Join Brenda Romero for an in-depth discussion in this video Do you need to be able to code to be a game designer?, part of Game Design Careers with Brenda Romero.
- So, the great news for people who don't want to learn how to code, is that you can work in games, you can be a game designer, you can be a game developer, and not have the foggiest idea how to code. Will it help you? Yeah, it'll help you a lot. But do you have to know how to code? Not at all. For instance, I haven't coded on a game in forever. I'm a game designer, so what game designers do is I'm largely an architect, I guess you'd say.
So I lay out what the screen is going to look like. I write the story, I determine what happens when you press the A button, exactly what happens. And I write documents about that. These documents then go to the programmers, and the programmers actually build it. So it's a lot like an architect creating a blueprint. And then when the programmers build it, now we've got this thing that's, that's built, and it doesn't exactly happen in this order, mind you, but, the artists come in, and they make it pretty.
And then, the game designer shows up again, because now, we've got this, let's say we've got a house built, we'll just stick with the architect metaphor, what's going to happen in that house? Now, that's the role of the game designer. Am I going to scare the heck out of you? Am I going to thrill you? Am I going to, you walk in the front door and there's a gigantic pit, 50 feet down? So, these are the things that game designers do. And yes, especially if it's a video game, they're built with code. But many game designers today, don't actually code. They may do some basic scripting stuff, and that's not too difficult to learn.
But it's also not essential. So I would, for people who are concerned, or not getting into game design, and not even trying to learn game design because they're afraid of jumping over the code wall, two things: the code wall isn't as steep as you think it is. Particularly if you're looking at languages, like, say, Lua. But secondly, you don't need to learn how to code. There are programmers in the game industry who are fantastic at what they do. Leave the work to them. Another question while I'm on it, another question that comes up, is, "Do I need to know math to be a game designer?" And also, "Do you need to be great at math?" I would say, "No, not necessarily." So I'm a system designer.
I've done, I've written stories, that's a narrative designer. Now if you're writing a story about math, you better be good at it. But otherwise, no, you're talking about creating the pacing of a game, and the plot and the quests that characters are going to go on, that has nothing to do with math. As a system designer, say I'm working in combat, I do need to have an understanding of probability. Probability, statistics, if you hit me, how many hit points of damage are you going to do? That level of math. The ability to use Excel spreadsheets to determine what the drop rates are, loot drop tables, say, for items after you kill a big boss, or you discover this amazing treasure chest, or you complete this quest.
So, some math is needed, but not, not calculus, just basic math. But there are plenty of jobs in the game industry that don't require, one, know-how to code, or one, knows how to handle, say, probability and statistics which is the most common thing a game designer might use.
Combining inspiration and hard-won advice, this course shows there is more than one way to approach game design and break into the industry.