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Tisky

Where do you start today, if you want to work in the gaming-industry?

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2 hours ago, PaulH said:

Sure, it's still by no means a requirement for many places of work I would think, but definitely doesn't hurt to have working knowledge of it. 

 

Your original question is of interest to me too. When I was learning I too used Hammer/Worldcraft and early versions of Unreal to create levels for things like HL2, Unreal Tournament and the SWAT series, but I found myself wondering recently what games people use to learn nowadays. Seems like CSGO is still an option, but what else...

Yeah i mean, it was easier back in the day when HL-engine dominated everything 😁. I starded doing maps in the Build engine, good old Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior.. Back then i didn't read tutorials, it was all trial and error until it worked. Just as i've learnt that, i started using Quark (Quake Army Knife) and i remember in the beginning, i had no idea you could use different textures on one bsp block. My house map for CS was so laggy due to all walls having several blocks with different textures. I still feel ashamaed when i think about it ☺️. It was fun having alot of free-time and getting things to work. I had a mod for Quake 1 with flying hover-vehicles (stole some code) and imported Q2 models. I made all skins and sounds and i was so proud. Gameplay was awful but still, i made it!

I was at a LAN-party the weekend before i was going to release the mod and my raid-hdd died on me. I had no backups. So that is lost forever and after that incident i worked on an x-com UFO enemy unknown mod for Half-Life 1. Infogrames shut us down back then haha! After that i met a girl and got kids and so on, always thinking what could have been :) I miss those days sometimes.

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Also don't make my mistake, if you want to apply for a LD job, try to learn to make maps for both singleplayer and multiplayer (and maybe different type of games as well) Both are not the same way of thinking and you will learn a lot about Scripting on solo maps.

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1 hour ago, ElectroSheep said:

Also don't make my mistake, if you want to apply for a LD job, try to learn to make maps for both singleplayer and multiplayer (and maybe different type of games as well) Both are not the same way of thinking and you will learn a lot about Scripting on solo maps.

Good tip!! You have an awesome surname haha.

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15 hours ago, PaulH said:

Not entirely true HP! I started working in the industry making racing games, and purely using 3DS Max to design /whitebox the tracks (this is still the case at both Codemasters and Playground Games on their racing projects). At Crytek I was using CryEngine to make multiplayer maps, but it helped to know 3DS Max to add my own models to some of my whiteboxes (granted, it wasn't as beneficial during some of the projects in this period). Same thing when it came to whiteboxing in Unreal for the projects I was involved in before moving to Playground Games. Here at PG, I again currently use 3DS Max as my primary tool for whiteboxing content, and our level design test is currently based in Max as well. So I'd say having the ability to whitebox in such a program would be beneficial, not least because the tools within a lot of contemporary game editors are similar to what you'd find in Max anyway, when it comes to manipulating blockout geometry. 

Every studio is different, inhouse tools are diferent, even when studios use the same engine the workflow changes entirely.
Studios using a modeling package like 3DsMax or Maya for their level designers to blockout their levels are rare these days though, for many reasons, one of them being that it increases the iteration time. If you wanna move a block 2 meters to the side, you need to boot the modeling package, export your geo, boot the game editor, import geo, wait for file to import. At the end of the year, you're probably talking hours of man hours wasted. Some people use it sure, I can actually see it being the prefered way for a racing game due to the tracks being so organic, you need a really good modeling toolkit.

BUT, that's not even why I said what I said. If you're starting out, and learning the ropes of level design and the first thing you do is grab 3DsMax and learn to model, for me it's just feels like going to the gym and start lifting more weights than you're capable of pushing. Odds are that you're gonna give up, and you're never gonna get into the routine of going to the gym. You wanna start with the fundamentals.

UE4 has a basic modeling toolkit, more than capable of blocking out levels, and there's modular kits in their store as well. (Same for Unity)

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@Tisky so you wanna go design or art? Those are two very different paths with their own set of priorities...

Personally what I did after finishing school until I found my first gig was shipping a ton of small level design projects on various editors, with a quick turnaround (1 project per week on average including pre-prod, documentation, etc) to build a decent LD-focused portfolio and replace the cringy school projects asap. Most of them were be pretty bad at first but they slowly got better and better. I recommend doing this because that way you not only build a portfolio, but also invest on your knowledge which is wayyy more important on the long run.

When it comes to tools/games/engines etc. I'd say it just depends on what you wanna aim for with your portfolio. The truly crucial thing at the end of the day is the intent, thought process and presentation. A level that just "looks really kewl" without the right purpose to back it up is just worthless, unfortunately.

Although if you wanna go for art it's a completely different story, one which I can't give advice on... other than you gonna have to get on the ArtStation rat race haha

btw you have a portfolio already or are you starting from scratch?

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15 hours ago, [HP] said:

Every studio is different, inhouse tools are diferent, even when studios use the same engine the workflow changes entirely.
Studios using a modeling package like 3DsMax or Maya for their level designers to blockout their levels are rare these days though, for many reasons, one of them being that it increases the iteration time. If you wanna move a block 2 meters to the side, you need to boot the modeling package, export your geo, boot the game editor, import geo, wait for file to import. At the end of the year, you're probably talking hours of man hours wasted. Some people use it sure, I can actually see it being the prefered way for a racing game due to the tracks being so organic, you need a really good modeling toolkit.

BUT, that's not even why I said what I said. If you're starting out, and learning the ropes of level design and the first thing you do is grab 3DsMax and learn to model, for me it's just feels like going to the gym and start lifting more weights than you're capable of pushing. Odds are that you're gonna give up, and you're never gonna get into the routine of going to the gym. You wanna start with the fundamentals.

UE4 has a basic modeling toolkit, more than capable of blocking out levels, and there's modular kits in their store as well. (Same for Unity)

I don't disagree with you. I was just pointing out that learning 3D Max can still be beneficial and not a complete waste of time, from the perspective of a level designer working in the industry, on an open-world game, and using it professionally. When it comes to learning level design there's definitely many ways to approach it and many tools that are valid.

Edited by PaulH

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14 hours ago, MikeGon said:

@Tisky so you wanna go design or art? Those are two very different paths with their own set of priorities...

Personally what I did after finishing school until I found my first gig was shipping a ton of small level design projects on various editors, with a quick turnaround (1 project per week on average including pre-prod, documentation, etc) to build a decent LD-focused portfolio and replace the cringy school projects asap. Most of them were be pretty bad at first but they slowly got better and better. I recommend doing this because that way you not only build a portfolio, but also invest on your knowledge which is wayyy more important on the long run.

When it comes to tools/games/engines etc. I'd say it just depends on what you wanna aim for with your portfolio. The truly crucial thing at the end of the day is the intent, thought process and presentation. A level that just "looks really kewl" without the right purpose to back it up is just worthless, unfortunately.

Although if you wanna go for art it's a completely different story, one which I can't give advice on... other than you gonna have to get on the ArtStation rat race haha

btw you have a portfolio already or are you starting from scratch?

Design! I used to have alot of unfinished work. I never did feel that what i did was "perfect" so when i finished something i never felt it was as i had envisioned it from the start. Either that or poor game-play (it was mostly Counter-Strike maps at the end).

So sadly, i have to start from scratch. Somehow it feels good also, getting a fresh start. I guess my old work would qualify as the "cringy school projects" in my own eyes. I want to do things "right" and at the same time, a good job. I don't want to complete a level and feel that i wasn't completely sure if i did things correct. Backtracking is time-consuming :)

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Most of what I'd look for has been covered here already. Key things I look out for when combing through portfolios:

  • Use of different game engines - More often then not you'll be joining a studio and using either their own engine or a modified one. If you can show you can transfer your skills from one engine to another (thus reducing the amount of training time you'll need when joining a new studio) it'll be a big bonus. Basically, don't just make CS:GO maps.
  • Ability to work on different game types - This kinda relates to the above but if all you're making is CS:GO maps (sorry to pick on CS:GO :P) then you're probably not going to be considered for a puzzle/racing/adventure game potentially. If you show you can create levels for different game genres it'll really help you out. For example make a race track in Trackmania, then go create a Portal 2 puzzle level, maybe create a Fallout 4 dungeon then go create a single player mission for your favourite shooter with their in-built mission editor.
  • Using level layout to create different gameplay - It's nice to see some variety in level layout. Try something new in a CS:GO map which breaks away from the typical 3 lane structure. Maybe a level which predominantly focuses on height variation. Perhaps the Portal 2 map you create can focus on precision shooting and the timing of portals being placed. The Trackmania track you might create could use split/multiple paths to give players more choice rather than one set path?
  • Tell me what didn't work - A lot of the time what you create might not be the best level ever. And that's totally fine. But don't hide it away at the bottom of your portfolio or remove it entirely. If you can critique your own work, say what went wrong and what you might have done to fix it it'll show understanding and show employers how you might tackle problems during development.
  • Keep portfolios short and sweet - Kinda contradicts the above point but don't make a portfolio page about a particular level really long. Game devs are often busy people at the quietest of times so we don't have time to read essays on every aspect of your level. Show us the key gameplay features, maybe a quick level playthrough video and keep any text short and to the point. This normally helps with interviews too as it leaves us something to ask you. Like: "You touched upon reasons why you didn't like this section, could you expand on what you might do given the chance?" "You mention bombsite B was always hard to retake in playtests, how did you overcome that?"
  • We don't expect you to be artists - Don't spend forever trying to make your level look super amazing art-wise. You're not expected to be an environment artist too. So long as you've shown considerations for how the level might be dressed or themed then that's often enough. Mood boards are good and some basic dressing to help sell that in the whitebox is cool too. Resuse assets from games as much as you can.

I agree with what others have posted. If you don't know any 3D packages right now then just focus on in-engine tools. They're more than good enough to whitebox a level. But if you do know a 3D package it'll be a nice bonus on your CV. At Rebellion we let people use our in-engine tools or a 3D package (Max, Maya or Blender) when building their levels.

TL;DR

  • Give your portolfio variety
  • Don't waffle on too much (Like my post :D)

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2 hours ago, dux said:

I hope you aren't big into games, because you are gonna lose all interest in playing them when you make them for a job. :v

It's ok I think it's safe to say none of us really like video games anyway

(cries in game developer)

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On 11/18/2019 at 7:26 AM, Tisky said:

Stupid question but, you have to buy FC5 to use it i guess? :)

I got an email from Steam notifying me FC5 is 67% off this week.

On 11/18/2019 at 10:21 AM, PaulH said:

Your original question is of interest to me too. When I was learning I too used Hammer/Worldcraft and early versions of Unreal to create levels for things like HL2, Unreal Tournament and the SWAT series, but I found myself wondering recently what games people use to learn nowadays. Seems like CSGO is still an option, but what else...

Yeah I brought up this point in previous similar conversations… on one side we have seen a “democratisation” of game dev with tools accessible to everyone, on the other hand there are really few games that allow modding/custom content so it feels you might just developer your own game and if you get lucky you stay indie, if not you have a piece of portfolio.

I guess a good way to go is attend meet-ups and game jams if you want to create content for fully working games. Otherwise you have to focus on the few that offer modding or go abstract and use plugins from the marketplace to get the logic going. You are in Sweden @Tisky so there should be plenty in the big cities.

Nobody mentioned mobile gaming but if you are open to everything for the first gig you should probably look at some best practices and examples for that kind of games. Again Sweden has lots of mobile game devs.

A side note: i think to remember from previous topics that you have kids? if you are family limited you might have to focus on studios in your region, that can help creating content tailored for them.

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5 hours ago, dux said:

I hope you aren't big into games, because you are gonna lose all interest in playing them when you make them for a job. :v

lol, you definitely see beyond the veil a lot more when you understand how things are made.

But, by the same token that you easily loose interest in some games when you just "know too much", you also get a newly appreciation for really well polished games, cos you know what it takes to master something to that level.

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