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The life of a game developer. My future or not?


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#1 twintwix   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:39 AM

I need some people who know whats it like in the game dev world to tell me. How you feel about the jobs, life as a game developer, programmer or other sections. Basicly as you might have guessed, my interest in gaming industry truely began developing since World of Warcraft released ^^ Even tho I haven't played games for 2 years now because I'm so bussy with life my interest in the gaming industry and it growing and the hugeness of it still catches my eye. The amount of people working on one game is interesting. In the gaming industry, specificly for myselfI think programming is best suited for my personal skills. They come natural to me. I'm patience, wise and analyitcal. Ok I'm currently doing 5th of the 6 years of pre-university education. I am headed to university in about 2 years. And I was thinking about following a course in Charles Sturt University (in Australia or "distance education" basicly by computer): "computer science (games technology)." They have this industry placement thing so you can begin to work as a programmer in the gaming industry right away after completing it. I always looked at programming as boring and computers as frustrating, but recently I began thinking maybe this IS what I want to do. Getting in the gaming industry. But I wonder how programming really feels like. And if it really stressfull and how much spare time do you game programmers have. Can you still have a life or do you have to be a workaholoic like in my current study... I basicly have very few sparetime left with my current school. I suspect that what I like so much in gamedevelopement is not at all the same as programming. I mean I thought programmers created graphics basicly, but infact the artists do that. I like the atmosphere in specific games, the artist makes those too. The music compositions, artists... Animation? Artists too? And then the programmers only do the technical stuff? Sounds really boring. You basicly sit behind a computer all day following the rules right? That is what I do in math currently. I hear that in university math requires creativity, but currently what I do with mathematics is follow the rules of the book. Following the rules of logic, is that what you do all day as a programmer too? Or do you actually create new stuff that you can be proud of when the game is finished, and you can say: Hey I made that. For example when I paint, you begin imagining before you actually paint, and then you see the picture slowly developing and becoming beautiful. same with music, its simply fun. What about computer programming? You have to solve abstract things that require no imagination? Or does it require imagination. And what kind of programming. What about physics engine developer, I hear they team up with a very creative partner that is the "level designer". I that true? They are the people I can really have good partner ships or relationships with. It would form a good team. Infact I remember when was very young, around the age of ~6 or something: My best friend was taking a piece of paper and drawing a level on it, with leaps, jumps, monsters, and very fun object with which you can interact in creative ways. It sounds so complex still we were 6 years or so and we made games on paper and we played on them with our fingers as characters. You know 2 fingers walking on paper, hehe. Anyway, my best friends have allways been those kind of level designer guys. And their best friends always those wise analytical guys. They do form a perfect team in everything in life. Even relationships between women and men! I gotta say I'm pretty good at logic and math. It comes natural to me. But I woulden't grow as a person when sitting behind a computer all day. Infact my psychology would get arrested or even reversed. Thats why I wonder what you programmers have to say about that. How do you feel when working as a programmer, do you become passive like me? Or atleast do you feel drained allot? I hear programmers have to do overwork allot and they really stress all day, and work without sleep sometimes. Or do you simply stay neutral, and then simply have enough spare time as a computer programmer. I was hoping 8 hours work, 8 hours free time for your self or play and 8 hours rest a day. So the perfect 8/8/8 day. But is that possible to have as a programmer? How is your day set. I would love to work as an artist, but I'm afraid that I will just drain my self of all the hard work it would require of me, because creativity doesn't come natural to me. I'm more of a logic guy. And then again the life of an artist in game dev world doesn't seem so bright either. I dunno. How fcked up peoples lifes are in the game dev world. Are there lots of unhappy people out there? Allways depressed or negative people? Do people have normal humor? Do they have good social skills in general? Not only nerd humor, if you know what I mean. Eventually I want a future life where I can stimulate creativity trough experience either in working environment or with enough spare time. And on the emotional side I demand of working environment to allow me to be assertive or courages or have enough sparetime so I can do it then. I mean as a computer programmer, all you have to do is sit in some isolated small office with airco inside while its a wonderful sunny day out there and follow some rules of logic behind a screen? Sounds overly negative, but I know jobs are not supose to be fun, but programming sounds REALLY boring. On the other side it may seem really easy, and fun if you have enough spare time to still have an enjoyable life and actually have time to grow as a person and have experiences in life with one laptop under your arm where you can sit on the beach and open that alienware super laptop and start working while having the waves crash on the beach as your background or something. How is it? I hear the future allows you to have "Distance work" just like "Distance education" Basicly do the whole bachelor of university on one laptop anywhere around the world. Virtual working environment and virtual connection with people. This also allow more spare time with less travel burdens, but is it something that is already been done? Cause I hear game developers all require to travel allot. This sounds good, but will it change? Cause living abroad and addepting to the abroad lands actually stimulates creativity and gives you experiences which is a good thing. On the other hand it requires allot of time of you, and if you have to travel allot you can't have very long term relationships. But how much travel really happens? Thanks for reading, your comments will be of matter of life of my future! and anyone else interesting in entering the gaming industry. I appreciate any comments ;) [Edited by - twintwix on October 26, 2009 6:03:05 AM]

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#2 jackolantern1   Members   -  Reputation: 158

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:54 AM

Quote:
Original post by twintwix
They have this industry placement thing so you can begin to work as a programmer in the gaming industry right away after completing it.


Be sure that they are not promising you a job in the game industry after you complete your education. If they are, cut line and run. Any school that promises you will go to work right away after finishing your degree cannot be trusted. All they can do is try to set you up with some interviews with some companies that they have connections with, and even that is not promised; all they can do it try. It can sometimes take a graduate several months to get into their industry, and sometimes you will even have to take other, similar work, such as programming jobs outside of the game industry.

If you would not be happy having to settle for coding database front-ends for a telecommunications company for a couple of years while trying to get into the game industry, then maybe game programming is not for you. You have to not only enjoy the game side of things, but you have to enjoy programming, too. I suggest trying some programming out, and see how well you like it outside of a game environment.


#3 agm_ultimatex   Members   -  Reputation: 191

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 10:39 AM

I didnt read the post, but I agree with jackolatern. I finished school in mid august and just started a job three weeks ago. Two months isnt bad, but unless you have good connections through family or something, its not as likely to have a job right out of school. Programming in general is all pretty similar, with logic, flow and that. Its more or less larger concepts that will change from if you're doing game programming to creating a text editor for instance. Games require all sorts of math, where making a notepad-like program would be centered around the GUI and file IO. I am generalizing of course, but nevertheless, try out some basic programming and see if it tickles your fancy.

#4 Sammage   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 10:59 AM

Two things:

Firstly the games tech degree you mentioned isn't offered through distance education as far as I know.

Secondly they do offer placement with a company for a year but there are a few catches to it... Sometimes it can be hard to find placement so you might have to work hard yourself just to get the placement, it is unpaid(mostly) though it still counts as schooling if your receiving money from the government, it in no way guarantees a job after the placement is finished and lastly a lot of the placements given are to mobile games companies. You might be fine with this but if you wanted to walk out of uni into a AAA game you'd have to be top of the class with some good demos and even then you'd be pushing your luck.

One last thing is that the CSU degree is programming heavy and from your post you come across as wanting to be an artist and not a programmer. My advice to you would be to follow what you love, programming can be draining if you don't enjoy it.

#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10159

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 10:59 AM

I didn't read the post; too long. What's the question? Maybe I've already written the answer and can provide a link.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#6 dudeman21   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 02:09 PM

Quote:
Original post by twintwix
I was hoping 8 hours work, 8 hours free time for your self or play and 8 hours rest a day. So the perfect 8/8/8 day. But is that possible to have as a programmer? How is your day set.


I'll admit, I didn't really read most of your post, but as far as this portion of it goes, I'll go ahead and let you know this is not the reality of most programming positions, yet alone a game programmer. In my experience, with good management and good team members, you often get to have a normal 8-9hr day, but even if you ignore the fact that crunch time will happen at some point, as a programmer it's also your job to keep up with current technology and methodologies. If you're only practicing your craft when you're at work, you're likely not to go very far very rapidly. If you don't feel like spending time in front of your computer at work all day and then spending a little bit of time at night or on the weekends is for you, then you may be looking into the wrong industry. Hope that was at least a little helpful, good luck with your future decision.

[EDIT]
Also, if you post a more brief version of your question, I'm certain Mr. Sloper has a link for you ^^
---------------------------Visit my Blog at http://robwalkerdme.blogspot.com

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10159

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 05:34 PM

Quote:
Original post by dudeman21
Quote:
Original post by twintwix
I was hoping 8 hours work, 8 hours free time for your self or play and 8 hours rest a day. So the perfect 8/8/8 day. But is that possible to have as a programmer? How is your day set.


I'll admit, I didn't really read most of your post, but as far as this portion of it goes, I'll go ahead and let you know this is not the reality of most programming positions, yet alone a game programmer.

It's not even reality for anyone with an 8-hour job.
When you get up in the morning, there are 1 or 2 hours of preparing and commuting. Then the 8-hour day is interrupted by a lunch break. Then after work there is the commute, and in the evening there is the evening meal and bedtime ablutions.
So even if you have 8 hours at work and 8 hours sleep every night, the "free time for yourself" -- after deducting morning, noon, and evening routines, comes to more like 3 to 4 hours.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#8 daviangel   Members   -  Reputation: 600

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 08:26 PM

Well you still got a couple of years to figure it all it all out it seems but just from this part of your post it doesn't sound like going into programming would be good for you:
Or atleast do you feel drained allot?
At least all the programmers I've seen that have actually been working in it for years are like your math instructor that never seems to get tired of solving problems day after day and don't seem to get drained on it.
Either it means they actually like doing it day after day or they are just so good at it that even if they don't particularly like it, it doesn't drain them since they don't have to think too hard about it or worry about meeting deadlines since they don't find it challenging at all.


#9 twintwix   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:17 AM

Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
I didn't read the post; too long. What's the question? Maybe I've already written the answer and can provide a link.


If I had to put the most important question in one sentence: What do programmers do (in the deep sense not the surface level) when they work. and what does that require of you besides getting in touch with the latest technology?

For example when I do physics, I have cheap stuff like, pencil, books, paper and calculator, Personal computer ofcourse. What I do is learn basics of physics and then trying to see that in the environment or experiment. When I solve a problem like speed, distance, forces of objects we have to imagine these in our head, so you can see them happening in your imagination like objects falling, seeing the forces that work on it while the event is happening. So it requires quite some creativity besides doing the math and solving the formula's. And the person who happen to be bad at maths might be a very good physician later on, just like Einstein who more of a right-brained creative person. I am more of a left brained logic oriented person and am also good a maths. Allthough all creativity require experience and that determines your succes allot in life. So if a programmer only does logic really it seems like a pretty pointless career. Genius basicly meens the perfect time management between left and right brain. Balance between education and experience. But it seems that programming only requires education and then applying that education with your left brain 100% and thats it?

[Edited by - twintwix on October 26, 2009 6:17:42 AM]

#10 twintwix   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:30 AM

Quote:
Original post by daviangel
Well you still got a couple of years to figure it all it all out it seems but just from this part of your post it doesn't sound like going into programming would be good for you:
Or atleast do you feel drained allot?
At least all the programmers I've seen that have actually been working in it for years are like your math instructor that never seems to get tired of solving problems day after day and don't seem to get drained on it.
Either it means they actually like doing it day after day or they are just so good at it that even if they don't particularly like it, it doesn't drain them since they don't have to think too hard about it or worry about meeting deadlines since they don't find it challenging at all.


Well that is me, I can solve problem after problem, day after day. I once made math excercices all day long non stop. Like 12 hours, to meet a deadline like you said. Its no problem for me. I'm simply good at it. But what do I do as a programmer really? It seems all little details and unimportant stuff. I simply don't understand what programmers really make. instructions for computer? I was thinking about making beautiful graphics, or making robots or maybe even artificial intelligence. Do programmers create those or do they just program the ALLREADY created things into the computer?

#11 ixon   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:45 AM

If you like maths then you should give programming a go. Maybe do a 6 month short course in game programming then decide if you like it.

It's defiantly something you need a passion for and you wont know you have it till you try.

Game programming is very rewarding in that you can spend hours coding away at some cool new technology then you see it all working on your screen in the end. It's certainly addictive, all coders have experienced the old "Oh I really should go to bed...but iv'e almost got it working" Then before you know it its 6 in the morning and time to get ready for work

You can specialize in MANY areas including:
- Graphics
- Shaders
- AI
- Physics
- Engine dev
- Networking
- Game play
- Tools - The stuff that artist use and take for granted including max and maya...

A job coding in the games industry is tough. If the programmer sucks then the game will most likely suck too, then you loose your job. At crunch time (when the release date is close) prepare for many late nights and early mornings.

If you want lots of money then go get a job in public service or something cause you wont get paid a hell of alot as a programmer in the games industry.

But with that said a public service job is boring as hell. A job in the games industry will be ALOT more fun, and you always have a new challenge to work on in a ever expanding discipline. And the work environments are usually lots of fun too.

So some of it sounds a bit bleak but thats how it is. Its tough but hugely rewarding in terms of having a fun job that you enjoy and the constant challenges.

Theres my two cents

#12 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 01:20 AM

Quote:
Original post by twintwix
Well that is me, I can solve problem after problem, day after day. I once made math excercices all day long non stop. Like 12 hours, to meet a deadline like you said. Its no problem for me. I'm simply good at it. But what do I do as a programmer really? It seems all little details and unimportant stuff. I simply don't understand what programmers really make. instructions for computer? I was thinking about making beautiful graphics, or making robots or maybe even artificial intelligence. Do programmers create those or do they just program the ALLREADY created things into the computer?

On a game development team, everybody creates. The difference is how visible your creation is. An artist or musician can tell you to look or listen and you immediately see or hear what they made. A level designer has it a bit more difficult, as you will have to play the game to appreciate the thought that went into what they created. An abstract designer who makes systems will find it more difficult still, as you might not appreciate their work without having levelled up 30 times, or participated in several boss fights, or found yourself continually going back for 'one last go'. But the programmer facilitated all of that, typically with a combination of both their own creativity and a lot of maths and logic, and breathed life into all these things.

The music doesn't play unless the programmer plays it. The art doesn't appear on the screens unless the programmer renders it. You can't move through the map and fight monsters unless the programmer has made the movement system and combat system. The other guys did the stuff that you can easily see, but the programmer puts it all together. How much creative freedom they get will vary from company to company, but it's certainly not just about following rules. If there were rules for software development then making programs would be easy.

And I'm sorry to say that in the offices I've worked in, designers spend just as long behind a computer as programmers do. That's the nature of high-tech work these days.

#13 stevo86   Members   -  Reputation: 150

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 02:25 AM

I've never been a big believer in the 8/8/8 day for a few reasons. First, if you are one of the few people who land their dream job, chances are good you wake up and read your industry news, maybe do a little research on something, then work. And you don't keep an eye on the clock waiting for it to strike 5 so you can run out the door, you generally get lost in your project and look up and realize it's 5AM, the next day, jump up, call your wife and apologize like hell. Also, sleep is for pussies!

Game programmers make everything happen. If you want to get creative and make earth's gravitational pull reject you and push you away, you'll need to program that. If you want trees in your game, you need to program them and give them properties. Want them to catch on fire when you shoot them? Program it. Programming games is definitely not a 8/8/8 job because if you treat it like one, you won't get a job in the industry.

Give it a shot before you sign anything.

#14 shaolinspin   Members   -  Reputation: 202

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 03:18 AM

I kind of regard programming as the most creative part of game development. I can turn my hand (in an amateur fashion) to art, music, sound, level design, game design and programming, but while I enjoy all of the more 'traditionally' creative aspects of game development I'm usually at my happiest when doing the programming that ties them all together. I've had to think harder about algorithm design than any other aspect of the games I've made, and I've had to try more permutations of design options in writing the code than in any art or other game asset.

In my experience the programming is by far the hardest and most rewarding part. To be a games programmer you need patience, and you almost need to enjoy the process of tracking down bugs and fixing them. You sometimes need some serious and creative intelligence to work out what the hell is going wrong with your perfectly thought-out code!

#15 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10159

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 03:26 AM

Quote:
Original post by twintwix
If I had to put the most important question in one sentence: What do programmers do (in the deep sense not the surface level) when they work.

Solve problems and execute solutions. The execution of the solutions requires a lot of coding.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#16 Promit   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7604

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 03:37 AM

*Ahem* We just made a forum for this! Moved.

#17 Fenrisulvur   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 03:54 AM

Quote:
Original post by twintwix
Well that is me, I can solve problem after problem, day after day. I once made math excercices all day long non stop. Like 12 hours, to meet a deadline like you said. Its no problem for me. I'm simply good at it. But what do I do as a programmer really? It seems all little details and unimportant stuff. I simply don't understand what programmers really make. instructions for computer? I was thinking about making beautiful graphics, or making robots or maybe even artificial intelligence. Do programmers create those or do they just program the ALLREADY created things into the computer?

Alright, this seems to be the crux of your misunderstanding.

The computer, formalized with the concept of the Turing machine by Alan Turing in 1936, is a machine which applies a series of instructions, one after the other, upon a set of data - usually with the intention of producing information as output. A computer could be built to solve a physics problem, for instance, determining when two objects would collide* - taking data about the shape of the objects, their locations, velocities et al, and spitting out the time of collision; or to determine how many times the letter "a" appears in a string of text, such as this entire paragraph (42 times**, by the way). In essence, it is the idea of relegating the series of steps you would follow in solving a problem, to a machine to do instead.

Now, to save us from having to build a new gadget every time we wanted to relegate a known series of problem-solving steps to a machine, luckily Turing had another idea: the Universal Turing machine. This breed of computer (we'll call it U) takes the series of instructions that make up another computer in data form (we'll call this computer represented by data M), as well as the data that M is called upon to process, as input. U, by following its own series of instructions, interprets M's series of instructions and applies them to the data that needs to be processed, to produce the output of M.

U is akin to what we think of as a computer today, the hardware; M is what we call a "program". Programmers build M, hence the name "programmer".
On that note, M could be anything these days: an operating system, a text editor, a web browser, another U (heard of an emulator?), and indeed, a game. Programmers build all of these things.

Anyway, if you're interested in delving further into the world of programming, Steve Heller's book C++: A Dialog would be a very good place to start.
C++ - you may've heard the name before - is a programming language. Programming languages are used to define the entire series of instructions that make up the programs which computers interpret, or execute. Like most of this post, this is a simplified explanation, but it will suffice for now.

This should be enough information to get you to a point where you can determine whether or not programming is your "thing", and may also imbue you with many of the skills required required as a programmer.


*And you will spend restless nights developing the series of steps to solve this problem if you do become a game programmer.
**43 if you count the domain name appearing next to the Turing Machine link.


#18 ChadPlusPlus   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 03:43 PM

Just chiming in to echo the sentiments of earlier posters such as dudeman21 and Tom Sloper.

From your first post, it did not sound like you should be a programmer at all. Free time does not come in abundance. You will get really lucky to land a job where you're in and out for eight hour days. Most game devs enjoy going out to lunch so you'll probably spend an hour there. If you get lucky and live close to work you'll spend anywhere from 15 - 30 minutes in commute. So you end up at work for 10 hours. Awesome.

Now if you want to move up in the ranks, you'll have to put in some time reading up on industry news, check out some game development or software engineering blogs, or read a few pages from a book. Staying current, staying nimble. These are the only ways to keep up with the game industry. We always need the latest technology, the fastest algorithms, what have you.

Your second and third posts make it seem like you could definitely be a programmer. You enjoy creative problem solving and are a very logical person. This is sometimes the entirety of game programming. You will have a problem, even if it is as simple as two blocks must collide. (Your physics analogy was perfect.) You can picture it in your mind, write some interfaces / psuedo-code, and then get to work. It's very rewarding to watch a solution come together. First you compile, run and see two blocks moving towards each other. They go right through each other, but whatever. Those were your two boxes sliding around screen. (Or maybe they were models the artists made, but you can't help but feel you own them since you're the one who got them on screen.) Next you type feverishly until you think you've got them colliding and when you run, it works. Mostly. So the boxes respond incorrectly, but you know you're hot on the trail. Finally, after finding the response logic and tweaking it a bit you run the program and watch two boxes crash into each other and slide off into opposite directions. Pay day! Rewarding pay day! (Now it's time to clean up the code and make it work for everyone. :D)

So, you get the idea, yes?

#19 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 1263

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 09:57 PM

It all goes down to a few things really.

1. Do you REALLY want that job, getting a game development job is generally a blood and sweat thing, you have to really like what you do, and do it in your free time to have a shot at a good job.

2. Time, you wrote about free time, thing is game developers end up short on that alot to be honest. You'll have to be ready to work an 8 hour day one day and a 14 hour day the next, and that applies to any job on the team really. 'Crunch time' as it is most commonly known, can come in waves on teams, you can't really plan your day around how much work the team will need from you when deadlines draw near.

3. Let's say you do manage to snag a game development job, what position will you be? You don't even seem to know that yet, and that would be the crucial thing, the whole reason you got that job in the first place. Being an artist, programmer, designer, musician, anything really comes down to that you have to like what you do or it will drive you mad. Do you like to draw? What about composing? Try different things and figure out what path you want to walk, including programming. Programming is as much an art form as design, music, or traditional art is.

Overall be prepared to do alot of research, work, and self-teaching no matter what you do. If you KNOW you have a passion for games and are willing to sacrifice alot of your free time to make games, thats a good start.

Keep in mind alot of this advice applies to any team, large and small professional teams, or even indy. Being a developer requires dedication.




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