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Boppper

The transition from student to developer

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Boppper    122
Hey guys. For the past 8 years my passion has been games. I realised that I was different from my friends seeing as how I knew or had played every game, whereas my friends were casual gamers who were mainly console oriented, and pretty much stuck to one genre. From an early age I was always fascinated not only by the games, but the technology behind it. Even when I was younger I was already thinking from a developer's point of view, imagining how a game was made, the code and all the talent behind it, what I would like to change in that game, etc. From that moment on I realised that I wanted to be a game developer. I recently started university and am loving it. We are using JAVA as an introduction to programming, and am loving it already. Even though the learning process may be slow, especially when starting from scratch (learning the actual theory of object oriented programming), I find it really rewarding to complete a program and have it work. Coming to my question, I have realised that a lot of the job offerings listed on this site are for positions that require previous experience. I was interested in hearing in some of your own personal experiences of how you have entered, or are thinking of getting into the game's industry. If I get my masters in software engineering as I am planning to do, while studying C/C++/C# on the side, what next? Where will I get that "minimum work experience" required to have a chance of getting a job? I am unsure of the general employment process here in Finland, but am wondering if anyone here has undergone some sort of junior/trainee program or job. If I cannot find a game development job right out of college, should I consider getting another job besides games that requires C++ and software engineering, or should I consider the possibility of emmigrating? So my main question is, what is or are good stepping stones in order for me to reach my goal? Any other advice would also be welcome :)

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Sneftel    1788
Internships are key. Start looking early. Don't bother waiting for companies to post job offers; send resumes and cover letters to any game studio that interests you. (The cover letter is vitally important for unsolicited internship requests.) Finland may not be exactly the Silicon Valley of game development, but there have to be at least one or two studios there.

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Boppper    122
Thanks for the advice. Finland is a pretty advanced place in terms of IT, being both the birthplace of Linux as well as having a place here referred to as "the second silicon valley" :P

As for game developers, I know of two major ones located here, being Remedy (Max Payne) and Bugbear Entertainment (Flatout). Hopefully by the time I finish university in 4 to 5 years time there will be a little more to offer. If not, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of looking elsewhere.

For a coverletter, what is the benefit of including sample code? To what extent should I develop this sample code?

Ty again for the advice.

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Sneftel    1788
Quote:
Original post by Boppper
For a coverletter, what is the benefit of including sample code?

Very little. Your programming skills will be tested in a job interview, not on the application. Your cover letter should focus on getting the company interested in you, and showing your interest in the company.

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James555    145
I'd suggest you take a look at this book:

Programming Interviews Exposed: Secrets to Landing Your Next Job
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0471383562/103-8675010-8810246?v=glance

I found it very helpfull, it's a great catalogue of interview type programming questions.

Good Luck,
- James

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Boppper    122
Thank you, I will have a look!

Does anybody else have any other general advice that I could use as a student? For example when to begin my transition to C++ etc.

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sigmaent    146
As always in business you need to keep the pressure on companies that you want internships in. Sending a cover letters are perfectly ok, try follow them up with phone calls though as most businesses get a lot of mail.

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SunTzu    286
Quote:
Does anybody else have any other general advice that I could use as a student? For example when to begin my transition to C++ etc.


Now. Right this second. Stop reading this post and go find some tutorials, right yourself a little applet, etc. Maybe if you have already written some Java programs, try writing an equivalent in C/C++ (as this will help you learn the syntax and nuances without worrying about the design of the code).

The sad truth is, everyone loves games. Dev studios want to see not just passion, but enough passion to actually go and write something, in your own time, for the fun of it. Then they'll start looking at ability, knowledge, experience, etc.

You'll also find you'll get much better at coding the more you do it. (I'm still learning something new every day). The earlier you start, the better you'll be when you start applying for jobs.

What are you waiting for? Get to it! :-)

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Boppper    122
Thanks :) And I am writing code already daily. I ordered a C++ fundamentals book also that is focused on games, which should get me on my way. This has all been very helpful, thank you!

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Dogs    265
The good news is that you've already taken the best step towards a job by starting a computer science degree. I took a similar path (though studied Cognitive Science - a mixture of psychology and computing) and then applied to firms for graduate IT jobs. Strangely, most weren't that interested in specifics of what I had learnt, but more that I had the correct aptitude. I did numerous logic tests, and also a load of group games to show that I could work with others (an example: we were told that we would all be given a number and be blindfolded, and would then have to sort ourselves into a line in numerical order without speaking. We had 5 minutes to discuss how we were to do this. Of course, the tricks were that there were negative numbers, floats as well as integers, and they moved us to random start points around the room so we weren't even in a line to start with).

Of course, if you go for a more specific role, like a games developer, then I imagine that at some point you may be asked to show some code. I didn't go down this route, but one of my coursemates did and applied for a job as AI programmer. Before he went he wrote a game of Tic-Tac-Toe that used Neural Networks for the computer AI. They loved it, and he got the job.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Uh, I hate to be the voice of doubt here, but making games and playing games are two activities that lie orthogonal to one another ie they're completely different.

It's good that you're enjoying your classes but games are HARD and the industry is in a pretty abysmal state with regards to innovation and creativity. You should have the skills now to build a tetris in java; do that. Then make a platformer. If you accomplish these two goals and still want to make games and get into the game industry then good for you it probably is your path.

All I know is it's a long road from here the there. Good luck!

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Boppper    122
I know that many have had the same dream as me and failed, there is a difference between wanting to make games and actually doing the work to get there. And yes I realise making games is different from playing them :) It is ok to tell me stuff like that, no need to sugar-coat things. Thank you for your honest opinion!

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Arex    204
Hey,

Here is a list of some game developers in Finland, check them out :
- Frozenbyte (finishing their first game)
- Sensegames (not yet a company, they are just starting)
- Housemarque (the oldest one, I think)
- RedLynx (you maybe have seen their games in TV, and they have made the path way to glory)

There are some courses about game development in Finland. Check out the neogames.fi. (also if I remember right there were one course at Jyväskylä, analyzing, designing and developing a game).

Start from small and never give up! :)

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