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Wages of Programmers

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Well ive just started getting paid to program :D Whats the average wage of a beginner.. or even better a list of all the different wages for the stages (or something). I''m doing database work by the way, im not sure whether that affects the wage or not...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Check this out:
Game Programmer
=======================================
A game programmer is someone who actually implements the game on the computer, turning the ideas and designs into an actual program. Despite often having to work long hours and rarely getting their photographs in games magazines it is a fun job and can be very rewarding.

Being the person who actually implements the features allows you to have a major input on how everything actually works when the design changes from ''theory'' to ''implementation''.


Starting Out:
=======================================
You can obtain an entry-level games programmer position if you have either a very good knowledge of the required programming languages (and a portfolio of examples to back this up) or a university level programming qualification.

An entry-level position is normally that of ''Junior Programmer'', in this position you will often be implementing other people’s designs under the watchful eye of a more experienced software engineer.

It is unlikely that you will remain in a junior position for too long as the games industry is very dynamic and it is possible to rise through the programming ranks very quickly.

For example, here at Sports Interactive, Kevin Turner is now a Senior Programmer a mere 5 years after joining the company.


Salary
=======================================
The position of games programmer is one of the best paid positions within a games company, an entry level programmer can expect to earn between £15-25k/year rising to around £35-65k/year should they eventually obtain a lead programmer position. According to the 2001 and 2002 salary surveys of Game Developer magazine:

Game programmers are generally well paid compared to designers and artists. The average salary of a male programmer is $66k* (up from last year''s average of $63k).

Lead programmers get around $79k. The highest paid programmer makes around $300k.

Females comprise 3% of the programming force. The average salary for female programmers is $54k (down from last year''s average of $70k).
(*Note: ''k'' = 1,000, and salaries are per year.)

Hours
=======================================
In a typical week a programmer can expect to work around 40 hour week (most likely using flexi-time), however in the two month period before the release of the game you can expect to be working much longer hours, up to around 80-100 hours a week.


Office
=======================================
This will vary greatly dependant upon the company, but generally programmers are housed in an open-plan environment in order to facilitate communication between those involved on a project.


Company car
=======================================
Very little chance, there is next to no travel involved in being a games programmer.


Health insurance
=======================================
This depends largely on the size of the company. Those working full-time for one of the larger publishers are far more likely to receive health insurance benefits than those working for smaller companies.


Paid vacation
=======================================
As a result of the long hours worked, companies tend to be very generous in vacation allowance. In England programmers tend to get at an allowance of least 25 days per year, with additional days being made available if products ship on time.


Sick leave
=======================================
Yes of course.


Jury duty
=======================================
Depends on the company


Retirement
=======================================
Again this is largely dependent on the company. A high level of staff turnover deters many games companies from operating a pension scheme. However there are some exceptions, for instance Sports Interactive have a pension scheme, partially because we have a very low staff turnover rate.


Advancement opportunities
=======================================
After starting as a Junior Programmer the most common route is that up to a role leading a team of programmers, thereafter you may eventually branch out into either a more design orientated role or that of a Technical Director. Alternatively once you have enough experience it is possible to go it alone and attempt to start your own company.


Stock plan
=======================================
If the company is a publicly held company, there may be a program for employees to chip in a little from their paychecks and purchase stock in the company. This can give an added incentive to the workers to make the company successful.


Stock options
=======================================
Big publicly held companies may well offer employees stock options (the option to buy company stock in the future at the price at time of hiring). This is a tactic employed to reduce staff turnover levels, supposedly working by breeding loyalty as employees have an added incentive to make the company successful and to stick around for a longer time than would normally be the case.


Bonuses
=======================================
Most game companies will share profits with the employees in "up" years. Each company has a different way of determining bonuses (may be based on longevity, on job title, on level of contribution to successful products, etc.).


Job description
=======================================
Come to work every morning (or wake up in the office). Implement code efficiently and accurately with a minimum of bugs. Communicate effectively with designers/team leaders with regards to progress.



======================================
BECOMING A GAME DEVELOPER
======================================


What tools do I need to program a game?
==========================================
This varies somewhat from game to game depending upon the genre in question, but generally speaking you will require the following items to make a game.

Compiler
A compiler is a program which takes several text files containing ''code'' and converts them into an executable program which can be run upon a PC.

Drawing Package
This is simply a paint package within which you can draw buttons, sprites etc. for use in your game.

Text Editor
This is the program that you will use to create the files containing your ''code''. Most professionally produced compilers will come with an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which contains a text editor, however some free compilers (such as the GNU C one) require you to use a separate editor.

Depending upon the approach you take these may either cost you nothing, or several thousand dollars.

I would recommend that anyone who is simply casually investigating programming for the first time simply download one of the ''older'' Borland compilers (should be easy to find through a simple Google search). This will allow you to experience the joys and frustrations of programming without spending any money. Once you are sure that you enjoy the challenge, you can consider upgrading to a newer and more fully featured compiler.

I''ve listed the most common development tools below and a brief assessment of their advantages and disadvantages:


Program
Advantages
Disadvantages

Visual C++
Commonly used, well supported
Only on PC/Xbox, Not for beginners

Visual Basic
Easy to use
Slow and large executables

Delphi
Easy to use
Slow and large executables

GNU C++
Free, Good x-platform support
Hard to use

Metroworks
Good x-platform support
Support varies platforms



How can I learn to program?
=======================================
There are two common ways to learn programming, one is to go to university/college and take the relevant classes, the other is to purchase some books on the basics of programming and teach yourself.

If you are looking towards games programming as a potential career then I would recommend the university approach. The main reason being that it will help you avoid various common programming pitfalls that you might fall into should you take the self-taught route. Furthermore you will also find it much easier to land a job with a qualification behind you.

If you are thinking of programming a game as a hobby then I''d suggest purchasing a few books on the basics of programming. (See Lesson 8 - and reader suggestions for programming books are more than welcome.)


What language should I program my game in?
=======================================
The most commonly used languages for developing professional are ''C'' and ''C++''.
These are fairly advanced languages which beginners can find quite hard to learn initially, simply because they are very low level and don''t supply many building blocks to use for making games.

Languages such as Visual Basic and Delphi can give a much friendlier approach to games development for beginning programmers. These are much more visual and it is (relatively) easy for someone to get a basic demo up and working quickly using these.

I would recommend using Visual Basic if you have no prior experience of programming or if you have some programming experience then I would suggest using the language you have the most experience in.

This is important because the most common reason quoted for giving up programming is simply ''I don''t seem to be making any progress''.


So now can I write Quake 4?
=======================================
No, I''m afraid not - programming is a very complex business and takes quite a while to master. Initially you''ll have to be very patient.

I recommend starting with very simple games such as ''tic tac toe'' and ''connect 4'', these will teach you the essentials of game development such as designing a User Interface, basic Artificial Intelligence and how to draw to the screen.

Once you''re confident at creating a simple game such as these you can start making games that require animation such as a simple platform game or a scrolling ‘shoot-em-up’.

Finally, once you''ve done that you''ll probably be fairly competent with your coding and ready to move into the realms of 3D game development (should that be your aim).

As a final word, never get too cocky and assume that you know everything there is to know about games programming - I''ve been doing it for around 10 years now and I''m still learning new tricks.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Check this also:

http://www.igda.org/breakingin/path_programming.htm#junior

Salary Info

Low: $55,000 (programmer with 1-2 years experience)
High: $85,000 (lead programmer/technical director with 6+ years experience)
Average: $62,500
Highest: $300,000

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So, if im earning about $25US an hour for database work, that is considered fairly high right?

Opps i meant that is about the right price for a junior programmer in the DB field.

[edited by - kooktroop on August 27, 2002 8:14:29 PM]

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quote:
Original post by kooktroop
So, if im earning about $25US an hour for database work, that is considered fairly high right?


$25 * 40 hours * 52 weeks = $52,000

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Dexterity - " If you''re familiar with MySQL" - since when is this a database?


Regards

Thomas Tomiczek
THONA Consulting Ltd.
(Microsoft MVP C#/.NET)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Let me guess -- Microsoft SQL is the better DB, right?

*snicker*

ah, the mentality of the mob.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
thonIdiot,

Let me guess -- Microsoft SQL is the better DB, right?

*snicker*

ah, the mentality of the mob.

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Actually $52,000 per year is almost exactly right for an entry level developer with college degree. Assuming you''re getting full medical, retirement plan, stock options, etc, etc.

If you''re still in high school, I''d say that''s actually a higher wage than I''d expect you to get. (So don''t rock the boat.)

Of course, a fully trained/certified consulaant with a couple years of experience would get much more than that.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
thonIdiot,

Let me guess -- Microsoft SQL is the better DB, right?

*snicker*

ah, the mentality of the mob.



Yikes, this forum is rapidly decending to the level of the "Help Wanted" or "Game Writing" forums.

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