*DISCLAIMER: Please do not comment unnecessary or useless information (i.e. negativity, falsified information, misleading guidance, etc.) I'm not looking to become 'trending' or whatever, just guidance and information.*
This was difficult to type, as I had to thoroughly analyze myself.
Ever since I was young, I wanted to create. Either it be a simple drawing or an in-depth story based on fictional worlds. Creativity is my one passion in life, to make something unique or think outside of the box to improve on created ideas. At this age, I had also discovered something that has been with me to this day. Video games. It wasn’t the needless violence or gameplay that intrigued me the most, but the story that was being told. At some points in my life, it was an escape from the normal routine, or some cases it was an escape of reality. To be somewhere else, to BE someone, even for a short period of time. In a game, you can take the role of someone different and experience a new world, breath-taking scenes of beauty and suspense, unique characters that either further or deter the story. There are plenty of games that do exactly this, but one in particular captivated me since I first woke up from that cryo-pod.
Halo: Combat Evolved is one of my top, if not the top, favorite games to date. From the beginning, its atmosphere portrayed a sense of urgency and suspense to complete the objectives. The missions made sense for what needed to happen to progress the story. Mysteries and unanswered questions pushed me to keep playing. ‘A giant metallic ring? Forerunners? Covenant? Spartans?’ These questions plagued my mind and fed on my creative need to discover all of it, to understand the creators’ logic in this world I was playing in. Then, I discovered an ancient evil that legitimately scared me. The mission ‘343 Guilty Spark’ already started as a foreboding drop-off into a swamp. The decent into the ring only gave a sense of dread that something was extremely wrong with the entire situation. After discovering the mystery of the flood, it was a race of survival to escape them, discover the care taker of ‘Halo’, get ultimately betrayed, and blow up everything as a result of expending all other options. Multiple play-throughs answered some questions, but I wanted to know more. It all intrigued me. The story, characters, places, events, gameplay, even the music! Don’t get me started on the theme song for the game.
In no relation to Halo, I began writing at an early age, I think about 4th grade. It was simple writing based on science fiction stories. One was about a mining base located on the moon. It was simple writing, but it had depth. Characters were named and had thoughts and feelings rivaling the protagonist. The antagonist was a bit different as it was a giant black blob capable of absorbing any biological substance to grow. The characters focused on base destruction and escape, I was even able to write a couple sequels for the short story expanding to Mars and Venus.
When I reached 7th grade, I decided to write a short story based around the thought of Halo as a whole. It would involve a character that had to protect someone of importance working with biology to improve human performance. It was later found that the VIP was being supplied flood specimens from an unknown source from a close location. With the progression of the story, the pages began to add up and soon I had more than 100 pages. I developed my first ‘fan-fiction’. Reading Eric Nylunds novels (Halo: The Fall of Reach, First Strike, Ghosts of Onyx) helped improve my writing abilities and I was actually able to talk to him a little about the publishing process and contact information to publish my idea after it developed to a complete storyline. However, that road never came to be sadly. The story still remains fresh in my mind, but I don’t think it’ll ever really be able to go anywhere. There’s always hope I suppose.
As the years progressed and games that released with them, the story expanded and plot thickened. This only fed fuel to my passion that burned for this franchise. Like all good things, it had to come to an end and Halo 3 was one way to end a good franchise (I know it didn’t actually end). It wasn’t the best way to go out, but it was a trip worth travelling regardless.
Other games were released that caught my attention and deterred from Halo. The Battlefield franchise, Dead Rising, Tom Clancy franchise, and even Metro 2033/Last Light need mentioned. As I played, my creative want only grew. I wanted to make stories that a player could interact with, be part of. I wanted to create worlds and places that were exciting and new. However, once I hit 9th grade, I chose a path that was a little more important than me. Frankly, I didn’t know what else to do right out of HS.
The Air Force isn’t the most glamorous job, but it has benefits. Dorm rooms right out of BMT, less BS than some other branches, and the work is relatively understandable. There are trade-offs, but it’s manageable. As my years of service stacked, my creativity took a further and further backseat, putting work first. Recently, I had the epiphany. ‘I’m not doing this forever,’ I thought to myself. ‘I will go back to being a civilian and work a completely different job.’ This scared me beyond belief. Thoughts and doubts lay on my mind and made it hard to sleep. ‘Where would I work? How would I live?’ It’s easy to get swept up in doubt and being lost from a direction. I cleared my head and thought about what direction I wanted to take. What I WANTED to do. Realistically there are plenty of options available and schooling almost never an issue with your college paid for. I wanted to do something I loved and wanted to do since I was young.
Game Design is one of my end-game goals. To create interactive worlds and places to explore with characters that had depth and overcame struggles. To tell stories that the player cares about what happens, to feel engaged with the situations that happen. There are only a few things holding me back now, and it’s probably the most important in regards to where/what I do next. INFORMATION. The fundamental and basic structure to my plan is how to progress. I’ve looked into options for paths and what companies look for. However, all I really want is:
-Personal experiences with how people got started
-Schools/programs that companies would look at
-Advice on what to watch for or try doing
I’m not expecting glamorous answers or any developers actually seeing this post (let’s be honest, they have better things to do than read my ramblings); But if anyone has personal experiences or advice on how to proceed, that would be amazing and be invaluable aid. This post is only one fishing line of many lures I plan on casting into the lake. It’s time I put down the controller and start looking to other horizons beyond.
Thank you in advance to anyone that does want to respond.
Edit: I am going to be placing my thoughts and adjusting my plan here for my own memory, as I am probably more active here than most other forums.
List of Potential Colleges for Game Design/Programming:
1. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
2. Carnegie Mellon (?)
3. Full Sail University (Campus/Online)
Potential programs to learn:
-HTML (General understanding, i.e. codes/commands, C/W)
-Java= [url=https://www.codecademy.com/learn]Codecademy[/url] (C/W)/ [url=http://www.alice.org/index.php]Alice for Java[/url]
- C# (C/W)/ C++
-3D Studio Max or Maya
-Build a portfolio (more of a do than a learn)
-More online course material ([url=http://www.sololearn.com/Courses/]SoloLearn[/url])
[url=http://www.allartschools.com/game-design-career-five-reasons/]General Information for Game Design[/url]
[url=http://gameindustry.about.com/od/careers/a/How-Do-You-Get-A-Job-In-The-Game-Industry-Part-1.htm]General Guidance and Portfolio Building[/url]
[url=http://www.jobmonkey.com/videogamejobs/employers/]Job Listings for Game Companies[/url]
Edit: This will be updated regularly, pending on what I learn.