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CS Degrees


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#1 KingofNoobs   Members   -  Reputation: 301

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:21 PM

Hello,

I am what some might call a "Mid-Career Transfer" into the business of writing games. I`m still a student of the art ini every way. While I spend my days reading what I consider to be highly academic and instructive literature, I do not have a CS degree. My question is how many professional game developers out there don`t have CS degrees? It`s not that I think I can`t do it without one, it`s more of a curiosity about the numbers. How many people are there out there like me, who just quit what they were doing in their 20s and started making games? Are any of them successful (in terms of product quality, not financial gain).

I have been locked in my room reading for about a month now, and I can just feel myself "getting a degree" but in a much shorter time. I was wondering if others also see this as a feasible learning option and route into the game industry, either as an indie or on a larger-scale team.

-Dave Ottley

I wonder as I wander...

http://www.davesgameoflife.com


Sponsor:

#2 Steve_Segreto   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1475

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

I worked at a Casino Game company and the lead developer for the company's bread-winning product didn't have a CS degree (or any degree at all). He was however a deeply intelligent and mathematical person who taught himself all the aspects of graphics and audio programming. He created the entire game engine for 3-reel video slot in early 90s working as a contractor, sold it for a song and later got back into the company as a high-level developer. Now he works at Gibson Guitars as an audio software embedded engineer doing the kind of waveform transforms that he loves so much Posted Image

Bottom line, the CS degree gets you past HR, the rest is up to you.

Edited by Steve_Segreto, 26 November 2012 - 02:34 PM.


#3 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14333

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:00 PM

Moved to Breaking In.


You "can" get an industry job without a degree. Speaking from personal experience, you'd have to be insane to try.

Get the degree.

#4 kd7tck   Members   -  Reputation: 715

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 10:05 PM

You don't have to get a degree in CS. There are so many routes, software engineering, physics...

Don't limit yourself.

#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8712

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:17 PM

I am what some might call a "Mid-Career Transfer" into the business of writing games.


Dave, does that mean you are older than thirty? Because the degree advice doesn't apply 100% to every conceivable unique personal situation.
-- 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.

#6 KingofNoobs   Members   -  Reputation: 301

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:26 AM

Tom,

Yes I'm 27 now. I also have a wife and one child on the way. Money is not my concern at all and I'm not entirely certain that I want to get a "job" but I am keeping that as one option on my path to improving my video game development skills. To be honest being an indie who can support myself 100% with game development is the current goal, but I'm just trying to keep my options open. I already have a (totally unrelated) B.S. in accounting, after which time I moved to Japan, where I did various things and ended up as a professional legal translator, which I still do for money, but spend 90% of my time programming (the translating business is feast or famine, and now is a famine time). I don't want to have to continue doing that forever, but it gives me all the money I need to support my family and live where I need to in order to do games. I just don't think I can fork over another $40k or what not to get another degree, when it is my personal opinion that there is more to be learned on the great internet, and with creative collaborations than by paying some university $40k to give me assignments. I was just wondering if coming into it the way that I am is a VERY long and hard road, or just a long and hard road.

Thanks.

-Dave Ottley

I wonder as I wander...

http://www.davesgameoflife.com


#7 Steve_Segreto   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1475

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:37 AM

Cool ... what kind of games do you make?

#8 Amadeus H   Members   -  Reputation: 1180

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:15 AM

Fact#1: Being 27+ and not having a relevant degree will leave you behind in competition with younger people with a degree.
Fact#2: Being 27+ and having relevant indie (or other) games to show on your portfolio, will put you ahead of the same competition.

Difficult road? Well, yes. Worth going down? Damned, yes.

Edited by Amadeus H, 27 November 2012 - 02:16 AM.


#9 KingofNoobs   Members   -  Reputation: 301

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 08:28 AM

Steve: I am working on a breakout clone now (I know it sounds retarded, but start small). I'm doing it all in C++ using D3D11, so I've learned quite a bit of low level stuff to go along with the game. I'm sticking to 2D for now since I'm coding everything from scratch and I want gameplay to be my foremost concern. My game will have a protagonist however, and later on I might throw in some crazy game-shift like moving into an rpg mode or something, but this is way down the line. For now, just the basics.

Amadeus: Yes I know those facts are accurate. I plan on continuing, I just wanted to see if anyone would see my post and say "QUIT NOW!" or something similar, so that I would know about what I can expect in the future, but since that didn't happen, I have taken heart.

Thanks.

-Dave Ottley

I wonder as I wander...

http://www.davesgameoflife.com


#10 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8712

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:28 AM

Yes I'm 27 now. I also have a wife and one child on the way. Money is not my concern at all and I'm not entirely certain that I want to get a "job" but I am keeping that as one option... To be honest being an indie who can support myself 100% with game development is the current goal, but I'm just trying to keep my options open... I just don't think I can fork over another $40k or what not to get another degree


Dave,
You do not need another degree, if you go the indie route. The "get a degree" advice is not for indies who are 27, have a family, and already have an unrelated degree.
If you want to get a game job, a married 27-year-old family man still doesn't need to spend all that money to get a second degree -- if you can build a portfolio, and/or find another entry path, you can get there.
-- 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 Anri   Members   -  Reputation: 597

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:47 PM

Its an on-going debate: education verses experience. I recommend you have both.

Don't bother with a second degree, but do consider education in Software Development. Not just for the field-relevant qualification at the end, but to also help you become a better programmer. I recommend distance learning because you can fit it in around yourself and you can take a break in between modules - even for years if you need to...

And qualifications are always good for CVs.

#12 ISDCaptain01   Members   -  Reputation: 1322

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:10 PM

Some of the best game companies were founded by people without CS degrees

Nintendo
Rareware
RavenSoft
IdSoft
Microsoft (not exactly gaming)
Sega
Bioware
Electronic Arts
.
.
.
I could go on

Forget the degree, just get out there and sell your product and games. market yourself. Dont be stuck going over material you know, strive higher than that piece of paper

Edited by ISDCaptain01, 28 November 2012 - 05:12 PM.


#13 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19040

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 06:37 PM

At this point in your career there are really two types of transfers you can make.

You can transfer to the same job in an unrelated field.
You can transfer to a different job in the same field.

You can do them one after the other, which many people do.

You can attempt to do both at once, but it is much harder and not recommended.


Making them one at a time gives two paths:

See if you can do that your current job inside the game industry. You have experience in translating stuff; how about translating stuff at a game studio? After you work at a game studio, convince your bosses that you would make a good programmer and switch jobs.

Alternatively, look for a programming job within your current industry. Once you are an experienced programmer look to move into any entertainment-related field. Once you are doing entertainment-related programming, making the final jump to game programmer is relatively easy.

Edited by frob, 28 November 2012 - 06:39 PM.

Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.




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