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Celeryface

Gameplay Programmer (Requirements, Books, Things Employers Look For).

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Hi, I recently had an interview at games company. The interview feedback was generally positive, but they found that my skills were too broad at the current moment to fit into their team. They liked me personally, so they highly recommended that I concentrate on further developing my skills to a specific programming area (ie Physics, rendering, AI, gameplay, etc.), and then re-apply once I feel I've excelled in the area. I am very interested and have had some experience with gameplay programming. I'd like to concentrate my skills on that area. In gameplay programming, you can also break it further down to game logic, player control, and AI. So my questions are: 1) What do employers look for when hiring gameplay programmers? 2) Are there any recommended books/sites for learning player control for different types of games? (ex: player control for platformers like Mario 64, Maximo, etc.) 3) What would guys recommend on how to approach gameplay programming as your occupation? To give you some background on myself: I've done several gameplay demos on the GBA with different types of genres (Platformer, Puzzle, and AI/pathfinding demo using RTS style controls), so I've had some experience already doing gameplay programming. I recently graduated with a BSc Games Programming degree from a University, where we covered engine design, writing software renderers, 3D game and engine programming, animation and particle systems, AI, phsyics, and online games programming -- using several SDKs (OpenGL, DirectX, RenderWare) throughout. Recommendations on what I should concentrate on and how to approach this topic area would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help. :)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Gameplay programming is probably the least well defined area of game programming and probably means something different to everyone. To some people it may mean things like taking input and feeding it to the physics, others may think it involves AI, constructing render views (not the actual rendering), front ends and handling things like career progressions or character development.

Unfortunately, the thing most employers look for is experience, which makes it very hard to get in to the industry.

Things I would advise you to look into though would be
AI
Input systems - making the game playable and fun
Try to make a few mini-games which are easy and fun to play.
Data systems - for things like career progressions
Load / save game systems
competetive systems such as two player co-operative games or player vs player.
Game rule systems e.g. chess, sports simulations.

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Hope you don't mind my blunt honesty here =)

But if you just got back from an interview and they were interested, why don't you ask them? Seems like the logical thing to do since they're the ones that want to hire you if you focus on something.

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Thanks for the replies.

I asked the employer about it and what they look for is AI experience, and creating different gameplay scenarios.

Are there any books -- such as the Game Programming Gems series -- that have sections on gameplay programming, player control/input, etc.?

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Gameplay programming is often where people start off, a good demo would make use of a pre-existing tech (yours or someone elses) and create a fully featured game from it. Things to include would be a menu system and polished interface, sensible controls and of course some great gameplay. The how is also important and your code samples should deal with the solutions and design decisions you have found for various gameplay issues.

The AP gives a good list of things that crop up in programming Gameplay features.

If you have the time and inclination make games on different platforms using different API's. Remember an employer will always choose someone that can show willingness to go the extra mile.

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