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Best Educatioyn for a Job in Game Development

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I am currently a Virginia Tech student, a junior. I was wondering what would be better for me to get a job in game programming. I am visiting seattle this week and went to DigiPen and did their tour and wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. Does anyone know what the actual job community thinks about this school. Would it be wise to go to DigiPen to get my masters or try to stay at Virginia Tech to get my masters? [edited by - Thors1982 on January 12, 2004 2:41:46 PM]

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Pick a few game dev companies.

Write to their hiring staff, asking how they''d rank each of University, College, FullSail, DigiPen, game dev experience, other computer dev. experience, game (or graphics, or AI, or other area of specialty) demo.

If you get responses, create a report... post it here... bug a moderator until they make it part of a forum or site FAQ.

While some large companies may have seen enough graduates from DigiPen or FullSail to know if they are typically a good hire. Most game development houses will likely have had no, or very little, exposure to these graduates. They''re probably looked at similar to a college degree. The degree, coupled with a demo, shows you know something, and are interested in games. You will likely need something very special about your game to get noticed, just like everyone else applying.

But this is just my opinion... I don''t have anything to do with hiring.

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The most important thing to know about game programming, for the CS student interested in a job in game development, is that it''s still programming...

Ok, that sounds stupid, but it''s true. Having a solid foundation in programming, algorithms and data structures is the the basis of being a good game programmer. And having that foundation is going to be a lot more useful than, say, a superficial ability to code up Direct3D tutorials but no idea how to fit that into a larger software system and make it all come together. If you have the fundamentals down, the rest is application specific stuff that you can pick up as needed.

If you want to get an idea of what game development houses are actually looking for in job applicants, check out the job listings at http://www.gamasutra.com, and they will tell you exactly what studios want.

Game development has not yet come to the point where you need a game-specific degree from a place like Full Sail to get hired. Those schools are relatively new, which means there are relatively few people with that kind of education anyway. And all of the really experienced guys that have been doing this stuff for years have managed to get by without a degree that says "game" in it. Not that I think it''s a bad idea, actually I hardly know anything about full-sail, but it''s easy to suspect, especially since I''ve seen my own university add two or three programs with "game" in the title over the last 3 years, that there is a certain amount of cashing in/exploiting the growth of the game industry going on there.

[Edited by - The_Incubator on June 14, 2006 2:29:38 PM]

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That’s not strictly true. I’m a TD and do most of my companies hiring. I see 100’s of resumes a week and know about 99% of the university programs and schools like fullsail in the states. We also attend job fairs and workshops each year at a few universities.

We don’t care about an applicant’s ability architect new code or see “the big picture”. We’d rather judge a candidate by his ability to code a D3D demo. Graduates come into the industry as juniors and stay juniors for several years. As a junior you’ll be working a lead and experienced seniors under tight supervision. The code you implement will be written to someone else’s specs, not your own. The ability to architect code will be taught and comes later with more experience.

Personally, I’ll only consider university grads who’ve taken some of their courses on something related to games field. You must have done something in real-time graphics, rendering architecture or visual simulation of some sort. Graduates from schools like Fullsail are considered a step above that, but not much.

Unfortunately the job market at the moment is very tight and has been for 18 months now. We’re not actually hiring any juniors at all and I don’t know who else is. There are a lot of out of work professionals out there and we’d rather hire them. The market may open up more in a year or two, but even at it’s best we only take on one or two juniors a year.



----
WhatNo

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Do companies really care if the person has just a BSc. (one major, say, CS) or a Hons. BSc. (double major, say, in CS and something else)?

[edited by - strikernr on January 11, 2004 9:30:00 PM]

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Whatnoschedule, just out of curiousity, what kind of work does your company do (i.e., what kind of stuff are you asking applicants to do?).

I interned at a local game development house and for my job the ability to code a 3D demo was basically worthless, and this was true of most of the programming we did. Needless to say the fact that I was working on a TBS has something to do with lack of need for 3D expertise, but by the time I left they were working on 3D projects and still only had 2 guys that were really working on graphics programming.

I''m not trying to contradict what you are saying (you do the hiring, so you obviously know who you hire), just that in my experience, with the amount of work that needs to be done on any game aside from 3D graphics, having a studio full of guys who can code a 3D demo seems unbalanced. Most of the work I did required an ability to grok the overall structure of the game and write subsystems that played nice with what was already there... and more than once I heard a senior programmer make comments about guys they''d hired who could write a great demo if you left them in the closet for the weekend, but when they were expected to work in the context of an existing framework, creating code that worked well with and didn''t break the rest of the game, they fell apart.

That said, I had taken graphics courses and could code a 3D demo...

[Edited by - The_Incubator on July 13, 2006 11:02:46 PM]

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It would depend on the company, the project and the actual job description. There are several positions for people that know how to program and that have different strengths besides 3D programming. There are typically quite a few game industry jobs that don''t require the employee to know or do any 3D programming.

Many companies license a huge amount of ''graphics code'' from third party entities. It isn''t feasible for every company to have a group of 3D graphics gurus, nor even necessary.

I wouldn''t place any money on ''what'' a particular company will find to be the be all end all of ''how'' they hire. Most hiring processes are bullshit anyways. You should know your strengths and weaknesses, seek to improve both and get your ass out and interview like there''s no tomorrow.

Lastly, how should anyone know if it is ''wise'' for you to stay and get your masters? Do you actually want to get your masters? Do you just want to get your masters to theoretically appease some percentage of employers in the industry? Ask yourself what you want and if getting your masters will bring you closer to what you want. If you don''t know, then get out there and find out.


.z

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University Of Abertay Dundee in Scotland have been doing games degrees for quite a long time now. That is, if you consider taking the degree abroad.. it's probably alot cheaper than doing a degree in the US anyway.

Recognized Scotish and UK based developers recruit from Abertay, as do large coorperations like EA.

[edited by - BiTwhise on January 12, 2004 6:57:50 AM]

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quote:
Original post by dmikesell
quote:
Original post by whatnoschedule
The code you implement will be written to someone else’s specs, not your own.


How detailed are these specs? Can you give an example? Doesn't sound like much fun :-/



From my experience, it's coding standards from within the company. The way you structure your code, you format it, naming conventions, comments (need comments, a lot of them), using sub-systems and engine code, make sure it is cross platform and implemented for all platforms if not, no spaghetti code, reducing dependencies, some code design (flow charts, for stuff like memory card menus and other state machines), perhaps some documentation, and what not.

you've got to abide to it, for the sanity of the other programers. You work in a group, so you've got multiple check outs (VSS) and code merging, make sure your code is safe when building a release for the publishers, using other people's sub-systems, ect... That's probably the hardest part for a noob (and even later). Lead coders have other things to do than debug your code and workout what's going on in your head. And it is doubtful you'll start on a renderer. Probably not even on the engine, but most probably, on the game code, adding new entities to the game, and other boring stuff (menus, ect...).

Could be a pain at first, but in the end, you get used to it and it makes everybody happy. keep your lead a happy puppy. Buy him doughnuts, massages, ect....

[edited by - oliii on January 12, 2004 8:22:18 PM]

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