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Learning the Industry (An amatuer's story)

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gislas

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Since I was very small and had recieved my very first Playstation on the Christmas of 1996, I've been immersed and captivated by the thrill and intensity of video games the same as anyone else who had first took the time to play them. After leading a few long years playing these marvels, the question arose with my cousins and I one night playing Tekken 2: How do you create a video game? My interest was suddenly piqued and thus began my adventure of wanting to pursue a career creating video games....I was eight-years-old. Around that time period, my family had purchased a family computer with the old-fashioned dail-up internet. This computer was destined to become my window to the outside world.
All of my research was done on this magnificent computer. I had studied everything from the corporate actions of my favorite developer: NaughtyDog, as well as their background story. And I had also learned the industry's robust and second-hand techniques to creating video games at the time. I had eventually found a very resourceful page that allowed me to download a program called "Fastgraph." It would be my first experience in trying to create a sophisticated video game.....I was ten-years-old. I'll admit, I don't remember much about the program. I only remember it came with it's own IDE and language as well as a mesh and model editor. I never actually completed a game on this program, but I had a decent idea of what to expect in the world of creating and selling video games. And there was also a fair warning: Math plays a very large part in the production of ANY video game. I think you'll see my devotion for this career at this point, if you haven't already: I took math very seriously from here on out. In fact, it was THE class for me. In elementary school, I had a tendency to disregard this subject, but once I got into middle school, I took a rather long time studying and pushing myself to be better at math and anything that required logical thinking. Throughout junior high, that was all I did to prepare myself. I left the research alone for a little while and actually LIVED life, perhaps a little too wildly, but it was middle school. A perfectly good time to screw up your self-esteem and to smoke whatever you're friends were doing because they made it seem alright.
By the time I got to high school and moved to Texas, my focus on video games strengthened again only because I had to find new friends and other distractions after being involved in an accident that caused me to have two probabation officers. Also, just because I was a punk, doesn't mean I let my grades drop. My studies in math would not be wasted, and I would further myself even more through high school. I began my research again, and decided to see what had changed. Apparently, a lot can change in as little as three years in the game industry. After catching up, I decided to bring out my techie side in high school. Freshman year, I was the kind of guy you'd go to to have your PSP hacked or afterwards, your iPod "jail-broken." Now that I was sure of what I wanted to do, I talked to my parents seriously about how to obtain this career. I had the preparation, now I just needed the process. Well, the idea hit me to contact and talk to the co-founder of my favorite game developing firm: Jason Rubin, a pretty "chill" guy to say the least. After telling me a little bit about his experience, he told me to get started using Flash and to create Flash games. I picked up "Beginning Flash Game Programming for Dummies", downloaded the Flash software, and began to start creating my very first games. Almost simultaneously, Ryan Turner (a current Full Sail student) had helped me to learn to program video games on a graphing calculator. I quickly found that it was easy to learn more than one language. Once you had learned one, you've pretty much learned them all. It's all just a matter of finding simularities. The next thing to worry about was a programming a game decently. Well, all I can say about that is if you know math and physics, you've pretty much got it. My recreation of Pong was all a matter of knowing vectors and how to manipulate them through code. So, planning a game, creating the assets, and finding third-party assets was not the hard part for me. Rather, it was animating sprites and debugging code.
At this time, I only knew two languages: ActionScript 2.0 and TI-Basic. It's pretty upsetting to be excited that all the little bits of your game work and suddenly something, that ISN'T a syntax error, just screws up your whole game. I'd spend literally four hours just finding the problem, and six of them finding the solution....wait a minute, there's ANOTHER BUG?!! SON OF *&%*((& &(*^ (&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ........To make a long story short, it's frustrating, but once I had finished my first few projects and had some family and friends playing them it really brought back the spirit and good feeling that I get when playing games. Obviously, I wouldn't go back to play my own games because it would only bring back dreadful memories of debugging, testing, and debugging again, but I started playing games in a whole new light. I would find little snippets from games and start thinking: "I bet the line of code looked like 'blah,blah' at this part." I would respect developers for their hard work that I would have never imagined when I played the games back in middle school or what have you. And animating, that godforsaken tedious process....I can't imagine why anyone would like doing that. But it was necessary to spend NIGHTS just animating frame by frame by frame by frame by frame....damn, I screwed up....frame by frame to create some fancy asset for your game. My two "favorite" projects: "Misadventure" and "Guard Hero" consisted of just that. It almost makes me glad that I just want to be a programmer.
Oh, and the process of getting there..... I found that many programmers are hired on the basis of just having TONS of experience. But I still wanted the credibility of an internship and Bachelors of Science degree so I decided to take the step to Full Sail University. An odd school, but good enough for me. A long and entirely different step from the school I had previously wanted to go to (M.I.T). I think that a long history and extensive portfolio of games is all you really need. And some sort of college education. Full Sail, to me, is just like having an internship and a college education at the same time, in a short amount of time. That's why I chose it. I would eventually learn other programming languages like Dark Basic Pro, C++, HTML, CSS, and so on. Like I said, it's not really that hard to learn other programming languages. If you've learned one, you've pretty much learned them all. I took some time to earn money in high school off this knowledge and do some freelance web developing as well. If there is anything I have learned in this time of my career pursuit, it's this: debugging's a pain in the a**, math plays a HUGE part in programming games, programming web sites is easy, it's not a good idea to work on multiple projects at the same time, and don't ever forget why you love games in the first place. It really is a joy to see someone else actually enjoying your game. There's no better feeling....except maybe the birth of your child, but I bet it's almost comparable to that.
To anybody wanting the same career: go for it. It's not hard to tackle a little math, and go through hours of debugging, and as melodramatic as I can be, I still LOVE doing this. It's almost like real life...and your compiler is like your annoying naggy wife when you get some sort of error in your code, but you still love her to death anyway. I'll be heading off to college to get even further to my career, and I may do another one while I'm there, and hopefully, another if and when I get to the industry. Just know this: I will get there, or DIE trying.

"Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave."
-Mary Tyler Moore
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[quote name='Boo Boo' timestamp='1303648248']
And where are the new lines?
[/quote]


What do you mean? I can't indent on here for some reason, if that's what you're talking about.

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