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Maisth

Level Designer Career

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Hi everyone im Maisth, im gonna try to be as clear possible.

 

So my dream is to become a Level designer in the Game Industry, I already know how to Map on Doombuilder, Mapster32, UnrealED, Source, and hopefully plenty more on the future, but My dream is not to become an Independant Level Designer though With current state of Indie games ill probably will on the future, but Working on Companies its something that i want, Why you may ask? well I've never been so Independant on my Life, most of the time im Dependant from others (Which im not gonna mention) But On games its different.

 

Different because you don't have to work on every Department thats in a Group of People wanting to create a game you know?, On a Level Designer Department you just gotta worry about Making a Level or thats what i believe

 

So my question is:

 

Its it worth it Studying Level Design and Working for it? i mean i enjoy making maps but how much will i enjoy it? And if so should i work for a Big Company or Be Independant?

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My advice for anyone wanting to do level design is to learn how to make 3D models and textures and creating and finishing a level itself, and then from there making a very polished professional custom level or two for some AAA games.

You can go to an art school or something and learn it all, but if you are strictly interested in level design and thats it, then you don't really have to, you just need to have some nice maps in your resume.

Get some custom levels done with your own models and textures and use that to help you when applying for a AAA game studio. You might even want to just take contract jobs for working on already completed levels in a game to further beef up your portfolio to make landing more jobs easier.

Overall though, the game industry is real fickle; even landing a job at a very high profile studio doesn't mean you have job security because layoffs happen quite often. I would plan to be comfortable moving/switching studios a lot or starting your own small indie company.

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4 hours ago, Maisth said:

Its it worth it Studying Level Design and Working for it? i mean i enjoy making maps but how much will i enjoy it? And if so should i work for a Big Company or Be Independant?

So uh, this seems like a strange question to be ending your post with? The whole premise of your post is that this is your dream job, but then you seem to end it by asking if this is something you'll truly enjoy? If you're that passionate about making levels that this is your dream job, then it shouldn't be in question.

 

A few thoughts here:

  • It's a very narrow career to want to aim for. Is it making levels that you're truly passionate about, or are you really interested in making games, of which map design is only one small part?
  • I don't believe there are a huge number of jobs making levels for games. That means that you're probably going to find it hard to be hired just as a "level designer". Maybe start with a broader goal, like "work in the games industry" so that you have a path to try to get to where you want.
  • For the same reason, there's likely to be a lot of competition for this kind of position. If you were applying to a games company today, how would you convince them that you're the right person for the job? How are you going to stand out from the crowd? You'd probably want something like:
    • A portfolio of levels you've made, demonstrations of your best work that you can show someone. It's not enough just to know your way around an editor; you need actual accomplishments. If you had to show someone your work today, what would you show them to "wow" them?
    • Press coverage of something you've made. At the very least this could be amateur reviews (like the Newstuff Chronicles, or Cacowards). Ideally it's "professional" press coverage of something you've made. Gaming websites sometimes cover fan-made mods, and it's also relatively simple nowadays to launch a game on Steam if you're dedicated enough.
  • Level editing (the part where you lay out levels in an editor) is only one part of the puzzle. What other skills do you need to develop that might otherwise hold you back from being the best level author out there? This might include:
    • Artistic skills: can you make your own textures so that you can build exactly the level you want?
    • Music and sound design: atmosphere to a level can be affected a lot by background music or ambient sounds. Do you have these skills?
    • Programming skills: a lot of modern games make heavy use of scripted sequences. If you can develop a working knowledge of code then this is a plus.

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12 hours ago, fraggle said:

So uh, this seems like a strange question to be ending your post with? The whole premise of your post is that this is your dream job, but then you seem to end it by asking if this is something you'll truly enjoy? If you're that passionate about making levels that this is your dream job, then it shouldn't be in question.

 

Well said. Anyone can make an argument about why you shouldn't do something. And in a forum full of non-professional level designers, you can expect a lot. If being a professional level designer is something you'd love to be doing at some point in your life, then definitely work towards it.

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I heard of a guy who took a year off to make a huge mod for Skyrim as a job application to Bethesda. Well, Bethesda didn't hire him, but Bungie did and he still works there, I think.

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Bethesda has hired people for their mods. I think a single person worked on Morrowind's dungeons, 3 people worked on Oblivion's dungeons. Seems outrageous the amount of dungeons made by such few people. Then again a lot of their stuff was copy and paste.

 

As for being just a level designer, that's a pretty specific goal. Chances are for something that specific you need to work for a large company.

 

A lot of it can fall into "what else can you do?" You level design and make art, or models or program complex things. I have used Unreal's workflow for years now. Come up with the level geometry to play test it, then asset creation which is the meshing pass, lighting pass, and then the polish.

 

To ease my burden making games for fun, I've put a lot of work into making level editors and tools so that way my friends could make the levels for me and I'd pay them a small amount. Sadly at the end of the day I end up highly editing their levels to enhance their quality. Its still easier having them start things out.

Edited by geo

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