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leemoore

Making the Switch

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How unreasonable is it for a 37 year old self-taught programmer to make the switch from business database programming, to games programming. I'm 35 now, and I figure it will take me another 2 years of studying and building demos in my spare time to make this switch. I have 6 years of programming experience in Microsoft RAD technologies (Access, Visual Basic, ASP, C#, Visual Basic .NET) and in general I find that I have a knack with core programming skills including the ability to write clean efficient code, to solve complex problems, trouble-shoot difficult issues, learn and interact with complex and unorthadox APIs and frameworks. Major hurdles I see: - Building sufficient skill set (working on this now. It's challenging but doable) - Getting my first game job at 37 being self taught with no technical degree.(Just how tough is this if I have the demos and the skills?) - Location: currently I live in the New York, New Jersey area but am willing to move. Where would be the best place to go. Silicon Valley, Washinton, Texas? I would be interested in any input even it's to say I'm off my rocker. Thanks, Lee Moore [Edited by - leemoore on September 26, 2004 4:32:56 PM]

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Doesn't sound too unreasonable to switch from business programming to games programming. I could see you having more fun, which can't be a bad thing. If anything, as you have more of a formal experience of writing applications you'll have more knowledge about how to plan, design, test and implement systems which people like me, who is a self-taught programmer (games and otherwise), are lacking.

As you're used to C#, you could probably get up to speed making simple games fairly quickly with a copy of the Managed DirectX or Tao (OpenGL) SDKs. You're used to dealing with obscure APIs which would bode well for you using other people's game libraries to create your first games.

I can't answer any of your other questions about employment or location, but I'd say that you certainly have the skills required, it's just the domain of the problem/system that's changed afterall.

I wish you luck, but most of all - have fun! That's what games programming is about afterall.

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I think you should have no problem transitioning into the games industry. It's really about about desire. If you want it enough, you're going to put in the extra effort required to achive it.

1) all i can say here is put in everything you can and learn as much as possible.

2) there are many self taught programmers in the industry. It's definitely a place were a degree doesn't mean as much as skill and experience.

3) Being open to relocation is good. It's not like TV/Movies though. There is no central hub. I would wait and find a job, then move to where the job is.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by leemoore
- Getting my first game job at 37 being self taught with no technical degree.(Just how tough is this if I have the demos and the skills?)


Demos and skills are essential, without them you won't get a game dev job. Degree's, however, are not essential, some companies put more weight on them than others. Many people in the industry (including many well-respected developers) don't have degrees and there are many who have degrees in totally unrelated areas. I've heared of one programmer who's degree was in political science.

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Thanks for the input :)


Evolutional...Actually I've taught myself C/C++ as well as the rudiments of DirectDraw, SDL and 2D algorithms in the last couple of years. As a result I'm comfortable studying the C/C++ API's. Currently I'm rotating my studies between the following:

-Direct3D
**Real-Time Rendering Tips and Tricks, Kelly Dempksi

-Game Mathematics
** Essential Mathematics for Games, James Van Verth and Lars M. Bishop
** Mathematics for Game Developers, Christopher Tremblay

Graphics Algorithms
** Real-Time Rendering, Tomas Akenine-Moller, Eric Haines.

So far I find the math the most challenging. That's why I have 2 books to get different explanations of the same topic if it's tricky. After these, I'll probably start working through a game physics book, an AI book and a Game Engine design book. I figure by that time a year will have passed and I'll be competent enough to move beyond little test graphics programs and start trying to put together demos.

AP...I can top the political science degree for being out of place. I have a Classical Music Degree (Vocal Performance) :P

Also, I figured self taught wasn't uncommon in the industry, I was just wondering if there would be a certain bias against a 37 year old self taught programmer getting his first Game Programming job.

Lee

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You'll be surprise how many older people work in game development, especially in large companies.

Over 40 3D Programmer :)

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I don't see what age has to do with anything. The real question is this: Do you really want to get into game programming so much that you are willing to take a major pay cut? You would be starting out in a low-level position in an industry that generally pays programmers significantly less than in other industries.

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JohnBolton
Yeah, I figured I would be taking a major pay cut (probably 30-50%) and would probably have to work more demanding hours, but I'm ok with that. I'm getting to an "up or out" position in my current job (fortune 100 consulting company). Meaning I either need to move to management or leave and I don't want to be in management.

My ideal position would be as a technical lead / architect working with a lot of top notch programming talent. I don't know of a better industry than game development for that without going back to school. I'm willing to start over, do the grunt work and work my way up to make a name for myself for the opportunity to work with and learn from top notch talent.
Lee

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As Captain Kirk put it (freely): "Never let them (administration) take you out of that (captains) chair. As long as you ARE in that chair, you CAN make a difference".

Thermo

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