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I know nothing about either. But surely its easier to become a programmer than it is a designer?

Programming is something you can learn, like maths, and learning to drive a car. Whereas having the natural gift of design is something thats maybe inherent. Halo was maybe a case of having guys who did a bit of both, but really well ?

Is it easier to become a bad programmer or a good designer? Like driving and sex I guess.

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I think the line is a bit blurrier than that. Programming isn't just maths, it's also a second or third language. Good programmers are those who can get their intentions across efficiently, like good speakers or writers. And there's also a lot of maths in art, especially when you get into 3d modelling, animation or graphic design.

Whichever path, it involves a lot of learning, practice and dedication. (I'm not much of a believer in "natural talent". Seems like an excuse for those who don't want to put the work in - "I'm not talented enough".)

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Programming and its application involves a serious amount of creative thinking alongside logical aptitude - it's not just something that anyone could do.

Similarly, and conversely, design is something that can be learned - albeit through different means - like anything else.

You're speaking in such broadly generalised terms that it barely warrants the time for a proper answer, to be honest. Are you asking these questions with regards to your own career choice?

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I think he means programming vs design, as in technicality vs creativity - which are two sides of the same coin, found in every form of creation, from cookery to architecture to moviemaking to game development etc.

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Good programmers are those who can get their intentions across efficiently, like good speakers or writers. And there's also a lot of maths in art, especially when you get into 3d modelling, animation or graphic design.

Which is what I was trying to say. The programmers are the translators, or scribes, for the game designers vision. And its harder to design a great game, than it is to actually make one.

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Which is what I was trying to say. The programmers are the translators, or scribes, for the game designers vision. And its harder to design a great game, than it is to actually make one.

The way an idea is implemented is often more imortant than the idea itself.

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Programming is massively creative. It's one of those things that very clever people can learn and still be rubbish at whilst others just take to it instinctively.

I'm not sure what's meant by design in this context. I'm a game designer but I can't\don't draw. I'm also a reasonably competent programmer. I see myself as a designer but I've almost always had to code to make a living. Game design has always been an undervalued skill in the industry although there are signs that this is changing.

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Which is what I was trying to say. The programmers are the translators, or scribes, for the game designers vision.

I think that's underplaying what a coder does. Even if the designer dictates everything about what happens on screen there's a huge amount of creativity involved in working out how to make it happen.

And its harder to design a great game, than it is to actually make one.

I think there's some truth to this. I've worked on original titles that have taken a couple of years to make and it's the design, the getting it right, that took the time. If I'd had the finished article to copy (removing any design) I could code them from scratch in a couple of months. The re-written version would be much better coded too.

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I know nothing about either. But surely its easier to become a programmer than it is a designer?

other than agreeing with Essell's points I'd say its more difficult to become a programmer. more strict rules and procedures that you need to learn and follow. Above all else Designers have to be good communicators where as programmers can sit in the corner is wow us with their technical wizardry.

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I think the days when a programmer could hide away and keep his mouth shut have gone. We have to explain the tools, objects, etc we put in the game world, why an artist has to use smaller texture sizes, and so on.

At the very least we have to be able to explain to another programmer how they have broken what we've done and the horrible consequences of doing so.

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other than agreeing with Essell's points I'd say its more difficult to become a programmer. more strict rules and procedures that you need to learn and follow. Above all else Designers have to be good communicators where as programmers can sit in the corner is wow us with their technical wizardry.

I reckon it's much easier to become a programmer. Not because of the job being easier, just that the skill of game design is very poorly appreciated. Level designers\content creators are more employable than people who can design games.

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I'm a computer programmer of 12 years, with a degree in fine art so maybe I'm nicely positioned betwen the two disciplines to offer an opinion.

I'd say programming is creative, as others have said the problem solving aspect of programming is very creative. But it's not creative in the way that art is creative. With programming the end point is laid out before you start, the creativity lies in reaching it in the best way. With art the end point is entirely up to you, and that is a very daunting thing to face.

I'd also say that you can be taught to programme, although you can't necessarily be taught to be a talented programmer, you can be taught to programme well. I'm not sure you can be taught to produce "art" well, it's something you have or don't have. A badly written programme that works is much the same as a brilliantly written programme that does the same thing, there's no parallel condition for art.

That's why I'm a programmer, art is hard.

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I remember when I started my Computer Animation degree (in '97..jesus), the course head something along the lines of "We would rather teach artists how to program, not teach programmers how to be artists".

This doesn't mean of course that everyone ended as super-hawt coders or had an aptitude for it. Some students did really well and others just did what they had to do to pass that element. But at least they had an appreciation for what's involved. Nor does it mean that someone with a background solely in coding couldn't later discover they also have a strong visual temperament. But perhaps it is easier to teach technical subjects than artistic ability.

So the general guideline for student selection was based on finding individuals with good art portfolios, but also some background or potential in maths/physics/computing.

There is a need for people who are fluent in both languages. Hence the growing number of 'Technical Artists' found in the games industry, as have long been present in film special effects. Known as 'Technical Directors' usually.

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A badly written programme that works is much the same as a brilliantly written programme that does the same thing

I don't think that is the case. Certainly not in games. If something is badly written you soon see the effect of it when the game runs slow and all your memory is gone. Not to mention how maintainable the code is. Or modular. Or how long it too to come up with the solution to work on the next thing.

Fair enough, setting a job as a designer is much harder. Not only is it a little unappreciated, but most of the people going for the jobs at a graduate level are chancers.

There are more routes becoming available. I'm surprised that Mr. Pickford separated level designers from game designers. Not everyone can be the big cheese designing 'the vision'. Someone has to be down at the editor level manipulating things. From that knowledge they can know what works and move up to overseeing everything.

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That's why I'm a programmer, art is hard.

I think it boils down to what you find most daunting. I was naff at Maths at school, I didn't enjoy it one bit. But I've always been able to draw and love being creative so a career as a games artist has been awesome. As a games artist you learn the tools and then its down to how creative and competent you are are realising the designers vision. At Uni I saw some people's work and you could tell they were going nowhere.

boils down to what are you a natural at? art or maths? Designers I think slot in the middle of those. They need a strong technical understanding of how the game works as well as advising on how elements should look and work.

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Mainly because they are completely different things. It's a shame that people are mixing them up nowadays.

I agree. On smaller games your game designer is likely to be your level designer. On bigger games you need a raft of people who understand what the game is about to put the missions/scripting together, but you should only have a maximum of, say, two game designers (of whom one is lead)- there needs to be a coherent, undiluted vision there.

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Mainly because they are completely different things. It's a shame that people are mixing them up nowadays.

Not the way I see it. Pretty much all the designers here do a spot of level design. Depends on what you consider level design to be. By level design I mean, rather than say what they want in the game and what they want it to do, they go and do it themselves in the editor.

Obviously you get a design manager, who has the overall design in mind, but what do you class as a designer?

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He's right you know, maths is piss easy, that's why we pump out tens of thousands of maths and science graduates every year, with only a life at a grill in McDonalds to look forward to, whilst there's nary any art students to be found.

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Not the way I see it. Pretty much all the designers here do a spot of level design. Depends on what you consider level design to be. By level design I mean, rather than say what they want in the game and what they want it to do, they go and do it themselves in the editor.

Obviously you get a design manager, who has the overall design in mind, but what do you class as a designer?

Yeah, I do level design too. But it's a different activity and skill from game design. The overlap is real but it's just a practicality.

A game designer is someone who can invent or devise games from scratch.

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Yeah, I do level design too. But it's a different activity and skill from game design. The overlap is real but it's just a practicality.

A game designer is someone who can invent or devise games from scratch.

What about skills like impliment a publisher's idea in the least shit way possible? Or just devise parts of the game?

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What about skills like impliment a publisher's idea in the least shit way possible? Or just devise parts of the game?

I'm saying the skills of game design and level design are very different. In practice there are plenty of opportunities for overlap but that doesn't make them the same thing or any sort of continuum. I've worked at places where I've been asked to tidy up the office when a visitor is due but I don't consider that part of the skill of progamming or producing (whichever I was employed as at the time).

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boils down to what are you a natural at? art or maths?

maths & me never got along (saying that I probably have a better grasp than a lot of people since I had to do it at uni) but I'm a good programmer, something about programming just clicks with me, it makes sense. Plus maths is generally really badly taught in most schools, it certainly was in mine. There are some people that just cannot be taught to code, there was a research paper on it a year or so ago.

Talking to other programmers in the industry we seem to have a lot of input here, I contribute to the design and have a lot of creative input into the work I do, whereas others I talk to are implementing a set thing with little input. For Fable2 I also did most of the sim setup in the levels. If I did the exact same job I do here at Bioware I'd be a designer not a programmer.

In my opinion it's a lot easier to be a bad designer than a bad programmer since the barrier to enter is lower, but it's a lot harder to be a great designer than a great programmer. There's only one designer I've worked with I would consider to be a the top of his game.

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I'm saying the skills of game design and level design are very different. In practice there are plenty of opportunities for overlap but that doesn't make them the same thing or any sort of continuum. I've worked at places where I've been asked to tidy up the office when a visitor is due but I don't consider that part of the skill of progamming or producing (whichever I was employed as at the time).

Heh, someone agrees with me. Just noticed this pop up today

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MartinNerur...Game_Design.php

tho I generally take Gamasutra blogs with a pinch of salt.

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