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Stefpet

Why becoming a game programmer?

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Immortal Games    122
There is a couple of reasons.
1. You get paid about double that of even a MCSD programmer

2. Having people like your games

3. It is 10x more challenging then normal programming

4. Fame

5. Its an addiction

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mason    128
The fact you're overlooking is that business apps are BORING.

I want to do games professionally because I want a "creative" career. Yes, there's creativity in everything, but there's a big difference between using creativity to optimize a database schema and using creativity to imagine entirely new worlds, characters, and plots. I want both kinds.

Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios
www.spin-studios.com

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bit    122
I guess I should probably throw in my two cents ...

First, let me say that I doubt the people who are "in it for the money" are seriously planning to get rich. I look at that statement more like --- "To get paid for doing something I have loved since I was a toddler." Of course, there are always going to be a few who think they will be the Bill Gates of PC video games ... oh well.

Second, the "because I love games" people are, in my opinion, the majority. You mention an open source project so you can keep a life. But, for many people ( myself included ), I don't mind having this be "my life."

Currently, I get up around 5-6AM and that is when I start coding -- right after my wife and I eat breakfast. I do not get off the computer until between 11PM - 1AM every night ( unless my wife demands we watch a movie or something ). But, my point is I own my own business, yet work these incredibly insane hours ... and I love it. The only thing I would trade it for is the opportunity to get paid for doing it. I know there are many people who feel the same exact way.

Game programming is something that is challenging, fulfilling, and never stagnant. Why would any one of us give up our dreams for "business" programming unless absolutely necessary.

I am remember being 16 and working at a local Arby's for 8, or so, months. Screw that. It wasn't fun, and for me neither is business programming. I don't give a damn about an extra $20k-$50k a year if I hate coming to work everyday like when I worked at Arby's.

I have done business programming and game programming. For me, the biggest challenge in business programming is dealing with clients. Which is more of a headache than a challenge. At least, with games, I have the opportunity to push the PC, or console, to its ultimate limit ... and then push some more, just because I can.

So, it was quite a bit more than 2 cents ... but I hope it gives you at least some idea of why some of us are so hell-bent on working for a large, established company.

Oh yeah ... and Ben, would this be a bad time to point out that "a couple" == 2.

- Chris

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bosjoh    122
Well, the reason I began is that I LOVE to play games but as in all games I thought always on some kind of improvement. Or doing things that games weren't programmed for (like doing SONIC's ways with KNUCKLES).

And then when you learn programming you try your first game.
After that you're ADDICTED for sure.

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SikCiv    122
Ever since the ol' NES and GameBoy, iv'e always wanted to create my OWN games and implement my OWN ideas into the games I play, instead of playing with someone else's creation. Money isnt even half the reason I program games, its the addiction and satisfaction in seeing what you have created on screen in full 24bit color!! Unlike the boring greyscale palette, mixed in with "seen it before" dialog boxes, displayed in ""business software"". Some people obviously havent actually sat down and attempted to make their own graphical creation ... very sad indeed.

-SikCiv

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
The problem with stephpet questions is that he assumes we would rather enjoy spending our free time doing something other than programming. When i was doing business programming this was the case cuz i couldn't wait to get home to do some really enjoyable game progamming vs static/boring/work business crud. Not to mention that i'm sure that most would agree that your average business progammer doesn't go out of their way to learn new stuff. For instance at the last place i worked doing business apps most of the programmers there didn't have a clue as to what activex was all about much less have any clue as to what directx was or have any clue as to the overall windows architecture.

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Diemonex    123
I'm just 16 years old, and started programming C++ about a year ago. I really regret that I didnt join my brother and learn BASIC when we got our comodore 64 about.... alot of years ago =). Currently I have read, and I'm reading some books on DirectX programming and I have started on my first game. It will take some time to get it finnished as school is really killing me =)
But the few hours at the computer every week I sometime has a real hard time deciding if I should play Half-life with friends or programm. So I guess I'll continou with making games.

------------------
Martin Björklund

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mordell    122
Ok, here's a different angle:

I AM what you would call a corporate developer. From some of the posts I have seen I am the epitamy of what a lot of you would despise being.

I would like to take just a moment to counter a point or two I have seen, and then give an explanation of why I am working on games in my spare time.


1) game programming is 10x more challenging that biz programming.

Well, yes....if all your doing is dragging a button onto a form and coding a "hello, world" message box. That is not what anyone can realistically call "software development".

There are a lot of similarities in the challenge's I face daily to the ones I face when I am "coding my game".

2) business programming is boring

Ahhh.... I think this cliche came about from anyone who has to have ever maintained legacy code. I would have to agree with this one. Slogging through thousands of lines of someone elses code (or, even your own for that matter) is not a lot of fun.

However, the majority of my day is doing new and exciting things. Otherwise, I would burn out and find something else to do. I find it hard to believe anyone would continue working in a career just for the money (including games).

I get the opportunity almost daily to be as creative as I want to be.

Of course, I consider myself lucky in that I have never had the sort of job that was what I call "dialog stuffing".

I am always working with the cutting edge tools and technologies. In my experience, those that can't adapt and change to face the next challenge are left by the roadside.
(note: there was a time there when I had to deal with "throw away technology", ill conceived technologies that MS threw at us that didnt' work, but the client wanted, so it had to be done, then was obsolete in 3 months...you get the idea).

By now, you have got to be saying "Well, if your so happy with it why don't you just keep doing it then?" (probably the polite version).

Like alot of people, I have played games and thought "man, this is so cool! Now, if only you could do this ...".

I started programming to make a living, it looked like (and is) an excellent career for me. Trying to make games is a natural expression of something I like to do.

Do I really want to work for a game company? nah...probably not. I mean, it would have to be for a game that I would love to play.. Not just to get to say "I'm a game programmer".

I just want to make fun games. I am not looking to be the next Carmack or Sweeny.

-mordell

[This message has been edited by mordell (edited September 14, 1999).]

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DavidRM    270
I have to agree with Mordell.

When I left The TV Guide Channel to become an "independent software developer" it wasn't too either (a) get away from business programming or (b) to only work on games.

I enjoyed the problems I was working on. I especially enjoyed creating software to make the lives of my end users more productive. If they were going about something the "hard way" I would put out a lot of effort to make their jobs easier. In numerous cases, I took tasks that had been taking them hours with the existing software and was able to reduce it to a button-push and a review of a printed report.

What I have discovered is that I simply want the freedom to work on the projects I *want* to work on, and to choose the people I work on them with.

I don't consider myself just a game developer. My projects include online multi-player games such as Artifact and Paintball NET , and shareware like The Journal . So long as my projects are successful enough to fund the next ones in the queue, I'll be happy.

So I make games because I like making games. I don't expect to get *rich* from my games, but I expect to make a living from them and my other projects.

And if you don't think Really Good database designers/programmers are as hard to find as good 3D programmers, you are *sorely* mistaken.

------------------
DavidRM
Samu Games

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Myopic Rhino    2315
Ahhh, too much to respond to here at once.

First off, to address the original post, for me, programming business apps for the money and programming games on the side for fun is not an option. I just don't nearly enough time outside of work to do all the game programming I want to. The only way I can have enough time to make games and to take care of my other responsibilties is to get paid to make games. Getting rich is not a priority. I just want to do something I enjoy for a living.

And to add to what mordell and DavidRM have said, "conventional" programming isn't as boring as most people here think. I recently finished a project in which I converted my company's primary product to several Asian languages, and seeing hangul and hanja on a handheld terminal screen was quite satifying. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to spend the next 40 years doing this, but programming is programming, and as long as you have some degree of creative control, it can all be fun.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I think the key here is "Control" we like to have control over what we are working/programming. It's kinda like the story I heard about airline pilots(I'm not sure if it's true) but they say most hate flying when they are just a passenger cuz they feel that they don't have any control of the aircraft and their lives if something was to happen.

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Queasy    157
I like game dev not just b'cuz of making the games, or the control. It's the thought of being in a real tight team. I mean, you're stuck with these guys for two years, you become really close to them... like family (sounds corny... but hey )

Also... it's the thought of being in a room filled with focus and skill... everyone is there not purely for money... but because they love the games, they love the project and the development. It feels like you're part of the "elite" where everyone respects each other for what they do.

Not to mention shipping it. Imagine walking into a gaming store, to see the game you've been coding on the shelf. Then imagine all these guys huddle around that part of the shelf, screaming "check this out... I heard that the guys there came out with this kickass a-life thing for the enemies... that's so whicked... i gotta buy a copy right now!" cool! You've just made some guy happier!

Then imagine you're in line for a burger at mcdonald's or whatever. And you overhear a couple dudes talking frantically about different strategies... it's like the game has taken over their world!

It's stuff like this that really gets me going... it's a dream, but i love it, and i'll always try my best to achieve it.

I once heard at gamescon, from a bunch of developers, "the only reason is just pure passion."

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Immortal Games    122
One of the main reasons I like it is you (the programmer) are like god! I mean you decide which person dies, how smart someone is, what the world looks like, is it raining. It is kind of like being an artist only an artist creates a world you can only look at and is hard to interpret. A game-programmer creates entire worlds that they can walk around in, communicate, and even die in. That is one of the main reasons i like it so much and of course the fact that it is addictive as hell!

PS is anyone else here in Hurricane Floyds path? I am and we are expected to get a direct hit here in Wilmington, NC. This would put us at the world record for direct hits (literally)! The past 5 years we have had more hurricanes then 49 of the states have had in 200 years. Well enough with the hustory lesson!

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MikeD    158
I program games during the day (and, of course, on into the night) professionaly and I count myself very lucky for it.
However, because of this, when I go home I find myself programming more academic ideas on projects which aren't strictly games related.
Do many/any professional games programmers here program their own games at night?

I'd just like to say I only program that which I am passionate about in my spare time. I guess that's the key.
In my professional life, while I love what I do, I tend to get less options about the specifics of my job, mainly because you all pitch in to get the work done and also due to the fact that it _is_ a job and you're paid for a service.

Not that I'd give it up for any other job in the world.....

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Tha_HoodRat    156
Hmmm , programming for money I havent published(no do I intend to) . Fame hmmmm , I have been making games for the last 10 yrs and noone has ever played any of my games !
Did playing games inspire me ? No . Why do I make games ? Its part of legacy .

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Stefpet    122
Ok, this is a little rant just to see what people think...

Why do so many people want to get involved in the game development business? Most say "For the money" and "Because I love making games".

Ok, you want money - do business programming! You'll probably get more money, and you can actually fit a normal life between the working hours.

Oh, so you want to make games? Well, isn't it equally fun to do games in your sparetime? Join a open source project or gathering some friends to do it?

Conclusion... you'll get the money, AND you may choose when you want to work yourself to death with game development or not.

So why do you want to become a pro-game-dev-guy? Is it the I-wanna-be-a-rockstar-syndrome?

(don't kill me now...) :-)

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Eck    7581
First of all, I like programming. I love solving problems and that is 98% of all programming. Why games instead of other stuff? Games are more fulfilling to me, and other non-programmers can appretiate what I wrote. If I wrote a really efficient database, very few non-programmers would be impressed.

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Stefpet    122
I agree with you, except that if you write a really efficient database probably more professional programmers would be impressed than if you wrote an efficient 3d-engine for example.

If you just mean among programmers in the game-business, then I agree.

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kressilac    110
I actually enjoy both. I have found that the programming knowledge that I have gained from programming games has been indespensible in debugging business applications and vice versa. To me, I can always tell a true programmer from a visual-age-bought-my-skills-in-an-MCSE-book programmer. True programmers understand the data structures behind major business applications. Coding games(and some college) has given me this knowledge. It has proven usefull many times over. How many times have I run into a DBA that has no clue why a b-tree index works the way it does. Oh sure he is certified by Microsoft or Oracle, but the guy isn''t worth a thing. Game programming keeps me technically sharp and in focus.

My reply to the original post is two fold. Business applications do not have to be boring and in many cases they are not. I program games in my spare time because I have a family to feed. Funny thing is what has driven me to put together a business plan to do games full time, is my family. I figure I am going to program games no matter what because that is what I love to do. Why spend 40 - 50 hours a week doing business applications then. I would get to spend more time with my family if I was programming games. To do this requires a plan, and I have one. While I do not plan on getting rich from games, though the thought intrigues me, I do plan on supporting my family doing them.

Last comment, can we drop the idea that there is no money to be made in games? Why is the industry larger than hollywood? There is money in games. It is not Bill-Gates style money but who needs to be an 80 billionaire to consider themselves wealthy. You can be well supported through a living in games. I know my programmers make good money.

Kressilac

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fowrel    122
I like gameprogramming (3D ;-) because it very very very complex. Because I can create my own universe. Because... You know, You do the same.

Because there are many posts in this thread!!! :-)


-- fowrel

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DarkMage139    294
Reply to Arch@on''s message.

Hey, I''m a teenager, and I''m friends with a lot of girls (heck, I''m friends with all the good-looking girls). Everyone from around like, 13 to 17.

Besides, how many "sweaty nerds" know karate and martial arts (I think I qualify for a brown belt, at least on the Judo standard).

Keep in mind that not all "nerds" are like what you see some movies. Sometimes the only thing we share is our knowledge of math, and our ability to program.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I became a games programmer because the opportunity arose, and I couldn''t see myself saying anything but ''yes''

Its not the money - most people I know with similar skills & qualifications earn more...

It IS the lifestyle I want. I don''t wear a suit, I don''t have to arrive on the dot of 9am, and I get to do something I really like doing all day.

Personally, if I am making enough money to live, and I''m *happy* - then I''m a winner. I know heaps of people that are unhappy in their jobs, or just can''t take the 9-5 drudge, and I know how much more relaxed I am than them.
(except at RTM time, when things get a little crazy!)

This doesnt mean you have to be a games programmer to be happy, but for some people (like myself) - it''s the perfect job.

Zaph

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I-Shaolin    138
I don''t think that there is really anything new I can add to this discussion, but here''s my take.

For me, the ultimate goal of a career is to get paid for what you love doing. This is exactly what a game programming career is. I get to work with people who are just like me on projects that are incredible.

Face it, when I go to work, I don''t have to deal with suits telling me to cut my hair or wear better clothes. Hell, my boss who is the owner of the company wears jeans and a T-shirt (just like me).

Also, I get to work with technology that no one outside of the game industry can. How else can you program for the Dreamcast?

And as far as the money issue goes. Who the Hell cares? I get paid very well for doing something that I would do anyway. And this way, I can devote all my energies toward game programming. Far more energy I could if I had to spend all day programming some "Intranet Solution."

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Mr_Black    132
I don''t know if this has already been posted, but here is my $0.02 on this issue. A lot of people have been mainly talking about game engine development. There is another side to game development, tools. And programming these is just like programming "business apps". I recently downladed a copy of a Game Programming lecture form Robert Huebner and one of the key parts of developing a game that he list is ''Game tools''. In it he states that ''Tools should account for 50% of your programming effort" apparently Jedi Knight was 50% tools, 50% engine. I know that the first games that you create wont need that many tools, but your later ones may.

I''m not trying to deture any one from game programming just trying to make sure everyone keeps there eyes open and not blinkered.

As I said just my $0.02 or seeing as I''m from the UK that should be 0.02p!

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