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What should a highschooler do to prepare for the industry?


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#1 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 558

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 02:56 PM

Hi, my name is Jonathan and I am currently 16 going to my local highschool, and I was planning on going into the game industry as a programmer. 

 

My first question is does it mater what language I focus on? Right now I'm taking a programming course which teaches java, but is that going to be still important in the game industry? I was thinking of learning C++ because it is currently the industry standard, but when talking to my dad he says that since technology changes so quickly so can the standards.

 

My next question is, how should I practice/develop my skills inorder to be better equipped for the game industry?  Right now my experience as a game programmer is working with Gamemaker and Unity. After reading many forums they seem to agree that coding a game in scrach is a great skill (ex. just using a compiler). But when asking on forums (this one especially) they seem to say the opposite, where as it's better use other libraries made or sdks.

 

My last question is, since I'm still in highschool I am still unsure of what colleges I should be looking at and what courses I should be taking for my next two years. Should I look for colleges that focus on programming as well as courses? Or would it be more important to look for colleges that have a little bit of everything?

 

Thank you for reading and any advice would be useful!



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#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10070

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 05:35 PM

1. My first question is does it mater what language I focus on?
2. Right now I'm taking a programming course which teaches java, but is that going to be still important in the game industry?
3. I was thinking of learning C++ because it is currently the industry standard, but when talking to my dad he says that since technology changes so quickly so can the standards.
4. My next question is, how should I practice/develop my skills inorder to be better equipped for the game industry?  Right now my experience as a game programmer is working with Gamemaker and Unity.
5. After reading many forums they seem to agree that coding a game in scrach is a great skill (ex. just using a compiler). But when asking on forums (this one especially) they seem to say the opposite, where as it's better use other libraries made or sdks.
6. My last question is, since I'm still in highschool I am still unsure of what colleges I should be looking at and what courses I should be taking for my next two years. Should I look for colleges that focus on programming as well as courses?
7. Or would it be more important to look for colleges that have a little bit of everything?

1. No, it doesn't.
2. Wrong question. Right question: am I learning useful skills? (Answer: yes.)
3. Your dad is a smart man!
4. GameMaker and Unity are perfect. Stay with them. You can move away from GameMaker when you reach the point of doing stuff GameMaker can't do. If that ever happens.
5. Don't listen to forums!  And I don't think you need to build a game from scratch. Use Unity and GameMaker, they're just fine.
6. Take whatever courses you want to take, or that you think you want to take.  And if you really want to go into programming, go to any college that's affordable and teaches Computer Science.
7. Yes, it should be a regular college that offers mainstream bachelor degrees.  You might want to check out this forum's FAQs, read the section on college.


-- 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 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 14026

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 05:44 PM

Hi, my name is Jonathan and I am currently 16 going to my local highschool, and I was planning on going into the game industry as a programmer.

Hello Jonathan. The first step is admitting you have a problem.

 

My first question is does it mater what language I focus on? […] I was thinking of learning C++ because it is currently the industry standard, but when talking to my dad he says that since technology changes so quickly so can the standards.

C/C++ are not going anywhere, no matter how hard the push for Java is. As Google found out with Android, major studios already have full toolchains in C++ and without C++ support they simply won’t target Android devices. As with many major studios, my company’s in-house engine is C++, and that will never change.

 

My next question is, how should I practice/develop my skills inorder to be better equipped for the game industry?  Right now my experience as a game programmer is working with Gamemaker and Unity. After reading many forums they seem to agree that coding a game in scrach is a great skill (ex. just using a compiler). But when asking on forums (this one especially) they seem to say the opposite, where as it's better use other libraries made or sdks.

Develop your skills by using them.
As for the rest, this is subjective and may depend on your ultimate goals, but:
#1: This is a false dichotomy. Why not just do both? It’s not as if taking time to do one means you are losing time on the other—people get burnt out on doing the same task all the time and often just go watch TV instead. Instead of that, make your time more valuable by working on the other project.
#2: Being able to work on the lower-level aspects of any game is always a benefit to your job hunt in the future. Being able to use Unity 3D is only sometimes a benefit to your job hunt. People who tell others to use Unity 3D are usually misunderstanding the “make games, not engines” mantra, which is misleading at best. If your goal is to make games, you should make games. That means using an engine such as Unity 3D. If your goal is to learn how everything works (which is the best way to prepare you for your future) or if you just enjoy making low-level functionality more than higher-level functionality, make engines. If you want to learn but also want to make a complete game, make a simple game from scratch, such as a Tetris clone.
Generally, if your goal is to prepare for a future, working with raw code, not Unity 3D, is recommended.
 

My last question is, since I'm still in highschool I am still unsure of what colleges I should be looking at and what courses I should be taking for my next two years. Should I look for colleges that focus on programming as well as courses? Or would it be more important to look for colleges that have a little bit of everything?

Most people recommend a course in Computer Science. I took a course in Computer Programming, which makes more sense to me if you want to be a computer programmer.
The industry isn’t really strict on what degree you have, if you have one at all. Just make it relevant as possible.


L. Spiro


[EDIT]
Heh, this is the most exact-opposite Tom Sloper and I have been in replies to a single post.
[/EDIT]

Edited by L. Spiro, 23 April 2013 - 05:46 PM.

It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10070

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:02 PM

The industry isn’t really strict on what degree you have, if you have one at all. Just make it relevant as possible.

 

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.

#5 snowmanZOMG   Members   -  Reputation: 892

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 07:46 PM

A little pessimistic, but lots of truth nonetheless: http://codesuppository.blogspot.com/2013/04/so-your-teenager-tells-you-they-want-to.html



#6 mk.jr.fan   Members   -  Reputation: 558

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 09:00 PM

Thanks guys for the help! I now do understand since making games is my focus I should, as you say, make games. But I do like the thought of going deeper so I will probably make that a side project. Thank you again for your help!



#7 Rhetorician   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:09 PM

@snowmanZOMG
I agree with the article if the only experience you'll get is from higher-education. Otherwise...



#8 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2117

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 08:47 PM

4. GameMaker and Unity are perfect. Stay with them. You can move away from GameMaker when you reach the point of doing stuff GameMaker can't do. If that ever happens.
5. Don't listen to forums! And I don't think you need to build a game from scratch. Use Unity and GameMaker, they're just fine.

 

Going on this, since you are using Unity, should you ever run into the point Tom mentioned about not being able to do what you want by using GameMaker, you can migrate to a language that can use Unity. It keeps you in semi-familiar territory and provides some sort of jumping point/direction.



#9 Rhetorician   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 05:51 PM

The biggest problem with "frameworks" like these is incessant/disruptive abstraction. I started with Game Maker, however, the reason I left it was not solely its incapacity, but the clunky and unhelpful abstraction. When you become a sophisticated programmer, in several ways, going bare bones C++ can be easier than carrying lots of 3rd party baggage around. Game Maker causes a lot of code bloat. So... eventually (even with Unity) I think you'll want to move onto C++.

Edit: Some very credible programmers will even argue that C++ causes code bloat, at least indirectly i.e. language features seem to suggest programmers' paradigms should be more declarative when it's not capable of properly handling what it suggests. They have some good points, but I won't go as far to talk about that issue...


Edited by Reflexus, 04 May 2013 - 12:14 PM.





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