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spacemariachi

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This might be the wrong forum for this question, but here goes. I have a BFA in film/video but now I'm thinking of trying my hand at the game industry. Frankly that degree hasn't done anything for me and I'm looking for something more practical. Now, I'd be starting from scratch. I have NO experience in any kind of programming whatsoever (other than a little HTML but who counts that?). I'm going to spend the next year or so in Asia teaching English, during which time I hope to teach myself some (very) basic programming skills. I'll be 28 when I get back and start working towards my CS degree. I probably wouldn't graduate until I was 30 or 31. So how much of a difference would that make? It seems that by my age most designers are already working on their second games. I'm an excellent illustrator and writer, which are about the only advantages I might have, which brings me to my other question: Is a programmer who can also do character animation more attractive to a potential company? I have some background in animation and have been looking for an excuse to immerse myself in Maya. Okay, I think that's enough for now. Please feel free to destroy all my naive assumptions.

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It really doesn't matter, as long as you are able to demonstrate a mastery of a language (specifically C++ and people like a little Java) and of the relevant computer science topics when you graduate and begin looking a job. That means completing projects in your spare time, and it means taking advantage of any employment opportunities through the school, such as internships and "cooperative" or "experiential learning" type jobs.

Companies want people who can perform and the age thing won't be so much of a problem, in my opinion. They want to see a resume that says that you know things and proof in the form of projects and work experience.

I'm graduating at 28 this spring, and I've already had interviews or offers from various simulation companies and had a phone interview so far with one very, very large game developer. It's all about going into it determined to excel, doing so, and then demonstrating that excellence to others. It's what you put into it.

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I'm 27 and got a job offer this year. I don't think 3 or 4 years on that makes any difference. If you were going to be 40 or 50, it might rule you out of a small number of the younger houses, but really, I don't think you need to worry. Your skills are paramount.

As to your second question: my gut feeling is no. Cross-disciplinary knowledge is handy but it's inferior to being really good at one of the two. And the bigger the company, the more specialised you're expected to be. Even in smaller companies you'll probably find that the workload would be too much for you to cover 2 bases over the course of any one project.

If you were insistent upon entering the games industry you could probably do better coming at it from the artist/designer side, and sidestepping the programming aspect completely. You could even cut out the CS degree as you wouldn't need 75% of that as a designer. Obviously this limits your other options, however.

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Is there simply a greater demand for art-related jobs in the game industry than there are for programming? For my situation, I also started out from an art background. I am an art major, but with a minor in Math/Comp. Sci ;) There are many creative things I'm interested in, such as 3D modeling and basic interface design. I'm not sure where I will wind up in for my first job, though it will more likely be in art than programming. Although I'm still having problems with it, programming has concepts that interest me. Right now I should probably get to drawing again if I want to build a portfolio because ever since I started getting into programming and CG-related art I didn't draw as much as I used to, and afraid my drawing skills are getting rusty.

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That's an interesting point. If I'm interested in specializing in game physics, how much programming would I need? Do I do the actual coding or do the physics developers hand off their formulas to the programmers?

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Generally physics programmers are hired, not physics guys without programming knowledge. Though we do bring in people who specialize in a field to lecture the programmers on occasion.

Also, while it is based on skills, not age, you may find it difficult to pick up programming and get a career running off that right away especially if you've never touched it before. Usually it takes at least 5 years of experience before you're considered and even then there is a difference between competance and time spent. If you're a graphics guy primarily you would probably be better suited to break into the games industry from that side. Learn 3d studio really well, learn how to script for it as a bonus, and then hand in a resume with a strong portfolio. That's your best bet at this stage in your life. Trying to begin a programming career will take years to get rolling, but it can be done. Don't be discouraged, just realize it might be better to roll with what you have then to try and re-start in a field you may or may not end up being good at/liking.

Programming isn't easy and university doesn't teach you to program well, it only guides you. I've seen most people out of a 4 year degree who don't know anything practical to games making.

Good luck with whatever you decide, just understand the commitment required before you jump into something you don't want to do.

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Quote:
Original post by BloodshedDude
That's an interesting point. If I'm interested in specializing in game physics, how much programming would I need? Do I do the actual coding or do the physics developers hand off their formulas to the programmers?


You will be programming, if you work on game physics. If they just needed forumlas, quite a few of them could be found on the Internet and in books. You might want to start with a language like Haskell, which is fairly close to mathematics. Although, chances are good that you won't be working in Haskell when programming video games (unless you started the project), it might be a good way to start programming.

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Thanks for all the replies. This really helps. Especially the reassurance that commitment and tenacity are always the greatest elements. I got all the partying out of my system during my first college stay and I've promised myself that if I were to commit myself to another three or four years of college it would only be with the utmost seriousness and focus.

Thanks again.

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I got all the partying out of my system during my first college stay and I've promised myself that if I were to commit myself to another three or four years of college it would only be with the utmost seriousness and focus.


Yeah, same deal here. I partied and got fiarly bad or maybe mediocre grades in my first 60 hours. I went back, slightly intimidated after a few years off, and have since taken over 100 hours (the first 60 were not applicable ot CS) with a 3.987 GPA. (Of course, now that I'm in my last semester, that may slip as I get lazy).

It's amazing how easy it is when you aren't worried about going out and partying all the time. Go for it, you'll do fine.

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