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Member Since 12 Mar 2005
Offline Last Active Today, 12:32 AM

#5309259 Hostility in the field

Posted by on 02 September 2016 - 09:05 PM

Also, someone I trust that works in the industry suggests that there is a frat-house mentality in the industry - is that true? If so, I'd say that would be almost as bad.



Those places exist.  They are not the norm.


Pick an industry -- nearly ANY industry with a predominantly male workforce -- and you can still find places where women are met with wolf-whistles and there is a pinup calendar in the back room.  The numbers of that type of shop is dwindling, but they still exist.



In the game industry those shops tend to be smaller and run by frat-house aged youth.  Over time they either mature and accept mature work environments, or they die out.


Because games have an allure similar to movie star syndrome there are many youths who fight hard to get into the industry, including taking lowball wages and being willing to work dangerous levels of voluntary unpaid overtime. Sadly there are unscrupulous studios who love to take advantage of those workers. 


When hunting for a new job, go in with your eyes open.  When you interview pay attention to the details:

*  What is the age distribution?  If they're startup size then it is difficult to have diverse ages, but if they've got more than about 20 people you should see a good mix ranging from fresh graduate to senior developers with gray hair.  If you don't see a good mix, that's a flag.

* What is the race distribution?  It should approximately match the regional racial distribution, although software generally tends to have more caucasian and asian people than blacks or hispanics. If there is a large number of people and there is no racial diversity, that's a flag.

* What is the gender distribution? Women tend to not get into software development, it is close to one in twenty. So if there are 30 or 40 developers, you should see a few female developers, not just female secretaries.


A lack of age diversity is probably the easiest warning sign to spot.  Experienced older people are valuable at spotting problem trends long before they cause issues, and older people tend to not put up with crap like staying late into the night or abusive behavior.


There are many other things to look at; is the water cooler well stocked? Are they offering visible perks like soda or snacks? (That is potentially good or bad, as it may be a way to try to get people to work over lunch break, or it may be to help boost morale.) Is the building well maintained or in disrepair? Consider what is on people's desks, are they permanent or transitory? And on and on and on.



On the flip side for employers, they are asking two questions:


First, can you do the job?  There is evidence of this like having completed games in the past, having completed your degree, or showing a solid demo project that you've done.


Second, will you fit in?  I don't mean "young white male", although that's how some people interpret it. Instead, are you passionate about making games? Do you have passion for making software? Are you a quick thinker, have broad general knowledge, and are able to communicate clearly?  Those are all important in game studios.  People who are slow and methodical may work well in other jobs, but tend not do well in software.  People who struggle to communicate tend not to survive long in the industry.





More on hostility, many people on the internet suffer from generalized inhibition from perceived anonymity.  People online are extremely bitter and vile toward anything at all, particularly things they dislike or are are passionate about.  Since people tend to get passionate about their games, these dis-inhibited anonymous people tend to be highly abusive toward anyone who doesn't share their views, including the developers of games they love.  Sadly if you are working with the public --- or even reading what the general public writes about your products --- you need to have a very thick emotional armor.  Like troll armor.  People are jerks, you need to let that stuff roll right off you.


That vitriol shouldn't exist inside the workplace, however.  While it is sometimes tolerated in small startups, companies cannot afford to tolerate any personal abuse, especially abuse by mangers and supervisors.  That problem leads to lawsuits that lead to bankruptcy, and all it takes is one disgruntled employee to turn on a cell phone voice recorder before a few meetings and they've got all the ammunition they need to destroy the company.  It may be a problem for some small startups, but once they hit about 20 people it cannot continue.




There is a strong attitude of meritocracy in the industry.  If you show merit you will rise to the top quickly. If you don't produce all kinds of amazing things and do it consistently, you may not rise at all.  This can tend to lead to some ego problems, but good management can help control or leverage that.



Making games is first and foremost making software.  You can love playing games all you want, that is different from making games and game software.  For programmers you've got to love building software, be passionate about picking the right algorithm, study new software patterns and practices, love studying how software is built, the tools and technologies, and all the parts.  For artists you've got to be passionate about game art, study all the components of game art, including architecture of various ages and places, nature, people, and more.  Animators need to be passionate about animation, study all the great works, learn all the modern tools and tricks and technologies.  If you don't love making computer software or your topic in the computer software, you won't succeed in games.


Most people don't fit that mold.  They might love playing games, but they discover they aren't passionate about parts of making games; maybe they aren't passionate about making software, or they aren't passionate about keeping current, those won't fit.  Maybe they are passionate about it but they just aren't quick on their feet, sadly I've worked with some people who had passion but never were able to work quickly, these people tend to get hit with a round of layoffs.  There are people who get in and discover they love playing games but hate making games. Lots of people enter, then become former game developers after a year or two. 



But if you've got all that, you are passionate, smart, quick thinking, love making software, and have all the other superpowers, you can do great in the software industry.  Many people do.

#5309257 What to do if I cannot finish my game for a competition before deadline?

Posted by on 02 September 2016 - 08:37 PM

Having three days by itself isn't that big of a problem.


Two incredibly popular games, 2048 and Flappy Bird, were both created in about a weekend.  


Assuming you don't mind it if your game takes off and you get filthy rich, it is absolutely possible to win the lottery of mobile games with a quick 2-day or 3-day project.  It is also possible to win Powerball and other lotteries, the odds are not good.  Although unlikely it is certainly possible, has happened before, and will happen again. 


Do what you can do. Make the simplest thing you can make in the time frame, however quirky and strange it is.  

#5309254 Nintendo shuts down hundreds of fan games

Posted by on 02 September 2016 - 08:26 PM

Nintendo has always vigorously defended their IP.  Most projects get C&D orders soon after they make themselves known publicly.


Good reminder:  Don't use Nintendo's IP.  It is only a matter of time before the legal demands will come. 

#5309196 the dreaded "escort" quest

Posted by on 02 September 2016 - 11:41 AM

procedurally generated world. 2500x2500 miles


6.25 million square miles?  That's roughly twice the land mass of Europe. 


Even large games like World of Warcraft are only around 60-80 square miles.  Skyrim is around 20 square miles.  There are also games with huge empty areas, like Star Wars Galaxies claims about 200 square miles and some street racing games claim 200-500 square miles, although much of the space in these games is empty shells for long stretches of road, basically rings where the game designers claim all the empty space inside the rings as their world size.


Even with a large number of procedural quest generators that's going to be a nightmare to fill with entertaining content.

#5309108 Linux: Coding a video player for a game?

Posted by on 01 September 2016 - 11:21 PM

Use ffmpeg


... or I suppose you could spend several work-years trying to build your own MP4 decoder that kinda works okay on your specific files with bugs you can work around.

#5308926 Python or GML?

Posted by on 31 August 2016 - 06:35 PM

should I go ahead with Python, or teach myself GML?


This isn't really an "or" question. Programmers will learn language after language. Within a few years a budding programmer should be able to count a double-digit number of programming languages they are at least passingly familiar with.


Want to learn GameMaker? That's great, learning GML comes along with that.


Want to do something with Python? That's great, it has many uses, especially for automatic everyday tasks.


Want to do both? Learn both.


The more tools and languages you become familiar with the better off you will be in the long run.  


Is there something like Gamemaker that uses Python?


Nothing exactly like it, that I'm aware of.  There is PyGame which enables building quite powerful games using Python.

#5308690 How can I safely accept volunteer work?

Posted by on 30 August 2016 - 10:56 AM

You need to talk with a lawyer who can provide you with a document that enforces that.


There are various types of documents that apply.  A collaboration agreement is generally used when people are peers working together. A rights assignment or employment agreement or independent contractor agreement are generally used when the rights are consolidated to a single source (this is typical in the professional world).  Incorporating into an LLC or S-Corp requires articles of incorporation and registration with government agencies, that's typical if you are going to run your business in a businesslike manner.


The documents (collaboration agreement, rights assignment, IC agreement, etc) will specify who owns what exactly, and what payment will be made if any.


Without any of those properly written legally binding documents each person will individually own their own contribution. It gets into some nasty situations with who owns specific rights to what aspects of the product.

#5308390 Why can't I print out my std::string vector?

Posted by on 28 August 2016 - 03:17 PM

Access violation reading location 0x00000018.

Looks like you are calling a member function on a null object.
Such as:
myThing = null;
Look on your stack trace, go back out on the stack to the outermost function that you wrote, and look for a null pointer on any object.

For example, maybe a null pointer value for the string you are trying to print.

Forgot to mention that the error leads me to line 512 in the file xstring.

You're looking in the wrong spot.  While it is remotely possible that you found a bug in the standard library, consider that the libraries are used by millions of programmers around the globe every day.  The odds that it works correctly for everybody else but is broken for you is astonishingly small.  
Always assume the error is in your code, not in the standard library. 

  for (int i = 0; i < map.size(); i++)

Following a hunch, it could be that map[i] doesn't exist, or that it doesn't contain a string (it is empty).

#5308309 2D Card Game

Posted by on 28 August 2016 - 12:32 AM

There are many game engines out there especially built for card games.   Have you done any web searching for those, or tried any already?

#5308308 What can we sell a game as without incorperating?

Posted by on 28 August 2016 - 12:27 AM

There are several things. Assuming the US:


No, you cannot just make up a name and start using it in commerce.  


One step you've got to do is create a legal entity for a fictitious name.  That can be as simple as filing paperwork with the government for "Doing Business As", or it can mean incorporating.  Two of the more popular are LLC and S-Corp. Any format can work, you'll need to do some homework about each.  The rules vary by state, as do the way taxes work.  There is also likely a Small Business Administration office near you (wherever you are in the US) and people at the office can help you figure out the government regulation side of things. You may also want to visit with a business lawyer for getting the paperwork in order.  The fee varies by state, often in the $50 range but a few states are quite expensive.


Another thing you've got to do is ensure the rights are consolidated.  This can be through a collaboration agreement, rights assignment, employment agreement, or other means. Otherwise you need to have unanimous approval for anyone to do anything with the product.  Without it, any disagreement and the project is legally tainted.  If anyone leaves the group (perhaps by moving, or maybe from a fight or even death) it can mean you project is permanently messed up from a legal perspective unless and until the rights are consolidated.   If you've created a business entity like an LLC you would assign the rights to the entity. Otherwise you would assign the rights to the lead individual.


Once a single person or legal entity has the rights to the game, and the person or entity has a legal fictitious name, then you can use that fictitious name in commerce for distributing your game.



There will be several other things you should work through a lawyer. You will need to work over your product licenses, EULA, website terms of service, COPPA agreements, and possibly more. That is in addition to the legal documents in creating the entity's articles of incorporation and assigning rights of the people working on it, either as a collaboration agreement or other method.  Some people balk at the cost of a lawyer. It is an absolutely necessary part of doing business. Shop around, the cost isn't as much as criminal defense lawyers and similar, often around $150-$200 per hour or so, and if you've done your homework and filled out as much as you can yourself, you can get most of it done in an hour or two where you're just looking for them to help you decide on filling blanks on standard forms they've already got in their drawer.

#5308287 Masters Degree in Video game design

Posted by on 27 August 2016 - 06:12 PM


  1. Ok, can somebody answer to the last question of mine? :)



Which last question?  The last item I see on there is "is it worth it?" so I'll assume that's the one you mean.


Value is a highly personal question, what is worth it to one person is not worth it to another.  Each person has their own unique values and goals.  Each person has their unique life choices and experiences.  The experience may be amazing to one person, so-so to another, and terrible for a third.



I have known many people who returned to school, or went for the first time, while they were already mid-career.  Often they are going for an MBA or similar degree to augment their existing career paths and open new doors.




You have a marketing degree.  You can probably use your knowledge and skills to enter a marketing role, or even better if your goal is to be a designer someday, enter as an associate or assistant producer by touting the benefits you can offer them with your marketing background. Producers generally work to link people together and make sure schedules are hit; often this includes communicating and marketing both internally and externally. Associate and assistant producers often work with external marketing companies and social media as part of their job, and a marketing degree could be helpful there. Producers work very closely with various design aspects of games, and as you gain experience you could likely transition to doing more design than production.  At smaller studios it is somewhat common for someone to wear hats of both production and design. 

#5308286 Tactics RPGs with an actual "game" (world exploration, etc)?

Posted by on 27 August 2016 - 05:55 PM

FF Tactics A2 for DS is also quite good that way. Turn based combat, though, as there can be tons of options near the end of the game.


You can play straight through and stick directly to the story lines, or play battle after battle focusing heavily on tactics.




Personally I still love games like the older Warcraft or C&C or AoE series where the speed is turned down incredibly slow.  People for online play tend to hate it so you need to find people who specifically want it. It is slow enough you can do quite a lot of tactical work in addition to the broader strategy.  The balance gets interesting; in C&C you can build a specialist like Tanya who can do significant damage but must be carefully controlled for tactical behavior, and doing so means you cannot spend the mental effort and mouse clicks working a broader strategy.  You need to find a way to work in the finely detailed tactics as a strategy.

#5308172 Transitioning from game development to business development with C#

Posted by on 26 August 2016 - 11:45 PM

If you only know C# then you aren't very diverse as a programmer, nor as a game programmer.

C# is used in some business environments.  Java is much more common.


Transitioning from C# to Java is not particularly difficult, in many features C# is considered as 'Java done right'. 


I'd suggest learning more languages than just C#.  Not just as an exit strategy, but to make you more versatile as a developer.  These days my recommendation for core languages are C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, PHP, and Python. Learn them all.

#5308146 State machine for beginner - how to shoot state AND jump state

Posted by on 26 August 2016 - 07:46 PM

I love the idea of them, but I can't get my head around this issue below.

State machines are standard everywhere in games. Learn to love them.

I put together this article where I used state machines in several different ways in some simple little prototypes.

You see I can shoot and idle, shoot and jump, shoot and fly, shoot and run

As Nypyren points out, usually they are best when used as discrete things. That is, you are in A, then B, then C.  You can also do work in the transition between A and B, do work in the transition between B and C.
That doesn't mean you can't make it work.  Depending on the animation system you are using, you might be able to control the shooting arm separately from the rest of the body. You'll have one set of body actions that control most things, and another set of arm actions for your shooting.


Some systems will allow more complex animation blending to make it work.  Others will use inverse kinematics (IK) which is a fancy way to say you tell the system where the hand goes and where the shoulder goes and it uses physics to figure out how all the joints fit together. These take a bit of work to put together and thankfully most professional-grade engines have them implemented already.

#5308059 Masters Degree in Video game design

Posted by on 26 August 2016 - 11:06 AM

Many "video game design" courses have little to do with game design, instead they are programming courses with a bit of level design or character design thrown in, or they are art, modeling, or animation courses with some design pieces thrown in.  Sometimes they are focused on game design from the perspective of a game designer, but they overlook the fact that "game designer" is not an entry level role.



As Hodgman asked, there are many roles available.  Saying you want to be the Game Designer is somewhat akin to saying you want to be a CEO.


For an aspiring CEO they might get an MBA degree, but that won't grant them the job at the top.  The degree can help give some educational background and training, and will help at job interviews, but that's about it.  Similarly a program teaching only the factors of game design won't make you a game designer, but can give you some education background and training to help follow in that direction.




Many people think of Game Designer as the idea guy, the one who comes up with the awesome idea, pitches it, and works with everyone to make the vision a reality. There is a position of game designer and that does some of the things people think of, but it is a management position and a senior development role. The person is directing many tens of millions of dollars of the project, and consequently the position requires years of experience. It is not an entry level job.  


There are some entry level jobs working with world design, character design, level design, and similar, but usually they are coupled with programming as script writers for levels, or coupled with art as modeling prototypical worlds.  If you start in that track than maybe six or ten years later you can get the Game Designer job title, but be prepared to work for many years on a much less prestigious job description.


All the game designers I know started out in other fields, and demonstrated competence both in game development generally and in their field. As they demonstrated increasing knowledge of design they were slowly given more responsibility for design; helping design small objects, helping build levels, helping balance systems. Over time it expands to owning small object design, owning level design, and gradually after many years transitioning into a designer role.