Game Design

Game Design as an extension of my personality

There has always been something satisfactory in learning how and why things work. What works and when it does, where is an important part of the equation for sure. Constantly checking if the answers to any of these questions have changed is important for me. Therefore, learning more and updating my knowledge is an essential exercise to maintain the quality of the answers I have obtained over the years. However, as I have grown so have my knowledge and my need of updating it. There is just a practical limit to what one can do about the accumulated knowledge.

Being obsessed about learning new stuff is a good thing but putting all that knowledge into use is equally important. I think, for me, the easiest and fun way of doing that is game design. My decision about this dates back to November 2013. I had worked in the web industry for almost 15 years. I had seen the same practice pretty much over and over again in different formats. Reinventing the wheel or basically fixing the browser first then developing something has been common practice. When was the last time you came home with a product and you’ve had to fix it first so you can start using it? As far as how Web goes, there is no sense of product development but there is a lot of compromise and make do. Let’s just say when I buy a car I’d like its window regulator had better work! If broken, would you try to fix it or return the car? If the car manufacturer said that it’s just like that in their car model and they don’t support it for some esoteric reason, well bugger off!

So, I had had enough of it. Mind you, I have kept my job because I believe paying the bills is no strange concept to anyone so I’ve done the same. I’m still working as an Assistant Director of a Design Department of a big company where main practice is web design and development. My online resume is available for anyone interested in what I have done between 2000 and 2015. I’m actually interested in landing a game design or development job but I also don’t want to be a cog in a machine that comes with long hours, bad management and all that other horror stories I’ve read about how the game industry really works. So, I guess I’m going solo for now but if anyone can offer partnership I’m always open to considering my options.

Game Design as a character supplement

Nutrition supplements, exercise supplements, all sorts of supplements are pretty popular these days. I guess game design can be a pretty good character supplement. It totally suits my need of investigation, learning new things and applying existing knowledge into making meaningful products. However, I must admit that when I first thought about developing a game I had my titles all mixed up. I had always thought game designer was responsible for visuals. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The more I read about it the more it got clear and exciting at the same time. Designing the mechanics, the rules, the win and the lose conditions of the system, interactivity, storytelling, triggering emotions… The list can go on but I think when it comes to comparing it to other creative medium it’s pretty much like directing a movie.

Ever since I took game design more seriously it has opened so many doors. I’ve had numerous visits to second hand bookstores to find hidden gems. Suddenly, the aisles and the sections I have ignored for so many years started to look like a potential knowledge well. I’m an atheist so Religion or Occult section has been the least interesting. Even if I got bored and visited every section I’d definitely avoid Religion part of any bookstore. It’s a bit different nowadays because it makes sense to get to know about the history of different religions, mythology and such because there is good material for character creation and plot, especially for role playing games. I believe religious texts are an early version of creative writing and there is actually a lot to learn from and adapt to modern storytelling needs. Humans love to listen to and tell stories. If nothing, game design will help me read religious material more effortlessly because I could now leave my feelings about it since I always thought it looked like shoving down my throat some nonsense. That’s a whole other conversation though.

I grew up in Turkey and the education in late high school was as basic as picking science or literature classes. So, you could either be a scientific person or a person who is more into literature. i picked science classes and it suited my analytic thinking. However, many people also told me I did write well and although I was a shy person, when I wanted to express myself I was concise, clear and I could make hard problems sound easy or I could pick a difficult topic and dumb it down for different audiences. So, according to the school system, once you are more or less indoctrinated that you must conform to one or two major choices you kind of leave your other abilities untapped. Despite that, I must say game design is the best combination for me to merge my technical skills with storytelling. Writing a good story and marrying it successfully with a carefully orchestrated mathematical system sounds thrilling. I’m of course mainly referring to role playing games but I suppose the bottom line is creativity.

Since I have been in web development business for more than 10 years and there is little to learn new if you are practising the same programming language, and even if you try a new programming language you are pretty much carrying over similar problem solving skills to a new environment, there is a little amount of satisfaction after a while because I think the narrative to the need why such application is asked in the first place doesn’t change much. Let’s just say it keeps being technical and numerical, or rule based. On the other hand, if you only read stories in books it’s all narrative. There is no interaction, no rules, no end condition; it’s all been decided for you. Still, I read a lot of books for fun and I’m not dismissing it in exchange for video games. I just want to say that combining both practices seems like the best of both worlds for me and also maybe I would like to create something I would enjoy consuming.

Chronology

I think presenting things in a chronological order would help me see how much progress I have made. This might also be helpful for people who are new to game stuff and although each person’s experience will be unique it might still give some direction.

November 2013

  • Ordered a bunch of books from the public library. They deliver the books to my local branch.
  • Grabbed more books that were already available from my local branch.
  • Sorted out books by topic
  • Took notes for each one

December 2013

  • More book borrowing and taking notes
  • Also cataloguing Safari Online books thanks to my library card
  • Finally made a list of books and resources in order of importance
    • 1 being read immediately
    • 2 being dependent on 1 or an extension to what I learn in 1
    • 3 being optional and maybe recreational reading

January 2014

  • Decided to get some online training at Digital Tutors
  • Consumed many videos mainly Maya and Unity

May 2014

  • Slowed down with the learning
  • Focused more on ideas and bigger picture

June-September 2014

  • Life got in the way
  • Visited my home country after 6.5 years
  • Found a therapist and started to sort stuff out up there

November 2014

  • Figured out I’d like to make some short and some long projects
  • A mobile game project took shape but needed to learn more Unity. Mobile is deceptively simple but a different beast.
  • Committing myself to a long term project such as an RPG seemed like a good idea. More on this later

December 2014

  • Understood the need for a good narrative and storytelling
  • Started to read about writing a good story especially a fantasy story
  • Ordered and bought books about writing stories, plot and character development, etc…

January 2015

  • Dealt with long term bullying effects
  • Work got hectic. Tough days
  • Looked for a way out

February-March 2015

  • Paused my activities on game stuff
  • Honed my web development skills for obvious reasons

April 2015

  • Finished reading a few books about writing a fantasy story
  • Rediscovered Dungeons & Dragons
  • DMed a solo game so I could see how it can relate to a video game

May 2015

  • Decided to focus more on game design and execution of my ideas
  • Postponed my attempt to change my job

June 2015

  • Attended Stage Select Gaming Expo

What’s next?

The answer to this question may change soon depending on the outcome of Stage Select Gaming Expo. Ideal scenario would be securing funds, finding a few partners or teammates and tackle the next big title in the game business. Ultimately, have fun doing it!

What are my skills that can help any team?

  • I’m organized and methodical
  • I keep a good balance between being patient and producing fast results which might either contradict or go along with the item above
  • I can see potential problems after I study a system, product or a workflow
  • I have excellent bug solving and analytic thinking skills
  • I know Javascript and Actionscript. Learning C# is just a new flavor of ECMAScript. Having access to additional data structures are helpful for tackling new situations whereas mimicking complex data structures with JS and AS were oftentimes awkward.

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