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Choosing a dissertation topic...


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#1 longshorts   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 11:24 AM

Hey there forum,

I am currently studying a masters degree in Software Engineering, and I am struggling at the moment to decide what dissertation I should do. As I do not have a degree directly relevant to Games Programming (what I would like to do in the future) I wanted to pick a dissertation which would give me a good skill set for the gaming industry and would also look good on my CV to potential employers. I am currently deciding between two projects:

1) Develop a tank strategy game in C++. I currently have very little experience programming in C++ (only one year experience in C) so I believe this could be quite beneficial in order to learn the language that pretty much every games company wants you to program in. I of course would love to program in Java instead for the likes of an Android game as I have nearly five years of experience programming in Java, but it just doesn't seem to be in demand. The problem I see with this project is that it doesn't seem to be very interesting as a dissertation.

2) Develop a puzzle game in Java for Android distributed for free over the Android Market. The puzzle game would monitor how quickly a user can resize, drag and rotate objects around the touchscreen while attempting to solve the puzzles the game presents. The resultant data would then be sent back to a database over a wifi connection from the android device for analysis. The idea is that this data could be studied in order to figure out what a wide range of users find easy and quick to do on a touch screen, possibly resulting in a model which can be used in the future to influence good UI design. This project seems highly interesting, but my fear is that it may not develop valuable skills required in the real world for game development.

So I ask those who are already in the gaming industry; which should I choose? What would be more valuable for me and my potential future as a game developer?

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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8668

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 03:34 PM

1. which should I choose?
2. What would be more valuable for me
3. and my potential future as a game developer?


1. You should make a decision grid. I find it an excellent way to make any difficult decision. Read FAQ 70.
2. We can't determine what you value. So, turning the question back to you: which would be more enjoyable for you? Read FAQ 40. If you want to use "value" as one of your decision factors, you can certainly include that in your decision grid.
3. That depends on what kind of game developer you want to be, what kind of games you want to make professionally.
-- 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 longshorts   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 04:45 AM

Thanks for the reply Tom, had a good read of the FAQ now. All very good work :)

So lets say then I have built my own personal decision grid for this problem. I have put my own "values" into it. However I am struggling to fill in some rows. Most important of these is "What would an employer value?". Finding the answer to this question was the original purpose of my post.

I am after all looking to work on whatever would give me a good foundation for game development, at this stage I'm not necessarily worried about specialization or what "kind" of games I want to make (maybe I should ask, should I know already?). For this reason, I am more inclined to pursue whatever will develop my C++ skills as that is the most common skill I find is required by employers. However I could be incorrect with this conclusion. Again, this is why I am seeking advice.

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8668

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 09:16 AM

1. "What would an employer value?".
2. Finding the answer to this question was the original purpose of my post.
3. I am after all looking to work on whatever would give me a good foundation for game development, at this stage I'm not necessarily worried about specialization or what "kind" of games I want to make
4. I am more inclined to pursue whatever will develop my C++ skills as that is the most common skill I find is required by employers. However I could be incorrect with this conclusion.


1. "It depends." Different employers: different values. Different needs: different values. In general, A.I. is valued, but if a particular employer already has an A.I. guy, then your being an A.I. guy will not be of value. Best to focus on your own values, rather than some imaginary hypothetical employer's values. As I wrote before.

2. I knew that. I answered it: "That depends," I said then. And again now.

3. So you're saying you don't have any particular passion. You'll "adopt" whatever passion other people tell you you should have?

4. So you do have a particular type of game in mind, then (platform, if not genre) -- console / PC games as opposed to mobile / web games. (C++ is the workhorse in console / PC games if not in those other arenas).

My previous advice still applies: make the decision of which project to do based on other criteria. "What hypothetical imaginary employers will value" is the same thing as "doing what other people want me to do instead of what I want to do" -- while doing what you would personally prefer will lead you to a happier life after graduation.
If you want to use it, "what THEY might want" can be one line on your decision grid -- but you might have to guess at how to fill that line in. You need to use other lines on your decision grid, and the passion line should be weighted fairly high since if you're passionate about it you'll do a better job.
-- 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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