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Game design that will give you good experience

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I will be working on a game for 8 weeks in a class. It will be the first game i''ve ever attempted. I''ll be graduating after that, so i want to make the best of my time. Therefore, i would like to present this question to the forum: Now I don''t expect you to spoonfeed me with an entire game design, but just like employers looking to hire "programmers" are probably truly looking for something more specific such as C# programmers or Java programmers, i would expect people looking for "game programmers" are looking for something much more specific than just that. So what type of game could I make that would show potential employers that i would be worth while to hire (something as specific as a certain genre or something as general as 3D instead of 2D, for example)? Or/And what kind of feature could I add to my game that would make me seem worth while to hire (like some type of complex programming feature that game employers look for, ie: complex collision detection)? See, i''m just really worried that i''ll end up making a game that will be too simple and any technical employer that looks at it will think it does nothing to show any skill i may have. Can anyone give me some suggestions? I''d really value some advice and please keep in mind this is my first game attempt and i only have about 8 weeks. Thanks a lot

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8 weeks and your first attempt? I Can''t think of anything that would get you hired with that. You best bet would to choose your favorite type of game and one that you''d want to develop. Look at what already has been done in those kinds of games and then focus on making a tech demo that showcase a particular technical feature that you''ve handled in an inovative way. You should be to explain to a potiential employer how exactly implemnting that feature in real game would improve the games appeal and or lower the overhead of using it instead of an existing feature.

But without knowning any of your technical skills or prior experince your question is essentially meaningly less.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
But without knowning any of your technical skills or prior experince your question is essentially meaningly less.



Ok, i have C, C++ and Java experience. I think i could pick up C# in a matter of days if i wanted to (i've already studied it a bit). I know a little php too. I've worked on an Oracle database before, but nothing really worth mentioning for that. I've taken a Graphics Theory class where i became as fluent in OpenGL as possible in 10 weeks. For my final project in my class i made a simple prototype of a level editor (you click on the square button, it makes a cube on the screen, you can move it on the screen with your mouse, rotate it in space, no big deal, but it did use ray-casting for collision detection with my mouse). Am i going into enough detail?

Now i have a lil question about your reply. You said, "showcase a particular technical feature that you've handled in an inovative way". Do you think this would be the way to go in comparison with making a simple game like (what i have been considering making) a Mike Tyson's Punch-Out clone and just trying to make it as complete a game as possible?

EDIT: Oh oh, something good to know (which you may have assumed) I'm going to be working on this project with a group of 4-5. That may affect your answer.

[edited by - tieTYT on April 14, 2004 2:29:05 AM]

[edited by - tieTYT on April 14, 2004 2:30:35 AM]

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If your trying to get a job then a tech demo showcasing you abilites will carry far more weight then a clone of an older game.

How proficent are your math and openGL skills? Could you say create realtime water effects? lets say you have a river and the user can drop things in the river or reshape the banks and the rivers flow adapts in real time to the users changes? That also has realtime reflections?

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth


How proficent are your math and openGL skills? Could you say create realtime water effects? lets say you have a river and the user can drop things in the river or reshape the banks and the rivers flow adapts in real time to the users changes? That also has realtime reflections?

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave



No, i wouldn't say that i know how to do that My guess would be the first step to provide such an effect would be to use raytracing. That's all i can say about the subject.

Is it hopeless?

[edited by - tieTYT on April 14, 2004 3:03:44 AM]

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Like I said in my first post, What is your favorite kind of game? What feature for it do you think you can do improve upon or do in an innovative way?

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Like I said in my first post, What is your favorite kind of game? What feature for it do you think you can do improve upon or do in an innovative way?

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave



My two favorite types of games are RPGs and 3D fighting games. Due to the fact that the only thing i''ve done with OpenGL that wasn''t basic would be collision detection and picking with a mouse, i think the only thing i could potentially even consider improving upon is collision detection. Maybe i could figure out a more efficient way to detect collision detection in a 3D fighter. I''d also really like to learn how to make a level editor, but i don''t even know what could be improved in the category or level editors so i worry that pursuing that option would not result in anything innovative. I''m not very interested in innovating something that is graphical (such as the example you just asked me). I don''t think that is my forte.

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
If your trying to get a job then a tech demo showcasing you abilites will carry far more weight then a clone of an older game.


I actually disagree with this quite a bit. If you write a hardware accelerated punch out clone, that would show alot more than a neat looking water demo. If you do something creative with this punch out demo (such as making it multiplayer) it would show by far more than a specialized demo. Completing a game is a tremendous work. The fun parts of development are writing the little demo's, effects and "tricks". Everybody is capable of this.

Completing an entire game shows you are well balanced in a number of areas and more importantly, that you have the will and ability to complete what you start. Many programmers are not capable of this. Don't try to impress your employer with an amazing new trick that will improve every game they ever release. Its not going to do much other than come off as pompous. You're going to start as a junior programmer and you will realize you know next to nothing (right now) after you've been working professionally for a few years.

Completing an entire game is the most important thing. Add candy afterwords. A dedicated developer with a strong desire to learn and complete what they begin is the much more attractive to a future employer than an entry level guy who thinks he knows enough to revolutionize said company's games, even though he has 0 years professional industry experience.

[edited by - haro on April 14, 2004 3:56:40 AM]

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Well your going to face that fact that your propably not going to to be able to get a job in the gaming industry after graduation. You simply don''t have the experince required to be considered by a major company. You only alternative is to develop part time and then do a combination of self publishing and pitching the game to publishers.

So I would suggest do something that interestest you and that you can reuse later on in whatever you decided to work on next.

A level editor isn''t that challenging of project the real challenge is the engine that acutually does something with level file.


I made a 3d engine about 6 months ago it was very simple. Essentily the level was made up of a three dimensional array of cubes. you could walk, jump,crouch and walls and floors would stop your movement. The level editor for the program was paint and a program I wrote to convert bmp into map files.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Well your going to face that fact that your propably not going to to be able to get a job in the gaming industry after graduation. You simply don't have the experince required to be considered by a major company.


I am an undergraduate still and have had no trouble finding game development work. I actually decided to pass, however, since I want to continue going to school and learning on my own. It is noteworthy that I live in the 3rd largest area of the states for game development but I have noticed a decent number of entry/intern level positions available in a number of other places, particularly California.

EDIT: When I was job hunting previously, my only relevant 'graphical' demo was a 2d space shooter asteroids type game.

[edited by - haro on April 14, 2004 4:20:32 AM]

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Well your going to face that fact that your propably not going to to be able to get a job in the gaming industry after graduation. You simply don''t have the experince required to be considered by a major company. You only alternative is to develop part time and then do a combination of self publishing and pitching the game to publishers.




So are you saying that not only will i not have enough knowledge to get a job as a game programmer after i graduate, the only way i could possibly get myself into the field after graduation is to make my own game that a publisher would want to make?

Haro: thanks, that makes me feel better.

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well first of publishers don''t make games, developers do. A publisher handles, production, sales and marketing.

You don''t have to have graphical skills, although those are the skills that most in demend at the moment.

An entry level/intern job in game programming you maybe able to get, provided you have a portfolio. Do you have a portfolio? By that I mean do you have a body of programming work that would be worth showing to a potential employer to showcase your ablities. Or previous programming experince?

You have to realize that a Bacholars in Computer Sciences is normally a mininium requirment and not grounds to hire someone on.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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What sort of game programming job are you after? There are plenty of areas of specialization, and the one you're looking at will affect the demo you need to write.

A complete game is not necessarily required, so long as it shows off whatever skills are relevent to the job you are applying for. In fact, for the specialist areas like AI and Graphics, you'll probably do better with a simple tech demo which shows off one skill well than a complete game which implements everything in a rushed, half arsed manner.

quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Well your going to face that fact that your propably not going to to be able to get a job in the gaming industry after graduation. You simply don't have the experince required to be considered by a major company. You only alternative is to develop part time and then do a combination of self publishing and pitching the game to publishers.


Not true, many game developers are prepared to take on new graduates.

[edited by - Sandman on April 14, 2004 6:06:51 AM]

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I agree. I believe that Technogoth is being overly cynical and unfair. Let's just assume (for the sake of optimism) that our buddy has plenty of skills, he just needs to find out which ones apply to a career in programming.

When I went to a Game Design school in FL, most of the programmers there (some no doubt have a job by now) were some of the WORST math and science (physics) students I have ever encountered. A programmer does not necessarily need to understand the way the world works, but simply understand the basics and be able to represent such things in code. Most of the physics programming that I have done was not inclusive of advanced physics and math formulas, but simply "all objects fall at approximately -10 meters per second" along with the basics of rotating objects through matrices (which I guarantee, most of the students would have to look up once again).

My math and physics class was instructed by Wendy Stahler (she recently had a book published, titled 'Math and Physics for Game Programming" or something to that effect), but she did not expect the students to leave with an all-encompassing understanding of all of the principles.

Programmers are hired for their skills in programming. There's no need to be any more pessimistic than "it might not be easy".

As far as the topic goes, I think that programming a "tool" is a very good idea. In fact, a level editor that uses an existing game engine in near-real-time so that a designer can place an object (NPC, light source, etc.) and immediately see the results using the game engine's environment is a GREAT TOOL - and one that most game designers either have....or wish their programmers would make for them.

[edited by - dgaf on April 14, 2004 12:18:04 PM]

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Since you only have 8 week, and I''m assuming you also have other classes, go for something simple like Tetris, Pong, Space Invaders (make sure your teacher is ok with you cloning games first tho). You''d be suprised how much work goes into making even simple games.

A few more suggestions...

* Make a 2D game!

* Plan to use very little artwork.

* Plan out the whole game before you start coding. Details are important.

* Scrolling takes a long time to implement, so keep that in mind.

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quote:
Original post by dgaf

As far as the topic goes, I think that programming a "tool" is a very good idea. In fact, a level editor that uses an existing game engine in near-real-time so that a designer can place an object (NPC, light source, etc.) and immediately see the results using the game engine''s environment is a GREAT TOOL - and one that most game designers either have....or wish their programmers would make for them.

[edited by - dgaf on April 14, 2004 12:18:04 PM]


actually, the night i posted this topic i was thinking of ways i could improve a level editor and this is the exact idea i came up with. Thanks.

For everybody: Since i have to specialize in a field in game design, would anyone be kind enough to provide a list of titles it is possible to specialize in (in the field of programming games)? All that comes to my mind is graphical programming and AI. I thought everyone else is just is a jack of all trades, master of none (did i use that expression right? :T).

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Another benefit to a "real-time tool" is that the employers will see that you are able to look at someone else''s code (an engine) and modify a level editing tool to mimick the in-game structure. Understanding someone else''s code is a VERY IMPORTANT skill that they look for.

If you are going for an optimizer position, then creating a highly optimized "simple game" might be the best investment of your time. They will likely know exactly what each project requires as far as programming knowledge. Being able to understand someone else''s code and modifying it to work for a different situation with the last amount of "re-writing" is a valuable ability to any developing team

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There are many specialities, you might as well ask what can''t you specialize in. Tool programmer is a specility, if you have access to an existing engine for something and can desgin and implement a useful level editor for it that would go a long way to showcase your abilities, try to choose an engine complex enough to showcase your abilites. If you can build it from only the level specifiction then that would be all the better.

I may have sounded harsh earilier but I just throught I point that just having BS is not enough to garuteen a job.


-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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I actually got the chance to ask Rich Vogel this question today. He is the Director of Development for Sony / the executive producer behind Star Wars Galaxies.

His response was that a specialization is good, but a broad understanding is even more important especially for entry level guys. He suggested that a specific technology demo, as opposed to an entire game, might be a better idea. He seemed to imply this was because writing an entire game really just isn't feasable for most people. The OP is in a unique position where writing an entire game is is feasable.

The most important things that he repeatedly stressed however, were:

1. A good work ethic is the most important thing there is. Typical work weeks can average 50-60 hours. This is before crunch time.

2. Leave your ego at the door. You still know next to nothing as a fresh graduate.

3. A very strong desire to learn. What is state of the art today is outdated tommorow. This cycle does not end. You need to be the type of person who is going to keep up with the game.

4. Good problem solving skills. This is something that cannot be taught at a University. Ability to think "outside the box" ( sorry to be so cliche ).

5. Loving it. This is probably a given for most people on these boards but some people don't have the passion for programming. They treat it as just a "job". This is not the type of person that companies want.

6. Ability to code very quickly and extremely cleanly. Clear, quick and well organized code as well as a willingness to adapt in house coding standards are basic requirements.

[edited by - haro on April 14, 2004 7:40:54 PM]

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Hey, not sure if anyone is reading this far (lord knows that I didn't read all the previous posts).

But I think the big mistake that people in your place usually make is by taking on a project idea that is way too ambitious. Like, they try to implement something really cool that few people have done before, like real-time ray-tracing or some spiffy learning algorithm. But of course, these things usually don't get finished, and even when they do get finished, they are not completely stable or polished.

Here's what I recommend your goals be: make something that is complete and polished . As in, don't just make a game that works, but also code the main menu, and the help screen and all that. And make sure there's no bugs, and leave enough room to polish the gameplay a little.

Of course that leaves less time for the game itself, and you'll have to write a relatively simple game (probably more simple than you were thinking), but that's okay. Polish goes a lot farther towards impressing interviewers than technical expertise.

[edited by - pinacolada on April 14, 2004 7:49:53 PM]

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quote:
Original post by haro
His response was that a specialization is good, but a broad understanding is even more important especially for entry level guys. He suggested that a specific technology demo, as opposed to an entire game, might be a better idea. He seemed to imply this was because writing an entire game really just isn''t feasable for most people. The OP is in a unique position where writing an entire game is is feasable.



First of all, thanks a lot for asking. I can''t really express in words how sincere i am about that.

Second, about these statements: "a broad understanding is even more important especially for entry level guys" and "He suggested that a specific technology demo, as opposed to an entire game, might be a better idea". Aren''t these in direct contradiction with each other? Maybe i don''t understand the range of a technology demo: What came to my mind was the example technogoth presented. Wouldn''t that be the opposite of a broad understanding?

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quote:
Original post by tieTYT
Second, about these statements: "a broad understanding is even more important especially for entry level guys" and "He suggested that a specific technology demo, as opposed to an entire game, might be a better idea". Aren''t these in direct contradiction with each other? Maybe i don''t understand the range of a technology demo: What came to my mind was the example technogoth presented. Wouldn''t that be the opposite of a broad understanding?


Yup the two are mutually exclusive. It is important to have a "broad understanding", but it''s pretty hard to demonstrate such a broad understanding in the scope of one demo.

I recommend that you keep your demo specific & specialized; don''t use the demo to show off how broad your knowledge is. Just trust that other aspects of your interview will show off how broad your knowledge is- both your list of previous experience, and your performance on their programming tests will demonstrate it.

Of course, you need to HAVE the "broad understanding" in order to show it off.

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quote:
Original post by tieTYT
Second, about these statements: "a broad understanding is even more important especially for entry level guys" and "He suggested that a specific technology demo, as opposed to an entire game, might be a better idea". Aren''t these in direct contradiction with each other? Maybe i don''t understand the range of a technology demo: What came to my mind was the example technogoth presented. Wouldn''t that be the opposite of a broad understanding?


Aye, but as I mentioned he seemed to imply that a tech demo would be a better idea not because it shows more about a person''s abilities, but because it is more practical. Most people do not have the resources ( art/time/etc ) to complete an entire game.

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quote:
Original post by haro
Aye, but as I mentioned he seemed to imply that a tech demo would be a better idea not because it shows more about a person's abilities, but because it is more practical. Most people do not have the resources ( art/time/etc ) to complete an entire game.


Ah i see. Well what if i could develop a whole game in my free time while i'm stuck with a typical non-gaming programming job. Now suppose it's complete, but it looks like a NES game (I mean looks like 8bit graphics and 2D), do you think something that "crappy" would still be preferable to a demo? Or do you think when he said a complete game he meant like... quake or something. Hehe, i like asking questions

[edited by - tieTYT on April 15, 2004 2:40:25 AM]

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quote:
Original post by tieTYT
Ah i see. Well what if i could develop a whole game in my free time while i''m stuck with a typical non-gaming programming job. Now suppose it''s complete, but it looks like a NES game (I mean looks like 8bit graphics and 2D), do you think something that "crappy" would still be preferable to a demo? Or do you think when he said a complete game he meant like... quake or something. Hehe, i like asking questions



I think 3D was implied. A strong background in math and physics was also recommended. Its alot easier to show this background in 3D.

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