This might interest you... some years old, and don't know if ever used in a game, but seems to be quite ontopic:
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Posted by Gian-Reto on Today, 04:41 AM
This might interest you... some years old, and don't know if ever used in a game, but seems to be quite ontopic:
Posted by Gian-Reto on Yesterday, 03:54 AM
True, but that's why they're easily and legally available on one platform, and regularly go on sale all at the same time.
OP: for a legal way to access a lot of console classics (esp. Mario), go to your local videogame store and buy a used Nintendo Gameboy Advance, or the original Nintendo DS that still plays Gameboy Advance cartridges. A lot of NES and SNES games (and even games for other consoles) got ported or remade on the GBA.
Also PSP / PS Vita seem to have gotten a lot of re-releases, at least of the PS1 classics. So if you still find it, you could grab one of those Vita TV consoles for cheap.
Then there are the emulation consoles. Most of them are not licensed, but given that they still need the original cartridges to play a game, and none of the original console makers really made a move against them yet (apart from sometimes selling their license for an OFFICIAL emulation console), they seem to be fine legally. Those old consoles are only sold used anymore, so the original producer does not make any money with hardware anymore anyway...
RetroN5 takes the crown as most awesome emulation console ever! Own it myself, love it dearly. Plays my old cartridges over HDMI, Upscaled to 720P with different AA options. Sound is also "supercharged" with bass boost and other options. Still owning an old SNES I can tell, games look and sound much better!
Add to that "automatic saving" (when you switch off the console, it will keep your game session, so you start at the point you switched off, even if you change cartridges between play sessions), and the fact that this console plays all SNES and Super Famicom, NES and Famicom, Mega Drive/Genesis, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance cartridges (Master System if you shell out for the Mega Drive adapter), ALL regional variants there are without skipping a beat, and the >100$ Price is easely justified!
The controllers are crap, but you can connect any original NES, SNES or Mega Drive Controller (or the US/JPN variants) instead. I suggest getting SNES/Super Famicom controllers, they can be had cheaply used online, and I think they rock (but then I grew up holding them for hours every day )
Haven't found any game where there was any error (save avery slight graphics error with Secret of Mana, but could be down to the cartridge I bought used being crap)... still keep in mind the games are actually loaded to RAM and the hardware is emulated, which means purists will moan, but also that there CAN be games where emulation fails.
There is an official emulation console for the NEO GEO... not cheap at 200$, but given the price of the original hardware, and even worse the original software, and the fact that used consoles are hard to find and go for collector prices, not a bad price.
Especially given you get like 25 of the best known classics with the console for free, and some newer bundles chuck in twice or three times that.
The console itself is a "shell" for a portable device with its own screen and controls... but of course the fact that this "shell" looks like a NEO GEO console, and comes with a controller looking like the original one is more important.
I heard reviews that the portable devices screen and controls were crap, and while the shell and shell controller actually look like the real deal, they feel way lighter and cheaper (to be expected) and that the quality of the video output cannot match the original (the NEO GEO seemed to be one of the few consoles with GOOD analog video out).
Lately there have been emulation consoles put out for even older, pre-crash consoles. There was a big ruckus about the officially sanctioned ZX Spectrum emulation console, so if you want to play games from the Pacman era, that might be a good buy.
There are myriad of other emulation consoles. Of course, I would try to get one that uses the original cartridges and not one of the Android ones relying on downloaded ROMS. Not only because of legal issues, but also because the look and feel of a real Cartridge is priceless... and some of them are not even that expensive to buy used (some are collectors items and cost 200$+).
Be aware that while using old cartridges for things like Jump'n'runs and action games is mostly a cheap to midpriced options (cost from 10-40$ for good games, depending on demand and how rare the game is), the RPG titles tend to be way more expensive (start at 50$, but some of the best titles or more rare ones are hard to find under 120$).
Also be aware that you get different prices for getting only the cartridge, getting cartridge and booklet, or the full package. Given you only need the cartridge and the original booklets often were crap, you can save a ton by picking the offer just giving you the cartridge. Also, if you don't care about the condition of the cartridge, you can half the price again (games will be working fine, only the outer appearance might be... ugly).
The cheaper option for RPGs might be getting re-releases. Some are on Steam, but most get re-released on Android and iOS devices (seeing how modern phones offer many times the power of old consoles, that make sense). These are usually sold for around 20$ ... sounds like much, given that its a game with a full length of up to 80 hours, and costing 150$ used as a cartridge for the original system sometimes, that is not a bad deal actually (given those games quality of gameplay and story are WAY above what you usually expect on mobile).
Just be aware that most of those re-releases have reworked graphics and sounds. Which is awesome if you want to play a HD version, not so if you are a purist looking for the original expierience. At least what I have seen from the Squaresoft re-releases of Final Fantasy games from the SNES era made me want to play these HD re-releases even though I own the original games. Very nice reworks.
Oh, and never forget the PSP / Vita, some of the RPG have been re-released there AFAIK.
Then there are re-releases coming for PC / current gen consoles some of the blockbuster titles. FF7 is just getting reworked for Unreal Engine 4. Expect completly reworked graphics only resembling the original in parts... I would expect story and gameplay to not differ too much though.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 24 May 2016 - 06:45 AM
The retro-arcade might not be the best place to learn these things (unless you have a knowledgeable guide with you). Not that you shouldn't go, but it's a hard place to learn anything.
It's easier to learn when you've got some more time and less pressure, so I really recommend buying a few, cheap, "gateway games" in various genres, that aren't too demanding on computer hardware. Lots of games are regularly under $5 at steampowered.com, humblebundle.com/store, or gog.com, and some have free demos. (But arcades, and "free to play" games, are mechanically set up to make you give them more money. It's easier to learn about the relationship between mechanics and genres without all that noise. That's why I'm recommending purchased games or games that are genuinely free.)
Do you have a PC or Mac? PC has a wider selection but lots of recent games are cross platform.
The following will give you a taste of a genre without overtaxing your computer, and these are frequently available very cheap. (Also, I tended towards lower-violence options when available, given your statement of preference earlier, and gave a bias towards "arty" games.) There are a lot of platformers here because it's a basic genre that you can find tutorials for; I also threw in a "walking simulator" because it's the easier kind of 3d game to make by far.
First-person puzzler: Portal
3d platformer: Psychonauts
Puzzle platformer: Braid or Fez
Precision platformer: Hmmm... VVVVVV? There's a free demo of that.
Metroidvania platformer: Aquaria
Roguelike platformer: Spelunky (still available in its original, free incarnation)
Roguelike: Crypt of the NecroDancer
RPG: Can't think of a good entry point here. Knights of the Old Republic, maybe?
Japanese-style RPG: Not a great selection on PC/Mac. Maybe track down Chrono Trigger by some means...
Action RPG: Torchlight
Japanese-style Action RPG: Recettear maybe?
Visual novel/Dating: Hatoful Boyfriend
Graphic adventure: Day of the Tentacle
Strategy: Hmm... Civizilation IV? The XCOM reboot? Any ideas?
Fighting game: Skullgirls (I thought Jamestown and Skullgirls did an admirable job of trying to train new players in genres that have become difficult to get into as a beginner)
Stealth: Hmm... Dishonored? Monaco?
Walking simulator: Proteus
Even cheaper option: Watch some "Let's Play"s or "Long Play"s on YouTube. Watching an insightful player play a game can be as illuminating, or more illuminating, than playing it.
Wha...? Those are all games from this millenia (save day of the tentacle)!
I say go with the originals! (Still gave you a +1 for compiling such an exhaustive list )
Metroidvania: Clearly either Super Metroid (SNES) or one of the Castlevanias from the 8- or 16-bit era (though if you want to play the pinnacle of Metroidvania Game design, you need to pick Symphony of the Night (PS1)... its available on the virtual console on the PS3, AFAIK a version was released for the PSP, and there are rumours it might appear on Steam... its clearly worth the 20 bucks or so it still costs on virtual console!)
Fighting Game: Street Fighter 2, clearly. Not claiming it is the best, or most attractive battler.... but it was the one making the whole Genre popular back in the days. Also, the SNK Neo Geo Fighting games (King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Samurai Showdown) are some of the finest 2D fighting games of all times.
Action RPG: Torchlight, really? Its a fine ARPG, but why not play the game that inspired it, Diablo?
Japanese RPG: well, good luck tracking down the classics on PC LEGALLY. If you have access to an emulator (and don't feel dirty handling downloaded ROMS), you will have access to them all though (though I don't think I need to warn you how illegal that would be... clearly buying the used cartridges and owning an old console is the better way)... some of the best though came out later on PS1, Don't know if you will be able to play them on PC, legal or not.
My all time favourite list:
- Breath of Fire IV (PS1) ... best JRPG Story ever. A Kickass Antagonist you can relate to. And actuall quite good graphics for its time
- Final Fantasy 6 (SNES)... one of the most epic JRPGs ever. Final Fantasy before it started to crumble under the weight of its own baroque story (which started with 7 IMO)
- Chrono Trigger (SNES)... a game with multiple endings, a story more clever than many current games have, and again kickass 2D graphics for its time.
JRPGs that are also worth playing
- Breath of Fire II / III (SNES, PS1)... the story is always kinda-recycled, and besides part IV these games are not the best of the best. Still very solid JRPGs with fun characters
- Final Fantasy 5 (SNES)... from a time when final fantasy games were still pretty hardcore. Had to level quite hard for beating the endboss. Not the best, but good.
- Chrono Cross (PS1)... story not on the same level as its predecessor. The graphics is extremly beautyful (for the PS1), locations sometimes breathtaking, and the music is one of a kind.
- Lufia 1 + 2 (SNES)... on of the lesser known JRPGs of the 16bit era, these games are actually quite good. Less advanced looking graphics than Chrono Trigger or FF6, and the AFAIK quite higher difficulty made these games be overshadowed by others at the time.
Jump'n'run: Do I even have to make recommendations here? All the Mario games, Sonic the hedgehow or Donkey Kong games...
Posted by Gian-Reto on 23 May 2016 - 06:22 AM
2) How should/do I factor in educational background?
I don't have a degree, so I would expect that should restrict any salary numbers from the employer's end. Should I subtract from the low end figures I see, or from the medians? Perhaps there is a better way to factor it in?
That is totally up to the employer... I have seen both, some where EXTREMLY picky about your degree (tended to be university spin offs or positions in universities themselves though), some flat out don't care other than distinguishing between two different applicants (one with, one without degree).
I wouldn't sell yourself "at a reduced rate" just because you happen to have no degree, or whatever else is your limitation. Ask for what you think is a fair pay for someone with your capabilities, in the area where you are applying, WITH a degree.
If the employer is not ready to pay that fair rate BECAUSE you lack the degree, they will tell you (and if they are interested, the end result is most probably HIGHER than what you would have gotten if you would have lowered your expectations because of your missing degree).
Chances are your future employer does not care too much about your missing degree (or that the difference in pay is negligible and thus they don't care too much to pay you the same as someone WITH a degree), and you do get what you THINK only someone with a degree should get.
Never undersell yourself, and ALWAYS ask for a little bit more. Better to have your future employer say "no" and meet somewhere in the middle, than have them enthusiastically accept your expectations (which means you could have asked for 20% more ).
Posted by Gian-Reto on 18 May 2016 - 04:25 AM
Hello Packie, welcome to this forum!
I think you misunderstand something... no Game Engine in the world can relieve you completly from programming duties.
You can cut it to a minimum by using existing third party code (either bought from an asset store, or copied from the internet in case of opensource code), or by using tools that help you coding without having to know the exact syntax (which is exactly what visual scripting tools do... you are still coding, but with a visual language).
I strongly recommend learning programming. If you want to go the lone wolf route, or at least be self sustaining enough not to have to look for programmers all the time, having a firm grasp on basic programming concepts will help you more than anything else you can learn about game development.
Of course, there is also the option of using visual scripting. Unreal Engine 4 comes with a visual scripting tool, Blueprint, out of the box. Altought that visual scripting tool gets a lot of praise (didn't click with me when I tried though), be aware that Unreal Engine 4 is slightly more difficult to pick up for a total beginner, and the online documentation was harder to use (IMO) than Unitys.
The downside to this is that Unity does NOT come with a visual scripting tool out of the box. There are good thirdparty assets for that (Playmaker for example), but these often are not free.
Most important point is that visual scripting is still programming. It seems to take away the irrational fear some non-programmers have when they pick up a programming task. But apart from replacing characters with visual boxes, and replacing the C#/C++ Syntax with the one of the visual tool, you still need to know programming concepts, else you will not get far (or worse, you will click together poorly performing nonsense that will crumble under its own weight).
Apart from the programming aspect, a modern 3D engine is quite a beast to tame for a total beginner. Maybe you want an easier entrance by trying to work on smaller, simpler games you can do without an engine, or with a simpler 2D engine first.
Common routine is to start with Pong / Pacman, and work up the ladder of difficulty (which happens to be a chronological order in which games where released mostly). When you feel comfortable building a simple game with graphics from scratch, try to do a super mario clone for example with a 2D engine. When you feel comfortable using that 2D engine, move to Unity.
Of course you can jump in the deep end. Nobody can stop you. And depending on how much resistant you are to frustration, that might not be a problem. Just be aware: you WILL bang your head against the wall way more than starting out with simpler projects, and you will have way less feelings of accomplishment and success as everything will take longer, both to learn and then to produce.
Last point is the time needed to learn game dev and create games.
Depending on your speed of learning, the material you use to learn, and so on, you might be up and running creating your own pong version in hours. Learning the skills and producing your own 2D Jump and run will take weeks, given you want to create anything nontrivial.
Learning the skills needed and producing a modern 3D game can take years... many years. Be aware that if your goal is that, you have a long journey ahead.
TL;DR: You SHOULD try to learn programming if you don't want to delegate programming to someone else. No tool in the world will relieve you completly from programming duties.
Be aware that modern 3D game development has a steep learning curve... and that it might take years to learn the skills needed, not days.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 17 May 2016 - 08:43 AM
A - I hope this doesn't sound rude, but that can literally be inferred from the title of this thread alone. I am trying to create an actionable plan right now, that is what spurred this thread into existence.
Long term planning is what brought about the aforementioned portfolio, and is what is dancing with the idea of getting a degree and possibly serving my country as a means to eat and pay debts.
B - I didn't mean to imply I would not be grateful or happy to have a job in games even if it were in Unity. I was more trying to make a statement about my temperament for designing solutions in Unity; my choices of words were poor.
I'd love it if I were actually able to get a job as a Unity developer at Some Place Inc. The job I had was with using Unity which I learned on the first day as an intern there, stupid simple to get started. I was hired full time and planned to stay there a while and save my money to move west, I was laid off at the end of the summer.
I'm just running low on relevant jobs/employers, so I have expanded my thinking. My plan was to work a less than perfect job for a year, maybe two, and then move. To be honest I'd probably have stuck around the two years since most of my positions at non relevant jobs have been for roughly a year each. I know that looks bad so it felt like a good idea to stay a relatively~ long time at my last position, but then they laid me off because of government funding I knew nothing about.
C - Yea I've applied to a couple places that I know need programmers. My problem is that I don't know every company let alone what each does, and thus who *may* need a programmer. I'm having some difficulty moving forward on this front.
D - I recently started trying this, however I have my doubts that I will win many bids with how saturated that market is. There are just so many programmers from India, China, Pakistan, X, Y, and Z that it seems unlikely I'll win one bid with my limited bids per month. I think I get a total of 10. If I can manage to get one I will likely invest some more money into it so I can win more bids obviously, but that requires that first won bid.
A) Sorry, didn't mean it that way (also why I edited parts of that post after finishing writing it)... seems like I didn't got the full picture before writing my response.
B) Okay, things start to make more sense now. Lets see... you want to avoid working in Unity because you happened to be layed off at one of the places where you used it before? You are trying to avoid small companies for the same reason?
No, I am not saying that is illogical or anything. In fact, I can completly understand now where you are coming from... and at least in the second case, I do think you are right in trying to avoid more gigs in small companies.
Small companies tend to either take off quickly, barely stay afloat or die just as quickly. Some very few manage a steady growth. But especially in todays "agile mindset", hire and fire is often a common thing AFAIK.
I am living here in europe so naturally I don't know really what the educations options or the job market is like in Canada. If it is anything like here in Switzerland, I would guess there are plenty of jobs for programmers, as long as you can widen your reach a little bit. Given that you are attractive enough for a company, you might be able to apply from remote, and have the company interview you either remotly or fly you in for an interview (had one friend who was having vacation for some months in the US and mexico, and applie for jobs in europe from there. His current company was interested enough to fly him all the way from mexico to switzerland for an interview (I guess he already passed some remote interviews though)... well, he is a COBOL Programmer, go figure).
What are you using for your job search? Online platforms? Are you also writing to the companys who are not posting open positions at the moment? Did you try a job agency (head hunters or similar agencys)?
Here in europe there are plenty of options to finish a degree while working. Some need you to attend school on weekends, some will let you do it remotely.
I finished my degree while starting to work parttime again (having moved out just while start university, my savings where drying up, and I got lucky thanks to connections to my prior employer). My girlfriend is now doing a remote degree from a german university, trying to get a CS degree at her mid thirties to move into more technical jobs.
Depending on your prior education, that route can be long, and even if you already have most of the points needed (if your university is using the bologna norm), you will have to spend 2 or more years on doing all the remaining stuff and the degree itself. And of course, even when working part time that thing can be stressfull.
But at the same time, you don't need to go broke and into debt, all while racking up additional work expierience. Maybe that is an option for you?
C) Sometimes you just gotta try. True, doing research first and actually getting to know the company is a good advice as you will have less chance of getting a positive response when your letter / e-mail reads like a massmailing. But on the other hand, as long as you can set aside half an hour for research and writing your e-mail/letter, you only lose half an hour, but gain the chance to apply for a job before it gets posted to the big outlets. And if they still post it to the big websites and let you compete with everyone else, having been the guy that wrote that e-mail asking for a job as a programmer before they even posted the job ad will certainly not hurt you. Everything you do that makes you stand out in a positive way is good, and if there is something that is attractive to potential employers, its showing initiative...
Some places I asked for jobs told me they didn't have any at the moment, but they would put my contact into their database if I wouldn't mind... they called me back later and asked me if I was interested in a job (I wasn't really, and politely explained so... still, awesome to get contacted by an employer for once!)
D) Yeah, I also have my doubts on how much you can compete in such a field, ESPECIALLY living in a country where housing costs real money, and food is not extremly cheap.
Still, something you could invest some time in while still hunting for jobs (or when you have a job, while working on the job).
I think one thing to take away is to never stop searching for a job. I am not really following that advice of mine, I am a lazy bum when it comes to job hunting... but the best thing that can happen to you is that when things go downhill in your current job (or you get laid off), you already are in negotiation for your next job, have the connections you can call upon that can help you land a job, and so on.
Network, never loose contact with ex coworkers and bosses (and thus never leave in bad blood or let something sour your connections), never be afraid to ask them for advice or a job (you might be who they are looking for right now, thus you are doing them a favour just as they do you)...
And always keep an eye out for jobs. Even if your current job seems secure and is not to bad at the moment, bad times will come (and hopefully go again, given you haven't been laid off in the meantime) like ebb and flow in all corporations worldwide. Be ready to move on when things got worse than you are ready to endure. That will make sure you are already in a pole position should your company have been one step ahead of you and fired you.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 17 May 2016 - 07:29 AM
Sorry for the multipost, forum is acting up for me again.
Also, don't just be a C++ programmer. You're limiting yourself. Learn unity, learn C#, learn everything you can and apply it. The more languages you know the more employable and useful you are. I am not a C++ programmer on my resume, but a programmer, plain and simple, and wear many hats. Over the years i've picked up many programming languages, some have been more useful than others. Oddly enough the ones that have been the most successful for me career wise are the ones i originally hated the most at university (SQL being one of them!).
Never, ever be just <insert tool of your choice here> <insert job role of your choice here>!
It is good to strive for mastership in the tool you specialize in... it is even better to try to become competent in all the other tools out there.
Programming languages, engines, all the other tools.... they come and go. Some might stay for decades, some might be the cool new thing only to sink back into obscurity in years time.
Some might wane in popularity over time.
Learn as many languages as you can. Try to become competent in them. Use them as you use a toolset (don't use a screwdriver as a hammer). Strive to be a programmer, not a C++ programmer.
You might want to specialize as a game programmer... maybe even more as a game AI programmer, or graphics programmer, or whatever. But not a "C++ UE4 game AI Programmer"....
Never ever be the dude who tells other programmers "that is not my job, I am a DB programmer, not a Unix programmer" when you are expected to create Unix packages for your DB code, and use the command line shell commands for subversion (real story, happened in my team... I don't think I need to mention how much we others despised the guy).
Be the guy that can fix the python script that someone left behind and is acting up. Be the guy who can write a shell script for that problem you have with your teams unix server.
Be the guy who can just as well code AI for a Unity project in C# because he knows how to code good AI, and happens to be competent enough in all the languages relevant for games out there.
That will count WAY more for your career than being the most awesome specialist for <insert rarely used hyperspecialized field here>, but only in C++. Your boss will quickly have a hard time finding use for you, while the other guys get all the good projects as they move freely between languages and specializations.
Guess who has racked up more cookie points at the end of the years when its time for bonuses and promotions?
Of course there are the jobs where you specialize in something and work on that one thing for 20+ years. If you are looking for that, I would advise you to look for a job as COBOL programmer for mainframes... given that the language and mainframes having been around since the seventies, maybe sixties, and big corporations worldwide having difficulties seemingly to move off COBOL and mainframes, you might still spend a good part of your career in just that one language and never run out of work.
C++ seems to be pretty well spread in the games industry nowadays... though other languages seem to pick up, and just because the games themselves are written in C++ doesn't mean that the tools, server code, or whatever else is needed by the studio and written inhouse is developed with C++.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 17 May 2016 - 07:07 AM
Why exactly will you hate about a local job? Is it because they use Unity? A lot of small studios will use Unity, and if you want, you can buy well written text books and learn from those. If I were you, and really passionate, I would make the effort to learn Unity, and put it in my portfolio. In the mean time, try to find programming jobs at small/mid-sized companies and build up good references.
Hate may be a strong word, but I wouldn't like my the jobs for compound reasons.
I don't like living on the east coast for a myriad of reasons the job market barely even counts as one reason, so I won't get into all that. Developing games I will *never* play, using a development kit I don't appreciate, for companies which will likely never grow to an impressive size.
I am aware that I am somewhat overly cynical about things.
Thing is, it is already impossibly hard for most to find a job in the games industry WORLDWIDE because there are few jobs, and too many quite qualified people applying for them. If you REALLY want to work in games, you need to plan longterm, because shortterm, that thing might turn out to be nigh impossible.
Now, you don't like living where you are living now, but don't have the money to move by yourself, or the job that pays you to move? a) get a job to earn the money, or b) get a job in a relevant field (and preferably a degree AND a job) to make you more attractive to employers outside of your area.
Your chance to get employed as a game developer without degree AND without work expierience is slim. True, a good portfolio might improve that chance, still, if you apply for a job at the studio of your dream, and happen to go up against a candidate that brings the exact same portfolio, but also a degree and which happened to work for 2-3 years on one of the Unity jobs you despise so much, you will stand zero chance against him.
It is a fact in the careers of most people, ESPECIALLY in competitive fields like game development, that many will need to work for years on jobs they despise, work on projects they do not feel passionate about, or do things that are below their actual skill level just to get a) a foot in the door, b) build up work expierience, c) show their commitment and skill to get promoted or credits.
If you believe you are one of the exceptional guys that leave college without any work expierience, and are able to sell themselves well enough to land their dream job without prior expierience, fine, give it a try.
Just get a degree first. Get anything you can (degree, awesome portfolio) actually before embarking on your quest for your dream job... and make sure you have the cash to live without a job for some time.
The more sane approach would be to get a job, the more relevant, the better (and the Unity jobs you seem to despise so much are way more relevant than many others), earn some money and expierience, see that you can get a degree (around here that is possible even while working, I guess something like that should be possible in Canada too)... then, after getting the degree, working for some years in a relevant job, and saving some money, go on your job hunt for your dream job.
You now have everything you need to apply for game development jobs more to your liking, and you have the money to leave the area you seem to dislike this much.
And always keep in mind that there is quite a lot of demand for programmers in other industries... if you do not find a job as a game programmer, you can always look for a job as a programmer of business applications or whatnot. Not-so-relevant Job expierience is still better than job expierience flipping burgers, and job expierience flipping burgers is still better than no work expierience at all (not saying a burger flipper with 10 years of expierience could snag away your game programmer job, but if you don't find work for a long time, that does not look good on your CV).
If that all sounds not to your liking, you can still look for work as a freelancer, or if this also not to your liking, do your own thing as an Indie. Of course, both options come with increased risks and potentially less of a paycheck, but if you are picky about what you work on and what tool you use, these might be your best options (because in big companies, you usually cannot be picky... some big studios started using Unity for smaller projects, and you might be shifted to such a project if working for one of these studios).
EDIT: Reading some of your answers it seems you DO have prior work expierience. So maybe disregard that part of my answer (even though you only being 28, question is still "how many years"), as it does not apply to you.
Point still stands: if you don't have the money to move, or survive for a longer period, it might not be the right time to be picky about jobs. When you have a job that pays the bills, and can afford to move, you will be in a better position to go job hunting.
Also, degrees can be done while working nowadays. And I would really urge you to try to do a RELEVANT degree. You might be able to find a job as a programmer with a degree in physics, but the guy with the CS degree and similar work expierience and portfolio will always have an edge)
Posted by Gian-Reto on 17 May 2016 - 03:21 AM
near future, VR is interesting ONLY because of the lower amount of competition. It will take some time to reach the mainstream, don't expect the v1 VR goggles, the still not-so-VR input devices and the expensive graphics cards still needed to feed two HD+ Screens at 90Hz+ to be attractive to most gamers.
You can of course try to get a foot in the door early on and grow with the amount of users. My personal prediction is that VR MIGHT pick up with v2 VR Goggles in 2-3 years time, IF they come with enhanced input devices and the problem with movement in VR is solved somehow (the legendary low friction treadmill).
IF that is enough to sway public opinion that VR is already here, IDK. Currently we see the usual new technology enthusiasm, happened with 3D Cinemas and TVs before. People will find out that their wild imagination does not come close to what the current technology with its limitations can deliver (besides the people that were actually aware of the limitations and did not expect too much), and many will loose interest.
The time when VR will IMO CERTAINLY take off is when people are able to move freely with their full body in VR, or the direct computer-brain interface is entering the stage (and gets secure enough to use without frying your brain). Until then, its a technology with limitations. Unless the price for VR becomes so low that you do no longer need to pay a premium over normal gaming platforms, most people will think twice before investing into it (doesn't mean that at some point VR might still amass enough user base to become the new "leading platform" (if you can really call VR a platform)).
If we are really talking 15 years (which is stupid in an industry were almost no one can really predict what is going to happen in 5 years), the full body VR Suit, or even the neural interface might be a reality. With quantum computing just around the corner (like in, "might be here in 10 years" around the corner... but we are talking 15 years, right?), we cannot imagine what leaps all that new computing power might bring as soon as we free ourselves from the limitations of the current technology.
Apart from that, expect the usual near term. PC Gaming is here to stay (thanks to Steam you could argue it has attained a more forward looking perspecitve compared to consoles), consoles are here to stay... if the consoles of the future really try to compete with local hardware that gets outdated within a years time, or finally switch to cloud rendering is anyones guess. At some point it might be cheaper to just build up render farms and sell people a dumb client for 300 bucks.
If we are talking about the 15 years perspective, IDK really. Will non-VR gaming stay? Most probably. Will it be more than Indie and Retro gaming? Who knows.
We know that MOST PROBABLY, after further slowdown of development speed of hardware because of diminishing returns in reducing size of transistors, and that size closing in to the size of a single atom, there will be a new technology replacing the current silicium based transistors, allowing bigger leaps again in hardware advancements...
What we will do with all this new power is anyones guess. The most obvious is full body VR with more input and output devices than we can currently think of... or even the direct neuronal interface enabling real VR. No more fake stuff, bypassing all our senses. Other than that, better AI, most probably the first strong AIs... Graphics no longer being defined by polygon count our texture sizes, with these "building blocks" of 3D Graphics becoming like atoms to us... maybe graphics cards of the future will start to process Voxels or point clouds directly without converting them into polygons?
Mobile gaming... I guess, at some point the current mobile ecosystem will face a big problem: as devices get faster, and start to become low powered PCs, the current mobile and PC/Console segragation will fall, with PC games being playable in slightly lowered settings on all mobile devices. Instead of mobile vs. PC/Console, there will only be a casual vs. hardcore segregation. Some games will fail to transition from PC to mobile because of gameplay (not playable in short sessions), or because of input (not optimized for different input methods (not talking about touch input, I hope touch screens will die a horrible death. Give me something better to control my phone)),... some will make adjustments so their game is playable on all devices and increase their potential reach by also reaching mobile players.
Some mobile devs will adapt to the new market of "unified apps" (not talking about the windows fad here), some will fail to cope with the increased amount of competition.
I think there will always be static computers, PCs, giving you the maximum of power, and mobile devices, giving you the maximum of mobility. But I think the operating systems will at some point be unified, just as MS envisions it at the moment (though their current implementation is poor, the idea IMO is sound).
Anyway... 15 Years is a long time. In 15 years we might not be here anymore, or be enslaved by our new AI overlords. Think in terms of 2, or 5 years max. That is a realistic time range. There is no point in trying to predict what is going on beyond 5 years time because there is no way to predict it with any kind of accuray.
Currently it looks like VR is interesting if you want to get a foot in the door and get into a less crowded market. PC and Console seem to be strong again for Indies that can deliver good quality games and have some marketing abilities.
Mobile looks bleak at the moment, with the marketing abilities needed to make any kind of impact going through the roof, and the price for games having been raced to the bottom. If you are not REALLY good at marketing, and squeezing money out of players with ingenious F2P concepts, avoid going mobile like the plague. Of course there are devs that still make it big with mobile games, and some of them are actually small Indies.
But the CHANCES to make it big are small (same for PC/Consoles actually), and the amount of money that can be made WITHOUT making it big is much smaller than with PC or Console games.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 12 May 2016 - 04:57 AM
The problem seems to be that the implementation of new ideas don't reveal all their gremlins at once, but they unfold gradually as the project builds up.
And this is exactly where expierience kicks in. At some point you KNOW that just because things run smooth during the first half of the implementation doesn't mean it will not slow down in the second half.
And you will start to move the unexplored to the front, working on the proof of concepts for new conepts first, and implementing the known things second (which now goes in the direction of risk planning, true). If you work on your biggest unknown first, and then move to the second biggest, and so on, you can either fail fast, or nail down milestones much quicker as the uncertainity is moved out of the way sooner.
Of course that cannot prevent you from misjudgement, and some things that just not work in your current project even though they worked just fine in your last few.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 12 May 2016 - 02:19 AM
If you are not quite good at 2D animations already, and don't want to go the 2D Bones / Separate layers route (the first gives a certain feel to your animations, the second one can be quite laborious to draw, depending on how freely your characters should move), 3D animations are your best bet.
True, 3D Modelling, rigging and animation has a huge overhead. Its a very technical process that takes years to learn. So if you only need a few animations, and only for a sidescroller, the 2D route can be faster (certainly for 2D Bone animation, also for normal spritesheet animation).
If you need extra fluid animations, a lot of different animations, animations with lots of turning of the character (in which case 2D Bone animation stops being such a good fit), or worst of all, animations for isometric characters, you should look into creating the animations with 3D models, similar to what frob described.
Once you have modelled your character and rigged it, you can quickly pose it, render the pose from the camera perspective of your choosing, and then create a single animation frame from that pose.
When you start having 100's of frames in your spritesheet, you will spend exponentially more time to draw all these frames the traditional 2D way, than just rendering them out from a 3D Package.
Also keep in mind some game nowadays are actually managing to make 3D models look almost like 2D... I am quite amazed how well Guilty Gear Xrd Sign managed to do that.
I was kinda shocked the first time the game left the normal 2D view during a special attack. Took me by surprise, I thought it was 2D Sprites before! Given how they looked way smoother than the 2D Sprites of SNKs newest King of Fighters, and how there are rumours the cost for the sprites almost killed even a still quite big and well known studio as SNK because they wanted them to look HD, with tons of smooth animations, I should have known better. Still, shows how you well you can fake 2D if you go the extra mile and not just throw some cel shaders on your models.
Haven't watched it yet, but this video seems to talk about how they pulled it off:
Posted by Gian-Reto on 11 May 2016 - 08:58 AM
From what you write, I think your problem is less with not accounting for risks, but more bad project planning.
There is only one way to learn to plan and scope correctly: trying, failing, adjusting, and trying again (of course you could read up on common wisdom on how long projects in a certain area tend to take, but we all know how accurate that will be for projects with a lot of research and experimentation involved).
You seem to be doing at least the trying part already. I would guess its the adjusting part that is giving you problems, right? How are you analyzing your projects outcome? How do you plan your next project? Do you apply the lessons learned, do you adjust the scope and/or the projected time needed to not repeat the same thing again?
Do you work with enough reserve time? Or if you think something should take a week, do you write down "1 week" in your plan (should be 4 weeks,really. Might be two weeks, if you are not working for someone else and are not in danger of getting whatever you write down halfed by some stupid higher-up, but given you know you are bad with planning time, keep it at 4 weeks)?
Did you analyze what did take so long in your last few projects? Are you sure this time was "wasted" on an important part of your endproduct? Or was it rather a nice to have, while neglecting the important features of your project?
Keep this in mind: if someone is extremly good at predicting project timelines, and always delivering on time, he/she is either crunching himself, his coworkers and subordinates to death to achieve that.
Or this person just has a lot of expierience in project planning and EXECUTION. He/she knows from personal expierience (most probably hard gained in spectacular failures as well as crunching to success) how long certain things take, and he/she knows how much time to factor in for the things that you don't know how long they will take.
As much as project leads are often seen as "not doing anything worthwhile and just pushing other people around" by some devs, a good project lead is worth his weight in gold, because he can steer the project in a different direction when it would else spiral into eternal crunch, or even worse, failure.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 11 May 2016 - 08:16 AM
I have made almost all of the games in the books i mentioned reading, understanding all the programming used, and also made my own little changes to them. I have not however made my own games. i feel as if i waste too much time when i try to make my own games; time i could be using learning more. I am aware that making your first few games are a priceless learning experience but i feel as if i must first learn all the things i mentioned "how to use classes, how to create pixel art, how to make RPGs like the early final fantasy," etc.
What you need to do is to try and error. Not only copy existing games, but also try to come up with your own stuff. At some point you will run into the really interesting stuff, deadends, stupid mistakes, spectacular failures, whatever.
You will learn far more than what any book or tutorial or school in the world can tell if you got there by making your own mistakes.
Small example from my own expierience: I have had a classical CS education, so I knew about Object pools pretty well... like thousands of other concepts that I learned but never applied in my own work, it sank to the deeper levels of my mind.
Until I ran into severe performance problems with my Unity project, were a lot of instantiate/destroy operations of gameobjects would really drag down the performance of the game. Well, lucky I did remember object pools... with some crude implementation of it, I was able to precreate my gameobjects and never destroy them until unloading the level...
And at the same time I learned to never, ever instantiate or destroy at runtime in Unity again.
A book could have told me that. Might even have brought me clever anecdotes like mine up there... wouldn't have been quiet the same as I wouldn't have expierienced how severe a problem it fixed. I think I learned way more by just doing, failing, and looking for solutions than just reading books.
Don't get me wrong, reading books and tutorials is a good way to grow your skillset. But try to apply what you learned, else it will always stay something abstract.
And as others have said before, stay realistic about your ability to ever pay the bills with game development. Have a plan B, because that plan A is a quite risky endeavour.
Most games fail, and even the ones that make it to the finish line and are generating revenue often are not generating enough. Being able to do something else for a living (game dev contracting, business app dev, or if nothing else, flipping burgers parttime) will be needed for most game developers.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 11 May 2016 - 07:59 AM
I suggest you start with simple SINGLEPLAYER games first before worrying too much about the cost of servers.
Because without a client you have no game at all. And creating that client, the game logic, and the content is already enough to learn about for years.
The usual routine is to start with simple 2D games like pacman, and slowly move up the ladder until you reach your destination (be it 16bit style 2D sidescrollers with pixel art, or 3D openworld sandbox games).
When you are competent enough to actually build your game client, I would start worrying about the server part.
Of course, if you are already skilled enough, it might make sense to write the server before creating the client. For learning purposes, that sounds the wrong way around to me.
But that is me, of course you can start with the game server if you like writing servers more than having a working game (without multiplayer, but at least you can move things around). Just pointing out that you might put the cart before the horse.
Posted by Gian-Reto on 10 May 2016 - 09:19 AM
I'm not talking enormous features here, the ability to extend a class interface, or even export it so it's visible outside the engine DLL saves a lot of time.
Sure... I am not saying that it isn't a good thing to have the option. Just listing some reasons why it is not such a hot topic for many other small devs, or why it might complicate development.
Many times I would have wished to just open up Unity's source code and see why feature X wasn't working as expected or if I could just do the legwork myself when the guys at Unity dragged their feet.
In the end, most of the time there was a dirty hack or workaround that fixed the problem. Is this as nice as just rewriting the classes and properly implementing the feature in code instead of doing stupid editor level magic tricks? Of course not. And you are not even guaranteed that your "fix" will not be broken with the next upgrade of Unity, hopefully when Unity fixes the root problem that provoked the "fix" in the first place.
Still don't think most people will be to fussed over that because they will not need those fixes for their modest requirements.
@ TO: Good luck with your choice. You cannot go wrong with either engine IMO.
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