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Questions About Game Development


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#1 Mark Y.   Members   -  Reputation: 258

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:18 AM

Hello there,

 

My name is Mark, and I'm brand new to the GameDev.net forums, and after lurking around a bit I decided it was best to make an account. I am a Junior in High School, and I'm interested in pursuing a future in the game industry. Up until about a year ago, I wasn't even considering pursuing a field based around developing software.

 

I was, and still am, fascinated with Architecture, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, because Architecture seems to consistently rank as one of the worst degrees to go into, primarily due to the high unemployment rate after undergraduate or graduate studies (http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/Unemployment.Final.update1.pdf - Page 7). I also looked into civil engineering, as it's closely related to architecture, but it didn't grasp my interest the same way Architecture did. At that point, I started to look into things I was passionate about. You may be thinking, "this kid's only 16, he has his whole life ahead of him, and he's worried about finding the right career," but I'm just the type of person who likes to plan ahead, and pursuing an education for a career that's both a passion of mine and has a fairly decent amount of job security is what seems to be the next step after high school, and choosing the right degree is a big deal in that sense. I am an avid gamer, both on PC and consoles, so I decided to look into the possibility of pursuing a job in the games industry. So while I began to educate myself on the topic, such as the types of jobs within the industry, as well as the work culture, and game industry news in general, I began to take a real liking to pursuing an education that would someday allow me to be a game designer.

 

Recently, in my spare time, I've begun to study programming, which for me seemed to be a good fit, since I enjoy finding creative solutions to problems, and both my dad and my brother have extensive programming experience, so if I need help or don't understand a topic, they could help me get a better grasp of what I'm trying to understand. Of course, when it comes to programming, I'm still a "n00b," but I've also began to read books and articles on the theory and logic behind game design and what makes games "fun." 

 

 

Now that I've given you a hefty chunk of background, I was hoping to ask a few questions about the industry, and breaking into the industry.

 

 

1. I've been reading over Tom Sloper's Lessons/FAQ on pursuing a career in Game Design, and it's come to my understanding that in order to break into the industry you need a degree and a portfolio, among other things, such as work experience, and networking. I'm hoping that while I'm at a University, I can begin to work on a few projects of my own to show in my portfolio, as well as hopefully find an internship so that I can gain some real-world experience. I wanted to ask, I have this nagging feeling that I won't have enough spare time, outside of classes and being in college in general, to work on something truly spectacular to "wow" whoever is interviewing me, or that I won't be able to find a team/group to work with. For those of you in college, is that the case, or am I making myself feel a bit more worried than I should be. Also, relating to those who majored in Computer Science, I understand the answer to this question probably depends on whoever your professor was, but are there projects within the curriculum (both group and individual), and did you consider those worth adding to your portfolio?

 

**Sorry about the long-winded question. I promise the others will be more concise.

 

2. I've heard things about the hiring climate in the industry, and I'm confused as to whether it's better to have knowledge in a wide variety of areas or to specialize in something, such as UI Design or Network Systems. I was wondering which would not only appeal more to the interviewer, as well as what would aid me better in the working environment. Would it be a middle ground, such as having specialized experience but still have working knowledge of other jobs within the industry?

 

3. Exactly how much creative content is contributed to the game, say, by a programmer, to the game, in terms of gameplay ideas? What is the creative climate within the industry? The reason I'm asking is that I'm actually a creative type, and for me, a programming job is something that I would enjoy, but is a means to an end, which in this case is becoming a designer. 

 

4. Is it better to look for an unlisted internship (such as what is written here: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/business/breaking-into-the-industry/techniques-for-finding-unlisted-game-internships-r3130) or apply for an internship program, such as one at Riot Games or Blizzard? Which would provide a more honest experience as to what life is like in the industry?

 

5. Just for future reference (chances are an opportunity to apply the answer to this wont come for several years), if my goal is to become a game designer, through a programming job, when applying for an internship, if there is a game design internship available, do I apply for that, or would it be better to focus on the job at hand, which would be building skills in programming? 

 

 

For those of you who read through this lengthy introduction/series of questions, thank you for taking your time with my first post. I really appreciate it and look forward to your answers.

 

- Mark Yampolsky



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#2 studentTeacher   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 02:54 AM

Hello Mark, and welcome to GameDev! :)

 

1) I'm a college student myself, so I'd like to address a few things that you might be a little misled about. I'm currently in my junior year at university, and I've only now made a solid decision on what majors/minors/etc. I'm going to graduate with. You've got time to try some things out, so don't stress too much about making the perfect decision now! But having passions and a rough idea of what you might want is a great, great idea. College needs more students like that.

 

On top of that, don't be worried about free time in college. There's tons of it, lying everywhere around you. I take 2 students worth of classes (the usual is 3-4 classes, and I take at least 6), work over 20 hours a week to pay for college (outside of loans), I'm a part of a social club, and engineering club, and a game programming club. The social club takes no real time; the engineering club I'm making control systems and electronics for a UAV, and the game programming club I'm making a game. This game -- alone yes (at least while I make the engine), but many people to help me out along the way.

This sounds like a lot, but seriously -- I still have time to hang out, sleep, have a social life, and relax. I'm not saying do what I do but, whatever workload you have, you can make it work. Most places have gamedev clubs and such -- use those!! You can find the time to do the things you want -- like make games and a portfolio, if this is what you want to do -- if it's what you want and you have the passion for it (and a little bit of skill, and luck!).

 

When applying to internships, current projects are HUGE!!!!!! I've nailed so many internships talking about the project's I've done and showing off physical results and companies love that. If you have experience, that's worth a ton to a company -- you are more versed in how things go, and you've seen with your senses, exactly how things work and how things go wrong. I've been accepted to an internship because of a project I failed -- and failed as in a UAV turned into a flying flame-ball of death -- but the company saw the experience I gained, especially from the mishap, and how careful and how meticulous my planning is when working on future projects. All in all: experience is key.

 

2) I don't know much about this because I've only had internships and jobs as an engineer, but I've seen that people like seeing that you have knowledge of a lot, and can handle that, but really are phenomenal at one or two specific topics. It shows that you can learn quickly and retain knowledge, while you can also become an expert in things that need to be done by you, too.

 

3) I don't know :P

 

4)  I'd say the internship programs are best. I've had friends go through the program at Blizzard, and they loved it and learned a crazy amount of amazing things during their time there.

 

5) Got no experience here either, sorry!

 

I hope this helped. Sorry for the wall of text! I hope the college perspective can help you understand things and show you'll have plenty of free time :D



#3 Stainless   Members   -  Reputation: 1070

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 03:08 AM

I haven't hired any programmers for a few years, I've been doing weird stuff mostly on my own. However for me I always looked for people that had actually done something.

 

It's all very well rolling out of college/university with a degree, but games programming is 10% skill, 20% inspiration, and 70% hard slog.

 

For every game that an indie developer finishes, there are several thousand sitting around part coded.

 

Someone who has actually completed a game has a big advantage as far as I am concerned.

 

When you start out with a big company as a programmer, you will have no input to the game design. You will be allocated a small part of the game and told to get it working. You have to remember that all the programmers want to have input in the design, every single one of them, and you are the new kid on the block.

 

A smaller company might be a better fit, but that is a risk. I have been made redundant four times now because I tend to work with small companies. Investors want a return on their money by a set date, if that doesn't appear they have a tendency to just close the company.



#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10179

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 07:29 AM

1. I have this nagging feeling that I won't have enough spare time, outside of classes and being in college in general, to work on something truly spectacular to "wow" whoever is interviewing me, or that I won't be able to find a team/group to work with. For those of you in college, is that the case, or am I making myself feel a bit more worried than I should be. are there projects within the curriculum (both group and individual), and [are] those worth adding to your portfolio?

2. I've heard things about the hiring climate in the industry, and I'm confused as to whether it's better to have knowledge in a wide variety of areas or to specialize in something, such as UI Design or Network Systems. I was wondering which would not only appeal more to the interviewer, as well as what would aid me better in the working environment. Would it be a middle ground, such as having specialized experience but still have working knowledge of other jobs within the industry?

3. Exactly how much creative content is contributed to the game, say, by a programmer, to the game, in terms of gameplay ideas?

4. Is it better to look for an unlisted internship (such as what is written here: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/business/breaking-into-the-industry/techniques-for-finding-unlisted-game-internships-r3130) or apply for an internship program, such as one at Riot Games or Blizzard? Which would provide a more honest experience as to what life is like in the industry?

5. if my goal is to become a game designer, through a programming job, when applying for an internship, if there is a game design internship available, do I apply for that, or would it be better to focus on the job at hand, which would be building skills in programming?


Hi, Mark.

1. Read http://legacy.igda.org/games-game-may-2012 - how good a portfolio you make is all up to you.

2. Too much analysis. Which aspects of game development are most interesting to you? Focus there. FAQ 40.

3. Some. Every member of the team has the ability to contribute to the design, within the constraints of the budget and the schedule.

4. Flip a coin. Or apply to both, and take whichever is offered you.

5. It unlikely you'll find a design internship. It wouldn't hurt to take one if you do find one.
-- 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 Mark Y.   Members   -  Reputation: 258

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:28 AM

Awesome. Thank you for responding.

 

I'll keep that all in mind. In the mean time, it's probably best for me to make my self familiar with the rest of the forums.

 

One more question though, just out of interest, which is more prevalent in the industry - Text-Based scripting (i.e working with Visual Studio) or Flowgraph scripting (i.e The Script editor in Dev Kits such as CE3)?



#6 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22861

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 01:50 PM

Both are common. Designers and artists usually work with the drag-and-drop tools... but those tools are written by the programmers. Also, the programmers write game scripts and much code that doesn't fit inside the tools, so programmers are all about the text.

HOWEVER, as you are still years away from being a professional programmer, there is much to learn from the graphical scripting tools. If your job someday will involve creating them, knowing what works well and what works poorly can be important.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#7 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3167

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:28 PM

Hi,

 

 

Hello there,

 

My name is Mark, and I'm brand new to the GameDev.net forums, and after lurking around a bit I decided it was best to make an account. I am a Junior in High School, and I'm interested in pursuing a future in the game industry. Up until about a year ago, I wasn't even considering pursuing a field based around developing software.

 

I was, and still am, fascinated with Architecture, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, because Architecture seems to consistently rank as one of the worst degrees to go into, primarily due to the high unemployment rate after undergraduate or graduate studies...

 

College or university education is very recommended by me, but not for the typical reasons that people enroll in them. Please let me explain.

 

One of my uncles was a successful architect for an interstate firm.  He wanted me to get a degree in architecture and he offered to get me established in the industry, dependent on my college achievement.  Architecture was one of my top 3 passions, so I carefully drew information and considered the offer.

 

You are correct:  It is very difficult to enter the field of architecture and even a high grade point average results in slim odds of being hired. Degrees in most fields result in a career in that area only a fraction of the time, but the other benefits of finishing with a degree far outweigh the risks.  I would only expect a graduate to enter the field if offered an entrance by a particular person or firm during or before starting college studies. In places such as Japan and Germany, this is standard procedure and very common but the USA is far behind. It sounds as if you live here in the USA.

 

My uncle offered a way of my entering architecture, which likely would have been my only opportunity to do so.  My mother was chronically ill, so I dedicated myself to caring for her, which forced me to pass on university study.

 

Family, relatives, and friends of mine agree that the knowledge, experience, and networking which are gained from college or university are well worth the effort. Every one of them are doing well, despite not having entered the career that they wanted.

 

Some careers absolutely demand a degree, such a medical doctor, but others do not.  For example, if you can pass the bar examination, then you can generally get a law practice permit. The game development industry is the same way.  A degree would greatly help you, but not absolutely required.  There are plenty of examples of people such as myself who have no degree and are progressing well in this field.

 

(http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/Unemployment.Final.update1.pdf - Page 7). I also looked into civil engineering, as it's closely related to architecture, but it didn't grasp my interest the same way Architecture did. At that point, I started to look into things I was passionate about. You may be thinking, "this kid's only 16, he has his whole life ahead of him, and he's worried about finding the right career," but I'm just the type of person who likes to plan ahead, and pursuing an education for a career that's both a passion of mine and has a fairly decent amount of job security is what seems to be the next step after high school, and choosing the right degree is a big deal in that sense. I am an avid gamer, both on PC and consoles, so I decided to look into the possibility of pursuing a job in the games industry. So while I began to educate myself on the topic, such as the types of jobs within the industry, as well as the work culture, and game industry news in general, I began to take a real liking to pursuing an education that would someday allow me to be a game designer.

 

In the majority of the most advanced countries, a new secondary school student is expected to know what they want to do and begin pursuing it actually earlier than your age of 16.  Again, the USA is far behind the world leaders in education on this subject. It is not your fault, but the popular opinion of western countries really stinks in education.  You must overcome the resistance in your culture with a made mind.

 

Choose carefully your post-secondary institution.  It would be best to work in a company first in the game industry, even at your age as an apprentice or at least a modder of an existing game, then aim for a school which best fits what you gained from that.  Sometimes a very promising apprentice is offered a scholarship by a company. By the way, I suggest avoiding student loan debt.

 

Recently, in my spare time, I've begun to study programming, which for me seemed to be a good fit, since I enjoy finding creative solutions to problems, and both my dad and my brother have extensive programming experience, so if I need help or don't understand a topic, they could help me get a better grasp of what I'm trying to understand. Of course, when it comes to programming, I'm still a "n00b," but I've also began to read books and articles on the theory and logic behind game design and what makes games "fun." 

 

 

Now that I've given you a hefty chunk of background, I was hoping to ask a few questions about the industry, and breaking into the industry.

 

 

1. I've been reading over Tom Sloper's Lessons/FAQ on pursuing a career in Game Design, and it's come to my understanding that in order to break into the industry you need a degree and a portfolio, among other things, such as work experience, and networking. 

 

Please re-read his article. I'm sure that Tom is not saying that only people who have degrees are a success in the industry.  Several of the top software developers of all time did not finish college. (I can name a half-dozen easily.) In game development software circles, more are found. Never the less, it is a huge advantage to have a degree that relates to this field and the long term success stories include graduating most of the time. 

 

 I'm hoping that while I'm at a University, I can begin to work on a few projects of my own to show in my portfolio, as well as hopefully find an internship so that I can gain some real-world experience.

 

I wanted to ask, I have this nagging feeling that I won't have enough spare time, outside of classes and being in college in general, to work on something truly spectacular to "wow" whoever is interviewing me, or that I won't be able to find a team/group to work with. For those of you in college, is that the case, or am I making myself feel a bit more worried than I should be. Also, relating to those who majored in Computer Science, I understand the answer to this question probably depends on whoever your professor was, but are there projects within the curriculum (both group and individual), and did you consider those worth adding to your portfolio?

 

Projects should be assigned by your school and/or a game development company.  Likely you will not have time for much else, but keep working every day, even on vacations and weekends, perhaps filling unused time with your own project.

 

**Sorry about the long-winded question. I promise the others will be more concise.

 

2. I've heard things about the hiring climate in the industry, and I'm confused as to whether it's better to have knowledge in a wide variety of areas or to specialize in something, such as UI Design or Network Systems. I was wondering which would not only appeal more to the interviewer, as well as what would aid me better in the working environment. Would it be a middle ground, such as having specialized experience but still have working knowledge of other jobs within the industry?

 

Becoming skilled and effective in one area and move to the next to repeat the process.  Become very skilled in what you need in the relative near future. Useful learning comes in research with a purpose

 

All else is grasping at the wind. Keep it simple, focus, and apply!

 

3. Exactly how much creative content is contributed to the game, say, by a programmer, to the game, in terms of gameplay ideas? What is the creative climate within the industry? The reason I'm asking is that I'm actually a creative type, and for me, a programming job is something that I would enjoy, but is a means to an end, which in this case is becoming a designer. 

 

I work as an artist for a game designer who is partner with a game developer. Often these are two different positions, but can be two roles by one person such as an indy game developer who wears all the roles in his or her organization.  In teams, roles are assigned to different people.  Sometimes, as in the case of my co-ordinator, the game designer has no coding or programming role but is responsible for concept, design, art team co-ordination - often filling some of the content creation as well.  Some game designers also assist with coding at higher levels such as scripting the game functionality. All of this various wildly from company to company according to demand and team abilities.

 

Safe to say, the larger the game development company then the more demand for specialists.  A programmer in larger companies is more likely to handle only coding and not create any art assets, though there are exceptions out there in the industry.

 

Bottom line is that it ALL depends on the particular company, with wide variations across the industry.

 

4. Is it better to look for an unlisted internship (such as what is written here: http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/business/breaking-into-the-industry/techniques-for-finding-unlisted-game-internships-r3130) or apply for an internship program, such as one at Riot Games or Blizzard? Which would provide a more honest experience as to what life is like in the industry?

 

Explore and pursue all channels until you find a keeper. You won't know what shoe fits best for the situation until you hike that trail.

 

5. Just for future reference (chances are an opportunity to apply the answer to this wont come for several years), if my goal is to become a game designer, through a programming job, when applying for an internship, if there is a game design internship available, do I apply for that, or would it be better to focus on the job at hand, which would be building skills in programming? 

 

Usually  work "job at hand" near term and gain all you can with the aim toward getting your foot in the door of a company long term, but don't wait to look for new opportunities because a great one could be had at any time if you have value to offer.

 

 

For those of you who read through this lengthy introduction/series of questions, thank you for taking your time with my first post. I really appreciate it and look forward to your answers.

 

- Mark Yampolsky

 

My hobby lead to my first position because a game designer friend of mine saw my 3D and 2D art work.  He invited me to join the team.  I had no portfolio or degree, though I recommend them.  All I had was my skill, my proof in my work, and my network. You be the judge of what you need, but I suggest increasing your probability of entrance into the industry by completing a degree that relates to the game development industry in a direct way.

 

Summary

 

Mostly you will be creating opportunities as you gain skill and experience.  Your value is what a company seeks, regardless of learning path.  Experience must be demonstrated to a company with results that are obvious to appreciate.  Education, portfolio, and networking will all increase your opportunities. Most of all, you need to show results to indicate your value to a company.


Personal life and your private thoughts always effect your career. Research is the intellectual backbone of game development and the first order. Version Control is crucial for full management of applications and software.  The better the workflow pipeline, then the greater the potential output for a quality game.  Completing projects is the last but finest order.

 

by Clinton, 3Ddreamer


#8 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1697

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 08:08 PM

Based on your history, I can suggest some things from a lower level ( a noob to actual programming, but not a noob to software and 3D modeling and animation etc)

Have you ever heard of the application Google Sketchup? It is the easiest software to use for designing buildings, and I actually use it to make my game models.

You can also practice programming in the Ruby language (very easy language) to make your own tools for Sketchup to make things easier on yourself. Sketchup was used in the creation of Drakes Uncharted also!

With a CS degree, you can go between game programming and architecture easily, as a CS degree can apply to any area that may use computers to do tasks.

Computer Programming should be a high school course, because if anything, it teaches you logic and reasoning, which is something needed in all engineering fields.

You could actually mix your passion with your desire. You could perhaps make a game where you can build buildings? Or perhaps you might one day create a game that is really a training simulation for aspiring architects?

Hopefully some of those ideas will help.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#9 Mark Y.   Members   -  Reputation: 258

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 11:46 PM

Thank you guys for posting. Your responses actually helped me get a better understanding of what to expect, and I really appreciate it.

 

I have actually used sketchup in my free time, and I've had quite a bit of fun with it, even made a few complex buildings out of it. And in a similar weird coincidence, I'm actually hoping to pick up ruby quite soon as well. Long story, but at my school, playing assassin is a pretty big thing (not Assassins Creed, but the game where each person is assigned a target and they have to get them with a watergun or something and the last person left "alive" is the winner), so a friend and I decided to put to put together a webapp so that we could start games and easily track everything because organization of these events by hand is a pain. So at the moment I'm handling design and artwork, but while we work on it over the summer, he hopes that I'll get a handle on the language while working with it.

 

Interestingly enough, implementing a webapp allowed us to implement a few gameplay elements that were previously impossible. For instance, instead of a "last guy alive wins" scenario, we're working on a point system, so the person instead with the most points wins, in order to counter possible cheaters who survive by camping in their houses all day. That way the person who actually put the most effort into surviving as well as eliminating others is the winner. Also, it allowed us to consider the possibility of "powerups," that altered the logistics of the game to allow things such as "extra lives" and such by finding a hidden card with a random 5 digit number and entering it into the webapp. The reason these were impossible to implement earlier was because handling the logistics of a point system as well as power ups would have been very time consuming and tedious manually, but if its coded into the webapp, a user can simply alter those values with the click of a button.

 

We do actually have an AP computer science class at my school, and I do have a few friends taking it. By the time I realized I wanted to work in games, my courses were already finalized, and I had chosen a graphic design course earlier (which in hindsight, is good, because my homework from all of my other classes which are all weighted with the exception of spanish is already plenty to keep me busy from 4 to 10). According to them, the teacher is a bit incompetent and a bit of a control freak, so I'm actually quite glad. Instead, my dad and I picked a programming textbook written by Bjarne Stroustrup, and we specifically chose that one since it's buitl around teaching programming in terms of logic, and simply uses C++ as a tool to deliver that knowledge.

 

Sorry for the walls of text - TL;DR Version:

 

 - Sketchup is an awesome tool for people new to 3D design and is awesome for geometric-based forms.

 - I'm making an Assassin Webapp in my free time and hope to learn Ruby while doing so.

 - I chose to read a programming textbook over taking an AP course on the subject. I had good reason to, and the textbook is a good one.






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