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If you had just given up a 20K programming job..

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and wanted to be a games programmer, where would you start? This question goes out to people in the industry or people who are / have been in a similar situation. Brief history: I''ve been a commercial programmer for two years. I have C systems programming experience and web development experience. I completed a part - time software engineering degree last year and have my A level maths exams in June. I''m 28. I''m totally committed to a games programming career. I''ve just completed a ray casting engine and ray tracer, but know that it''ll take more than that to impress a prospective employer. I''ve got two months to put together a demo disk before I stretch my girlfriend''s good will to far. I appreciate that it dilutes the value of the site every time someone posts a "Where do I start?" question, but I''ve just jacked in a reasonably will paid job to pursue this, so I''d like to hear what you have to say. Serious responses please from those in the know. Much appreciated. Martin

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Hmmmm... I suggest getting a good knowledge of DirectX (urgh) and OpenGL (yay!) is always a good start. Companies very rarely employ someone without skills in one or both of these area (DirectX is the most common), but judging by your post you seem to have quite a good degree of 3D knowledge.

Having a ray cast/trace engine is very good, but most companies look for an actual game as part of a port folio - even if it's not finished. Just make sure that the basics work before submitting it (don't send off a game without the keyboard mapped out!). If you don't have the time to get a game together, try and create a really good "linear demo". This is usually program using advanced 3D techniques, all generated in run-time . Try to include as many different techniques as possible (but dont push yourself too far), and this will show the employer what your capable of.

I would also seriously think about taking evening classes in physics, as many of the new 3D games require a vast knowledge of physics and maths (you've already gor 1 out of 2 ).

a new site has just been hosted by gamedev.net as "http://www.gamedev.net/hosted/3dgraphics/". it is very informative, and is good for getting to grips with the basics.

If you can show a good level of knowledge, plus a pretty impressive demo, your more than likely to get hired. many larger games companies take on programmers with little or no game programming experience and train them in-house.

Hope this helps.

MENTAL

PS: you didnt say what field of game programming you wanted to get into - engine design, tools, AI, etc.

PPS: get a good game programming book .

Edited by - MENTAL on 4/20/00 1:27:29 PM

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the fact that you have 2 years of commercial experience, some kind of degree, and graphics demos already completed translates into you being in a good position already. Building up an aresenal of demos will help as well, because it will show employers that this is in your blood; it''s not just something you do for a living.

My suggestion? Try to get some interviews set up right now with game developers. In the best case, you''ll get your job sooner than you expected. In the worst case you can use the opportunity to find out where you need to spend your time to become their ideal candidate. If you are worried about this burning bridges ("We interviewed him 2 months ago, and he wasn''t good enough then, why would he be now?") then just find companies you aren''t really interested in working for anyway.

You may also want to take a look at our Industry section if you haven''t already. There are quite a few articles in there from people in the industry giving advice to people in situations like yours.

Dave

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Yep. What these guys said. A solid demo is definitely what makes a candidate stick out. As far as salary, 20k is pretty low for a game programmer. I imagine with 2 years of experience, you could reasonably expect 30k, or possibly more depending on where you go.

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Where do you live, msmith? It tends to make a big difference in terms of what your pay means.


$20K seems *extremely* low for any type of programmer.


Around here there are lots of people just out of college, many of them having quit half way through before getting a degree, that start at $50K and up, easy. Of course, I live in the SF bay area of California, so the salaries are somewhat higher than normal.


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hey mental:
whenever I read a job description for game programming jobs they say you need at least 2 or 3 shipped titles that you''ve worked on to be hired, but you said big companies will hire you if you''ve got no game programming experience. Which one is true? (I hope the last one)

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quote:
Original post by Chrono999

hey mental:
whenever I read a job description for game programming jobs they say you need at least 2 or 3 shipped titles that you''ve worked on to be hired, but you said big companies will hire you if you''ve got no game programming experience. Which one is true? (I hope the last one)


It depends on the job and the company, but there are definitely lots of positions out there for people with no title experience, as long as they possess other credentials (i.e. other experience, education, demos, etc.)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
There is a "job search" at Gamasutra.com, all are in the fields of game development...

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Thank you Myopic Rhino .

Incase you hadent realised, msmith is in the uk (check his e-mail address on his profile). £20K (about $35,000) is pretty good.

I know this is a little off-topic, but i siggest you get the latest issue of Official Dreamcast magazine, because in the current issue (it has picture of a car and "V-RALLY 2" sprawlled over the front cover), as there is a very good article about getting into the games industry, and this month it covers programmers. It also lists some very good UK recruitment agencies. get £5.00 off your girlfriend and go buy!

Here''s a good demo idea (a friends sent it off to a company and he''s already got a trainee post when he turns 16). morphing between 2 objects. It was a human being that transformed into a tiger. it might not sound too impressive but seeing as the textures blended very efficiently together during the morthing, and the model was about 10000 vertexes, it was pretty good. just make sure you show the company that it''s 2 seperate models, not one mesh with animation data (that kind of defeats the whole object of the game).

I''m rambling now so i''ll stop

MENTAL

PS: not everyone who posts on this board is from the USA

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quote:
Original post by Chrono999

hey mental:
whenever I read a job description for game programming jobs they say you need at least 2 or 3 shipped titles that you''ve worked on to be hired, but you said big companies will hire you if you''ve got no game programming experience. Which one is true? (I hope the last one)


Of course, it can''t always be true that you''d have to have 2 or 3 shipped titles to get such a job. Otherwise there would be no-one new entering the industry. Good demos and/or a degree will work fine for many smaller companies (and a few bigger ones).

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Morning folks,

Much obliged for the responses. I''m reluctant to "blow" the next two months by producing a game (partial or otherwise). The demo idea sounds like a winner to me. I know this is a vast field and maths and physics are certainly pre-requisites in many cases. I think an apt analogy here is going to compete with a 3d Dan in a martial arts competition. If you''re going to compete, you need an array of techniques at you disposal, or you''re going to crash and burn. In fact, I think I might do that already. I got into bed last night at 3 am having completed the ray casting engine. I woke this morning at 8am feeling fresh. Likely I''ll fade out come 8pm tonight....

I''m going to go broad brush and learn as many techniques as possible, without trivialising anything that I''m going to demo to an employer. I understand the comment about going for interviews, even if it''s just to gain an appreciation of what development companies are after. That''s too risky a strategy around here, as I''ve only really got Warrington, Manchester and Liverpool to choose from - trying to avoid re-locating if I can!

Better look as a Quake style engine now, as the recasting is a big fudge. A pseudo-3D engine if ever there was one. Some basic trig required (O level, let alone A level) and NO real 3D calcs.

On the Physics class subject - I have to agree. I''ve really enjoyed the maths, so Physics A level in September next stop. After that I''m quitting p/t education. I''m 28 and I''ve been studying p/t throughout my 20s and I''ve had my fill.

Thanks again guys

Martin.
Ps Take a look at Real-time Rendering by Moller and Haines. Make sure your maths is good beforehand!

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This post has really helped me alot, I''m 18 and just finishing my maths, physics and computers A-Levels, after this I''ve secured a place at a very good university doing a Computer studies Degree course. I''ve been programming games for years and have started making some 3D programs.

My real passion is games programming and I really want to be a professional, and thanks to what you''ve all written I think I''ve got a very good chance.

Thanks again
Carl Warwick

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Liverpool eh? Try these 2 games companies:

Psygnosis
Bizzare Creations

Very good, train in-house and extravagent saleries .

www.scene.org <-- all the latest information in the demo scene. look here for some very good inspiration

MENTAL

Edited by - MENTAL on 4/22/00 12:48:10 PM

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