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Breaking In, What To Do?

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I''m looking into maybe taking a course at GameInstitute.com to enhance my skills. I''ve got one game under my belt, an advanced version of pong. I want to take the Beginning C++ course which apparently takes me through the development of pong again, but this time I''m thinking I''ll get a better understanding. Has anybody here actually taken a course on that site? I don''t need to here what you''ve heard, just first hand accounts would be nice. Stuff I can''t find out from the web site preferably. And I have an even bigger question that begs response. What is the outlook of this industry? What I am considering doing is going to the DigiPen Institute of Technology after high school in 2 years and working for a bachelor''s degree in Real-time Simulation. What would I need to accomplish while in that school in order to gain credibility in the eyes of prospective employers? What types of entry level jobs are available for graduates of schools like DigiPen and FullSail? I need to start making decisions, educated decisions, about where I want to go with my life professionally. I''m sure (in fact I''m extremely sure) that game programming is not the most practical career choice, but I believe I have the will/skill to succeed. Anyway, that''s a crapload of questions, thanks to anyone who is reading this sentence right now. You are very kind! Thanks guys, Luc

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Luc,

First, let me say congratulations on having completed your first game. Most people who are "interested in the industry" never write their first line of code.

As to have taken a course at DigiPen or another school for game development, I have not. On the other hand, I did recently graduate from a 4-year university and I can honestly say that although I''m pleased with my education, I wish DigiPen or another similar school had been around, or at least more public, 4 years ago.

As to the outlook of the industry, I recently got a job as a game programmer, but it took me nearly a year of sending resumes, attending expos and conferences, and participating in projects. Although that sounds bleak, the industry does seem to be hiring a bit more now than six months ago.

As for what you need to accomplish in those schools, learn as much as you can and then put it to practical use. The biggest key to getting into the industry is persistance, and the ability to sit down and create something you can show people. I cannot stress how important it is for you to demonstrate your skills.

As for what types of entry level jobs there are, that depends largely on what size/type of company you''re looking for. At a larger company you may start out doing QA, testing, or something similar. If you start out in a smaller company, it may not be an "entry" level position at all.

And you''re right... Game programming pays fairly little, the hours are long, and there''s a big difference between playing games and making games. Then again, if you get that excited, fuzzy feeling every time you fight with a piece of code for a couple hours and then you see it materialize into a solution, you may just enjoy the life of a game programmer afterall.

People who know me often hear me say the exact same thing you said. Becoming a game programmer in my opinion is about 40% skill and 60% will. Good programmers are easy to come by, but good programmers who enjoy programming, that''s something different entirely.

Best of luck in your career and I look forward to seeing your name in "the credits" in about 6 years.


Best Regards,

Jeromy Walsh
Programmer
Liquid Entertainment
------------------------
"The question isn''t how far, the question is do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed?" -Boondock Saints

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Thanks Jeremy, that's actually very helpful. I've looked into this stuff a number of times in the past 2 years and everytime I seem to get discouraged. But now that I've actually completed a game and felt that "fuzzy" feeling of insurmountable satisfaction, I can't stop thinking about it.

I've actually got a few more questions if somebody wouldn't mind. About how many 2D games should I complete and polish before moving onto the grouling task of 3D? Here's my thinking:

1. Make pong.
2. Make pong again, understand it 100%.
3. Make a tile-based RPG, maybe an original Zelda clone. Include all common elements of game creation. Design document, other types of pre-visualization, include elements in the game that are almost all new to build on my knowledge of what I learned when making pong the first two times.
4. Make a 2D side scroller, maybe in a Double Dragon sort of format to enhance my skills. Include menu systems, options, maybe LAN play.
5. Make a totally original 2D game and work on the more business related elements: Marketing, finding a publisher (small and online undoubtedly, but still an accomplishment), make the game something I can be proud of and put in my portfolio.
6. Begin 4-6 long years of study to get to the level of making the equivalent of one level of a game like Unreal, which by that time will be nothing compared to the standard.

These are the 5 steps I plan to follow to work my way up to the 3D level. I hope to accomplish all this by the end of my senior year of high school, that way I'll be way ahead of most of my classmates at DigiPen, but more importantly, well on my way to years of late nights in the dark; just me, a comfy executive leather chair, and a PC glaring at me challenging me to push my limits.

So, what do you think? Practical approach? Is 5 2D games enough to move into 3D, assuming that I work my ass off and type every line of code myself to ensure that I understand every snippet?

Thanks alot guys!
Luc

P.S. Please still answer first questions too if you have the time.

[edited by - T9 on December 4, 2002 2:16:59 AM]

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Luc,

The number of 2D games you should make before you move on to 3D is based more upon your understanding of 3D than on your game programming experience. There''s no question that 3D is harder to code than 2D, but a solid understanind of 2D, and 200 2D games made, wont make you any more ready for 3D.

Now that I''ve said that, I''d say 5 is a fine number. Not so much because you''ll need to learn something you didnt already know, but because it''ll give you a better understanding of your own capabilities and a feeling of self confidence only gained from completing what you started. 2D games are easier to complete, hence, by working on small 2D games, you''ll better prepare yourself for the dissapointment you''ll experience when you first tackle a 3D game.

Also, I run a tutorial series and website called OldGames: Making Games from Old to New. The purpose of the series is the exact thing you''re discovering now. We''ve completed pong and we''re moving on to more difficult and challenging projects.

I guess I shouldnt say I''m doing it anymore. I attempted to do it all myself, but with my new job at Liquid I dont have time to do all of it anymore. So I''m in the process of recruiting a team of about 5 programmers who want to work on the games with a bit of advice and councel from me. I''m still going to be working with some design docs and writing code though.

Feel free to check out our discussion thread called OldGames.... in the "beginners forum." Also, you can check out the website at:

http://dungeons.dyndns.org/oldgames/

I''d encourage you to read the pong design document I wrote and see if it''s something you''re interested in helping with.

Best Regards,

Jeromy Walsh
Programmer
Liquid Entertainment
------------------------
"The question isn''t how far, the question is do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed?" -Boondock Saints

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I''m currently doing a computer science study in the Netherlands and just entered my third year. I do a great deal of programming and am pollishing up my C/C++ knowledge in combination with OpenGL.
I do this in my free time, which in my opinion gives me a great advantage over others who only program because they have to. This is my very first contact with 3D programming and also with the maths involved, thus making is even more difficult to grasp.

I have read quite a few articles about game-programming and the game-programming-world, and you seem have the exact same opinion as vented in those articles: Tough world to work in, but rewarding in the end.
I also read that there is A LOT of math in the programming (VERY true as far I''ve experienced), but I was wondering how important maths is in getting a job or even making a game.
I mean, every bit of maths used in these programs can be found (and used) on resource sites. So, how heavilly are people judged on their math knowledge, and on which areas of the maths are people judged?

I have collected a large amount of maths-code and put them in general purpose classes for my programming, so I don''t expect to use my calculator a lot in my programming. I this a wrong approach?

Thank you

If idiots could fly, I would be a space-shuttle.

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Well that clears some things up. I think I have a good understanding of how 3D works theoretically, but I won''t even try to get into that right now. Skinned meshes and BSP files and Etcetra, oh my!

Anyway, I checked out your site, looks like a really neat idea. Perfectly understandable though that you haven''t the time to complete new games/tutorials or anything. I would actually love to help, my primary occupation since I was 13 is web design. I work at a professional design studio, serving as lead programmer and occasionally chief designer. Check out http://www.trans9.com

I could provide a professionally made web site, complete with tutorial index system, forum, game showcase, etc., etc.. Of course my clients come first, but I could definitely help you guys out. I have had several ideas about finding a niche in this game development resource ring. Gamedev.net is really good resource for the forum alone, but could be much better, ya know?

I''ll post back tomorrow sometime and rant a little. For now, I''ll enjoy my regular sleeping hours while I can still uphold them.

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To answer the question about math. Yes it''s one of the cornerstones of what we look at when we hire people for a programming position.

1. Finding an algortim for testing ray intersections and all those simple things is easy. What we try to find out is if the person can derive a completely new thing from a theoretical math book and implement that in optimized code.

2. The next thing is of course a work sample. Well structured code, use of "simple" ways of coding (readable) code, comments, usage of helper classes and templates. More or less to find out how "mature" the coder is. A lot of guys can say thing like hell why do I need C++ I can code it in C and Assembler. But then you haven''t understod the "mature" thing. This is of course a general statement. If we are going to hire a PS2 guys the "hacker" is more important.

3. How is the guys socially. Can he interact with other people in the team? Does he seem to be a responsible person? Can he drive his own work and come up with sollutions and suggestions for additions or do you have to tell him every bit of work he''s going to do.

4. Has he worked in the demo scene? (This is actually more important that I first thought) This shows a genuine interest that has lasted for several years.

5. School background, it''s not extermely important. But we still hire mostly university students.

6. Everything else that I haven''t thought about that are those little pieces that makes up a solid impression.

Thanks

joachim

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