we talking about a story or a game, sometimes you sound like you don't know the difference). I shouldn't mess with it.

    can you link me to a forum for help?
    I already have. Look in my Game Biz Links page.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 7, 2013


    School interview project

    >From: Simon B
    >Sent: Saturday, May 4, 2013 9:38 PM
    >Subject: Re: General question on the industry
    >Tom,
    >Sorry for the late thank-you, I had to hand in the essay online before noon so didn't have time to reply. Thanks again for the prompt answers to my questions, you are so reliable :) Thanks again.

    Cool.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 4, 2013


    Too many levels - can you help?

    > From: Redfox B
    > Sent: Friday, May 3, 2013 11:59 PM
    > Subject: I am having trouble with my story
    > I have too many levels. Can you please help me link them together?

    Hi, Redfox.
    It's not clear if you want to hire me or if you are instead looking for free advice.
    It's not clear if you're looking for story writing help or game design help.
    It's not clear why the levels are too numerous: because of the time and money it will cost to create them, because the story is getting too convoluted, or what. You didn't mention the platform the game will play on or the game's genre...? So I don't know if I can help you.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 4, 2013


    School interview project

    > From: Simon B
    > Sent: Thursday, May 2, 2013 9:41 PM
    > Subject: General question on the industry
    > Hello Tom , how are you? It is Simon again. I hope I am not taking up your time, but may I ask you a favor ? I have a few questions about the game industry in general. These questions are for a school essay paper, and also a more understanding on the industry personally. I think some of the answers you already have it on your FAQs but I just want the answer to each question, since essay requires me to ask these questions like an informational interview. Just some brief answers will be fine. Thank you, and I will ask right away:
    >1. How do most people get their jobs in this field/at this company?
    >2. What is your background and function within the company?
    >3. Tell me about the industry/company?
    >4. What trends do you see taking place in this profession?
    >5. What is the one thing you would have wanted someone to tell you about this career/company that you didnít know before you started working here?
    >6. When reviewing resumes for a co-op/intern position or conducting an interview with a co-op/intern, what do you look for?
    >7. Can you recommend any sources for more information about this field?
    >8. What suggestions do you have for my resume and/or my job search?
    >9. Do you have suggestions on what I can do to make myself a more competitive applicant?
    > These are my questions, Tom. Thanks again for taking the time reading and answering them. Can't thank you enough. Have a good one.

    Thanks for numbering your questions for me, Simon.
    Probably by being prepared and qualified, and then sending in an application.
    I worked for thirty years as a game designer and producer.
    I'm a lecturer. That means I teach classes at the university where I work. I teach game design, production, and quality assurance.
    That question is much too lazy, broad, and vague -- so I refuse to answer it.
    A slow shift away from packaged games to digital downloads and streaming. And eventually we'll see wearable games.
    That the job of "game designer" is slippery - that it's hard to hang onto (you're always being pushed into other responsibilities).
    Local. Has clues about the industry. Understands what it is to work in a job situation.
    Yes -- in my FAQs.
    Read FAQ 4, FAQ 27, and FAQ 65.
    Yes -- in my FAQs.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    May 3, 2013


    What if I'm thirtysomething - still need a degree?

    > From: Justin
    > Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 1:39 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, the first time I write you, you need to know that...
    > My approximate age is: _ 35
    > The level of education I've completed is: _ High School
    > My occupation (if student, enter 'student') is: _ Telecommunications
    > The type of game job I aspire to (if applicable) is: _ Conceptual Artist
    > The country I live in is: _ USA
    > My game biz question is: _ I noticed that a great deal of advice about breaking into the Game Industry is centered around getting a degree. Without a degree it is almost impossible to get in. I have lucked out I suppose and was hired on with a company that just moved to Las Vegas that is pretty sizeable. I was hired as a Game Tester but with a desire to move into Concept Design and Art. My question is am I doomed to be just a Game Tester due to my lack of degree or can I still ascend in the ranks by putting in hard, quality work? I was told that I was hired primarily for my technical background and leadership experience.
    > Thank you,
    > Justin A

    Hi, Justin. I'm just copying and pasting (with minor modifications) what I wrote to another thirty-something guy on gamedev.net this morning. And I'm definitely going to have to make this an FAQ.

      At your age, no degree is going to factor into a hiring decision a great deal.
      Focus instead on learning how to do the job you want to do. Then do the job you want to do, and prove you can do it by having a body of work to show.
      At your age, a portfolio is much more important than a degree. For the most part, the FAQs message is aimed at high schoolers and college-age aspirants, but a lot of the concepts are applicable to you as well.
      The degree is not a necessity for hirers to notice you, since you are 30+ and already have a working background. Your focus needs to be on portfolio-building, not getting a piece of paper. Ask yourself: Will the degree help you make a portfolio?

    A concept artist has to be an exceptionally gifted artist. Does that description fit you? If not, maybe some other art specialty would be more fitting. See FAQ 53, and ignore the "get a degree" bits, since you are thirtysomething instead of twentysomething. And read these:
    http://gamecareerguide.com/getting_started/
    http://www.skillset.org/games/careers/profiles/
    http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/career_paths.htm
    And read FAQ 50 and FAQ 71 too, as long as you're reading stuff to find the answers to your questions.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 30, 2013

    P.S. Upon rereading this, it occurred to me that I didn't fully answer the questions. I think while you're working in QA, you can show folks your awesome concept art (which you can create based on the games you're testing). If it's good enough, you might eventually be invited to make some art for a project.


    How hard is it to self-publish and/or get a game job (and twenty other questions)?

    > From: Luke M
    > Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 12:14 AM
    > Subject: Advice on: DIY publishing, and the value of various things for getting a job in industry
    > Age: 21
    > Education level: Last year of degree
    > Occupation: Student
    > Aspired-to job: Design, programming, customer support/PR, QA, in order of preference.
    > Country: Australia (yeah, I know, I'll probably need to move)
    > I'm interested to know two things. Firstly, how useful are each of these things to landing a job, in order of usefulness:
    > - Completion of computer science degree
    > - Writing up of several design ideas
    > - Writing up of "generic" concepts such as game mechanics that rather than being a single idea may be used for many different ideas across a genre
    > - Participation in various gaming communities
    > - Creating, developing, and maintaining a browser based game over an extended period, resulting in personal experience with basically everything needed to do that.
    > - More general, broader life experiences
    > - Contacts within the industry
    > - Contacts within things like respected game modding communities
    > Secondly, I currently maintain a browser-based game that I created some months ago. It has a solid playerbase of at least 1000 (which I'm aware isn't all that much, like, at all), but as a fan project for an existing IP I naturally have no experience actually monetizing a game (I got a go-ahead to do it as long as money wasn't involved, but the IP holders are not interested in licensing products right now). Given this, what major difficulties should I expect if I decide to go down the DIY route with a similar game? How much tension does money being involved add to a dev team?
    > Do I need to take specific steps to safeguard my IP beyond slapping a copyright notice, and if so what are they? Should I look into getting legal advice before making the site public? How difficult is it to actually make a living off a DIY-style game like this? What are good places to put advertising, and how much will that likely cost? Is there any other good way of promoting the game that I should be aware of? Is a "donations only" model viable to live off, or will I need to actually charge for in-game content? Is creating a board/card game and distributing it via an online client a viable course of action for DIY publishing of such a game?
    > How hard should I encourage people to spread the word so as not to irritate them? If my current project is running reasonably, is that level of coding proficiency sufficient to produce another project or should I brush up some more first? Could I reasonably set the game up as free and then mention that I could work on it full-time if I was donated enough money to live off it full time, particularly if the game already runs well? Is there an increased chance of having a game picked up by a company if it is not only complete but already has a sizable playerbase and/or already pulls in cash (i.e. do those two things mitigate the risk as viewed by the company)? And finally, is there any general, need-to-know advice that immediately comes to mind when it comes to DIY game publishing?
    > I've done my best to make these relatively focused questions, sorry if any are too generic or answered obviously all over the site. Also, there are a lot of questions I know. This is basically because I want to know exactly how viable/difficult the DIY model is in this case.
    > - Luke

    Hi, Luke. You wrote:

    Australia (yeah, I know, I'll probably need to move)
    Why? See gamedevmap and gameindustrymap.

    how useful are each of these things to landing a job, in order of usefulness:
    I am not ordering these things in one huge easy-to-read matrix for you. That would be a LOT of work. Why don't you make your own stinking matrix?

    Completion of computer science degree
    Vital, if your #1 goal is to become a game programmer. Unnecessary, for the other jobs on your list. Do you want to get a CS degree? If so, do it.

    Writing up of several design ideas
    Extremely useful, if you want to become a game designer. But look, do you WANT to write up several design ideas? If you do, then do it. If you don't, then don't do it.

    Writing up of "generic" concepts such as game mechanics that rather than being a single idea may be used for many different ideas across a genre
    If you want to do that, do that. I've never done such a thing myself.

    Participation in various gaming communities
    Vital, if your #1 goal is to become a community manager or game master / dungeon master. Useful, if you want to become a game designer. Do you WANT to participate in "various" game communities? Maybe just one instead of "various"? One is okay too (but you didn't ask about that).

    Creating, developing, and maintaining a browser based game over an extended period
    Vital, if you want to become a lone wolf indie self-published developer or start your own company.

    More general, broader life experiences
    Vital, if you want to design games.

    Contacts within the industry
    Very useful, if you want to work in the industry.

    Contacts within things like respected game modding communities
    That question is not very different from your previous one. The answer is not different, either.

    what major difficulties should I expect if I decide to go down the DIY route with a similar game? [fan project for an existing IP]
    You should expect to lose money and fail, since that's what happens to most self-publishing startups. (But that does not mean you should not try. I'm only answering the question in the precise way you asked it.)

    Do I need to take specific steps to safeguard my IP beyond slapping a copyright notice, and if so what are they?
    Yes. Read FAQ 39.

    Should I look into getting legal advice before making the site public?
    Well, duh! He who goes into business without legal advice has a fool for a lawyer.

    How difficult is it to actually make a living off a DIY-style game like this?
    Very. Ask people who've done it, why doncha. See forums.indiegamer.com and gamedev.net.

    What are good places to put advertising, and how much will that likely cost? Is there any other good way of promoting the game that I should be aware of?
    You think I'm a marketing expert! That's hilarious! I have no clues about marketing.

    Is a "donations only" model viable to live off, or will I need to actually charge for in-game content?
    Donations is very unreliable. The usual monetization models are F2P, ad-based, purchase, and subscription. Read about the pros and cons of each (don't just ask strangers on the internet -- do actual RESEARCH).

    Is creating a board/card game and distributing it via an online client a viable course of action for DIY publishing of such a game?
    I'm not clear on what you're trying to find out. It's up to you to figure out your business plan, including your monetization model.

    How hard should I encourage people to spread the word so as not to irritate them?
    I am not a marketing expert, dude. Social engineering is not my forte.

    If my current project is running reasonably, is that level of coding proficiency sufficient to produce another project
    Read FAQ 49.

    Could I reasonably set the game up as free and then mention that I could work on it full-time if I was donated enough money to live off it full time, particularly if the game already runs well?
    Once free, always free. You can't change a product from free to paid. Your users will abandon you en masse.

    Is there an increased chance of having a game picked up by a company if it is not only complete but already has a sizable playerbase and/or already pulls in cash (i.e. do those two things mitigate the risk as viewed by the company)?
    Yes. Of course.

    is there any general, need-to-know advice that immediately comes to mind when it comes to DIY game publishing?
    Yes. Write a business plan. See FAQ 29.

    there are a lot of questions I know.
    Twenty-two! It would have been a lot easier for me if you had numbered them. Sheesh!

    This is basically because I want to know exactly how viable/difficult the DIY model is in this case.
    Why ask how hard something is? If I say it's difficult, will that make you give up? Everything worth doing is hard. Pursue what you want to pursue, and damn the difficulties. Read FAQ 26

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 28, 2013


    Wy you dont bring minecraft om de ps3

    > From: jens d
    > Sent: Sunday, April 28, 2013 2:20 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Wy you dont bring minecraft om de ps3

    Because I'm not Markus "Notch" Persson, I don't work for Mojang, and I have no right to do anything with the Minecraft IP. If I had the funds and a license to port Minecraft, I would rather target the upcoming PS4 and Xbox 720 -- and maybe the WiiU and 3DS -- not a platform that's on its way out.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 28, 2013


    I have to drop out. Can I teach myself programming?

    > From: Kamed G
    > Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2013 3:08 AM
    > Subject:
    > good morning sir, myself kamed. i am a 18 yrs. boy, i am pursuing my computer engineering in 1st year, i am passionate about gaming and i want to be a game developer. but i belong to a middle class family and my parents cant afford the costly institutions fees for my studies. so i just want to know that if i can learn the game developing on my own at slow speed along with my studies...basically i am a newbie and i dont have any knowledge about programming and the rest of the stuff.. so i would to know if there are some pdfs or books that i can refer to study my gaming at home.. i hope you reply to my email ASAP. thank you

    Hello, Kamed. You wrote:

    i am pursuing my computer engineering in 1st year ,... but... my parents cant afford the costly institutions fees for my studies.
    So you're saying that you have started university, but your parents didn't realize that they couldn't afford to have you finish university, so you have to drop out? Maybe you are in a university that's too expensive, and maybe you can transfer to a less expensive one. You should consider finding a less expensive option.

    i just want to know that if i can learn the game developing on my own at slow speed along with my studies
    Anything is possible. But when you self-teach, you're putting yourself in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to teach and doesn't know what to teach. And it's likely to take longer than the 4 years a university takes.

    i would to know if there are some pdfs or books that i can refer to study my gaming at home
    Sure, there are lots. But I'm not a programmer, and I don't have any experience with self-teaching resources for you other than these addresses:
    http://www.gamedev.net/index.php?app=forums&module=forums§ion=rules&f=31
    http://www.gamefromscratch.com/post/2011/08/04/I-want-to-be-a-game-developer.aspx
    http://gamecareerguide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1862
    http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/how-do-i-make-games-a-path-to-game-development-r892
    http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/path_programming.htm
    http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson56.htm
    I recommend that you read all those, and go on gamedev.net's forums. You'll get better advice there, from people who are programmers. And a lot of them are self-taught. Good luck!
    Oh. And you should always write a good subject line for every email you write.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 25, 2013


    School interview project

    > From: Taylor F
    > Sent: Sunday, April 21, 2013 5:31 PM
    > Subject: Research Project
    > Hello Mr. Sloper. My name is Taylor and I am a sophomore student at B... ... School in Columbus, OH. I am currently writing a research paper for my English class which focuses on how video games are changing people and society. I'm also trying to find more information about the process of designing games and what kind of work goes into it. I was hoping I could ask you a few interview questions and get some information I could use in my paper. If you are willing to take time to do this, it would be greatly appreciated!
    > Thank you,
    > Taylor F

    Hi, Taylor.
    It's very polite of you to ask permission first, but if you scroll down a little, you'll see that people interview me all the time here. Please number your questions for me, and please read my FAQs first (and don't ask the usual boring Frequently Asked Questions). You can link to my FAQs via the links above left, marked with a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 21, 2013


    School interview project

    > From: Alex L
    > Sent: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:16 PM
    > Subject: Re: Interview with a video game designer
    > Thank You very much for your response, and sorry about question 10, didn't really specify myself but on question 10, it basically asks for a video game, design, task, or assignment, etc. that you've worked on or currently developing/completing, and once again, thank you for answering my questions, gives me an idea of becoming a video game designer in some sort of way

    You're welcome, Alex. Good luck with your project. Your thankyou earns you an achievement!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 20, 2013


    School interview project

    > From: Alex
    > Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2013 7:24 PM
    > Subject: Interview with a video game designer
    > Dear Tom Sloper, hi my name is Alex ████ and I'm an 8th grader attending Magnolia Jr. High School. Recently, my fellow classmates and I were assigned to do a career project on someone we would want to become in future references. Well, I chose to do my career on a Video Game Designer because I find the video game making concept a bit interesting and love the fact that you get to work with others at times as well as developing new games from our own ideas. So as part of this career project, we need to interview a person that we chose our career on and well, I was wondering if you would be able to answer a few questions if it's alright with you, which are :
    > 1) When did you first decide that you wanted to become a Video Game Designer??
    > 2) what inspires you to do this job??
    > 3) what are your typical job activities?? What is an example of a typical day on the job??
    > 4) What type of education did you need for this job??
    > 5) Did you need experience for this??
    > 6) What would be the range of salaries for your job??
    > 7) Name some interesting parts of your job.
    > 8) Name some difficult parts of your job.
    > 9) Do you need ongoing training ( such as in service, containing education, workshops)?
    > 10) can you name one interesting case you've experienced or had??
    > If you are able to answer these questions when you have time, that would be great!!! Thank you very much Tom Sloper!!

    Hi, Alex. Thanks for numbering your questions for me.
    I became a game designer by accident. Before I became a game designer, I wasn't aiming to become a game designer. Read FAQ 18. "FAQ" stands for "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 ).
    It's enjoyable work, and I get paid to do it.
    Today I teach game design at a big university. So my typical day is not what you're looking for. What you want to know is the typical day of someone who's doing game design full time every day (not me).
    I needed a broad education supplemented by a lot of reading and creative activities. You should read FAQ 3.
    I had experience. You're asking the wrong question. You should instead ask "would I need experience in order to become a game designer." For the answer to that, read FAQ 3 and FAQ 14.
    Read the 2012 Game Industry Salary Survey. You can either Google it or go to my Game Biz Links page (there's a link above left) and click the link there (it's right near the top).
    Read FAQ 37 (answer 1).
    Read FAQ 37 (answer 5).
    I think it's highly useful and important to do that.
    Yes. Yes, I can. Can you be more specific?

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 18, 2013


    Degree/job disconnect 2

    >From: Simon B
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:21 PM
    >Subject: Re: Finance degree for art and design position?
    >Tom,
    >Thank you for you response. I am going to be straight forward with this. Yes, your first reason is correct, and my mother actually open enough to let me choose whatever I want to major. Despite that art is what interest me the most, I felt that an art degree would be a waste of time and money, consider that what impress the employer the most is your portfolio, even though cover letter and resume is what draws them to look at the portfolio in the first place. Art is subjective, if the portfolio is not impressive, an art degree related resume and cover letter won't mean much.
    >Sorry if it sounds like a rant, but it was just my 2 cents of art degree doesn't guarantee more than finance degree. But your idea of minoring in art is a pretty good, I will look more into it. Thank you again for taking the time reading and analyze my problem, and then reply with opinions. Thank you, and have a good one.
    >Simon

    Hi, Simon.
    It didn't come across like a rant at all. It was an explanation, a clarification that one of the two reasons I offered as speculation was correct. Best of wishes to you in your studies and your career.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 18, 2013


    Degree/job disconnect

    > From: Simon B
    > Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:14 PM
    > Subject: Finance degree for art and design position?
    > Hello, Mr. Sloper, my name is Simon. I want to first thank you for taking the time reading my email. I am currently a student majoring in finance. I have read your FAQs, but I still have a question.
    > I know you said that if we don't have game industry experience, we need to have a 4-year college degree. The purpose for the degree is just to let employers that we have dedication, motivation and show that we are more mature, but what if the degree I am aiming for has nothing to do with the position I want in the game industry. I am a finance major, you could say I can work on the business/ finance aspect of a game company, but what if I want to work for the art department? Will the degree become irrelevant? Where do I learn to use the software? Or should I learn on my own? I am not sure if I learn my own, I will reach the level of a professional. How you you approach this situation if you were me? Thanks again.
    > Simon

    Hi, Simon.
    I can only think of two reasons why you would major in finance if your passion is art:
    You have little to no confidence that an art degree will lead you to a job, so you chose the finance degree out of utilitarian motives.
    Your High Expectations Father refuses to pay for you to go to art school, so you're going through the finance degree while secretly harboring artistic dreams.
    An employer who receives your game art application will look at your résumé and see that your degree is in... finance??!? And will wonder why. Will he be encouraged enough by your cover letter to go look at your portfolio? Or will he simply put your application aside and look more deeply into the 20 other applicants, all of whom have pursued art degrees? I don't know -- each hirer is a unique individual, and each one is in a different/unique situation.
    But if you had a 4-year finance degree and a 2-year community college art degree, or if you had a minor in art along with your major in finance, that would be entirely different. Not like you didn't have an art degree. Less likely your application would be passed over.
    As for your follow-up question: where would you gain the learning about art. As I suggested, you could minor in art while majoring in finance. Or you could go to community college art classes. But really, if your passion is art, why not go for it?
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 17, 2013


    Aspiring to be an NOA exec, part 3

    > From: "antsmsolis
    > Sent: Monday, April 15, 2013 11:51 AM
    > Subject: Re: Part 2 Re: Aspiring to be NOA Executive (MBAs)
    > Hey Tom,
    > Haha! I swear I didn't pull those questions out of my rear-end. I was referring to Article 40, where you briefly mention that the industry needs MBAs. What I am really trying to figure out is if there is a heavy industry network advantage that west coast MBA programs (like USC Marshall or Pepperdine) have over others.
    > I definitely know I want the MBA, I am just unsure of how to judge the value of the degree within the industry as it stands today because I don't know of many cases outside of Microsoft. My guess is that the MBA will gain more traction with time as more of my peers continue the upward trend of attending grad school.
    > Thanks again for the time spent on my questions. I'll be sure to check back in several years.
    > Thanks,
    > Anthony

    Hi Anthony, you wrote:

    I was referring to Article 40, where you briefly mention that the industry needs MBAs.
    So I took another look at that. That was my response to some poor guy who was worried that his business focus left him out in the cold as far as the game biz. It was not meant to be read into more deeply than that. I was not revealing a crying need, a gaping hole, in the industry.

    What I am really trying to figure out is if there is a heavy industry network advantage that west coast MBA programs ...have over others.
    You could have saved us some time and said that in the first place. My answer is "huh? I have no idea." What do I know about west coast MBAs over east coast MBAs? Nothing, that's what. You would have to ask somebody who has an MBA. Not me.

    I am just unsure of how to judge the value of the degree within the industry as it stands today because I don't know of many cases outside of Microsoft.
    Imagine to yourself that there is NO value. Imagine to yourself that guy A will say there is value X, that guy B will say there is value Y, that guy C will say there is value Q. There is no secret formula! That's the secret!

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 15, 2013


    Aspiring to be an NOA executive, part 2

    > From: "antsmsolis
    > Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 2:31 AM
    > Subject: Part 2 Re: Aspiring to be NOA Executive (MBAs)
    > Hey Tom,
    > Thanks for the quick response. I would like to hear more of your knowledge on MBAs in the industry.
    > I know you've mentioned before that the industry needs MBAs. Could you elaborate on this? In your opinion, is it more about the education or the school's network that increases chances of snagging a post-MBA industry job? In what capacity can an MBA serve to differentiate me as a strong prospect for Nintendo in this very dynamic industry?
    > Here is my assumption: MBAs are found most often at big publishers (especially Microsoft) due in part to the supportive "management textbook" culture. Described by a Nintendo employee, I've heard that Nintendo is "creative" and may not hold MBAs in as high of a regard as other publishers. Any thoughts on this?
    > Thanks,
    > Anthony

    Hi, Anthony. You wrote:

    I would like to hear more of your knowledge on MBAs in the industry.
    I don't have any such knowledge.

    I know you've mentioned before that the industry needs MBAs. Could you elaborate on this?
    No.

    In your opinion, is it more about the education or the school's network that increases chances of snagging a post-MBA industry job?
    No. It's "more about" learning what's good business and what isn't.

    In what capacity can an MBA serve to differentiate me as a strong prospect for Nintendo in this very dynamic industry?
    Dude! The piece of paper is worthless. An MBA is not just a piece of paper. It's knowledge and a good way of thinking, brought on by proper educational techniques.

    Here is my assumption: MBAs are found most often at big publishers (especially Microsoft) due in part to the supportive "management textbook" culture.
    Um, I disagree. I think you'll also find MBAs in successful smaller companies. Because the person with the MBA really understands business.

    Described by a Nintendo employee, I've heard that Nintendo is "creative" and may not hold MBAs in as high of a regard as other publishers. Any thoughts on this?
    No. Look. What is behind these questions? Why are you asking this? Are you trying to decide whether to get an MBA or not? Is that it? If that's the "real" question you're asking, then let your gut decide. If you want to get an MBA and you think it would be useful, then do it. If you don't want to spend the time and money and effort to get an MBA, don't. That's all I have for you on this question.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2013


    Aspiring to be NOA Executive

    > From: "antsmsolis
    > Sent: Friday, April 12, 2013 2:36 AM
    > Subject: Bulletin Board Advice: Aspiring to be NOA Executive
    > Hi Tom,
    > You answered one of my questions approximately 5 years ago on this bulletin board-- it's great to be back and I'm glad to see you are still continuing with your advice! I have more focused questions this time around, but let me provide a refresher first (I apologize in advance for all of the information I'm about to offer. I figure it's best to be as informative as possible)...
    > My original question to you several years back was something along the lines of, "I want to be the global CEO & Chairman of Nintendo Co. How do I do that?" I believe I was a junior in high school at that point in time, so here is an update:
    > Age: 22
    > Education Level: BBA Accounting & Business Honors (graduating in May) / Tier one public university in Texas
    > Current Occupation: Management Consulting (moving to NYC in August to begin career)
    > Career Aspiration: C-suite executive at Nintendo of America (don't want to be too focused, but I have "EVP Sales & Marketing" or "COO" in mind)
    > Here's my plan for the next 2-3 years:
    > Work with management consulting firm 2-3 years in NY, then pursue MBA (looking heavily at 1-year program at Notre Dame).
    > Afterwards, would plan to move out West towards Washington/California to get my foot in the door with an interactive entertainment post-MBA industry job.
    > NOW, here's my question for you:
    > Given the information above, what would be your recommendation for nailing a job like the ones mentioned above with Nintendo of America? I am more than willing to consider working with other publishers/developers/etc. to get my foot in the door.
    > Since I last asked you a question 5 years ago, I have grown my industry network. I have met Reggie Fils-Aime (by meeting Reggie, I met a colleague of his at a PR firm who helped write the E3 presentations for Nintendo and have developed a friendship), I have a mentor who works in Business Development at NOA (works with indie developers and has MBA), I have met with an NOA Marketing Director in Nintendo's NYC office, and I have met/kept in touch with the current producer of Nintendo's Zelda Symphony tour.
    > These notes may be helpful:
    > -While the work scope of the professional services/management consulting firm I will be joining pertains to all industries, they do engage some work in the interactive entertainment industry. I plan to network and find those specialty groups once I begin.
    > -I have Japanese Rosetta Stone... how important is this? Didn't have enough tuition money to learn the language professionally during undergrad.
    > -I'm interested in business, marketing, and financials. Game development is not where my passion lies. I yearn to be a strategic decision maker for a publisher with strong brand value and reputation.
    > This seems to be plenty of information to chew on currently. I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks for your continued advice to all of us interested in this industry.
    > Best Regards,
    > Anthony

    Welcome back, Anthony. You wrote:

    (I apologize in advance for all of the information I'm about to offer. I figure it's best to be as informative as possible)...
    An important thing you need to understand: at the levels you aspire to, it's important to be able to impart key information with minimal or no extraneous words. You could probably have omitted 100 words or so and still given me the information necessary for me to make a meaningful reply. If you haven't already, I suggest you look up Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule, for instance.

    what would be your recommendation for nailing a job like the ones mentioned above
    Keep on doing what you're doing. You are on the right trail.

    I have Japanese Rosetta Stone... how important is this? Didn't have enough tuition money to learn the language professionally during undergrad.
    You can get where you're trying to go without fluency in Japanese. Personally, though, I think fluency in Japanese could nail it more strongly. Invest a couple years in full immersion to become fluent, as I wrote in article 48.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 12, 2013


    What should I study?

    > From: Ajay
    > Sent: Saturday, April 6, 2013 10:12 AM
    > Subject: Requirements for a Game Developer Job
    > hello Sir
    > I am from India 16 year old i started following your website a hour ago and it was
    > very helpful. the problem is i am from India i want to develop games in japan but in Indian study system in 11th class u have to select a subject from(since maths ) and (commerce) so what should i study (science maths c++) or (commerce ip) for future to get admit ion in a Game Dev collage in japan money is not the problem in i have a huge interest in game development i am learning c++ and programming games in unity and i am prepared for hard work the problem is how should i start to get admit ion in a Game Dev collage or university
    > p.s :sir if you know any good Game Dev collage please recommend

    Najaste, Ajay. You wrote:

    i started following your website a hour ago
    Then you haven't read enough yet. You need to spend MORE time exploring other parts of my website. The FAQs, the links...

    what should i study
    Study whichever courses you prefer. Read FAQ 34 and FAQ 40.

    in japan
    Read FAQ 48.

    how should i start to get admit ion in a Game Dev collage or university
    I can't tell you that. It's mostly just meeting requirements and filling out forms, if I recall correctly.

    if you know any good Game Dev collage please recommend
    Go to my links page.

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

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 6, 2013


      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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