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Portfolio Feedback


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#1 Michel_Carroll   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 05:15 AM

Hi guys, I'm soon applying for a game developer position. It's a job in C++ 2D programming, because I'm still in the process of learning about 3D programming. Here's my portfolio: www.michelcarroll.com Could people please comment on my portfolio's content, resume, qualifications, presentation, etc.. Be honest! Thank you

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#2 SpreeTree   Members   -  Reputation: 396

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 11:38 PM

Before having a look at your portfolio, could you give a bit more information about the jobs you'll be applying for? What sector are they in? You mention it's a 2D only position so are you thinking of 2D games only or have you seen specific roles you are interested in that specifically mention 2D only?

Are you looking at the more 'traditional' game dev positions (like developing for the current crop of consoles) or are you looking at other areas like mobile phones, hand-helds etc.

When you say you are learning about 3D programming, I'm taking it to mean 3D graphics programming rather than 3D in general like maths, physics etc.

Just having this information will make any critique of your portfolio much more relevant.

Thanks

#3 Orymus   Members   -  Reputation: 154

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:03 AM

Hmm....
I played Sheep defender, and I found quite a few AI glitches (zombies staying during the day on the botom left of the screen in a tight cluster...)
Also, it may not be as relevant, but what is the actual design? After the first day, I managed to put myself in with my 7 sheeps and wait behind a well crafted wall... and ... then the next... and for a week-long... What's next?
Also, you are a programmer, not an artist, I don't expect a lot of art, programmer art is ok, no need to make your own really. A few dots and circles would've been enough.
The problem when you deal with art that is more advanced than your code is that it tends to fail. There were collision issues with the wood blocks that made the 'cool-looking art' bad.
Lastly, and this is the most important.
I did alt-shift to return to the thread and comment on your program... Guess what happened?
I couldn't see my desktop and no longer had control over the game either. AKA, the thing I was controlling was no longer what was displayed. Never allow this. Games, when alt-shifted, allow you to return to your workspace, or alt-shift is disabled. Either.
I'm lucky I'm techno savvy and not the average person as I would've needed to reboot the computer, which is impressively frustrating when all of my docs are opened. (The obvious workaround was CNRTL-ALT-DEL, arrow down, delete key, arrow left, enter to kill the current faulty task, thus, your GAME.

On a sidenote, on your website, the 'menu' at the top feels more like these random google advertisement sections so the user is not immediately urged to press a button, and thus, the website feels relatively out of content to the untrained eye.

I hope that helps you a little, bearing in my I'm nothing close to an expert when it comes to judging of your actual programming skills, but I suppose these are things that could help you at least externally to actual programming quality (and this, MATTERS)

#4 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22783

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 06:42 AM

Most employers don't care about your website. The first (an probably only) thing they will look at is your resume or CV.

Always remember that employers are interested in exactly two things: First, can you do the job well? Second, will you fit in? Even if they don't know how to express it clearly, that's all they want to know. Make sure everything you write answers those two concerns.

So reviewing that document...

It is two pages, which is too long for a resume with your limited experience. You get an additional page per decade.

Your career goal should be one line long, if you have one at all. You are want a job as an "entry level game programmer". That's it. You can try to make it fancy or reword it, just make sure it is clear. REWRITE.

You are bilingual, but is that so important that it belongs on the second statement? You live in Quebec, so it isn't that rare of a thing. Probably CUT.

You are a Canadian citizen. Thanks for sharing. What does that have to do with applying for a job? CUT.

You have security clearance. While it may be nice to know you are trustworthy, game studios are not working on state secrets. Ubisoft Quebec and other major game developers in your area don't care about it. CUT.

Education says you attended some schools and got some awards. Tell WHAT you did that you feel relates to the games business, and tell HOW you did your most interesting projects. EXPAND, and see next section for an example.

Computer Skills. CUT! You aren't applying for a secretary, so nobody cares if you can run a mail merge, or understand Excel macros. You don't need to list the IDEs you are familiar with. Game programmers are rarely involved with databases, and you'll cover your knowledge in your work experience section. Writing "C++" or "C#" doesn't give any concept on how well you can use the languages, what experiences you have, or your competency with them. CUT.

Here are two examples of something employers can use: "In graphics classes developed a full 3D renderer, starting with drawing a single pixel in C++ with Windows API, then drawing primatives using those libraries, expanding until I had developed a full 3D software renderer. In another graphics class project, I develped an infinite Mandlebrot viewer in C# and Windows forms (see website)."


Workplace experience. The bullet points don't work. Rewrite.

The "Programmer Analyst" section is your biggest job, so I'll give some details. Put yourself in a hiring manager's position. It says "Managing outgoing communications". What does that mean? How does that relate to making a video game? Game developers don't spend time "interacting with clients". Try for prose that lists your actual skills and experience, "Worked as junior member on a four-member team for over a year. Developed a communications scanner to identify cheating in academic documents. Primarily used C#, LibFooImageMatching for image processing, and SQL Server for data storage." That type of statement is useful because it shows transferrable skills, approximate competency levels, and degree of experience. REWRITE.

The same is true for your "Web Developer" job. All it says that you programmed websites and web applications. That could mean practically anything. Give some skills that actually relate to game development. REWRITE.

Your floor worker experience has nothing to do with game development. CUT.

Community service is nice, but has nothing to do with game development. CUT.

Your hobbies have nothing to do with game development. CUT.

References are ALWAYS available on request. CUT.

I note that your website has several games and projects that do not appear on your resume. ADD THEM. Put them near the top, even before your education. They are strong evidence that you can do the job -- you've already made two games by yourself! Give me a paragraph about QuickTank, what it does, the languages and technologies you used, and what you can apply to your new game programming job. Give me another paragraph about Sheep Defender with the same things.

Once you've rewritten the content, get it down to a single page. If you feel you need the space use a 12/10 point font set rather than the 14/12 set you are currently using. Remove anything that doesn't answer the two questions about doing the job well and fitting in to the corporate environment.

#5 SpreeTree   Members   -  Reputation: 396

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:35 AM

Quote:
Original post by frob
...


I'm sorry, but what?!? There is some seriously bad advice in that post and I hate doing this on forums as it always turns into an inevitable flame war but some things simply need to be corrected.


Quote:
Original post by frob
Most employers don't care about your website. The first (an probably only) thing they will look at is your resume or CV.


For an entry level position in game development employers certainly will be interested in this website. Not because it's a website but because it's his portfolio. A CV/resume alone will not get someone a position. Every other good applicant will have a portfolio and every great applicant will have a great portfolio. Concentrating on the resume alone is wrong.


Quote:
Original post by frob
Always remember that employers are interested in exactly two things: First, can you do the job well?


Which is exactly what a good portfolio proves. Not a document claiming they know how to do the job.


Quote:
Original post by frob
... Some interesting information about resumes ...


There are interesting differences between whats expected in a British CV and a US resume so I won't comment on much of that but as I've mentioned above where you state you have to write how you know something or have done something, the portfolio proves this.

Quote:
Original post by frob
Here are two examples of something employers can use: "In graphics classes developed a full 3D renderer, starting with drawing a single pixel in C++ with Windows API, then drawing primatives using those libraries, expanding until I had developed a full 3D software renderer. In another graphics class project, I develped an infinite Mandlebrot viewer in C# and Windows forms (see website)."


There is some good stuff in there and your resume would be improved with things like this added.

Quote:
Original post by frob
Workplace experience. The bullet points don't work


Yes they do. Bullet points work very well. They are simple to read and (most importantly) easy to scan which makes the reviewers job much easier.



Quote:
Original post by frob
Game developers don't spend time "interacting with clients".


Quite often they do. A developers client is often the designer or the project manager. Granted not a client in the strictest sense but showing how you are capable of taking other peoples ideas, how you can scope what they want into what is possible is a great advantage.

So it might be worth rewording this and making it more relevant to the industry you want to work in.

Quote:
Original post by frob
Your floor worker experience has nothing to do with game development. CUT.

Community service is nice, but has nothing to do with game development. CUT.

Your hobbies have nothing to do with game development. CUT.


Again this might be a major difference between the UK and US but the inclusion of things like this (especially the community service) shows character and commitment. Very desirable skills.

Quote:
Original post by frob
I note that your website has several games and projects that do not appear on your resume. ADD THEM. Put them near the top, even before your education. They are strong evidence that you can do the job -- you've already made two games by yourself! Give me a paragraph about QuickTank, what it does, the languages and technologies you used, and what you can apply to your new game programming job. Give me another paragraph about Sheep Defender with the same things.


Again, that's what a portfolio is for.



I'm still waiting for a bit more information from the OP regarding exactly what he's going for before actively looking at his portfolio, but the points raised above are relevant to anyone looking to apply for a job in the industry who might read the last post and come away with totally the wrong impression as to what is needed when applying for an entry level position in the games industry.

Thanks




#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10163

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 08:47 AM

I agree with Spreet.
-- 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.

#7 Michel_Carroll   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 09:46 AM

Forgive me for the not-so-prompt reply.

I'll definitely look at everything in my resume/website more closely, and rewrite stuff to make it more relevant to the industry. Thank you for the taking the time to point everything out.

I'm aiming for a generalist game programmer position to start off with. The company I want to apply for is a game developer for IFE (In-Flight Entertainement), which are games played by airplane passengers. They develop their games in C++, using in-house libraries, as well as Allegro, DirectX and OpenGL. They currently have open positions for 2D and 3D programmers. Because I don't currently have sufficient knoweledge of 3D programming, I want to try to get in as a 2D programmer right away. However, I'm currently learning DirectX, which I'll point out to them.

The company mentions how the position will involve participating in brainstorming sessions, and writing design specifications. There will be alot of associating with other team members (artists, designers, quality assurance).

I'm in the process of learning 3D graphics programming and linear algebra.

Should I take the time to polish my game? Or should I move on to another project (I'm thinking a 3D game in DirectX)?

Thank you again everybody. This is very appreciated.

#8 zer0wolf   Members   -  Reputation: 1018

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 10:56 AM

Quality over quantity, always.
laziness is the foundation of efficiency | www.AdrianWalker.info | Adventures in Game Production | @zer0wolf - Twitter

#9 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22783

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 12:24 PM

Quote:
Quote:
Original post by frob
Most employers don't care about your website. The first (an probably only) thing they will look at is your resume or CV.

For an entry level position in game development employers certainly will be interested in this website. Not because it's a website but because it's his portfolio. A CV/resume alone will not get someone a position. Every other good applicant will have a portfolio and every great applicant will have a great portfolio. Concentrating on the resume alone is wrong.
I am not saying to concentrate on it alone. I agree that the web site is important, but it should not be the major focus.

The first thing the employer sees is a tall stack of applications. Those get sorted down to a short stack.

The HR manager throws out most applications and forwards them on to the project manager. The project manager throws out all but a handful of them. Only the few remaining resumes are examined. Then I MIGHT visit their web sites if I have time and they have piqued my interest.

The web site is only important AFTER the resume has survived multiple rounds of pruning.

Quote:
Quote:
Original post by frob
Always remember that employers are interested in exactly two things: First, can you do the job well?
Which is exactly what a good portfolio proves. Not a document claiming they know how to do the job.
Yes, a good portfolio provides evidence that they can do the job.

But he doesn't submit a website to the company. He submits a pdf or word document, and everything else is mostly ignored once it gets to the employer.

Please critically review his resume again.

That document is the only thing I have in my hand or my screen to look at.

It doesn't say that he has created a portfolio.

It doesn't say he has written games.

At the very bottom he has one line that says he administers a website that happens to mention game in the title.


I don't have time to look at potentially hundreds of web sites when pruning out the applications.

I'll throw out most applications based on a cursory glance. Then I'll throw out more of them based on some more thought. Then it will be down to a stack of 10 or so applications. Only then will I bother to look at the websites and portfolios that remain.

It doesn't matter how good the web site is if I never look at it.

If there is something on the site that must be looked at (such as completed games) then the resume needs to call it out. It needs to tell me what I will find on the web site, and convince me not to toss the application without first viewing the site, and convince me that it is important enough to spend a half hour of my life looking at.

Quote:
Quote:
Original post by frob
Workplace experience. The bullet points don't work. Rewrite.

Yes they do. Bullet points work very well. They are simple to read and (most importantly) easy to scan which makes the reviewers job much easier.
Please take my statement in context. I am not saying that bullet points in general don't work. I am saying that THOSE SPECIFIC bullet points are useless. The need to be rewritten. I then gave two paragraphs comparing what he listed vs what is useful.


Quote:
Quote:
Original post by frob
Your floor worker experience has nothing to do with game development. CUT.
Community service is nice, but has nothing to do with game development. CUT.
Your hobbies have nothing to do with game development. CUT.

Again this might be a major difference between the UK and US but the inclusion of things like this (especially the community service) shows character and commitment. Very desirable skills.
Yes, it does show some character.

However, he only has a single page.

Everything on the page should be focused on getting an interview.

Consider this from an employers perspective. I have a stack of 150 applications. One says prominantly "Completed two hobby games, see my website". The other (as his currently sits) says absolutely nothing about games, and lists experience as a floor worker and volunteer at the Greater Sudbury Public Library. Which one is going to make the short stack?

Quote:
Quote:
Original post by frob
I note that your website has several games and projects that do not appear on your resume. ADD THEM. Put them near the top, even before your education. They are strong evidence that you can do the job -- you've already made two games by yourself! Give me a paragraph about QuickTank, what it does, the languages and technologies you used, and what you can apply to your new game programming job. Give me another paragraph about Sheep Defender with the same things.
Again, that's what a portfolio is for.

Again, look at his actual resume.

He wrote the word "game" four times in the document, and in the worst possible places (from my perspective).

It says he has a goal to be a game programmer up front. Then at the bottom of the second page he mentions administering a personal web site that has the word game in it, and he mentions playing games.

He never mentions that he has written games.

If he as written games, even as a hobby, that needs to be highly visible.

Based only on that document I have zero evidence that he has made any games, nor does it tell me that he has a portolio, nor does it direct me to actually look at his web site, nor does it show any evidence of wanting to program games other than the heading.


If I saw it as written now in a stack of applications, it would end up in the cut pile. It would not survive the first round of pruning.

I've thrown out better-looking resumes that show more game-related experience. But if he reduced it to just his name and contact info, two paragraphs describing the games he has done, and his education, that by itself would probably make the cut, or at least survive the first round.


My first reply has my comments about helping it land in the "to be interviewed" pile, rather than landing in the trash. I've thrown enough of them out that I can identify what doesn't work.

I'm sorry if this message sounds harsh. I'm just trying to prove the point that it doesn't matter how good the web site looks if the resume doesn't land in the "to be interviewed" pile. Many beginners think the portfolio is the most important document, but it isn't. Your resume is the most important document. Without it your portfolio will never be seen.

[Edited by - frob on January 5, 2010 6:24:58 PM]

#10 Obscure   Moderators   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 01:11 PM

Quote:
Original post by frob
I'm sorry if this message sounds harsh. I'm just trying to prove the point that it doesn't matter how good the web site looks if the resume doesn't land in the "to be interviewed" pile. Many beginners think the portfolio is the most important document, but it isn't. Your resume is the most important document. Without it your portfolio will never be seen.

Agreed. Having been in several hiring/firing roles I agree that the resume is vital because it is the first thing anyone looks at (and often the only thing). It needs to clearly state what job you want and what qualifications you have for that job (education, applicable work experience and/or hobby games). It needs to tell me not just your job title and the projects you worked on but what you actually achieved.

If the resume doesn't tell me what I need to know why would I bother going any further? There are dozens of applicants for every position so I will pursue the ones that meet my needs and are able to communicate that fact to me.


Dan Marchant - Business Development Consultant
www.obscure.co.uk

#11 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10163

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 01:17 PM

Quote:
Original post by Obscure
Quote:
Original post by frob
I'm sorry if this message sounds harsh. I'm just trying to prove the point that it doesn't matter how good the web site looks if the resume doesn't land in the "to be interviewed" pile. Many beginners think the portfolio is the most important document, but it isn't. Your resume is the most important document. Without it your portfolio will never be seen.

Agreed. Having been in several hiring/firing roles I agree that the resume is vital because it is the first thing anyone looks at (and often the only thing).

Me, three. ("Agreed.")

-- 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.

#12 Michel_Carroll   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 02:43 AM

I made major improvements to my resume. I realize now that my generic resume has alot of irrelevant information.

@SpreeTree
I cut out alot of the resume content that gave me "character" (community service, hobby) as you pointed out, but I intend to show that through my cover letter, portfolio, and interview. Plus, I have a friend in the company that I want to work for that can vouch for my personality. First and formost, I want my resume to eliminate any doubt that I can do the job right.

Next, I'm going to polish off my Sheep Defender game.

#13 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10163

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 04:08 AM

Quote:
Original post by Michel_Carroll
I cut out alot of the resume content that gave me "character" (community service, hobby) as you pointed out, but I intend to show that through my cover letter

In my opinion, the community service stuff can add to an otherwise sparse resume. But the hobby stuff you can leave out entirely.

-- 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.

#14 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22783

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 09:29 AM

This one is MUCH better.

It actually says that you have made games, that you have used the languages and tools, and that you have some transferable skills.

There are still some issues.

From your perspective the document is to get you an interview. From an employers perspective the document is to help weed out bad candidates.

You want to give the employer all the information they need, and omit any information that might get it thrown out.



Cut the "relevant skills" section. They are not very useful to employers and tend to hurt your prospects rather than help.

Yours follows the pattern with the expressions "Fluent in", "Familiar with", "Able to use", "Strong in", but this kind of self-assessment is useless. "Familiar With" might mean you read an online tutorial once. "Able to use" could mean you watched a movie of it on YouTube and figure you could push the right buttons. "Fluent" can mean anything from just struggling through syntax all the way to language lawyer. These are typically reasons to throw out an application, not reasons to bring you in.

Your project list is good. Unlike your last version which gave no hint that you can make games, you are now providing detail that you have made two hobby games. I would use the eight lines gained above to add some details about the two games you made. Your web site has some details, just grab the most relevant ones and put them in. You might want to have a collection of details and adjust it to tailor the document to an individual job posting.

I'd move the two school projects down to education, replacing the "learned to think and work" line. That will free up another line, and possibly two, for adding transferable details to your other jobs.

On the workplace experience, I'd still cut the "interacting with clients", since a junior game programmer will primarily have tasks dictated to them instead of discovering the requirements.

The biggest missing detail in experience is your teamwork history. Were you working alone, in a pair, or with five other people?

It looks like you've been out of school for about two years, so you might consider moving your education below work experience. Leaving it in the middle gives the impression that you are a very junior employee with little real-world experience. Moving it to the bottom gives the impression that your schooling is less important than the lessons learned in the workforce. Different jobs have different preferences, so I would adjust it based on the job you are applying for.


It already looks significantly better than the first version. The first would have immediately been tossed. This one makes me think for a moment. If you made it more obvious that you have done two hobby games and cut the "familiar with" comments it would look quite strong.

#15 SpreeTree   Members   -  Reputation: 396

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 07:42 PM

I'm not going to get into a debate on this as they usually go nowhere. Nor am I going to get into the "who's interviewed more people" argument. But I will follow up with some points.

We work within a creative industry. As with every other creative sector a developers portfolio is the most important document whether they are an entry level developer or an experienced developer*.

Of course the resume is important. It allows those tick box rejects (roles that require X degree, Y years experience or resumes written in crayon) that a HR manager is qualified to do. Yes it should have a link to a portfolio, yes it should mention that games have been developed (again referencing a website or what ever format it takes) to get people to the body of work and you have raised these already which has helped the OP improve it already.

But the resume is there to bring out the facts, not to show passion, interest and detail (if you're restricting it to one page especially). The portfolio (which has been worked on for months) should get the lions share of the attention as soon as it's noted. Not doing this will result in missed opportunities for both the applicant and the company itself.

Anyway, that's me done with this. To the OP - good luck with your applications and if you do get a role then I hope it's what you want and you have fun with it :)



*Depending on the experience the portfolio will take different forms. For an experienced developer it will be a back catalogue, published articles, experience etc that can fall onto a resume. For an entry level developer it's a collection of hobbyist projects.




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