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hello, im in the 10th grade. im looking into getting a career in game programming, i have some experience in it, and its what i want to do. i have some experience, and basic knowledge of C++ what is a game programmers salary? all i need is c++ knowledge and a bachelors degree in computer science correct? i was looking into going to westwood college, so i can get a degree in computer science right now my gpa is 2.9 , i've had some problems but it will come back up, it was 3.5 i live in the United States

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all i need is c++ knowledge and a bachelors degree in computer science correct?


Real life doesn't work like that. You can't just change classes because you meet some arbitrary stat requirements...

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Original post by Avont29
i have some experience, and basic knowledge of C++

Hint: learn more languages and get proficient with at least one.
Quote:

what is a game programmers salary?

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all i need is c++ knowledge and a bachelors degree in computer science correct?

No. You'll need a passion for games, experience in at least one specialised field (preferably a good portfolio of finished game related projects) and good people skills/be a team player.
Just look at the requirements here.
Quote:

i live in the United States

Hm. That seemed pretty random. I don't live in the USA and still work in the industry.

The only advise I can give is - finish school, gather some experience by participating in projects like MODs or write and release freeware/shareware games or tools.
The former will help you learning how working in a team works (or how it fails), while the latter will give you more insight on the process of game creation.
Keep in mind that somtimes failure can be a greater learning experience than sustained success.

HTH,
Pat.

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Hey :). I don’t have too much experience when it comes to the game industry (Currently I am still on my first commercial game project heh), but anyway here is some advice:

1) Try hard in school and get really good at math (It helps!).

2) Try to expand your skills a bit more…. People these days aren’t just looking for c++ they also expect a programmer to be able to do web development also (At least I have had a few requests….)

3) You need to really love programming and making games… It is a ton of work and if you don’t love it then you need to get out right now. You should EXPECT long, late hours where you are on a tight deadline and you HAVE TO get results.

Oh and improve your c++ skills ;), having just a “basic” knowledge of c++ is not going to land you many projects O_o.

Lastly, you should really try to work on improving your English a bit….. It makes a better impression when you use capitalization and it helps people respect what you have to say. Write out a post in word if you have to!

Good luck!

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to increase your c++ skills i recomend you make the following games in order:
(Not a game but make these first)
Linked List
Doubly Linked List
Vector object

Pong (in Windows)
Asteroids (In API (OpenGL/DirectX) or choice)
Side Scrolling 2D Platform game (API of choice, even better if you use one different than the last)


After that, making a 3D game isnt just a next step. You will need a pretty strong grasp of vector math and a bit of understanding of matrix math.

I would work on programming systems after that. Organizing your code, for instance:

Instead of just calling that draw box function, you should have a data structure that defines a box, then you should have a object manager that maintains all the boxes in your world. The Box itself should be stand alone and able to render itself with a function call, but the manager should be in charge of all rendering.

Man, you got a long ways to go i imagine. I remeber when i was in 10th grade and i knew a little c++. Someone told me to make tetris and i didnt even have a clue where to start. Im finishing up my last year in colege now and there isnt anything i dont think i could code in c++. You know your ready to look for a job when doing something becomes a matter of knowing the concept behind it and not understanding the syntax.

Get one of those c++ books and go all the way up to Class's. Then move on to the STL (Standard Template Library) learn how those objects work and then create your own versions of them.

Then, move on to windows programming and make that pong game. Once you do that, you should be well versed enough to tackle an API realisticly (not just hack something together from random tutorials, like i did :P ) You will actually be able to undersand the concepts behind what your doing and things will make much more sense.

I dont know exactly how much you know, im just working off of the level i was at during that time :)

*edit* for a really good school on game programming, http://www.fullsail.com

It's a cram school, basically like highschool (same hours and attendance requirements) for 2 years, but you get a BA in game design when your done.

If you can make it there, you will know your shit. You go from cout << "Hello World" to creating an ascii based RPG with recrusive function ai pathing on a loaded ascii world in 3 months ... and that's the core core basics :D

By the time you hit final project, instead of writing a thesis you have 5 months to work with a team on a game project. You and your friends have to work together and take lead positions (Project Manager, Tech. Lead, Design Lead etc.. ) and make a 3D game. I just started final project, so four months before im out and i know of people on their second year in a normal college for a CS degree just getting into the basics of coding :P

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When I e-mailed John Carmack for my econ project I asked him kind of the same thing:

ME: What would you recommend telling someone looking to get there foot in the gamming industry?

JC: Modifying a commercial game to demonstrate your skill at working with a large codebase is usually the most useful demonstration, but also having smaller project developed completely from scratch shows bredth of skill.

I.E. Modifying the Quake 3 engine and making a stand alone game with it(something simple). And making a stand alone simple graphics engine with test demo built on top of it. Because you need to have a demo when you try to look for a job that actuaratlly depicts your skills.

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Quote:
Original post by nef
to increase your c++ skills i recomend you make the following games in order:
(Not a game but make these first)
Linked List
Doubly Linked List
Vector object

Pong (in Windows)
Asteroids (In API (OpenGL/DirectX) or choice)
Side Scrolling 2D Platform game (API of choice, even better if you use one different than the last)


After that, making a 3D game isnt just a next step. You will need a pretty strong grasp of vector math and a bit of understanding of matrix math.

I would work on programming systems after that. Organizing your code, for instance:

Instead of just calling that draw box function, you should have a data structure that defines a box, then you should have a object manager that maintains all the boxes in your world. The Box itself should be stand alone and able to render itself with a function call, but the manager should be in charge of all rendering.

Man, you got a long ways to go i imagine. I remeber when i was in 10th grade and i knew a little c++. Someone told me to make tetris and i didnt even have a clue where to start. Im finishing up my last year in colege now and there isnt anything i dont think i could code in c++. You know your ready to look for a job when doing something becomes a matter of knowing the concept behind it and not understanding the syntax.

Get one of those c++ books and go all the way up to Class's. Then move on to the STL (Standard Template Library) learn how those objects work and then create your own versions of them.

Then, move on to windows programming and make that pong game. Once you do that, you should be well versed enough to tackle an API realisticly (not just hack something together from random tutorials, like i did :P ) You will actually be able to undersand the concepts behind what your doing and things will make much more sense.

I dont know exactly how much you know, im just working off of the level i was at during that time :)

*edit* for a really good school on game programming, http://www.fullsail.com

It's a cram school, basically like highschool (same hours and attendance requirements) for 2 years, but you get a BA in game design when your done.

If you can make it there, you will know your shit. You go from cout << "Hello World" to creating an ascii based RPG with recrusive function ai pathing on a loaded ascii world in 3 months ... and that's the core core basics :D

By the time you hit final project, instead of writing a thesis you have 5 months to work with a team on a game project. You and your friends have to work together and take lead positions (Project Manager, Tech. Lead, Design Lead etc.. ) and make a 3D game. I just started final project, so four months before im out and i know of people on their second year in a normal college for a CS degree just getting into the basics of coding :P


UCF rules.


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You will need to know more than just C++. You will probable need to know some libraries and other stuff like trig, linear a;gebra (i'm guessing you already know some of this), possibly calculus, physics, etc.

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The first piece of advice I would give is work out why you want to do it.

Think of the rewards it gives you, the things about it that actually have meaning to you. And why they have meaning to you.

Because when you start getting into the thick of it, what's cool and what's fun doesn't count for much. What has meaning to you does. What makes you feel good about yourself, and makes you feel like you've grown, does.



The gaming industry can be a real dog eat dog world.
If you don't know what you're going for, you will always be fighting the next obstacle, instead of driven by a motivation that is focussed and excited. And a dog eat dog world is not a world where you want to be doing it the fighting way.

For example, you say you want a career in game programming. All that says is about you is that somewhere a game is made, and you want to be one of the little people behind it.
Do you just want to design the gameplay? Because you didn't say that bit.
Do you just want to debug the thing?
Do you want to create the atmosphere and feel of a game? Or is that not it either?

Which bit pulls you in.. and why?
Do you want to be able to create worlds?
Express emotions?
Flex a talent of creativity you just can't find an outlet for?
Which is it? It can't be the money.
Or the hours.
Or the social scene.
Or the travel.

So in a team that builds interactive entertainment software, what part actually drives you? Possibly none of it.

If there's ever an industry in which to confuse safety with personal drive, its this one.


Before you pick your path, know the emotional destination. Know the reward you feel. If you don't, it will just be an uninspired, therefore unmotivated, therefore unsuccessful journey.


That's my advice.

(Sorry its a bit sharp.)

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in a more serious post, ive watched my friend who has been at EA for 3 years now. when he first started, he was beyond excited. *HE* was part of a major game that millions of people would play. but as defend mentioned, its a ROUGH industry to be in. you have managers who start caring less about quaility and only care about it being done. madden is a perfect example. with no competition out there, its turned from 'what cool feature can we get into it next' to 'get the damn game done please'.

i know EA is a bad example of what the game industry is like (based on its ethical track record), but its a really hard industry to get into. game development as a hobby isa lot more soothing because you are doing it for fun. you are doing it because thats what you enjoy doing. you arent doing it because its a job and you better do it or you arent getting paid.

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you have managers who start caring less about quaility and only care about it being done.


Certainly a trait not solely held by the gaming industry...

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I'm going to finish school of course, its just that i wanted to know what i needed to do. I told my mother that i didn't need to go to college to be a game programmer, but she keeps saying i need to go. But yes, i will follow the advice you gave me. :)

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I told my mother that i didn't need to go to college to be a game programmer


false...

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Congratulations! Your post here shows that you have a initiative.

On top of the advice already given: you're young, so you have plenty of time to develop your skills. Learn at a steady pace, focus on what interests you most, and when it gets tough remember why you're passionate about game development.

Also, since you're young, be open things other than game development. You may find something you like better. You may not.

Finally, there is some great advice on these forums, but remember to take all of it, including mine, with a grain of salt. Don't take any one piece of advice as absolute truth.

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Original post by Avont29
I'm going to finish school of course, its just that i wanted to know what i needed to do. I told my mother that i didn't need to go to college to be a game programmer, but she keeps saying i need to go.


You should listen to your mother. I have an Associates degree from DigiPen in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, which is the name of their game development program, and even with that credential and my self-studied background in programming some places still won't look at my application because I don't have a bachelor's degree. I did get more than enough responses, just not from some places I knew full well I was more than qualified for. Moral of this story being: Get a Bachelors or higher, its also advisable to focus on one of the following areas with your electives: math, physics, or software engineering. A minor in any of these areas will set you above 90% of all other applicants.

[EDIT] I would like to add that I did have 3 promising job leads at the time I accepted one of the positions, I had interviewed with all 3 before accepting an offer from one. I ended up taking a non-games position-- kinda wierd, it almost fell in my lap. They called at about 7pm Tuesday and I left their office with an offer at noon the following day. Let me tell ya, in my experience an entry level game dev position pays only about 70% of what an entry level non-games dev position does. Not that money is everything, but alot of people think the games industry is the path to great riches, you can make a good living, no doubt, but only a select few ever get rich doing it.

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I thought I'd reply to this, I even registered to reply, just because I've been here before. I don't know what age group grade 10 indicates, but I'm in the UK, in my last year of school (so I'm 17). A few years back I was interested in getting into the game industry, however over time I have changed my mind. All I am really any good at is programming, so I am going to study computer science at university. However, I am now much more interested in exploring different fields of the industry, rather than just game development. I also want to explore the world a bit more and get a better world knowledge. I would ideally like to move over to america a few years after obtaining my degree to possibly study further in order to get myself in the best position possible.

What I am trying to say is that your young and that as times change there is a pretty good chance you will want to move into something else. So, if you want to get into the games industry now, the best advice I can give is try to get experience in all aspects of programming with as many of the industry standard languages as possible, atleast then you will have a broader knowledge of the subject, just incase you decide to do something else later on in life.

Cheers

Jonny

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I have tried other things. I've done animation, music production, and game programming. My heart is at game programming. Can you get a degree in computer science at westwood? That's the college i would liike to go to it.

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Westwood is useless. They have no reputation in the games industry and their gamedev program is brand new. Even on their own site where they talk about what positions they expect to be preparing you for, "game development" is not one they list. The instead list things like tester, technical documentation and game support, whatever that is, among other equally non-development positions. Now, of course you can't expect to move straight into development fresh out of school unless you're really talented, but they don't even seem to list the types of entry level positions that people who do eventually become developers would expect. No scripting, no tools developer... I would at least expect them to list something at that level.

Personally I don't think their degree would be worth the paper its written on, and they just want to take your money. You'd be much better of getting a real degree from a real university. Take this with a grain of salt perhaps, I've never experienced Westwood firsthand, but I AM a DigiPen graduate, which, as far as game development degrees go is THE SCHOOL to go to. Even at that I would like to have a University degree to back it up with. Some games employers don't even take a Digipen degree seriously (few, luckily) but if they don't take DP seriously, this Westwood place doesn't stand a chance.

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Original post by Ravyne
Some games employers don't even take a Digipen degree seriously (few, luckily) but if they don't take DP seriously, this Westwood place doesn't stand a chance.


The same can be said of Full Sail. I myself am a graduate of Full Sail who landed in the industry. I recived an Assoicated Degree and a Bachelors Degree from there. Full Sail gets more flack because they accelerate their curriclume from four years to just under two years, another reason is that the school can 'flood' the industry with people looking for jobs. The school sends out ~20-30 graduates every month, but not all of them will go seek out jobs in the industry. Out of my Graduation class 9 of the 11 of us have jobs in the industry. Though thats through the course of one year, not everyone gets hired straight out of college.

Some form of college degree is a must from most employers. IMO Full Sail is great, but you have to decide what you want to do. nef's post is a very good an informative post on where to get started.

Seeing the Westwood commericals on TV make me cringe..

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Rhummer: Exactly. The only "acceptable" degrees in the game industry are real University/College Computer Science degrees, Digipen, and Fullsail. Probably the best route, for those that can afford, is to attain a standard University degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering, plus a degree from Digipen or Fullsail. Then I'd say University only, one with a good game program if available (ie- The guildhall at SMU, or the program at USC), only after that would be digipen or fullsail. I'd probably give the edge there to Digipen simply because they offer Masters degrees and a full 4 year bachelor program.

Digipen and Fullsail are very different from what I hear, however. Perhaps you can shed some more light on this... But my understanding is that Digipen spends more time on the accademic Computer Science background and there are team-based project classes from semester 1 while Fullsail spends less time with the accademic emphesis, and more on current practices/tools. Basically Digipen gives more emphesis to solid foundation and Fullsail gives more emphesis to stuff that will allow their students to hit the ground running, so to speak (and which is not to say the Fullsailers don't have addequate background.) Alot of Digipeners study things like DirectX/OpenGL in their own time so that they come out of school with a current, applyable skillset. Different companies will prefur either approach depending on the corporate culture there.

I'd really like to see an arcticle that compared and contrasted the University/Digipen/Fullsail experiences.


Also, I'd like to say that the salaries in the gamasutra article don't reflect any sort of entry-level salary. The vast majority of people I know in the industy start on "probation" salary in the low-mid 30k range. After this 6 month period it goes up to around 40-45k. By the end of their first 2 years they're probably making low-mid 50s, but I really don't think the gamasutra article accurately reflects an "average" salary in the "< 2 years" catagory, though its probably due to the fact that fresh hires are under-represented, or the fact that some new hires may be contract or pay-by-the-hour employees before they move to a salaried position, making their initial salaries higher because they've already paid their dues.

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Yeah you are correct. Though it seems slowly these degrees are becoming more accepted, Here at Raven we have 5 Full Sail grads, 2-3 Guild Hall grads, and one DigiPen grad. Full Sail give you alot of information. They teach to allow the students to hit the ground running, by giving the students abit of everything. There are dedicated OpenGL/DX classes, but with those classes you are not going to be a master like Carmack or Sweeney, for example. You will have enough knowlegde to understand things and expand on what you gained if you so feel to. Though Full Sail does heavily emphsies the team aspect of the industry, there are several courses dealing with some group project. Mainly the final class, a five month process to develop a game in a small team.

Full Sail generated pretty well rounded people, but they also tend to find their 'niche' by taking the courses. For example, I my self figured I wanted to go down the technogoly end during my time, but once I started the bachelors program and hit the newly added Tools class, I found thats what I was really interested in and went down that path.

I agree some article showing the pros/cons/differences of the two, since those two seem to be the big two colleges for Gaming Degrees.

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Quote:
Original post by Ravyne
Rhummer: Exactly. The only "acceptable" degrees in the game industry are real University/College Computer Science degrees, Digipen, and Fullsail. Probably the best route, for those that can afford, is to attain a standard University degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering, plus a degree from Digipen or Fullsail. Then I'd say University only, one with a good game program if available (ie- The guildhall at SMU, or the program at USC), only after that would be digipen or fullsail. I'd probably give the edge there to Digipen simply because they offer Masters degrees and a full 4 year bachelor program.

Digipen and Fullsail are very different from what I hear, however. Perhaps you can shed some more light on this... But my understanding is that Digipen spends more time on the accademic Computer Science background and there are team-based project classes from semester 1 while Fullsail spends less time with the accademic emphesis, and more on current practices/tools. Basically Digipen gives more emphesis to solid foundation and Fullsail gives more emphesis to stuff that will allow their students to hit the ground running, so to speak (and which is not to say the Fullsailers don't have addequate background.) Alot of Digipeners study things like DirectX/OpenGL in their own time so that they come out of school with a current, applyable skillset. Different companies will prefur either approach depending on the corporate culture there.

I'd really like to see an arcticle that compared and contrasted the University/Digipen/Fullsail experiences.


Also, I'd like to say that the salaries in the gamasutra article don't reflect any sort of entry-level salary. The vast majority of people I know in the industy start on "probation" salary in the low-mid 30k range. After this 6 month period it goes up to around 40-45k. By the end of their first 2 years they're probably making low-mid 50s, but I really don't think the gamasutra article accurately reflects an "average" salary in the "< 2 years" catagory, though its probably due to the fact that fresh hires are under-represented, or the fact that some new hires may be contract or pay-by-the-hour employees before they move to a salaried position, making their initial salaries higher because they've already paid their dues.


I was considering DigiPen first, because i saw their advertisement first, but then i heard about fullsail and the school was within 3 hours of where i lived :D

Fullsail definently skimps on the acedemics portions, but i like that. Basically, you start in a Game Design class and get taught about documenting a game and designing one, then you move on to coding in C++. Then you move on to data structures, windows and directX. You get a small game project for a month than continue on into opengl, tools, engine development, ai, software architecutre, networking and before you know it you have 5 months to write a game engine and make a game :p

Like mentioned previously, Fullsail pretty much brushes you in many areas, they let you taste everything and teach you the basics behind it all. You are then expected to pull all of that together for your final project. Instead of spending your free time learning DirectX or OpenGL, you spend it researching vertex/pixel shaders, different animation systems, bump mapping or whatever you want to focus your attention in.

Over the past couple months, they have been getting a lot more strict with their class requirements. Just recently, i heard if you fail more than once in the basic programming course you are not allowed to continue in the degree for a year! The school has been getting more and more people. My starting class had 40 which dropped to 20 or so within a couple months :P, the very next class had 80! Most of the people who come in don't always know what they are getting into. Most people figure out whether they really want to stay after the first couple basic programming months. Your basically expected to know and understand the C++ syntax all the way up to the STL libraries within 3 months. I think they introduced pointers the.. third or fourth day into the first programming class :p

Personally, i'd recommend the school. If your serious and you make it through full sail, you will definently have a good grasp of programming and game programming. It is still a new degree and there are things that need work, (Their software architecture class) but overall i think the school is solid.

It's funny, because the further along i got in the degree, the harder and harder game programming looked, then i hit a point where it all started to come together and seemed a lot more feasable than before but still a ton of work. The best part is, if you really work and make a badass final project game, thats something you have on your portfolio to show employers, that and the tools you create and the projects you work on. In engine development, you are supposed to be researching something on your own and you demonstrate it at the end of the class. People do things like bump mapping, cloth simulation, water caustics vertex/fragment shaders, learn another language, heightmapping or whatever you want really.

I know i derailed the thread, but i would like to know a little more about digipen, since i almost appd for that school :P

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Ok, Full Sail sounds really good. I've looked on the website, but i can't find where it is. What states is Full Sail in. I don't have college money so it will be a scholarship.+

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