The phrase “game design” conjures up different ideas of what the job actually means, and there are many pieces to this role, including the role of practical design. When a game designer comes to create a game, it’s not just a solo effort. That person has to be willing and able to work with a large group of people, and convey their ideas in concise, yet realistic, terms.
There are budgets, time constraints, programming limitation, and so on, that all factor into whether a game can be made or not, and the best approaches to doing so. This is where taking game design courses on practical design comes into play.
Why is important?
Taking a course in practical design is important for a number of reasons, though the major reason is that, as a game designer, you must be able to realistically transfer your game from an idea in your head to a working, interactive world. Practical design will teach you a number of things (listed below), but the biggest thing it will teach you is the basics of how games operate, covering game engines, level design, and scripting languages. While this course in not necessarily comprehensive in each of those areas, by giving you an understanding of the industry, you’ll be better equipped to set some foundations to your game, and have reasonable goals. You don’t want to jump in half-cocked, expecting every feature to be added, just to be halfway down the road and find that you’ve run out of resources (time, money, staff). Ouch.
What will I learn?
Below are some of the core things that a course in practical game designing can teach you:
Basics of game engines. A game’s engine is its core. The engine is what controls physics, lighting, environment, terrain and more. Once you know what the engine does, and the different types out there, you’ll get a better idea of what your game will require when you start.
Level designs and programming languages. Games are built on code. While practical design may not get into the nitty gritty of coding, it will show you what the game looks like from the inside to give you an idea of what it takes to create even simple games. It should also teach (or at least show) you how levels are created.
How to effectively translate an idea to a real game. A sad truth is that many would-be “game designers” have this dream of building the world’s Next Big Game. They are often deluded about many things, like budgets, time windows, resource constraints and staffing. Practical design can help prepare you for dealing with these issues.
How to convey ideas to programmers and artists. As the designer, your primary role isn’t in either the aesthetics of the game, or the programming behind it, but rather a middle ground between them. A good course on practical game design should teach you how to relay your ideas effectively to both sides, and how to get them to mesh in real ways. A game design course in design integration can help with this as well.
Where can I got to learn Practical Design?
Only a few years ago, game design was laughed at by many as a fad. But there are now over a hundred schools in the US alone that offer courses in game design. There are also many options available to someone looking to get into game design, including universities (both undergraduate and gradutate) as well as online classes. You can any number of our articles. Our advice is to research every school before joining, and weigh your options: If it’s online, what accreditation do they have? And if it’s a physical school, which is closest or most affordable to me? Doing the research up front can save you a lot of time and money later on down the road.
Are you ready to pursue a career in game design? Get information on programs in your area and online using our game design degree finder at the top of this page. ↑