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#21   Members   -  Reputation: 193

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 05:35 PM

... especially in a field such as CS, which is constantly evolving.



Sorry, I don't mean to pick on you, but I would like to take a moment to point out that while I agree with your overall conclusion, I strongly disagree with you on this point. The fundamentals of CS are not really evolving much today. Basic algorithms, data structures, analysis and computer architecture have not changed in the past 30 years, nor does it seem likely that they are going to go through any radical updates in the forseeable future. Of course the cutting edge of CS is rapidly advancing, but this is not the sort of stuff that you will learn in a typical undergrad CS curriculum, nor is it even that important (no offense to those involved in research) to 99% of the general programming population out there. This is exactly why a CS degree is so valuable; because these foundational concepts are not likely to change and are very useful in a wide array of situations.


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Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:00 PM

... especially in a field such as CS, which is constantly evolving.



Sorry, I don't mean to pick on you, but I would like to take a moment to point out that while I agree with your overall conclusion, I strongly disagree with you on this point. The fundamentals of CS are not really evolving much today. Basic algorithms, data structures, analysis and computer architecture have not changed in the past 30 years, nor does it seem likely that they are going to go through any radical updates in the forseeable future. Of course the cutting edge of CS is rapidly advancing, but this is not the sort of stuff that you will learn in a typical undergrad CS curriculum, nor is it even that important (no offense to those involved in research) to 99% of the general programming population out there. This is exactly why a CS degree is so valuable; because these foundational concepts are not likely to change and are very useful in a wide array of situations.


Note that this involves core structures and algorithms, computation... the math based part of computer science. Gamedev specific stuff in general changes much more rapidly (except for some core graphical concepts and 'near real time' practices/considerations), which is one of the reasons that many gamedev specific degrees suck; much less of them is relevant for the entirety of your career.

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 10:25 PM

I would just say stay the hell away from the TV schools like ITT and Devry.


I'm sorry but this is the understatement of the year :P

Unfortunately I am one of those students who went to DeVry for game development. I had no choice really because when I enrolled I needed a fully accredited online school (since I was going overseas to work for a few years) and sadly it was one of the only ones at the time.

As someone who is two classes away from a degree there I can say that the school is worthless if you expect to be taught. Literally. The classes will start off strong, and things will look good. You will have C++ classes, classes on x86 assembler, math classes, physics, etc, and then about 2 years in things will change drastically.

At first it starts with the programming classes, instead of building things from scratch you start to simply edit code that was already written (not to mention that code has bugs in it that are not intentional, its just sloppy work done by the course designer).

Next you will be given classes where you work in UDK, sounds nice right? Wrong, its not UDK because too many students will have problems with it, so the professor will make you use UT3 editor instead. Not to mention instead of spending most of the time developing a project, you spend most of the time writing documentation. One of the classes was literally 6 weeks of documentation, 2 weeks of development. That does not give you anything portfolio worthy.

You may also be forced to use Torque, but theres no way of knowing. The classes are almost random in what is used and accepted.

Then comes classes that sound good on paper, but are poorly executed, like the multimedia programming class. They teach DirectX and OpenGL at the same time, and they use some awful, completely outdated (OpenGL 1.1!) books. There is no structure to the class, the first week is OpenGL and DirectX, the second week is OpenGL, then weeks 3 - 6 are DirectX, then back to OpenGL. There is no time to focus on the concepts, you only have time to debug, fix, and manipulate the bug ridden code that is given to you.

Then, there is the projects. Many students at that school should not be in a game development program. They do not have the math or computer science skills to do it. This means one student, two if your lucky will end up carrying the entire class. Oh and don't expect anything usable for your portfolio because other students simply won't care enough to do a good job. Countless times you will hear from classmates that they have computer problems, or family issues, or numerous other reasons why they can't do work and the good students will be stuck doing the work. This will happen almost every single class where there is a group project, oh ya, most of the work is group projects.

Then comes the end of the degree program. The syllabus says that you will learn to program a level of an MMO by learning network programming and such. Do you? Nope. You sit there and play random MMO's and write reports about them. You'll be a mean documentation writer with a degree from DeVry! ;)

Oh, and if you think that you can just do some work and then learn stuff on the side, its harder than it sounds. The school will throw so much homework your way you will literally drown in it (if someone is not drowning in it they are probably one of the crap students not pulling their weight!). Its nothing for me to spend around 100 hours a week on school work. Thank goodness I am unemployed (by choice) at the moment. Oh and did I mention almost none of that is actually developing a game? It seriously isn't. Most classes are just documentation writing classes. Its horrible.

I know I'm slamming the school but it deserves it, it really does. Supposedly the program underwent a radical improvement, but since I was too many credits in I couldn't switch to the new program so newer students may have a different experience. Let me just say this, there is a REASON why you do not see student success stories (in the game development section anyway), there is a reason there is no student portfolio section, and there is a reason why everyone says to steer clear of this school Posted Image

That being said not all students from DeVry are bad, there are those of us, like me who are simply there for a piece of paper and take learning into their own hands. I've been developing various projects for a portfolio that will hopefully land me a job. But please, only use that school as a last resort. It truly is a giant waste of money.

Anyway, I better stop playing on Gamedev and get back to work. I have about 30 more 3D models to make and texture for my senior project. I refuse to let my senior project look like crap even if that is the standard of the school I go to Posted Image

EDIT: Oh, and it sucks paying $70,000 for a degree and being able to write the statement above, knowing that not one sentence is an exaggeration.

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 06:22 AM

I'll keep this short, I have a Games Programming Degree I really enjoyed doing it and learnt a great deal (it's EASY to do things you love). I got a job straight after (thanks to my OpenGL experience) and I don't recall anyone looking down on it. There is however a big BUT, that is the perception of a Games Degree, whether the degree is good or not really doesn't matter. It's like this big dark cloud hanging over you that you really won't want so I would definately go for the CS degree instead, purely out of how people would see it. I also have a Maths degree and whenever asked about my education I just say Maths and ignore the other (unless its for a job or whatever).

I will add this, no one doing CS (at my Uni) learned c++, they did (almost)no graphical type stuff, they do no AI, they do only basic maths. That said, there's the option of taking a few modules/courses that do that stuff and also the option of doing something with those focuses for your project/dissertation/thesis/whatever. So you can pick up some of the skills you will want while still getting a better "viewed" degree title.

If I had to rechoose I would still pick the Games degree, I love all I know and being able to do the things I can do but if I were to suggest to anyone else I would say go CS and try to take Maths/Game stuff with it.

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 10:54 AM

I'll keep this short, I have a Games Programming Degree I really enjoyed doing it and learnt a great deal (it's EASY to do things you love). I got a job straight after (thanks to my OpenGL experience) and I don't recall anyone looking down on it. There is however a big BUT, that is the perception of a Games Degree, whether the degree is good or not really doesn't matter. It's like this big dark cloud hanging over you that you really won't want so I would definately go for the CS degree instead, purely out of how people would see it. I also have a Maths degree and whenever asked about my education I just say Maths and ignore the other (unless its for a job or whatever).

I will add this, no one doing CS (at my Uni) learned c++, they did (almost)no graphical type stuff, they do no AI, they do only basic maths. That said, there's the option of taking a few modules/courses that do that stuff and also the option of doing something with those focuses for your project/dissertation/thesis/whatever. So you can pick up some of the skills you will want while still getting a better "viewed" degree title.

If I had to rechoose I would still pick the Games degree, I love all I know and being able to do the things I can do but if I were to suggest to anyone else I would say go CS and try to take Maths/Game stuff with it.


Sounds like you went to a bad college then if the course selection was so limited. My lower tier state school offered everything you said was missing and more. They even started a game design class my last semester there. I will say that C++ wasn't the standard language but instead was Java. But that is really just a footnote as a decent college should prepare you to quickly learn new languages. As well if you are really interested you should be learning other things on the side.

The main point is not all CS degrees are created equally. You need to search out a good computer science school instead of just picking the local option.

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 11:25 AM

There seems to be a lot of opposite opinions on this post that might freak you out. Honestly they´re freaking me out because I too am looking for a college to go to in 3 years. But in my opinion I think game development companies aren't going to ONLY look at your grades and decide how good you are from them. I believe if you create a reasonable game/product on your own or with a small team that demonstrates that you are capable of developing a game and you show it to the company you want to join you will most likely get hired. I don't believe the game dev industry is as stuck up as other software industries might be. In the end it really doesn't matter what college program you choose as long as learn something from it and you demonstrate the to your employers.

Aluthreney -- the King of sheep.


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Posted 02 August 2011 - 11:35 AM

I would say only get a game degree if you plan on only doing games, with no fallback. Do you really want to only program games for the rest of your career? Some game-school degrees (or game-dev degrees from 'regular' schools) can get you into non-game programming jobs, but probably only after some good experience as a game programmer. If for some reason you end up not making it in the world of games, you might be stuck at a dead end.


Like so many others who commented before me, I really have to stress the importance of the breadth offered by a good computer science program. Even better, if you can do EECS, that's even more general. Many people go CS-only and have a wonderful career as a software engineer, but having EE background will only open doors for you. My previous job required I spent as much time trolling over malfunctioning circuit boards as much as I spent debugging the software. (It was an unusual hardware & software prototype debugging job, but it sure was interesting. Whenever I found a bug I had to figure out if it was a hardware or a software issue!)


A lot of the programming skills and techniques used in games are applicable to many other CS fields, and vice versa. Embedded systems, robotics and automated control systems is a LOT like a game: constrained resources, real-time requirements, managing state, interacting with the environment, etc. The only difference if you're animating/controlling a real machine, and the sensor values are noisy; you don't get perfectly calculated reading from the virtual environment like you do in a game.

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 12:08 PM

The important question is:
- What is it that you want to do? With your life, career, etc...

Numbers are harsh. Very harsh. Game programming will give you a job for 3-7 years at sub-average wage. Then number say people quit due to burnout or inability to work excessive hours.

Similar for computer science, where career in programming is 10 years long. With a warning. If you don't progress during first 3-5 years, your career becomes mostly a dead end. Very very few people end up working in CS, which means academia and PhD.

So to make anything out of a CS degree, you need to go business, either corporate or entrepreneurial. And numbers again show that for BSc. level degree, starting while still in school is just barely early enough.


For technical tracks, CS is undesirable, math or physics are considerably better long term options. Alternatively, for a technical career, a true engineering degree still has more long-term potential. In all these cases, programming can be learned on the side and it will, at least in the near future still give enough edge to advance the career.

But going to a 3-5 year school for programming career today simply doesn't make much sense. In most cases, people who choose such career are already active in the field and merely augment it with a degree. For everything else, the bottom of the market has fallen out and it's not coming back.


Exceptions exist. But is it isn't wise to think about the future as "I might be an NBA super star".

Embedded systems, robotics and automated control systems is a LOT like a game


The competition there is physics, EE or math with MSc as minimum. These fields are already mostly off-shored since there is next to no development in this area happening in West anymore. Or better yet, the one that is has no problem commanding PhD-grade applicants, since supply exceeds demand.

And all those fields with any kind of long term future (aka not pure manufacturing) have no use for programming as any kind of meaningful part that could not be provided by a third party. Any and all value will lie higher, either in research or cross-domain work, where again, CS track doesn't help.

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 01:43 PM

As others mentioned, doing a Games only degree gives you very limited job prospects. Almost the only thing you can do with a degree that you paid so much money for is program games, so what will you do if you've programmed games for 2 years and find out that you don't enjoy doing it? Your Game Programming degree won't get you anywhere at that point.

Take straight CS, if you choose a good University/College you will have a lot of choice to customise your degree, and specialise in the things you're interested in.

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 09:33 PM

Get the CS Degree, the game degree is what is called a "Specialization" degree and it's typically very limited. It is a slimmed down course of Computer Graphics, and Computer Science which consist of things that the college felt was relevant to the course.

A good college in computer science will typically go through the more boring stuff, but if you think about it. Game Development coding wise is MOSTLY mathematics. These guys tends to be the guys mostly hired compared to the game degree due to the high amount of diversity that is usually followed in suit. Another Reason why these guys would be hired over the specific degrees is that they will normally have the better ability to create tools, add-ons, or modules for the game software. Yes they typically learn Java and that's it, but they can easily transfer to other languages. A Programmer should be able to read a code, and edit it without even learning the language it's self. That said, if you learn C#, or Java then you can transfer to C++ with minor effort.

Computer Engineering is an even better choice to have as it combines Computer Hardware and Computer Science together in one course. This means that you learn the capabilities, and limitations of the hardware you are working on, and what algorithms would actually work better for the equipment you are coding for. Like, you can easily program for the Computer and it's GPU, but that coding will work poorly for SIMD processors and console GPUs. Imagine coding and reviewing other's work like a boss.

As far as computer Graphics goes, there are a LOT of companies who will hire people with no college, or university education of Computer Graphics if the portfolio looks good. Heck, even Pixar out of all companies will hire people who have never touched computer graphics in their lives to do their movies.

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 08:28 AM

The important question is:
- What is it that you want to do? With your life, career, etc...

Numbers are harsh. Very harsh. Game programming will give you a job for 3-7 years at sub-average wage. Then number say people quit due to burnout or inability to work excessive hours.

Similar for computer science, where career in programming is 10 years long. With a warning. If you don't progress during first 3-5 years, your career becomes mostly a dead end. Very very few people end up working in CS, which means academia and PhD.

So to make anything out of a CS degree, you need to go business, either corporate or entrepreneurial. And numbers again show that for BSc. level degree, starting while still in school is just barely early enough.


For technical tracks, CS is undesirable, math or physics are considerably better long term options. Alternatively, for a technical career, a true engineering degree still has more long-term potential. In all these cases, programming can be learned on the side and it will, at least in the near future still give enough edge to advance the career.

But going to a 3-5 year school for programming career today simply doesn't make much sense. In most cases, people who choose such career are already active in the field and merely augment it with a degree. For everything else, the bottom of the market has fallen out and it's not coming back.


Exceptions exist. But is it isn't wise to think about the future as "I might be an NBA super star".

Embedded systems, robotics and automated control systems is a LOT like a game


The competition there is physics, EE or math with MSc as minimum. These fields are already mostly off-shored since there is next to no development in this area happening in West anymore. Or better yet, the one that is has no problem commanding PhD-grade applicants, since supply exceeds demand.

And all those fields with any kind of long term future (aka not pure manufacturing) have no use for programming as any kind of meaningful part that could not be provided by a third party. Any and all value will lie higher, either in research or cross-domain work, where again, CS track doesn't help.


In my experience most of this paragraph is false:

- In the game programming side my friends that work at EA, ZeniMax, NCSoft, etc... all have stable jobs, nice salaries, health care, and drive nice cars. They make well above the national US average salary.
- In the non-game programming side I have friends that are developers at Microsoft, Google, and Amazon that were all straight CS degrees. Companies like these are not seeking only Math, Physics, or Engineering. They want developers and that means CS. Their salaries are almost all 100k+ USD.
- I know people at Lockheed Martin and L3 and large percentage of developers there are 40 - 50+ years old.

Like any other job, if you have talent you will keep your job. If you are dead weight you will get laid off and have trouble finding jobs. But now that I think of it, just about everyone I know that has a CS degree is gainfully employed at a job paying well above average salary. Almost none of them complain about long hours at their jobs either - not even those working at EA.

Also, in my experience the US economic slump has had little effect on tech industry hiring. I get multiple unsolicited job offers every month and I'm not even looking for a job. Not just headhunters but corporate recruiters themselves. Anyway, you can't go wrong with a CS degree imho - if you actually enjoy it of course. There are so many opportunities for programmers right now.

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 09:30 AM

Even better, if you can do EECS, that's even more general. Many people go CS-only and have a wonderful career as a software engineer, but having EE background will only open doors for you. My previous job required I spent as much time trolling over malfunctioning circuit boards as much as I spent debugging the software. (It was an unusual hardware & software prototype debugging job, but it sure was interesting. Whenever I found a bug I had to figure out if it was a hardware or a software issue!)



There is often merit in choosing something somewhat broad and then specializing in what you enjoy later on. It certainly leaves many doors open for you, particularly in later life when you may find that the avenue you're presently traveling isn't enjoyable anymore and you want to make a career jump into something else. This is why I followed Draco's advice above and double majored in both EE and CS. I made sure that one my own criteria when leaving college was to find a job where I could continue to further both of those areas on some scale and have fun doing what it was that I enjoyed the most, which was programming. Luckily I have had that opportunity several times in my career and the experiences from both EE and CS have been invaluable in streamlining software to work well on certain platforms and to be able to squeeze every sheer ounce of power I can from a tiny microchip :P.

You're at that point in your life where exposure to a plethora of things isn't bad and while you will want to consider your specialization for your career at some point, just simply don't limit yourself just yet. One of the hardest things as you get older is if you aren't continuously expanding your mind and constantly learning, you will find it harder to go back to school and explore other options if you want to make a career jump.

Above all else, whatever decision you make, just be sure that what you decide on for a career is something that you are both passionate about and love to do. You owe it to yourself to follow your heart and be strong about what it is you want to pursue. I haven't regretted a single day of work because I followed my heart and chose a profession that means a lot to me personally and I wish you all the same!

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 04:46 PM

Personally, I went the route of a CS major, and am in my freshman year here at Virginia Tech. It's a great opportunity because I have access to undergraduate research facilities, large campus, and many student clubs, including the relevant Virginia Tech Gaming Project. And in CS 2114 - "Software Design and Data Structures", the final capstone project was to, in teams of three, build some sort of Android application that fulfills a need or is a playable game. My group made a vertical shooter, similar to Galaga. It wasn't too difficult of a project for us, but what made it interesting was the fact we now had to work in trios, whereas we were all used to working solo. So you learn quickly that interfaces, documentation, and proper planning are some of the most important things to focus on in group projects.

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 09:49 AM

I'm almost finished with my second year at Stark State College in Canton, OH. The degree is an Associate's in Computer Science with a "certificate" in Game Design. I have nothing but great things to say about this degree, coming from a prospective programmer. Thus far, I have taken VB, C#, C++, Adv C++, Java, Adv Java, and a "Programming Logic" course too. The rest of the courses have mostly been math. The programming instructors here are very knowledgable and helpful, and extremely skilled programmers in their own rights. In addition to the programming and math, I have taken a "Game Design" and a "2D Game Design" course, the latter of which we used the Allegro Game Engine to create our own 2D games. In that course alone, I have 3 projects that will be in my portfolio. Next semester I take "Advanced Game Design" where we will use XNA to create games, and "3D Game Design" where I'm sure I'll have even more projects in my portfolio. And this is all in a smaller college.

My point behind saying all of this, is that even the smaller colleges can have outstanding programs for people that want to become game designers. I now have a very strong foundation in math, programming, and will have a few projects in my portfolio by the time of my graduation. And for the record, I will be turning this into a bachelor's at Kent State University after next semester :).

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 10:02 AM

I study at a CS university. The first two years were mostly focused on maths and only now (third year of a 3-years degree) the courses moved their focus to programming.

Still it wont teach me "how to make a game", so I've started (recently) to study a bit how of to make a game both programming wise and graphically by myself..

Cant really say Im tooo happy about my choise, I'd imagine a game design school like a more interesting place to study, tho I cant say yet wich would have been the better way to get into the game industry, but Im glad to see that most ppl here say that a CS uni is the better choise overall..

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:50 AM

I don't know if this is a major consideration for you, but it was for me:
4 year universities that have a wider selection of majors available also have a wider selection of people to meet, specifically ladies, which were few and far between in my CIS lectures.

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 12:07 PM

There are very few reasons to choose a game school and unless you have serious argument otherwise -- go for CS or SE. Either of those will be fine for any possible work you might want in the future, as long as it's within programming. Even if you are convinced you'll never work anywhere else other than in game programming you still should pick SE or CS as those will earn you skills you will inevitably need to learn one way or the other -- skills that usually are much harder to pick up on your own.

Ultimately, the big reason for CS vs. Game school is that one is standardized and the other is not. If you consider CS to theoretical for your tastes, go for SE. But don't go for a game school thinking that's the "way in" -- it isn't, unless "the way in" is via the round paper "storage unit".
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Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:56 AM

Interesting topic that "flames" up such huge replies! It seems people are mixing in social phenomena too! I personally would say CS degree is much solid. Even if you were to finish the game programming degree, you would still probably end up learning a lot of things in the CS degree BUT with less understanding. You see, what separates a self taught programmer from a computer scientist is the fact that computer scientists know about lower level things (meaning closer to the machine) than self taught programmers. Having said that does not mean self taught programmers can't teach himself about the lower level things, but rather they TEND to focus more on immediate results. You can expect a self taught programmer to write a game but you cannot expect him to optimize the game give a set of hardware constrains; optimize algorithm run times; use "evil" tweaks such as assembly and/or complier flags to optimize; exploit locality...etc. While self taught programmer may still be able to do all those things that I said NOT to expect them to do, it is most likely that those problems did not even occur to them.

In short, the best to way learn things is to learn them through the basics, meaning the fundamentals. Quickly immediate solutions may not be the best in the long run and can actually hurt your long term learning goals.
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