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Where are all the Level Designers?


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I was thinking and i just asked myself this question: Where are all the level designers of the video game industry?

We have mapcore and its cool and all but we only have maybe a couple of dozen LD's here. With all the companys out there there must be thousands of professionals alone tho. I don't get it where they come from, where they hang out on the internet etc.

Have i missed something? :???:

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Actually, that same question crossed my mind not so long ago.

I guess most of them like to lay low, and maybe they don't feel very comfortable on forums or something? I have no idea...

Nevertheless, i know a handful of level designers working in the industry that don't make it a habit of browsing through forums, I guess the "dose" they get at work is more than enough, I suppose! :P Go figures...

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You can say the same for other professions within game dev no? I mean where are all the animators.. Just to name one.

Most professionals dont participate on forums and in communities, 9-5 attitude, which is a shame imo, also for their own good of developping a broader understanding and view of their specific activity.

To my experience there are two types of pro devs: the mod/community dude(tte), and the "I accidently rolled into this job and didn't knew there was such thing as a community and I don't know how a forum works" dude(tte).

My point being, we got into this industry through modding, so it is logical for us to be very involved online and on forums, that is not the case for those who got into the industry through other ways.

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Maybe the industry is still too young and the right forms for networking/community arn't here yet or not popular enough yet?

It would be a big win for everybody if we had a big community where level designers of all disciplines (you know there is not only fps and action games) would share their experiences and knowledge about tools, job opportunities etc. I would imagine a ld specific mix between sites like LinkedIn, gamasutra and mapcore (without EOT and with additional sections for other kinds of level design), with maybe a public section (where amateurs can participate also) and a private section for pros (so things can be discussed that are not for public).

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That would be really awesome, but good luck trying.

Another problem with level designer stuff is that the industry has no clue what a level designer is, you got dozens of different types of lds... It is more difficult to find common ground for all of them like this.

Just look at the division between the three big historic groups of LDs: Unreal/Quake/HL. There is absolutely no interaction between the groups.

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I think it also basically comes down to whether the work of a level designer is thought of as worth sharing. Level artists share their levels once they're completed, or even via screenshots because the "wow this is beautiful" factor is what everyone is going after.

With a level design, you can share it using the same method, but it needs to be experienced for people to have that wow factor. It's pure gameplay. So until you get that barrier out of the way, and we can all browse through a 3D version of the internet where a simple jpg can be rotated and "visited" or "experienced", you have no real clue how the design plays like.

I know, I'm dreaming with my eyes opened :)

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Interesting thread to read through.

I think level designers are very underestimated in the game design industry. Environment artists get all the credit for making the awesome-looking models/textures, the people that make the game immersive through gameplay don't get as much credit at all.

However, it's the same with other mediums of entertainment, film/television script writers tend to not get a lot of credit, it's the actors and/or cinematographers that get most of the credit.

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Interesting thread to read through.

I think level designers are very underestimated in the game design industry. Environment artists get all the credit for making the awesome-looking models/textures, the people that make the game immersive through gameplay don't get as much credit at all.

However, it's the same with other mediums of entertainment, film/television script writers tend to not get a lot of credit, it's the actors and/or cinematographers that get most of the credit.

The problem is the wording of our job title. While it's clearly the easiest way to describe what we do, it's also a very specific job title you can't find in any other industry. The mass public has no idea we even exist. A 3D artist is a lot easier to sell as a concept. You're an artist, that's fine and you work in 3D that's good too.

However I've been told several times now by recruiters at the studios I worked at that designers are starting to be valued more for what they bring, and that the industry understands what a great designer brings to the table, and why it's important to keep them on your team.

Obviously for every one of these studios, there's the gazillion others who will pink slip you at the end of a project because they don't "need you anymore".

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(so things can be discussed that are not for public).

Things? What things? :tinfoil:

For example your real opinion on a game or event. As a professional you always represent your company, if you want or not. You have to be careful what you say/write in public because everything reflects back on your employer. A private forum would give a bit more freedom here.

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You could just be anonymous.

Also that whole "act respectable in public to put on a good face" thing doesn't really seem to be a care for a lot of more well known people in the industry. :oops:

Anyway, I'm pretty sure such things do exist, though I don't know about specifically for level designers. I've heard of "secret industry mailing lists" and "forums" mentioned on the sly before.

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Not having time or being able to work on personal stuff in your spare time might be a factor. But yeah since it's a specialised job you would assume that most of the guys doing it would have come from working on games in their spare time and would be hanging around the modding communities but it doesn't seem to be that way.

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