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Guest Anonymous Poster

How experienced must you be to land a game programming job?

38 posts in this topic

I think you're right, DevShin. In fact, I think that is probably what it's going to be like whether you're right out of college or not.
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I've never accually tried to get a job at a programming company, so if I'm wrong about this tell me.

I'd look at the webs job-listings, and find one that looks good (forget about the past work requirements), and send them a disk with some examples of your work with a filled out copy of the online application. Put the words look on disk for the past work line.

? Anyone in the hiring area would you like games or code for games if someone did this?

I think this is one of the few areas anymore where you can accually show that you know what you are doing before you have work experience.

------------------
DESIGN FANATIC
David Abresch
abre1657@blue.univnorthco.edu

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The fundamental problem: There are just too many programmers. The schools are churning them out at a record pace.

Notice that this doesn't stop big tech companies from making the spurious claim of a great tech-worker "shortage."

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To get in, you more or less have to know what the hell you are talking about, and be able to back it up.

Quite frankly, having a degree won't help you much, if you can't solve problems.

I worked at various companies, without a degree. The pay for game programming jobs is less than regular programming jobs, and you are typically expected to work more hours.

Personally, I've decided that it isn't worth it to devote my life to writing someone ELSES' game, when I could make more, and work less writing someones misc. win32 application, then spend all that extra time that I have, working on the game *I* want to play.

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I agree that having a degree won't guarantee anything. It might help, but if you can't show something you might as well not even have it. I think more companies are interested in seeing what you can do than knowing you can pass some college courses. I worked as an applications programmer for 6 years and just landed my first job in the industry. I don't have a degree. I made a contact at the GDC Roadtrip here in Baltimore and got to show some people a small game I was working on with a friend. Months later I got a call and an interview.

The moral - learn whatever you can however you can, start writing a game you want to plan. If you get a chance to check on a conference in your area to the GDC do it. You'll learn more stuff and maybe make some contacts.

BTW, maybe I just got lucky or it's because I've got a little experience but the job I snagged actually is paying a little more than I was making as an app programmer and I was making decent money (over 50K).

[This message has been edited by Machaira (edited October 20, 1999).]

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Hey all, thanks for all the responses!

If you want to know what I've decided, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you. I'm not sure.

I think I'll send my stuff out and I'll see what happens. I might land a job, I might now. They might try to put me in slave labor, I don't know.

Please continue with your comments if you have any.

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Are you all really experiencing a shortage of programming jobs? I'm only a year and a half out of college, but my graduating class literally had companies beating down our doors for employees. Nearly 90% of them wanted "willing to relocate" but those were all willing to pay for said relocation. I had to stay here for personal reasons but still managed to land a $40k/year in BFE land about 1 month after graduation.
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The reason that a degree is usefull is that it shows the employer that you are a quick learner, you have the motivation to stick with something for long periods of time, and you can work to deadlines.
The reason i think game programming jobs are low paid, is that very often games will not make any money, it can be really hit and miss, so the publishers take a HUGE amount of the profits to safe guard against any losses.
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I started writing business software professionally about nine years ago whenI was twenty-one. No degree, in fact no high school diploma (I was a janitor before I was hired as a programmer). And I make over a hundred grand a year, and I go home early every day.
Every time I go out to hire someone, I look for talent, I only ask a few key questions, and nobody is ever able to answer them. I dont care about diplomas, degrees or experience, I want to hire talent.
The reason we pay so much more in the business software world is because people NEED the software.
Let's face it, nobody really needs a game, but everybody wants to write them.
But when a client comes to me and they need some database chewing report writer, I can crank it out in a day, and they have no idea how easy or hard such a thing was. Because it's a one off, our rates are sky high, and because there are only a few of us here, each of us gets a big piece of the pie.
In games, you need a huge budget, a large staff of people, artists, designers, coders, to create what is sold as a horizontal market app. And because you're trying to reach a horizontal market, you have to sell it cheap, which means you have to sell alot.

So you see, if I write a custom business app, my company sells it for twenty thousand dollars, that ten thousand bucks a piece for two days worth of overhead.
But to develop a game, let's say that's a half dozen people on your dev team, two hundred employees at the publisher, Ten thousand employees at Wal-Mart, a years worth of overhead, and your only charging forty bucks!! How can you afford to pay the rent?

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You would choose writing business apps over writing games? Why
are you then hangin' out in a game development forum then? Eh?

Me thinks you have a burning desire to get into games, and I am
sure you have the money for it. Heh.

I am sure people pay well for business apps, not directly because
they need them, but because business and game industries have different
types of consumers. You have big money corporations buying those
business apps. And why not raise the price a little, they certainly
can pay for it. You can't do that for games, because you are targeting
the average joe consumer who doesn't have deep corporate pockets.

And I don't think your argument of what-comes-out-of-a-product should
outweigh what-goes-into-a-product stands up too well, because I can
go out and buy movies that cost 100 millions dollars to produce
for less than 20 bucks. I'm sure none of those people have trouble
paying the rent. Yeah, I know they get that money back from movie-goers
if everything goes well, but like them, people who write games just
have to work hard on getting their stuff distributed on a large scale.
And if it is a great game, they will sleep comfortably at night.

Reaver

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I agree with cdj5. I've worked professionally for 4 years on business apps with only part of a CS degree. (Took a two month break, never went back). I thought heavily on working at a games company, and even tried getting into Legend as an intern as they're right down the street and I wanted to see what it was like. Now though, I think I'd rather stay where I am because a) More money. b) Nice 9-5 hours, not 9-2am hours c) I can work on my own games in my spare time, like an online graphical MUD I'm currently revising the client for. (www.illusia.com)
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When I graduated from college, I just faxed my resume' everywhere that I wanted to work.

Demos are good. Code samples are almost as good, so make sure you take the code for the demos to any interviews and make sure that you are fairly familiar with the code and that it's pretty clean

Keeb

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Well my advice is just to get your foot in the door somewhere that you could work for at least 2-3 years(being a grunt is no fun, might as well work somewhere that its tolerable). After you have some "experience" working in the industry, its pretty easy to transfer around especially if you have talent and you are motivated.

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Could someone tell me how good/experienced a programmer has to be in order to get a programming job at a game company?

I just graduated from college with a CS degree. I have no professional experience in programming.

I have created two demo games. They are both fully playable but they don't have title screens, high scores, etc. One is a 2D souped up Space Invaders clone, and the other is a 3D space shooter like a stripped-down homemade Starfox 64 for the N64.

I made these games so that I could have something to include with my resume. Will they help or am I wasting my time because of my lack of experience??

Please give me some advice.

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