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how should a physicist get into game programming?

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Hi, This is my first post and I'm not sure its wholly appropriate for this forum but I was not sure which forum to post on. Next year I will have finished my master's degree in astrophysics but I've decided I now want to go into game design. My primary interest is in physical modelling which I've done a little of during my course, but not from a game programming perspective. I'm not sure how to go about getting into the industry. Right now I'm working away on a portfolio but will that and a physics degree be enough? Should I do a masters in game design? Which institutions (in the UK) are recommended? I've had a look online but all the courses I've found are undergraduate degrees, 3 or 4 years long. Thanks for the help.

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me22    212
The impression I've gotten from here has been that an impressive portfolio is worth more than most programming degrees. If you have a masters in physics and can show an impressive real-time physics simulation, I'd expect you'd be fine.

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oliii    2196
game design is quite far off astrophysics :) However, if you are good in mechanics (which you should), you could always move to coding physics engine. If that's what you want to do, a course in software engineering should be the path :) Or you can find studios that will form you to software engineering, while you work with a programmer on designing / writing a physics engine.

I don't know what kind of game designers you want to be. It's quite vague, and as far as I know, most game designers are basically taking care of level layouts, level setups, level scripting, and so on. The qualifications required are far inferior to a master degree in astro physics. You can take courses in game design, but you'd have to start from scratch imho, unless you already have experiences in gam design (worked on a popular MOD, for example).

Changing career path like that is not to be taken lightly.

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smitty1276    560
The graphics lead from Madden360 came to speak in one of my classes at school, and he had a PhD in physics. I would imagine that some knowledge of programming coupled with an advanced degree in physics is a great start to demonstrating that you can do what is needed of you. I concur with the above poster... work on a few projects on your own and you will probably look really good to a potential employer.


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Dot5    108
good start having a physics degree.

I wouldnt bother doing a degree in design really. If you want to get in the industry you will need a half decent demo (as a programmer). If you want to get to grips with basic game style computational physics you should have a peep at chris heckers stuff on 3d rigid body dynamics.

Not too long ago it was common practice to take on a physics grad with zero programming knowledge. Learning to program c or c++ was just something they did on the job, and really it doesn't take that long to get to grips with it. Nowadays its a little harder because there are more people doing physics in the industry, either programmers who have specialized, or physics grads who are still here.

So, you need a demo im afraid, like me22 said.

Basically if you can show a decent physics demo, back that up with a physics degree, then your in pretty good shape. Dundee has a few development studios as well ;)

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theZapper    150
Quote:
I've decided I now want to go into game design.
...
Should I do a masters in game design?


Do you want to be a designer or a programmer?, they're not the same thing. A designer comes up with ideas and plans, but does no programming.

If you do want to be a programmer, It doesn't matter that your degree is in physics, that my even help, especially if you want to do physics programming! you'll find alot of games programmers with physics and maths degrees. Just make sure you are good at C++ and have a good demo to show, my demo pretty much got me my job.

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jbadams    25674
It matters that you have a degree, but not particular what area of study the degree is covers1. The fact that you've got (or will soon have) a masters shows that a) you're dedicated, and able to finish what you begin, and b) you're able to learn.

A lot of people assume university study is mostly about doing a course so that you'll know things. While you certainly should come out of it knowing some new things, it more importantly teaches you how to learn, and that's a far more useful skill than simply having some knowledge that may become obsolete.


So, I think the degree you're already completing will probably suit you just fine along with an impressive portfolio. Additional qualifications could certainly help, but you probably don't particularly need them.

Oh, and as already mentioned, Game Design and Game Programming are often two very different things unless you're an indie or hobbiest developer who programs your own designs.

1 Ok, so it does matter, but not as much as many people might think.

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helix    301
It sounds like a physics engine is where your interests lie. Code up a tech demo with some awesome physics and that will go a long way.

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Zefrieg    316
I would suspect that the roles of individuals working on larger games will get more and more specialized. Physics, AI, graphics, and other stuff like that. It would probably be better to read some books and white papers on what you want to do. You would get more from that than another Masters degree.

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Hi guys,

Thanks for your replies and sorry for not getting back to you. The day after posting my message I ended up in hospital and stayed there until a few days ago.

I suppose I'm really interested in making more reallistic (or more intersting) physics for games since thats what I know about and have some experince in. Though I feel I'm quite creative and would want to forray into script writing and design if I got the chance.

Well I think I'll keep working on my portfolio and skip the masters degree in game programming/design.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by theZapper
A designer comes up with ideas and plans, but does no programming.



This is not always true... sadly. Very sadly.

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