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Old 11-23-2012, 11:50 AM   #1
Bigbeef
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Default IADT questions

I'm about to pull the trigger and sign up to IADT (International Acadamy of Design and Technology Online). I was originally going to Thomas Edison aiming for a BAS in information technology while I was in the military. Focusing on computer programming / networking.

I recently got out of the army, and I thought to myself "Why dream about being a game designer, why not go for it?" I wasn't that far along in my IT degree, so no real harm in changing it up at this point.

People always say they hate their job, and wish they could be a movie/tv actor, a video game maker, a singer, etc... So why not try? I figure I did a bad enough job for 8 years already, and I want to do something more fun and creative.

So I am going to try my best to make a living in game design. My question is aimed at the quality of IADT's program. I'd like to know if anyone here has had first hand experience with their courses. Do you learn a lot? Do the skills they teach make you a viable contender in the gaming industry? Are the skills they teach viable in terms of real-world applications?

I'm not the kind of person who cares about money. I don't have to work for Bioware, EA, or Ubisoft to be "happy". I would like to work on a big AAA title one day in the future, but it does not make/break my decision of working in the gaming industry. I would be perfectly happy pulling in a low-mid salary on indi projects if that's the hand that's dealt to me. I've learned from the military that you can get by on very little money. And I'm much more interested in not hating my job every morning when I wake up lol.

So I'm not asking "Will IADT's program make me a AAA super-star working on Battlefield 5 1 week after graduation".

I'm more interested in knowing how much I will learn, and the quality of their classes when it comes to making games.

If anyone has any advice or comments on IADT, please let me know. If you personally think IADT isn't a good choice for game design, please let me know what you think good alternatives are.

My interest is mostly in the design of games. (3d environment modeling, 3d character modeling, gameplay and animation scripting, storytelling, etc). I'm not big on concept art and things like that. I'm more interested in the actual game play.

So any words of wisdom would be really nice.

Thank you in advance.

-Nick
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: IADT questions

I'm also interested in Full Sail's Game Design or Game development programs.

I can see that the "game development" degree is structured around programming, mathamatics and physics. Basically the game coders.

The thing that's causing a bit of confusion is their "Game Designer" degree. It looks like it's more based on creating gameplay concepts, team coordination and management skills, game economies, gameplay balancing, level design, etc.

I'm wondering if anyone here has actually done the Game Designer degree path or does something similar currently in the actual field. Are these skills something that is actively sought after in the field? I'm worried about being able to actually do this as a career when I'm finished, and I want to make sure that the skills I learn are useful in all-sized companies in the industry.

I guess I'm trying to say that I'm worried that the "Game Design" degree path is something only "Big Companies" are looking for, with limited positions and that it's not important on small-scale indi titles.

I'd love to work on a Battlefield, or an Elder Scrolls game for sure, but I'm also realistic about life, and don't want to get a degree that teaches skills that isn't sought after for indi-level titles.

Any advice would be great. Thank you.

P.S. I know Full Sail is expensive, but I have the 9/11 GI Bill and it's going to cover all books and tuition. So the price is not an issue.

I'm just interested in knowing what game companies are really looking for in a person. Big and small. So that in the end I can actually work in the gaming field.

Last edited by Bigbeef : 11-28-2012 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: IADT questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbeef View Post
1. The thing that's causing a bit of confusion is their "Game Designer" degree. It looks like it's more based on creating gameplay concepts, team coordination and management skills, game economies, gameplay balancing, level design, etc.
...Are these skills something that is actively sought after in the field?

2. I'm worried about being able to actually do this as a career when I'm finished, and I want to make sure that the skills I learn are useful in all-sized companies in the industry.
... I'm worried that the "Game Design" degree path is something only "Big Companies" are looking for, with limited positions and that it's not important on small-scale indi titles.

3. ...don't want to get a degree that teaches skills that isn't sought after for indi-level titles.

4. P.S. I know Full Sail is expensive, but I have the 9/11 GI Bill and it's going to cover all books and tuition. So the price is not an issue.
... I'm just interested in knowing what game companies are really looking for in a person. Big and small. So that in the end I can actually work in the gaming field.

Hi, BigBeef.

1. Of course the skills of a game designer are actually sought in the game industry. But if your passion is to program, then you should go for the programming degree. You should go for the degree you're most passionate about, and that your skills and talents are most suited for.

2. It's good that you are considering this criterion. You should consider multiple criteria in making any important decision. Applicability in the industry is one criterion, your passion for the subject is another, your abilities and talents are another...
As for your big company vs. small company question: big companies have game designers who don't necessarily have to wear too many other hats. At small companies, game designers (and everyone else) usually have to wear other hats (not only the game designer hat). You also need to know how to use level design tools, either way.

3. Don't worry about that as much as what you're passionate about. I'm not sure how you define "indi-level" (how many people you expect to work with on a game, or if you're planning on going independent yourself), so maybe you should also take business, marketing, and law classes as well as game development classes.

4. Game companies (especially "indi-level" companies) are not necessarily looking for "game degrees" from a game school. I don't know how far you got with your IT degree, or how old you are. You might not need a degree as much as you need the learning so you can build a passion portfolio. One great benefit you get from game school is the contacts with like-minded fellow students.

Passions, degrees, level design, decision grids, game schools, etc.:
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson40.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson34.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/m69.htm
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson25.htm
http://www.igda.org/games-game-june-2009
http://www.igda.org/games-game-july-2009
http://sloperama.com/advice/lesson54.htm
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:20 PM   #4
Bigbeef
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Default Re: IADT questions

Tsoper,

Thank you so much for replying to me. As I mentioned in another post (don't know if you read) but I really love your sloperama site. I've been digging into it heavily over the past week and it's very insightful. So thank you for all the work you put into it.

As far as my "Passion". Well maybe you could help direct me here.

My main passion is basically around PCs, and PC games. I'm 27 years young, and as long as I can remember, as as long as I've been old enough to earn a few bucks, it's all gone into PCs and PC games (So starting around 10-11 years old). Since then I've mostly done PC building, modding and overclocking as a hobby. I'm am VERY new to programming however. I took 1 intro to programming college class last year and it used Visual BASIC. I'm currently 1/3rd of the way through a "beginner C++ book".

So the bulk of my IT experience and college classes have almost nothing to do with "gaming" imo. General PC troubleshooting, reformatting/maintaining systems, upgrading, benchmarking, Overclocking, etc. (BTW I am very comfortable "self learning" as all the PC knowledge I have in all the thing's I've talked about is all self learned.)

My "passion" I suppose is in game concepts/theories. I can't tell you how many hours over the past 15 or so years I've spent on game forums, shooters, RPGs, MMOs, etc, basically theory crafting. Coming up with "wouldn't it be cool if x y z was in game" kinda stuff. (No I'm not a QQ troll, I enjoy positive concept building, not focusing complaining about "bad stuff" in a game).

So I guess I want to be a "creative mind" behind games. I want to come up with ideas, stories, dialog, plot, mechanic/graphic ideas, etc.

I absolutely don't mind coding, or learning other "technical things", I just don't want it to be a focus of my career. As I said, I'm currently self teaching myself C++, because I want even small companies or groups making a small-sized title to look at me and see that I can do more then just talk, write up concept drafts, and "time manage people". I want to be a "whole" member of the team.

So would you think that getting my Bachelor's in Game Design from Full Sail, and self learning things like C++ coding make me a viable contender for both small and large projects?

Btw When I say "indi game", I just mean anything that's not AAA titles like BF3, Guild Wars 2 or Star Craft 2. I like collaborating with other people, working as a team, sharing ideas. I don't think I'd enjoy making a game by myself, and as I said before, I don't need to work for EA or Epic Games to be "happy".

I personally wish I had done more over the past 8-9 years since I've been out of highschool. I joined the Army for 8 years and as a result I feel like I'm "behind the curve" as far as programming, official education and having game-oriented product to show for it.

Who knows, maybe some company will want me as a designer w/ side job of military consultant for a military themed game, haha!.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. I'll browse through your linked page and your site some more. Let me know what you think, now that I layed out a little more about me and what I like whenever you have free time.

Thanks again for all your help.

-Nick
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:39 PM   #5
Bigbeef
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Default Re: IADT questions

Oh look at that, #40 and #50 on sloperama kinda talk about what I'm trying to work through on this post and in my head haha.

(I also cringed when I read on #50: Q "Is it possible to get a job as a game designer if I get a degree from Full Sail or Digipen?"

and you said "That kind of question makes me mad..........."

Haha, well I hope I wasn't that daft in posting my questions. You only need look on their site to get that answer (they have a bunch of people who graduated and worked on big projects).

But don't bite my head off, please! Haha.

I guess I'm just trying to find the right "job" for my passion*. Like I almost pulled the trigger on IADT on an art degree before coming here, but further research on your site made me realize that my passion isn't in drawing concept art, and in the end I think I would have been unhappy with it.

I just want to make sure I get the right education and skills to contribute to games in the way I think would be enjoyable. I enjoy writing, talking about possible mechanics that could improve a game or genre, and lately I've also found that playing with Unity4 engine that using the toolkit to make worlds is a lot of fun (don't know if that's more on the art or the design career, but I like it haha)

So far, from reading your site, my "master plan" right now is to be a full time student as Full Sail, and on my free time when I'm not studying, I plan to do "game related projects / learning. Learn some coding, pick up some physic/calculus/math books up at the library and read them, mess around doing some mods for games like Skyrim, left 4 dead, and other mod-friendly titles.

So at the end of this 3 and a half year "master plan" I want to have a game related degree and as much game related work product as I possibly can. (and maybe even hook up with some class mates and do some joint projects)

Sorry, rambling again. I'll give you time to look over my post and add any words of wisdom.

-Nick

Last edited by Bigbeef : 11-28-2012 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: IADT questions

Well it seems Lesson 3 and 34 pretty much confirm the right career for my "passion". Game design sounds exactly what I'm interested in. Game mechanic ideas, concepts, story telling, marketing/salesmen-ship, team management, quality assurance testing...

This is exactly what I want to do!

I also see that Full Sail's bachelor degree in design has a lot of classes their course that line up with your suggestions on learning subjects (History, Drawing, Music, Writing, Literature, Mythology, story telling, Public Speaking, marking, management).

Which sounds like it might actually tie in with a lot of skills I learned and honed as a military NCO leader (time management, organizing tasks, public speaking, professional writing, etc).

Well that really puts me at ease. I wasn't really sure what "design" entailed, but it seems a lot more of what I'm interested in. Now I can't wait to start school and start working on projects with people! I never thought I'd be excited to go to school!

-Nick
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: IADT questions

Nick,
Keep reading. Game design is the single most-desired position, so you have a LOT of competition. You'll need a breaking-in plan. Level design is one way, but that's a crowded field too. You'll need an exceptional portfolio in addition to the degree, and in addition to the respect of your fellow students.
Good luck.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: IADT questions

Gotcha. Well nothing worth while is easy. I'll work on ways to separate myself from the competition. I get the feeling a lot of "average" students just do the bare minimum and hope that the school deploma will carry them.

I plan to continue self learning programming, so I can wear multiple hats, as well as making "extra stuff" for my portfolio when I'm done with what the current class requires of me.

Aside from programming, do you know of any good skills or tools to learn that will make me more desirable as a starting level designer? Like Maya, photoshop, mudbox, engine toolkit experience... I dunno.

Anything that you think an employer would look at and say "Oh damn you got a degree in design AND XYZ ?!"

Last edited by Bigbeef : 11-29-2012 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: IADT questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbeef View Post
1. Aside from programming, do you know of any good skills or tools to learn that will make me more desirable as a starting level designer? Like Maya, photoshop, mudbox, engine toolkit experience... I dunno.
2. Anything that you think an employer would look at and say "Oh damn you got a degree in design AND XYZ ?!"
1. All I got for you is my FAQ on level design.

2. They don't talk like that (or think like that).
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #10
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Yes, I'm sure they're normally not blown away by anything a wannabe has done lol.

But I just read your FAQ on level design, and I will follow your advice. On my spare time I will try to come up with level concepts, build them, and add scripts for as many levels as I can for as many games/engines as I can (unreal, unity4, left 4 dead, skyrim, etc.) as well as learn as much coding as I can over the next few years. I will also look for internship anywhere I can get it. You make a good point that an internship might pay little, or nothing, but it adds another layer to the portfolio and helps sell me to companies.

Also, thank you for being honest about the competition for the job and what companies are looking for in a designer. I never lied to myself about how unrealistic this field is, and I appreciate you not sugar coating the reality of getting a job.

But you only live once, so I figure why not try to shoot for my "dream job" instead of going through the rest of my life whining about *what I should have done*.

We have a saying in the Army: "Bitching about getting rained on doesn't make the rain stop."

And it's true. Thanks again for your help tsloper. Please email me anytime and let me know if you have any personal game related project that you would like any free intern-type help on. I will also keep an eye on this site and participate in your design contests.

Thank you for everything,

-Nick
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