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Where to go from this story?


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#1 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 12:23 AM

Hello folks. I'm sure glad this forum exists. I've my share of questions. I am an undergrad, and my background is summarized here (EDIT: Link removed). I do not want to pay for college as I am nowhere near ready to put myself 62 grand in the hole. I met one of the mods here in a Starbucks, and he told me that he did not have to go to college; he just showcased his work and ended up with who found him impressive. I liked that, so I decided to try it. Just one problem... I now live in Mississippi. I'm in no rush to get out the door, but I have good skills to share and I would prefer to make use of them for profit soon. The link above takes you to my 2-3 week old site, so there isn't too much content, but enough in the portfolio to show a little of what I can do. What would be a good move for me from here? All I know how to do in the business here is to toss more work on my site and cross my fingers, hoping opportunity will call me in this yokel-ridden state. [sick] [Edited by - zyrolasting on November 4, 2009 10:35:04 AM]

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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:03 AM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
1. ...I do not want to pay for college
2. ...I now live in Mississippi. ...cross my fingers, hoping opportunity will call me in this yokel-ridden state.

1. Okay, then you have to build a doubly spectacular portfolio.
2. Wrong. This is Stupid Wannabe Trick #6. You cannot get a call from Opportunity while you live in a bad location. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm - stop doing those things, and start doing these things instead: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm Opportunity is not going to Mississippi. You have to go to Opportunity.

-- 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.

#3 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:22 AM

Quote:
Okay, then you have to build a doubly spectacular portfolio.


On it.

Quote:
Wrong. This is Stupid Wannabe Trick #6. You cannot get a call from Opportunity while you live in a bad location. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm - stop doing those things, and start doing these things instead: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm Opportunity is not going to Mississippi. You have to go to Opportunity.


Wrong yourself. You say it like it's easy. Do you think I'd move to a hellhole like MS out of desire? Like I opened a brochure and said "Hey, I want to go there"? I moved here because I did indeed have an opportunity to take. Unfortunately it wasn't for the VG industry, but I needed some income to make that happen for me. Please don't toss out references and head off like you made a real contribution. Even if they are just words, "Stupid Wannabe" is an ignorant title to toss out if you pose as a "Stupid Wannabe" E-Psychiatrist. By the way, don't be offended. These are just words.

Seriously though. I'm not trying to pick a fight. Just please put more thought into what you say, rather than parrot articles without any idea of their impact.
To give you a better idea of what I'm looking for, it's more of what to do from a situation like mine. My options are quite limited here. I have little money, there is nothing video game related anywhere. Got any advice on grabbing digital opportunity?

Thanks for the references, anyway.

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:35 AM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
Wrong yourself. You say it like it's easy. Do you think I'd move to a hellhole like MS out of desire? Like I opened a brochure and said "Hey, I want to go there"? I moved here because I did indeed have an opportunity to take. Unfortunately it wasn't for the VG industry, but I needed some income to make that happen for me.

So save money until you can move. But seriously, video game opportunity is NOT going to come to you there in Mississippi. How can you possibly believe realistically that it will?

-- 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.

#5 Sneftel   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 1776

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:37 AM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
Just please put more thought into what you say, rather than parrot articles without any idea of their impact.
Er... you do realize he wrote those articles, right?
Quote:
To give you a better idea of what I'm looking for, it's more of what to do from a situation like mine.
Be willing to move, or give up.

#6 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 04:41 AM

Quote:
So save money until you can move. But seriously, video game opportunity is NOT going to come to you there in Mississippi. How can you possibly believe realistically that it will?


Believe me, I don't! You are totally right in that respect.
You could say I'm teetering on Stupid Wannabe Trick #3.
I don't want to jump in too quickly, but I've been one to want to find some sort of placeholder to get some On-The-Job training. It's one thing for me to make my own efforts alone, and another to observe or get a feel of the work actually being done.

Thing is, any chance I have of doing that costs money. A lot of money. My goal here is to try and compromise these two issues. Sorry about not clearing that bit up. Your documents are well-written and I'm still reading them, but understand that it is a touch elitist. It is helpful information, though. :)

Quote:
Er... you do realize he wrote those articles, right? Be willing to move, or give up


My apologies. I had a lapse in judgment, since I do believe that relocating is one of the most difficult things I can do right now, and I thought it was a little pissy to tell me to "just do it" when I'm over here wishing I could. My response was hasty. Take my word for it, I am more than willing to get out of here. The redneck next door is trying to convert me.

[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 1, 2009 11:41:40 AM]

#7 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 05:22 AM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
1. You could say I'm teetering on Stupid Wannabe Trick #3.
2. Your documents are well-written and I'm still reading them, but understand that it is a touch elitist.
3. I am more than willing to get out of here. The redneck next door is trying to convert me.

1. I realize that it's difficult to overcome impatience. Many things worth doing are difficult.
2. If it was easy to get into the game industry there would be no need for any of those articles. People in the industry would be just saying "come on in, the water's fine," and we wouldn't sound elitist. But it's not easy to get in. So we seem elitist, I suppose. And since my articles are there to show you how to overcome the difficulties of getting in, I have to wonder how that's being elitist?
3. I don't know if he's trying to convert you into a redneck or to his religion. But conversion requires willing cooperation from the convertee. So it doesn't matter if he's trying to convert you. He's obviously not elitist, I guess. (^_^) BTW, you'll get people trying to convert you no matter where you go. My articles are my attempt to convert people too, I suppose. I'm trying to convert them into thinkers and effort-makers, if anything.

-- 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 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 05:56 AM

Quote:
3. I don't know if he's trying to convert you into a redneck or to his religion.


Given his speech mannerisms I can't tell either. I mostly stare while he does what I can only guess is speaking ==> [sick] ( But seriously, religion. Agnostic here. )

As for your articles: You've been bookmarked. Your intentions are lovely, I'm just still defensive on doing what I have to do with the lack of funds. No hard feelings. [smile] I'll just keep saving. Definitely have to put off any hopes of getting a Quadro GPU for a while.

I spoke to my father about our conversation to get his input since he's a good businessman. (Yes, in Mississippi. Long story.) He told me that a college degree is a great way to aim to be working for someone else, but is not a high priority when it comes to building one's skills independently. I don't have a problem with working for someone else for a bit, but my long-term goal would be to have my own company. There was also the mod I met up with who had no high school diploma or a college degree and was working in a game company as a programmer. I'm not totally convinced on getting a degree. Do you have anything to add I should consider against that?

On a relevant note from that... What would you qualify as a doubly-impressive portfolio?

[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 1, 2009 12:56:51 PM]

#9 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 06:13 AM

I've given all the arguments I've got as to why one should get a degree, if possible. Not only in the FAQs on my site but also in my IGDA columns.
No, I didn't read your story or look at your portfolio. It would not change my advice.
I'm sure someone else will have a look at your portfolio and give you feedback on it.
-- 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.

#10 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 06:15 AM

Well, thanks anyway. I appreciate your input and I'll work it out.

#11 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9860

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 06:50 AM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
On a relevant note from that... What would you qualify as a doubly-impressive portfolio?
Since Tom is not inclined, I will give you a brief rundown of what I see. Please don't take my criticism too harshly - it is intended only as a guide.

Currently your portfolio seems to contain a handful of (good) photoshop jobs, and a C++ crypto application.

If you are applying for a position as a technical artist, then the crypto app has zero bearing. Equally, you are going to need to demonstrate a working knowledge of 3D modelling, rigging and animation, familiarity with at least one scripting language, some practice in shader development, and a thorough understanding of the content and graphics pipelines for at least one game engine.



As for your site, I feel that you are pulling way too much of your personal life into the blog - spin that stuff off into a personal blog hosted elsewhere, as it doesn't apply in any way to your professional career. Also consider axing the last paragraph of your Bio (mostly fluff), and remove every reference to the word 'seclusion' (employers want team players, and technical artist is a highly communication-oriented job).



I am afraid that your resume needs to be scrapped in its entirety. The education section has no content as is, so consider mentioning high-school, or removing the section entirely. Previous work experience here has no bearing on your intended career except as character references. Each skill you list as 'proficient' needs to be backed up with a reference to the project(s) you developed/used the skills in, each of which also needs to be added to your portfolio.



Re the college issue, to quote a thoroughly clichéd phrase, 'where there is a will, there is a way'. There is always community college, which is pretty affordable, can be taken as night classes, and provides a good spring board onto a 4-year degree if you remain inclined to. You could also consider moving to Canada (or anywhere else with free/cheap education), as you need to get out of Mississippi anyway [smile]

If you don't go to college (and to a lesser extent, even if you do), you need to get experience, and get your name out there. Join a team developing a mod, or even an indie game. Build a few small python/flash/processing games to add to your portfolio. Grab the free version of unity, and see what you can build...

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#12 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 01 November 2009 - 07:00 AM

That was beautiful! I'm glad you caught what you did, as I did not understand what was generally acceptable or sought. I'm glad I put off SEO for a bit so I can get a change to strengthen what I can.

I took advice from other developers and looked at what other people did. This guy was mentioned every now and then, and his site isn't too horribly different than mine when it comes to layout. I know I can keep some material that might not be impressive professionally since when I made the site I wanted casual surfers to have more to look at. [smile]

If I get the funds for another domain, I can have a site dedicated only to professional work and another to total crap. But overall, a better portfolio is really my highest priority.

Kudos to you!

#13 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 04:23 AM

Get a degree. $62k is not exactly a whole lot of money for college these days.

I do programming now without a degree, but have easily lost more than $62k while spending 6 years doing less interesting/fun/profitable jobs working my way into it. And of course, that means less relevant professional experience which means less pay now that I do have the programming job.

I can't believe how many people come through these forums bemoaning the cost of higher education when it's the most profitable, least risk investment you'll make in your entire life.

#14 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 10:34 AM

Quote:
Get a degree. $62k is not exactly a whole lot of money for college these days.


Absolutely!... If you have it. I talked to an admissions counselor at Westwood (Rather, I listened for 92 minutes to the torturous program overview) and I will try to get as much financial aid as I can, but I can't be taking loans or doing anything to risk putting me in the hole. I'm close enough to the edge to make loose rocks fall as it is.

I understand that a degree is a great investment. Anything I can do to help my chances for a successful career, I'll do it. Just realize I don't have as many options as the rest of you guys. My entire time in Westwood may be online as a result. I'm only 18 so I may have a few years before I can get in anyway. Thank god for parental support, even though I share the bills. [smile]

Are there any good scholarships or grants aspiring game developers normally go to I can apply for digitally? Scholarships.com did not allow Westwood on registration for whatever reason.

#15 Josh Petrie   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3111

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:00 AM

Westwood -- and "game schools" aren't the only option, mind.

Why can't you take loans out to pay for school? Are you just afraid of being in debt? As far as I know, going in to debt to pay for school is pretty common practice. At least among my acquaintances, extremely few of them were able to pay for school out-of-pocket as they went. Those that did were actually supported entirely by wealthy relatives, as of course they were in school and not in a position to making money.

Educational loan debt is relative safe.

I agree with the general "get a degree" sentiment. You will meet a lot of people who work in the industry now who didn't get degrees, but you also need to keep in mind how long they've been there and when that means they started -- things were very different years ago. In most hiring experiences I've been through (on the "interviewer" side, not the interviewee side) I've seen enough enough incoming applicants that lack of a degree was often a very easy thing to use to cull down the volume -- regardless of whether or not you believe that an education and degree have any real bearing on your capabilities, you can't escape the reality that it does get used commonly as a way to thin the herd.

I agree with most of swiftcoder's points vis-a-vis your page. For me especially the implication of seclusion and isolationism is a huge negative, because I care very much about my ability to interact and socialize with my co-workers in addition to their technical prowess.

I also dislike the color scheme, but that's just me.

What is "Microsoft Native C++?" I've never heard of such a product and Google doesn't find me anything useful in the first page of results either. I am similarly turned off by your capitalization of "Graphics Programming, Artificial Intelligence," et cetera. They aren't proper nouns and read to me either as sloppy copyediting on your part or sleazy attempts to hit case-sensitive buzzword searchs (depending on how cynical a mood I'm in at the time).

I appreciate that you're trying to convey your passion for the field in your description here as well, but when you say things like that you have a "contempt for bureaucracy" that is a negative. Some amount of that is going to be present anyway, and it sets you up as arrogant and a loner, which feeds back into the isolationist drawback.

You spelled "oppurtunity" incorrectly (opportunity).

Josh Petrie | Core Tools Engineer, 343i | Microsoft C++ MVP


#16 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 11:11 AM

Quote:
Why can't you take loans out to pay for school? Are you just afraid of being in debt?
That question knocked me out of my seat. I'm terrified! The mannerism in which you delivered that query is all too new to me, as I have a background with a bad foretelling of loans. I've been raised to be a penny pincher. Even if I took out the loans, no promise is made that I can have the money when the loan is called. I may have to spend money due to an emergency, to pay for the bills when there is no work, (We do contract work) etc.

However, I am interested in your reasoning on why educational loans are "relatively safe" as you seem very confident in that statement. Could you please elaborate?

EDITS:
*Snip*: I should really watch my impulsive arguments...

...Tell you what, I accept your points as they are. You're more experienced. Just whoa, all I will say is: lighten up!


[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 2, 2009 6:11:58 PM]

#17 lmelior   Members   -  Reputation: 322

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:15 PM

I think you missed (or just didn't respond to) what I thought was the most important point, which is that Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast). That should run you less than $20,000, all told. That sounds like a lot, but when you break it down into $1,800 a year for MGCCC and $5,100 a year for USM-GC for tuition, then add books and other expenses, it doesn't seem like too bad a stretch.

If you take out the usual government-subsized loan for half of that amount, it'll run you just over $100/month for 10 years. And that's with today's unfortunately high interest rates. Many people spend more than that for their cell phones. So yeah, the risk is very low, unless you have absolutely no confidence that you'll finish.

#18 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:32 PM

Quote:
Original post by lmelior
Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast).

I second this endorsement of community colleges.
An excellent way to get that education started for a lot less money.

-- 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.

#19 Sage Gerard   Members   -  Reputation: 276

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:39 PM

Quote:
I think you missed (or just didn't respond to) what I thought was the most important point, which is that Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast). That should run you less than $20,000, all told. That sounds like a lot, but when you break it down into $1,800 a year for MGCCC and $5,100 a year for USM-GC for tuition, then add books and other expenses, it doesn't seem like too bad a stretch.

If you take out the usual government-subsized loan for half of that amount, it'll run you just over $100/month for 10 years. And that's with today's unfortunately high interest rates. Many people spend more than that for their cell phones. So yeah, the risk is very low, unless you have absolutely no confidence that you'll finish.


THERRRE's a nice tid-bit. Thank you.

...I'm ignorant of way too much information to appear professional on my site for now. I am pretty clueless to what my place even is. Seriously, I know almost nothing. I know there is no finish line, but I sure wish a (non-biased!) starting line was more clearly marked.

I have some work to do. Thank you guys so much for the needed advice, and wish me luck!

#20 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9601

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 12:51 PM

Quote:
Original post by zyrolasting
Thank you guys so much for the needed advice, and wish me luck!

YW. GL.
-- 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.




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