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fredercl

Switching Jobs - To game development

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fredercl    122
I have held a respectable run-of-the-mill programming job for several years now. However, I feel like it''s time to jump boats and switch to professional game development. I have some reservations about the best way for me to tackle the switch. On one hand, I feel like I should go back to college to earn my Masters in some math/programming related field that will help me land a job in game development. On the other hand, part of me feels like I should skip the Masters, generate a healthy library of completed homebrewed games, and start applying to game development houses. If anyone has any advice, i''d love to hear what you have to say! Thanks!

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sSimontis    100
I say get a book, and learn. You can probaly use your knowledge to accelerate your learning. You know C++, right? Anyways, get a good compiler, and some game programming books. I like OpenGL Game Programming.

Scott Simontis
Big Joke: C#

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Noods    205
The masters wouldnt hurt, no doubt the math would look good. What you should focus on is getting some actual game programming experience. Learn the win32 API, DirectX, OpenGL. Then start getting into the nitty gritty. Learn to use different images types, sound, video, AI, collision detection, network efficiency, how to deal with latency, and the 3d aspect of game programming. There is a lot more then I listed, but Im sure youll find that in time. Good luck!

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Cipher3D    340
both dude. masters gaurantees you won''t be jobless..unless you''re dimwitted...but then, you wouldn''t have a masters if you''re dimwitted...BAH i''m confusing my self..so if i were you, do the masters and in your spare time do a LOT of demos.

of course, you''re hearing this from a 14 year old...so i don''t think i should count as a credible source...

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Bakingsoda36    211
quote:
Original post by Village Specialton
I say get a book, and learn. You can probaly use your knowledge to accelerate your learning. You know C++, right? Anyways, get a good compiler, and some game programming books. I like OpenGL Game Programming.

Scott Simontis
Big Joke: C#


Tell me, where does it say that he doesn't already have a compiler? It doesn't, look at his profile and you will see that he has used C++ before. Also where does it say that he has never used an API before? He doesn't, again after looking at his profile it looks like he might have some experience with DirectX. It also looks like he has experience with OpenGL.

BTW, please change your sig. OR show me that you actually know what you are talking about when you say C# is a joke...



[edited by - Bakingsoda36 on August 7, 2003 2:02:18 AM]

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superpig    1825
Hi there.

One of the things I hear most often from these boards (and I''m inclined to agree with) is that demos matter more than qualifications.

Well, perhaps not ''more.'' They are certainly just as important, though.

If you''ve held down a decent programming job for some time, I take it you had qualifications for it - a computer science degree, or something like it? If so, that will be more than enough to go into gaming... more and more, it''s becoming just like any other area of development. Your years in standard programming could even give you an advantage over a fresh graduate - you''ll have seen techniques that aren''t applied to games, and so you may be able to apply them in innovative ways. Plus, you''ll be used to working in a team, to milestones/deadlines, etcetera.

Often people don''t care that you don''t already know everything - just that you''ll say when you don''t know something, and be prepared to go look it up. Nobody is expecting you to be able to do every aspect of a project; that''s what teams are for.

So, IMO, the ''safest'' strategy is to keep your run-of-the-mill programming job for the time being, but work on some game demos in your free time. Build a library of game books - may I recommend Rollings and Morris''s Game Architecture and Design for one - and once you''ve got a small portfolio, you can start looking for jobs in the industry.

Without demos, you''ll possibly be able to get a position like my one (testing/QA, and a small amount of level design). I''m 16. You can do better.

One last word on portfolios: don''t just make a bunch of clones and/or tech demos. Make complete games - showing that you have the stamina to stick with a project to completion - and if you must make ''classics,'' be sure to put a twist on them in some way, to give the employers something new to remember you by. For example, I''m working on a Tetris game for Enginuity, but rather than just doing a plain tetris clone I''m wrapping the playfield around a cylinder. It''s not exactly a common occurence.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4

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nswan    122
I''m in the same boat as you mate. Fed up with making boring business apps! I''ve set myself a target of 6 months to get some great demo''s together and then start applying for jobs.

Send us an email if you want perhaps we could learn in tandem!

Cheers
Nick

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bpopp    122
Six months may be a little aggressive unless you are already pretty familiar with this stuff. I started HEAVY back in February and have been working 2-3 hours a night 5 days a week (at least) and am still nowhere near where I think I should be before jumping ship.

Here''s the journal I''ve kept along the way.

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Pootle    122
We need a job exchange program, so we can see if the grass really is greener...

I''ve been working as a games programmer for nine years now, and frequently think the Answer to (some of) life''s problems would be to write games as a hobby and write business apps for a living.

I have this daft idea in my head that as a business app programmer, projects will be planned in advance, schedules will be realistic and thus I might get out of the office in time to see some daylight once in a while. Feel free to debunk these!

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Erkki    122
I agree with Pootle. I had a job programming business apps for 3 years and I want to stay in that business. But recently I quit my job to finish my studies (computer science). After that I''ll probably go for a Masters degree and a better job, but at the same time, I want to make games as a hobby.

Mostly because all the horrors (like crunch time) I''ve heard about the game industry, I don''t really want to go there. In my previous job, I could hardly even manage 12 hours a day (and 5 days a week) for more than a couple of weeks. Luckily, that was necessary for me only twice in a year or so.

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nswan    122
Ha,

if you think business app projects are better planned you could never be more wrong! I suppose it''s down to you''re manager, but my manager couldn''t plan a piss-up in a brewery!

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Erkki    122
Most of the business apps I was working on were also horribly planned. But some actually made deadlines. But even with the most horribly planned apps we never did as much overtime as I''ve heard game developers do very often.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Be sure you know what you''re getting into, and be careful of getting what you wish for. Yeah I know, deep huh?

I''ve been logging 12-14 hour days--mostly straight coding--for over 4 months now, with no signs of it stopping. Also, get ready to code the *same*thing*ten*times*over as all the design changes, the technology changes, etc. The end result is awesome (it''s a GAME!), but the day to day can be a million times worse than your "normal" job!

Sometimes I dream (have nightmares?) about 3d matrix math and coverting screen coordinates to world coordinates...

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fredercl    122
Wow!
First of all, thanks for all the great replies. I really appreciate everyones input.

Nick,
>>I''m in the same boat as you mate. Fed up with making boring >>business apps!
Glad I''m not alone out here.

I also want to recommend a book for all those people who are in my shoes, "POSTMORTEMS from Game Developer", it was a great book to read (especially when drained from coding all day) and it sort of allowed me to see into the world of creating computer games without actually having done it.

That said, I agree, I know developing video games is big business now. It seems clear to me, even from outside the industry, that most development houses are starting to accept a more business like style of project management. Why do you think so many new games are cookie cutter crap (just kidding). Really, I do hope that my experience writing business apps allows me to take the project management practices I learned, and apply then to making fun and innovative games, and I also hope that one day it will let me program games for only 8 hours a day, and still make my deadline. But even if I have to work 14 hours a day for 52 weeks straight, I I''m ok with that for the chance to see a game I worked on get played.

So for now, this is my plan:
1) I''m going to keep my current job (which is wonderful).
2) I''m going to learn Direct3D in my spare time (Lucky me, I already started).
3) I''m going to start a game development journal.
4) I''m going to plan my game and create a living design document.
5) I''m going to code, draw, and record my game into existence, while following my design doc as closely as possible.
6) I''m going to test the game, by following the procedures in the design doc.
7) I''m going to write a POSTMORDUM of my experience.
8) I''m going to package it all up on a nice CD: resume, game, design doc, journal, and POSTMORDUM and start applying to for jobs! If I can’t find a job, then I will consider attending graduate school.

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Sander    1332
I would like to add two points tp your list:

...
3.5) Create a few small demo''s to get experienced with DirectX''s functionality
...
4.5) Create a few more demo''s about the main features lined out in the design doc (again: experience)
...

Creating these small apps really helps you to create a better game. I program in C++/OpenGL for over 3 years now. I''ve written 4 terrain renderers and 3 advanced particle systems. Each one was a *lot* better than the one before because I learned so much during development. I suggest you do this as well so that you will be able to use the experience from the demo''s to create a better game for your portfolio.

Sander Maréchal
[Lone Wolves Game Development][RoboBlast][Articles][GD Emporium][Webdesign][E-mail]


GSACP: GameDev Society Against Crap Posting
To join: Put these lines in your signature and don''t post crap!

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nswan    122
that sounds very familiar to what i''m going to be doing fredercl. The only difference is, is that I''m going to learn directdraw before direct3d, just so I can get used to programming in c++ and using directx.

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superpig    1825
fredercl, that''s an excellent plan. A journal/postmortem will really make you stand out when you get to applying for positions.

Actually, the main reason for the ''cookie cutter crap'' (as you so beautifully put it ) is more a result of business processes being applied in the wrong way - to the creative, design aspect of development, rather than the straightforward, coding/building aspect of it. But you''re right, it''s gradually changing for the better.

Don''t fool yourself too much into thinking that DirectX will be a major help on your application forms (unless you want to become an engine or XBox programmer). I don''t really know, but I''d estimate that the coders in my team have spent maybe 5% of their time so far writing any rendering code (and we''re coming up to alpha, so if they are going to write any it will be soon). You won''t often be developing a game from scratch (it''s a waste of resources) - instead you''ll be using an engine with it''s own abstracted render API, and while your knowledge of 3D will be useful, direct knowledge of DirectX will be less so. Not that you shouldn''t learn it; just keep that in mind.

Oh, and I''d recommend you look into an approach to development called the ''software factory'' approach. It''s a method of building a game up out of distinct components - developing a renderer, sound system, AI system, etc etc all seperately, testing them seperately, and integrating them - and then reusing them in the next project. It''s much closer to the business model of development that you may be used to, and it''s worth knowing about.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4

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nswan    122
as i saw the 'software factory' idea mentioned just thought I'd tell you about a book I read on it (and other design methods). Ok it's in VB.net, and it mainly uses business apps for examples, but it does explain how to build resuable, and scaleable code.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1861006985/ref=sr_aps_books_1_2/026-4062179-9804469


[edited by - nswan on August 8, 2003 5:52:58 AM]

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superpig    1825
Another book - more directly related to game development - with information on the Software Factory technique (where I learnt about it) is Rollings and Morris'' Game Architecture and Design. It''s got a large section on industry techniques and project management.

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates, and when he''s not doing that, runs The Binary Refinery.
Enginuity1 | Enginuity2 | Enginuity3 | Enginuity4

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fredercl    122
I think I will order a copy of the "software factory" book. My major was actually in Computer Software Systems, so besides general programming classes, I took alot of Software Engineering Classes, and I really enjoy reading about the different software development methodologies.

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freakchild    572
quote:
Original post by nswan
man you are putting me off trying to get into the games industry now!


Consider what people are saying to you good advice. Games programming is one of the hardest ways you could possibly think of of making a living.

If you wish to chase dreams, then considering going down the astronaut path. Games programming is a nightmare and as somebody else said, be careful what you wish for.

Keep it as a hobby and you will never be disappointed with it.

[edited by - freakchild on August 9, 2003 3:19:37 AM]

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