Forza1, I wouldn’t even consider the employment route if you aren’t prepared to go for a degree. It’s the norm nowadays, especially at the entry level. An old fart like me can get away with it, but I joined the industry when no degree was the norm and competed among those ranks then, picked up the experience and now I can hold that against all my competition, degree or not (for them and me). It would be too easy to say this has never been an issue for me - it doesn’t seem to have been, but the likelihood is that I’m just not aware of doors which didn’t open for me.
Either way, degree or not you won’t have this benefit of experience for many years. If you do manage to get your foot in the door, you might get the experience over time…but unlike me you’ll spend your entire life competing against people who got the degree when you could have and got the same level of experience during the same years. It will be a lifelong battle for you. Don’t make life harder for yourself.
It seems to me you have two choices if you want to make games.
a) Don’t get a degree, make your own games and if it turns out to be successful for you, the lack of a fallback or the need to qualify for alternative employment in the industry (or even outside it) won’t matter. Even if you’re shithot, there’s a crapshoot element to this…beware.
b) Get a degree. You can work for others making games more easily. You’ll have the option of doing that first if you wish and the option of being an entrepreneur won’t ever go away. You can go for this sooner if you want, but if it fails, or you need to take a raincheck you’ll have the credentials that qualify you more easily for continued employment.
You’ll get to do everything you want and have better fallback options with the latter. It might take a little longer, but you’ll have all the options you want in life. When you’re older and you have a family to support, you’ll be able to do that more reliably and with less worry.
You are very young still. Time is on your side. You mention sacrifice, but if you don’t take the time to do things right…don’t forget you’re sacrificing the time you have. Better to take the time and by age X have all the options you want, rather than get to X…have tried something, failed and have less options open.
Bear in mind at any age, you’ll always have the choice of going back to school to pick up credentials you didn’t get sooner. I would add though, that having a choice doesn’t mean the options are realistic and as you get older, even if you have the choice…the option to go back to school will be a more difficult one to take. There’s no better time to get the qualifications than while you’re young and have less things going on.
I lie, there’s another choice. If you want to make games, make games. You don’t have to be a professional to do that and you can pursue another entirely successful day job/career at the same time. For some people, this is the best option to be honest.
Posted by freakchild
on 28 February 2012 - 10:00 AM
This is pretty good. If you can't get a game job with a portfolio like that then something is wrong with the world. There's nothing wrong with those demos at all - they show great variety and everything that matters.
If you can put videos of your first three games on...I would do that. Doesn't matter if they are your earlier demos.
I had a little trouble getting the vimeo video up as quick as the others.
I would agree the links section of your website is unnecessary given it's a portfolio, but as it's also a web page it doesn't look too out of place. I don't think its presence will really matter to be honest. I would ask yourself how much value you feel it adds and go from there with regard to a decision.
I also viewed with Chrome and got the same, vertical alignment of text problem as mentioned above.
Interesting to see your references. These have value as many people will have heard of these folk. Brian taught me C64 programming about 20 years back - there are plenty of people in the EU game industry that know Brian, so don't be surprised if that comes up in interview.
Posted by freakchild
on 21 February 2012 - 01:52 PM
‘Loose ends’ is actually a great way of describing one element that is important to a polished presentation. Basically the app should work cleanly and do what it is supposed to do without error messages. You should be able to boot the app and get into the game or demo without issue and you should be able to quit the game and terminate the app in the same manner. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest polishing these areas – they should just work and work well/cleanly.
But that is just one element and yes, specific polish is more important in other places.
I would say that any demo should have the necessary features, but be careful with unnecessary or incomplete ones. It’s okay to gray out options that you haven’t yet implemented if they are not essential, but it’s also likely better to remove them in the first place. Don’t let people guess as to why something is not implemented or not even polished for that matter.
Placeholder, clean artwork is okay but bear in mind that not everyone understands what is placeholder and what is final by looking at it. Not everyone will read documentation so this point can be a challenge to get across. If you are using placeholder, force this point in the user path with a splash screen and ‘art is placeholder/wip’ type message even if you don’t intend working on it any further.
While we’re on that topic…while I certainly do not think it is essential to do anything other than clean placeholder for demos, it’s a simple fact that more final artwork is also always going to look better and show something in a more positive light. If you can afford it, then why not actually pay a little for someone to add in a little bit of polished artwork? If your demo is appropriately scoped, the artwork should not be extensive so it should not cost a lot. If it is extensive, then your demo is either going to be very impressive due to its scope (even with placeholder artwork) or it’s too widely scoped and you can’t possibly polish it or present it well, even in the non-art sense.
Which brings in another point - demos are also best when they are planned and scoped up front to avoid a situation where you can’t do something you’d intended to the best of your ability and available resource. If you are sticking with placeholder artwork, make sure even you can do that well or the demo is of the nature where it does not need good artwork. If you are paying for some artwork, make sure the demo is scoped so that you can afford it. If you plan certain features (technical or otherwise), make sure they are within your skillset and/or R&D them first to be sure.
It’s okay to show small demos. I would also say that it’s also okay to show demos that focus on one element (and are not a full game) and focus on polishing that one element - provided that it is clear where the focus is and why polish on the other items is not and should not be important. If you can’t do that, it’s another demo to take with you for interview and guide someone through as opposed to letting someone loose on it on their own and getting the wrong idea.
Tying a few of these points together…placeholder/clean art is okay and don’t feel you have to do more than that, but there are places where more than that might work better than not. I would say a good rule of thumb is that a focused demo of some technique is going to show exactly as that and not offer ambiguity in terms of what you are trying to present - placeholder is okay. While placeholder is still okay for a game, something that is more widely scoped than a focused demo is at risk of looking more incomplete. A more complete game demo, is basically incomplete without artwork and that ambiguity will show through quite strongly. If you’re doing a more complete game, I’d go further with the artwork.
For your checkers demo for example, I would say that if you’re trying to show AI then that’s one thing, but if you’re trying to show off a complete game then that’s another. One should focus on the technique and the other should focus on the overall presentation. Bear in mind that some people might wonder what the point of a checkers game or demo is if it doesn’t show a strong focused AI technique or is otherwise not a well-polished example of what you can do. Thus, I’d also say…if you’re doing a simple game, go further with the artwork or turn it into a more focused demo.
A couple more points…
Bear in mind that showing videos of your demos gives you the control and can offer you better focus (focus on the demo, and guided focus for the viewer) than putting the demos up for someone to install and play themselves. For any app that has risk elements that may not be understood, or where you know you really should be present to guide when played live…the control of a video is a great idea, instead of ‘releasing’ the app into the wild.
Also, don’t overlook clean, well formatted source code that follows a good standard. If someone is interested beyond the demos you want to be able to present the idea that you’re well organized under the hood, even if not asked directly. You may also not be asked about this up front, but if the topic comes up in a subsequent interview then being able to speak to what you did in your demos will have considerable value, as will be able to back such statements up.
Posted by freakchild
on 15 February 2012 - 01:27 PM
I would also consider not doing an MSc that is game specific.
Why? Many employers don’t consider these courses to be any good. Many actually aren’t any good to be honest. I would doubt that even a poorer one would lack any personal development value, but the real problem however, is that potential employers can and will (rightly or wrongly) lump the good ones in with the bad ones and consider any employment application on the basis of ‘all games courses are crap’. In these cases, your MSc in games will work against you.
There is a clear advantage to any games specific course in that if it actually is good it will be quite beneficial to you personally AND there are employers out there who recognize these. Often these courses do have strongly links with these employers too…but the good also has to be weighed against the potential for bad.
Thus, I would put some thought into just doing a relevant MSc, one that isn’t games related. University of Sheffield, for example has always had excellent graphics courses. Over the years, they have tied these quite closely to game development without actually making them a games course (although I do believe they offer more targeted courses too). You will not lose points for having a strong and relevant MSc which is also NOT a games course.
Thus nobody will judge you badly, for having a relevant MSc that is not games related and it won’t come with the potential negativity that a games specific program may have.
I would also give consideration to not doing any MSc at all. There is no formal qualification for games development, although informally it is very difficult to get a foot in the door without a BSc nowadays. If I am reading the thread correctly, you already have that...thus, you are qualified. With a qualification, the real challenge in getting a foot in the door of course is to set yourself aside from other candidates.
Extra qualifications (the right ones) can help that…but so can demonstrated aptitude too. Beyond the entry qualification, this can actually (arguably) be more important (and cheaper to attain) than extra qualifications.
The bottom line…when the times comes, if you really want to set yourself aside from the other candidates then you need to demonstrate that you have an enthusiasm and talent for developing games. The only way you will show that, is by developing games. This relegates any degree to being nothing more than a bare minimum to stop your resume/CV from being filtered out and in terms of getting your foot in the door and having some experience - even if it is at the hobbyist and enthusiast level will take your current BSc much further, at least in terms of actually being employed than any MSc qualification.
Thus, I would actually summarize any advice I can offer as follows:
If you go with a BSc alone, boost it by at least hobbyist/enthusiast activities, ideally developing some games in your spare time.
If you go with an MSc, boost it by at least hobbyist/enthusiast activities, ideally by developing some games in your spare time.
If you go with a games MSc, be aware that you may be judged for that, but boost it by at least hobbyist/enthusiast activities, ideally by developing some games in your spare time.
Bear in mind you can focus on the first of these bullet points, and not really be any worse off for it.
Also bear in mind that you can pull it off either way too.
Demonstrating hobbyist/enthusiast level activities, not only gives you something to show which will set you aside from other players, but it also makes you a proven entity in many ways. Any degree doesn’t make you proven, it means you attended class. You need to show that you can not only develop games, but more importantly that you were interested enough to do so and were willing to put the effort in in order to do exactly that. This is very important in game development – the extra mile makes a big difference. If you can also show some quality via your activities, you also show that you get certain things that are very important to employers – showing even a polished subset of a game for example shows that ‘you get it’ as far as being a good game developer goes.