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I'm still in high school, and I've been playing games for 12 years, and I've always wanted to eventually learn level development and design, and programming. However I'm no good at art and as of now have absolutely no education what-so-ever about either of these things.

I was wondering which fields of study should I branch into in order to learn these things? Is it even reasonable to attempt to learn level creation if I'm no good at art anyway?

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It's very reasonable to do level design if you can't draw, since you can learn to draw. Contrary to popular belief it's actually a skill you acquire, not something you're born with the ability to do. The author of Gunnerkrigg Court originally couldn't draw for peanuts. He spent months learning to draw before he started the webcomic. –  Jonathan Hobbs Oct 30 '11 at 4:18
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This is too broad a topic. Level design and programming are two entirely different fields, although there is some crossover depending on what kind of scripting the level designers are doing. That being said, education isn't really what you need as much as just practice, especially with level design. –  Tetrad Oct 30 '11 at 10:33

3 Answers 3

I would pick up an Art class at school if possible, or online to learn the basics of design, and then practice a ton. Many people that are good at art is because they have been practicing ever since they were a kid. Drawing all the time. For level design I agree with Nick, start looking into the modding community, Valve has some great downloads for modifying your levels (have only used the left 4 dead one). Any game that allows you to alter the level, or create your own will help. Here is Valve's "Making a Mod"

For programming, Math is pretty important, it makes things a lot easier, and see if your school offers any programming classes as well

Other than that, pick a language/program and try to stick with it for a little while. Learning a certain language won't matter all that much, as soon as you master one Object Oriented language, the others are easy to learn. C#, Java, Actionscript were easy for me.

When you begin learning programming,it probably won't relate to game programming, but stick with it, as these are stepping blocks that are needed down the road.

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Find a game you enjoy playing, learn to make levels for it and then maybe learn to mod the game as well. There are large communities out there for this sort of thing; they welcome newcomers. Old or new game, it doesn't really matter. (In your shoes, I would opt for ease of modding first and foremost.) I whiled away many a day making deathmatch maps for Doom when I was about 15. As you learn to make maps, you may gain enough knowledge and branch off into the scripting side; for a level designer that's a good route into logic, and if that ends up interesting you more than the level design itself, you can take Computer Science in college to become a formally trained programmer.

Unity and Flash are two other options if you want to get closer to programming more quickly. You can develop in either without having to pay any money (Unity Free ed. or FlashDevelop and the like). But in this case you are jumping straight into learning to develop games which, if level design is your primary interest, may just end up scaring you off.

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In addition to modding, Unity, and Flash, you might want to look in to the Unreal Development Kit udk.com It can be used for quick, simple games or full-fledged games if you work at it. –  Mike C Oct 31 '11 at 9:24
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Unity has a much more gentle learning curve than UDK, so I'd go with that. –  Muzz5 Nov 1 '11 at 20:53

Be sure to learn a lot of advanced math. Math is the most important thing in games. Also, learn some programming languages such as Java, C++, or C#.
Personally, I like Java because it is very flexible.
But the most important thing is interest. If you're interested, you will do well.
You can find free textures and images online.

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Welcome to GD.SE! This question was asked a long time ago, and this answer doesn't add too much to the ones which have already been posted. Perhaps you could answer some of our newer questions? –  Polar Jan 1 at 11:37

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