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KuroKage

What are these general programming jobs.....

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Hi, I sometimes hear that being a programmer in the video game industry is more diffucult than being a general/generic programmer. And they usually say that you will have to work longer than eight hours when it's near deadline. And the last one (the one I'm most bothered about) is that they are paid less compared to general/generic programming. But they say that all that is worth it because it's much more fun working in the industry. I'm not really sure if the term general/generic is right but I would just like to ask what are these general programming jobs that they are talking about that is supposedly higher in pay and less work. Could you guys please give me some examples? I would just like to have some incite about this. Thank you very much.

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Programmers work on everything really. Those working in the pharmaceutical industry do bioinformatics (applying programming to solving biological problems), those in the simulation industry basically make military training systems (vr/ar, after action review) or other types of simulation (physical based stuff, visualizations, etc.). Obviously, if you get a job at a bank or website, you would be writing bank software and webpage backends. But you don't have to work for a game company to work on cool things. And stay away from these game design/programming degree programs. Just get a straight CS degree and take networking, graphics, software engineering, and AI courses. You will get so much more out of it.

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I sometimes hear that being a programmer in the video game industry is more diffucult than being a general/generic programmer.

Not necessarily. Sometimes you will be assigned simple tasks and sometimes you will be assigned lengthy and very challenging tasks. This is the same for both general application development and video game development.

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And they usually say that you will have to work longer than eight hours when it's near deadline.

You will usually have to work longer hours during the final few weeks of the game because publishers have a set date that they must start producing the game discs for them to be released on time. You'll usually spend these last few weeks tweaking things, fixing bugs and the likes.

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And the last one (the one I'm most bothered about) is that they are paid less compared to general/generic programming. But they say that all that is worth it because it's much more fun working in the industry.

In my opinion this is most certainly not true... atleast not in the UK. Why would someone be paid less for more work, it just doesn't make sense? You're right (in my opinion) that game development is more fun than generic software development.

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IMO:
Sallary and hours worked are obviously important to everyone, but if they are your top concerns then you might want to keep looking. Your top priority should be something like... "I GET TO MAKE GAMES FOR A LIVING!! WOOHOO!! [smile]". If you're not that passionate about game-dev, then you're probably in the wrong field, and you wouldn't last long anyways. Programmers are needed everywhere for every type of company, so pick your spot wisely (though you could always change).

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Original post by Undeadlnsanity
In my opinion this is most certainly not true... atleast not in the UK. Why would someone be paid less for more work, it just doesn't make sense? You're right (in my opinion) that game development is more fun than generic software development.


Disclaimer: this is my opinion.

Our starting salary at my employer is roughly $5,000.00 under the maximum I was quoted as being able to earn within the games industry. The game industry burns developers out; there are few long term entities. Your salaries are determined by the starting salary of the beginning programmer. Management apparently believes that two neophyte programmers outweigh one expert programmer and pay in a manner that supports that belief.

I'm an application developer, a Lead Developer, actually. We work forty to fifty hour weeks, but it's not required. We develop the intranet for my employer, the extranet, the public website, handle integration with other entities via web services or automated data transfer, handle the creation and maintenance of the primary applications and databases that drive our company. I've been there for seven years now and make very good money. (I own a nice house in a nice suburb and two cars, have a dog, a cat, two 55 gallon aquariums of turtles and fish, a wife, and two children. I'm the sole provider for my family, and we do well.)

One of the problems with game development is that you must live in the area that it takes place. The cost of living in these areas is extremely high compared to the rest of the country - 200% to 300% higher. I know folks in San Diego or San Francisco who pay more for a 1 bedroom apartment than I do for my house, tax escrow and all. Couple this with the recent EA debacle where "The Man" rides the developers, artists, and other entities involved in a game until they drop out of the industry and well... what do you think? EA goes out and hires fifty new programmers that are fresh to the industry and ten to twenty disgruntled programmers make their way into the applications field.

Games have held steady at $50.00 a pop here in the US for quite some time, both PC and console based. The last price raise I remember was from $39.99 to $49.99 and frankly, I can't remember when that was. Sure, the number of units being sold has increased as gaming has become more popular but considering what the budgets of most games have done (doubled, tripled, quintupled) you'd expect the price of a game to rise more than it has. Especially taking into account the remarkable number of used game sales that most game retailers are doing now. (There's an idea - kill the industry that provides the product you sell. Go GameStop!)

As well, the number of successes in the games industry is abysmal. I attribute this to managers and product approvers being stuck in "clone mode" the same way that Hollywood is stuck in "horror movie" mode. Rather than try a new, refreshing game that puts a neat spin on a topic they want another Doom, another Quake, another Command & Conquer - and they aren't willing to go out on a limb. Unfortunately the market can only bear so many clones before people simply aren't interested any more.

Or, in many cases, the game is released before it's finished. (This is usually the publisher's fault rather than the developer's, but it is the publisher generally writing the checks.)

Or, the game sucks. Period.

So yea. The money sucks. Partially because your involvement in the product may or may not have an impact on its success. When working as an application developer you have an impact on the success of the product you're working on in almost every scenario. Your good or bad work will determine if the product will be used by the company and if it will save them or cost them money. Your salary is comparable to intracompany data allowing management to see the benefit(s), if any, you bring to the table.

To be blunt: you're more useful and more valuable to a company in the application role than a games company. There are plenty of replacements available for the game developer role.

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it is funny that you called it generic/general programming because it seems like you are saying "Game programming and the rest are general" that absoulotly not true.

there are many areas in the programming fields from databases to kernel drivers programming. and in every areas there are the novice programmers and the experts.

by comparing an expert game programmer to an expert in kernel drivers you will probobly find out that they hold the same amount of salary.

regards hours, on every area the hours are crazy. it is really depend on the company itself. start-up,big company etc.

so what are the diffrents from game programming to the rest from my point of view ?

1. there is a very serious diffrent between an expert and a novice which couldn't find in other areas I have been around.

2. It seems to me that the interviews to a game programming job is more difficult.

3. You may find yourself starting with a low salary which is basicly lower then the rest (not all) of the areas I have been seen.

4. New Game companys have harder time to raise money. so they are short with money. while not-game companys do have easyer life getting money.

5. Because most of the game programmers do enjoy working in game company it makes a huge diffrent. web programmer or a database application programmers many not really enjoy there job.

so this is my point of view. I dont think salarys are lower or work is harder. it is not.

Cheers,
Nuno1

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by comparing an expert game programmer to an expert in kernel drivers you will probobly find out that they hold the same amount of salary.


No, no you won't. An expert at driver development will easily out-earn their application development peers and often their managers, never mind game developers in the same region.

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Telastyn,
As an expert in kernel driver development at my company I disagree.

It is right that our salarysare high for the market (also novice are getting a nice bucks as a start salary) but I can tell you that in my company a database programmer expert (And I do mean an expert at that field) earn pretty much as I do.

Experts are getting the high bucks no matter what the field is.

you think that an experts in 3d-engine devleopment at a game company does not earn atleast as an expert in driver development ? you will suprise me if you would say yes.

I have seen some salarys of a novice game programmer. it was a joke. but I have seen the salarys of an experts as well. It just make sense to me. I may be wrong and talk with the wrong person ;).

Cheers,
Nuno1

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Original post by Telastyn
Quote:

by comparing an expert game programmer to an expert in kernel drivers you will probobly find out that they hold the same amount of salary.


No, no you won't. An expert at driver development will easily out-earn their application development peers and often their managers, never mind game developers in the same region.


That's a big statement to make without presenting any facts what-so-ever to back it up. Perhaps you meant to say that's your opinion/experience??

At my company we have a driver developement team and I earn more than any of them, senior or not:)

Cheers
Chris

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According to the igda salary survey here the lead programmer [with 6 years of experience] makes about $90k.

The senior level driver engineer I worked with made $150k before bonuses and benefits (in silicon valley, so it is a little inflated). A quick search yields: this (100-120k), this(100-140k), this(80-95k), and this(100+).

Not a full survey on the topic I know, but no, I won't agree that a 3D guru will make on average equal or more than a driver guru. Game companies simply can't afford to.

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Original post by Telastyn
According to the igda salary survey here the lead programmer [with 6 years of experience] makes about $90k.

The senior level driver engineer I worked with made $150k before bonuses and benefits (in silicon valley, so it is a little inflated). A quick search yields: this (100-120k), this(100-140k), this(80-95k), and this(100+).

Not a full survey on the topic I know, but no, I won't agree that a 3D guru will make on average equal or more than a driver guru. Game companies simply can't afford to.


Well done, I won't argue with that:)
Cheers
Chris

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Original post by Talonius
Quote:
Original post by Undeadlnsanity
In my opinion this is most certainly not true... atleast not in the UK. Why would someone be paid less for more work, it just doesn't make sense? You're right (in my opinion) that game development is more fun than generic software development.


Disclaimer: this is my opinion.

Our starting salary at my employer is roughly $5,000.00 under the maximum I was quoted as being able to earn within the games industry. The game industry burns developers out; there are few long term entities. Your salaries are determined by the starting salary of the beginning programmer. Management apparently believes that two neophyte programmers outweigh one expert programmer and pay in a manner that supports that belief.

I'm an application developer, a Lead Developer, actually. We work forty to fifty hour weeks, but it's not required. We develop the intranet for my employer, the extranet, the public website, handle integration with other entities via web services or automated data transfer, handle the creation and maintenance of the primary applications and databases that drive our company. I've been there for seven years now and make very good money. (I own a nice house in a nice suburb and two cars, have a dog, a cat, two 55 gallon aquariums of turtles and fish, a wife, and two children. I'm the sole provider for my family, and we do well.)

One of the problems with game development is that you must live in the area that it takes place. The cost of living in these areas is extremely high compared to the rest of the country - 200% to 300% higher. I know folks in San Diego or San Francisco who pay more for a 1 bedroom apartment than I do for my house, tax escrow and all. Couple this with the recent EA debacle where "The Man" rides the developers, artists, and other entities involved in a game until they drop out of the industry and well... what do you think? EA goes out and hires fifty new programmers that are fresh to the industry and ten to twenty disgruntled programmers make their way into the applications field.

Games have held steady at $50.00 a pop here in the US for quite some time, both PC and console based. The last price raise I remember was from $39.99 to $49.99 and frankly, I can't remember when that was. Sure, the number of units being sold has increased as gaming has become more popular but considering what the budgets of most games have done (doubled, tripled, quintupled) you'd expect the price of a game to rise more than it has. Especially taking into account the remarkable number of used game sales that most game retailers are doing now. (There's an idea - kill the industry that provides the product you sell. Go GameStop!)

As well, the number of successes in the games industry is abysmal. I attribute this to managers and product approvers being stuck in "clone mode" the same way that Hollywood is stuck in "horror movie" mode. Rather than try a new, refreshing game that puts a neat spin on a topic they want another Doom, another Quake, another Command & Conquer - and they aren't willing to go out on a limb. Unfortunately the market can only bear so many clones before people simply aren't interested any more.

Or, in many cases, the game is released before it's finished. (This is usually the publisher's fault rather than the developer's, but it is the publisher generally writing the checks.)

Or, the game sucks. Period.

So yea. The money sucks. Partially because your involvement in the product may or may not have an impact on its success. When working as an application developer you have an impact on the success of the product you're working on in almost every scenario. Your good or bad work will determine if the product will be used by the company and if it will save them or cost them money. Your salary is comparable to intracompany data allowing management to see the benefit(s), if any, you bring to the table.

To be blunt: you're more useful and more valuable to a company in the application role than a games company. There are plenty of replacements available for the game developer role.

From my experience this doesn't apply to software developers in the UK. I know a few application developers and they earn just as much as the respective alternate position within a game development studio.

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