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Am I on the "Fast-track" for development?


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#1 RadioactiveMicrobe   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 09:25 PM

So, I'm a 17 year-old junior in high school who LOVES to play games. I know what many of you are thinking, "Yeah, well liking to play games doesn't mean you can make those games, kid." I assure you, I do more than that.

I'm a junior in high school with a 4.175 GPA, and am enrolled in 3 classes at a local college this year. All relate to Software Engineering, (Entry level Computer Science, and some entry Software Engineering) After those classes, I'll have enough college credits to count for 2 semesters in college.

I excel at Math and Science, getting A's with no studying required. Programming doesn't seem to hold any problems as well, I've learned basic HTML, Javascript, and the incredibly useful Visual Basic. I know these aren't exactly game programming languages, but nonetheless, a start.

All I'm saying is, do the grizzled veterans here think that I can climb the ladder? You may be asking, how high do I want to go?

The top, as in Bungie top.

All I'm asking is; do I have what it takes?

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#2 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 15980

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:18 PM

To be blunt? No. Not yet.


You're going to need far more than decent marks and "no studying" to indicate to a prospective employer that you can hack it. Demos and finished games (even if small) would be a good start. Several years of demonstrable experience in relevant technologies is more or less mandatory. Competence in a number of areas outside just programming will be important if you want to go "to the top." A degree is virtually demanded - not strictly necessary, but you're crippling yourself if you don't at least pursue one, because you'll look less attractive on paper than everyone else who does.

You need to excel in your discipline and specialty, and you need recognized accomplishments. You also will have to pay your dues in an entry-level or at best mid-grade position for a few years before you'll even be considered for someplace like Bungie.


Please don't take this as discouragement - just the truth. If you really want this, and are willing to invest a lot of time, effort, dedication, and sacrifice to make it happen, you can do it. But at this very moment, going by just what you've posted, you'd be lucky to get an internship at a small studio, let alone anything more "big time." Keep on learning, spend a few years in university, and build up a good portfolio of accomplishments, and you'll be well on your way to bettering those odds :-)

#3 D_Tr   Members   -  Reputation: 362

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 07:56 AM

I am surely not a "grizzled veteran", but what I have to say is that when you become ready, you won't have to ask, you will know it! :wink: For the moment just keep studying and practising!

#4 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:41 AM

All I'm asking is; do I have what it takes?


Dunno. Sounds like you could, but I must caution that's there's a lot of red flags raised. High school, and even local community colleges are not challenging. Top tier colleges and game companies are challenging. Just because you think you're hot shit in the minors doesn't always translate to the big leagues. A good work ethic, a good dose of self-awareness, some ability to learn on your own, and a big dash of tenacity are very important. In a few years you'll be faced with the awkward truth that knowing something is far less important than school made it out to be. Experience is vital for programmers.

Just a warning: I was pretty much in your boat. Had the 4.2 GPA in my junior year without studying; skipped my senior year and went to college. And y'know what? I wasn't mature enough to deal with that. I didn't have the work ethic needed to succeed at a competitive school. And while I've gotten to be a very good programmer since, it took about 6 years more than it should have.

Knowing things is good. Having aptitude for programming is important. But just be aware that there's a bunch of other things that aren't necessarily obvious that go into making you successful.

#5 RadioactiveMicrobe   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:29 PM


All I'm asking is; do I have what it takes?


Dunno. Sounds like you could, but I must caution that's there's a lot of red flags raised. High school, and even local community colleges are not challenging. Top tier colleges and game companies are challenging. Just because you think you're hot shit in the minors doesn't always translate to the big leagues. A good work ethic, a good dose of self-awareness, some ability to learn on your own, and a big dash of tenacity are very important. In a few years you'll be faced with the awkward truth that knowing something is far less important than school made it out to be. Experience is vital for programmers.

Just a warning: I was pretty much in your boat. Had the 4.2 GPA in my junior year without studying; skipped my senior year and went to college. And y'know what? I wasn't mature enough to deal with that. I didn't have the work ethic needed to succeed at a competitive school. And while I've gotten to be a very good programmer since, it took about 6 years more than it should have.

Knowing things is good. Having aptitude for programming is important. But just be aware that there's a bunch of other things that aren't necessarily obvious that go into making you successful.


Okay, thank you. I would just like to stress, that by no means do I think I'm ready to get into the big leagues. The basic question, which I suppose I should have clarified, was; Is this a good start? (I honestly don't know how competitive programming is)

The basic plan is; get ready freaking good grades, and hopefully get a full ride scholarship. If not, take 2 years in some local college (or however long it takes to get the core stuff out of the way) then start moving up, and hopefully get into a competitive college for a Masters.


Thank you for the feedback. Honestly, everyone always keeps praising me and figuratively toting me around on their schoulders
, and it's almost refreshing for people to say that I haven't done anything yet.

#6 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:38 PM

The basic question, which I suppose I should have clarified, was; Is this a good start? (I honestly don't know how competitive programming is)


Gamedev has a lot of competition. Bizdev has a little bit of competition, but most of it is horrible.

The basic plan is; get ready freaking good grades, and hopefully get a full ride scholarship. If not, take 2 years in some local college (or however long it takes to get the core stuff out of the way) then start moving up, and hopefully get into a competitive college for a Masters.


A masters is usually overkill, but otherwise... this is pretty much everyone's plan. I can't help but think you've missed the point...

School won't teach you all of the things you need to know to be a good programmer, a good worker, or a good person. So while doing good at school is good and all it isn't everything you need to be doing.

#7 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 15980

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:45 PM

Permit me to throw out an analogy and see if it helps explain our replies a little better.

Take a long rope and tie it around a pole stuck in the ground. Your goal is to stretch the rope from that pole over to a tree a little ways away. Now, imagine that your rope is not just tied to the pole, but also wrapped around the pole. Is the rope pointing in the right direction to get to the tree?


You're still young. You have a little bit of education and some starter practice, which is good. But you're still coiled around that starting pole. You have to unwrap and start pulling on the rope to figure out if it's going the right way; right now, you can almost think of it as if it were pointing everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Now, this shows that you're at least thinking about what direction to take, which is a good thing! But you haven't really moved all that far towards the destination. It will take a lot of time, experience, and life discipline to get there - a lot of pulling on the rope. I hope this doesn't sound discouraging; frankly most people your age aren't nearly as self-aware with regards to their futures, and that alone gives you a small advantage. But you're also up against some serious competition.


Just as an example: there are people in the industry who, at your age, had already been programming for over a decade and published several of their own games, often for profit. It is not uncommon to hear of the upper-percentile game developers leaving college with more development experience than most people will have in their chosen careers by their mid 30s. And a lot of those people still find the competition in the industry to be fierce, and have to continue working for opportunities and advancements.

As Telastyn noted, there's nothing wrong with the plan you've described - but it's the same general approach that thousands of other people are taking, and it doesn't really set you apart from them. To get noticed - and to have a reasonably secure chance of landing a job in the business - you need to exceed even that standard. Yes, by comparison with most 17 year olds, you're ahead of the game - but on an absolute scale, there's a long road ahead.


Personally, I get the feeling you can succeed if you really put your mind to it; so I hope this is more of a challenge to you to push yourself even harder, rather than a sign to give up :-)

#8 RadioactiveMicrobe   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 08:29 PM

Permit me to throw out an analogy and see if it helps explain our replies a little better.

Take a long rope and tie it around a pole stuck in the ground. Your goal is to stretch the rope from that pole over to a tree a little ways away. Now, imagine that your rope is not just tied to the pole, but also wrapped around the pole. Is the rope pointing in the right direction to get to the tree?


You're still young. You have a little bit of education and some starter practice, which is good. But you're still coiled around that starting pole. You have to unwrap and start pulling on the rope to figure out if it's going the right way; right now, you can almost think of it as if it were pointing everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Now, this shows that you're at least thinking about what direction to take, which is a good thing! But you haven't really moved all that far towards the destination. It will take a lot of time, experience, and life discipline to get there - a lot of pulling on the rope. I hope this doesn't sound discouraging; frankly most people your age aren't nearly as self-aware with regards to their futures, and that alone gives you a small advantage. But you're also up against some serious competition.


Just as an example: there are people in the industry who, at your age, had already been programming for over a decade and published several of their own games, often for profit. It is not uncommon to hear of the upper-percentile game developers leaving college with more development experience than most people will have in their chosen careers by their mid 30s. And a lot of those people still find the competition in the industry to be fierce, and have to continue working for opportunities and advancements.

As Telastyn noted, there's nothing wrong with the plan you've described - but it's the same general approach that thousands of other people are taking, and it doesn't really set you apart from them. To get noticed - and to have a reasonably secure chance of landing a job in the business - you need to exceed even that standard. Yes, by comparison with most 17 year olds, you're ahead of the game - but on an absolute scale, there's a long road ahead.


Personally, I get the feeling you can succeed if you really put your mind to it; so I hope this is more of a challenge to you to push yourself even harder, rather than a sign to give up :-)


Well, and I don't know if this is a blassing or a curse, nothing ever seems to work out, or go easily. (And I mean on EVERYTHING)



Now yes, that kind of sucks, since it'd be nice to get a break on something for once, but it's also taught me to just deal with it, and get to work.



What you've told me is what will get me to buckle down. I'll probably start looking at specifically game languages tomorrow, and get started on learning some basics, and advance from there.



It'll me along, tough road, I know. But that is what life is, after all.


Thanks for the replies, I'll get started by reading some stuff on here.

#9 loom_weaver   Members   -  Reputation: 325

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 09:41 PM

*cue sarcastic voice*

So you think you're hot stuff? Why don't you post one of your games and the source code and the grizzled vets will be more than happy to give you their honest opinion.

*end sarcastic voice*

#10 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10061

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:45 PM

*cue sarcastic voice*
So you think you're hot stuff? ...

Loom, the OP said, 5 days ago:

Thanks for the replies, I'll get started by reading some stuff on here.

So I think he got the point already. Let's let the OP do his reading and see how things develop.
-- 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.

#11 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:37 PM

Just because some of the other metaphors that were thrown out were slightly confusing to me, I will post my own.

Imagine your post like this:
"So, I'm a 17 year-old junior in high school who LOVES looking at pictures of mountains.

I can run on the stairmaster for an hour at a time, and I've even signed up for a few beginner rock climbing classes! I bought some rope and a coat and some mittens and a hat and some cramp ons.

All I'm saying is, do the grizzled mountain climbers think that I can climb Mount Everest?"

Or here's a game related one:
"I just started playing a game of monopoly and I was the first one to buy a property! Do Monopoly experts think I will win?"

#12 swilkewitz   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 07:30 PM

Hey, you sound excited to start developing games! My advice is to do just that: start.

I would recommend beginning with a simple tutorial for a 2D game in a language other than C++. I personally started with this tutorial, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I'm sure you can find a better tutorial. Also, once you understand the basics, I would recommend starting your projects from scratch. Some people might tell you to use a pre-made engine, but I have found that I learn a lot more by doing everything myself.

Anyway, I am certainly not a grizzled veteran, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I hope this helps!

-Scott




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