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Game Design typically require calculus?

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I'm thinking of going into either Game Design or Computer Animation. Do either of those require calculus? I realize this forum specializes in the first & don't expect an answer on Computer Animation. I've just recently found out that there are pretty much two categories of game developers: programmers & designers (I guess there's more if you could management & marketing). And I know game programmers need calculus, but do game designers? Yes, I know they need to know geometry & trig, etc... but i'm talking about academic programs - do they require calc? My school doesn't have a degree in game design, so I don't know for sure. Fact is: i'm not very good at calc & algebra. I just placed into intermediate algebra & my father (who thinks you need math for everything... only problem is he doesn't even know what calculus or algebra are) is trying to talk me into taking introductory algebra. This means if I go up to calc i'll have to take the follow: intro algebra, intermediate algebra, pre-calc & calc... i'm not going to take all of these if the program I transfer into doesn't require them. So - please, if you know whether, on average, college programs require calc for game designers and/or computer animators then please let me know. Oh... and I have to know by today or else I have to keep the algebra class.

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Well, I would suggest AT LEAST going through intermediate algebra. But I honestly don't know if you would need pre-calc or calc or not.

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Well I already took both introductory & intermediate algebra at another college. I transfered into this college and placed into intermediate algebra. I don't have to take a math class, because i've already taken statistics. The only problem is that I keep getting told that I need to take calc. But i've just recently found out that game designers "probably" don't need calculus. The only computer related degrees my school offers are: Computer Science (requires beyond Calc III) & management of information systems (because it's in the school of business it requies either calculus I or business calculus).

Other than that I have no clue whether going into intermediate algebra, pre-calc & calc would even be beneficial or needed. I already know how to work w/ geometric forms & i'm capable of applying algebraic forumulas for various programming problems.

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Well, just about any math you take would be beneficial to some degree. I'm just not sure HOW beneficial it would be. Personally, if I were you, I would take at least pre-calc, but thats just me.

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Not exactly answering your question, and I don't work in the industry, but reading these forums I've picked up on two things:

1) Game designers usually start as game programmers.
2) A game designer who knows a thing or two about being a game programmer will have an easier time communicating his design to the game programmers.

You can draw your own conclusions.

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I dont know much about whether youre going to "need" calculus in your life...if you're not too far from the prerequisites, I would urge you as an educated adult to take a stab at it...when you get some of the unique oddness down, basic calculus helps explain a lot of things in math and science that, until you pick it up, are pretty much learned by memorization. Calculus helps you gain an appreciation of math and physics that is really beneficial, in my opinion.

"pre-calculus" is basically just making sure you've got your algebra down, and trigonometry. Trig and calculus tend to go together, but really as long as you arent being a slacker, pre-calc should be a breeze.

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Well, down to the wire here, i've decided i'll consider staying in intermediate algebra. I'll take precalc either next semester or the summer. I plan to ask an academic advisor at the nearest college to offer computer animation and/or game design classes on what I should do. Unfortunately the closest college to me costs an arm & a leg for tuition.

I'll probably end up doing what Will Wright did though :-P

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I also didn't seen to use calculus or math in game programming, algorithmization a lot, however not math. Programming is most often about discrete math, and possibly about error handling, and about using brain and solving problems. So called calculus is unneeded. On the other hand title is often needed, and universities are believing that math is somewhat correlated with successful university student, and are pressing it heavily. Math and programming has if any just a lose correlation. A lot of excelent mathemathicians are loosy programmers. While it might have something with theirs approach, and love for programming, there are also excelent programmers that are bad in math.

That said, there is no position anyone could be hired as game designer. It would be bit silly to hire someone that didn't prove himself he could design something realizable, playable, and nice enough. Often people at position called game designer are people like aritist, leading programmer, or someone from trustable programmers that are known for being able to create something aritistic, and realizable until deadline.

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Original post by krikkit
basic calculus helps explain a lot of things in math and science that, until you pick it up, are pretty much learned by memorization. Calculus helps you gain an appreciation of math and physics that is really beneficial, in my opinion.


Just so. I took physics and calculus the same year in high school. Physics was taught with lots of formulas rather than calculus, so one day I was looking at graphs of position/velocity/acceleration, and suddenly it all went *click*. I wouldn't claim to know what level of math is required for game design (if that's all you're doing, I would guess not much), but an understanding of basic calculus and Newtonian physics will really make you appreciate the simple, elegant beauty of the universe.

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Original post by Raghar
I also didn't seen to use calculus or math in game programming, algorithmization a lot, however not math.


Uhh, have you done any 3D work? I pity the poor bastards who attempt to do anything serious with a 3D engine without knowing linear algebra (which requires some calculus).

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You won't get anywhere as a programmer without some mathematical knowledge. For a very simple game you don't need much, other than maybe the ability to work through a bit of logic in your head and rearrange the odd equation. However, in any modern style game there are a few key areas you really do need to look at:

"Physics" in games usually refers to collision theory, and requires knowledge of applied mathematics - in particular calculus and differential equations - to be implemented fully.

3D camera systems use linear algebra (matrix theory) and geometry. Without these you won't get very far.

AI algorithms are made a lot easier with knowledge of game theory (discrete mathematics), though this is not necessarily essential and can be done with basic logic.

Game balancing is best done with some probability, unless you want to spend weeks using trial and error.

As for game design, I guess that depends on what you mean by that. The majority of what you see on this board is more "game philosophy" in my eyes; talking about what would be good in a game or what you would like to see in a game, rather than how these things could be implemented. This is why the majority of developers only employ previous programmers as designers. A non-programmer could philosophize over what would be best for a game, but he could not design it. So yes, with the correct meaning of the phrase, a game designer would have to have all the above mathematical abilities under his belt, as he'll be telling the programmers what to do half the time.

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Quote:
Original post by Raghar
I also didn't seen to use calculus or math in game programming, algorithmization a lot, however not math.

Quite possibly one of the most stupid things I've ever seen posted on GDNet.

Quote:

Programming is most often about discrete math, and possibly about error handling, and about using brain and solving problems. So called calculus is unneeded.

Can your brain actually think? Do you not realize that calculus is used for problem solving and directly corresponds with your statement of 'using brain and solving problems'?

Quote:

On the other hand title is often needed, and universities are believing that math is somewhat correlated with successful university student, and are pressing it heavily.

The reason is because it is a proven fact from many many research studies. Most universities will base things on your mark in Calculus because it shows your problem solving skills... how able you are to grasp concepts and apply them to figure things out.

Quote:

Math and programming has if any just a lose correlation. A lot of excelent mathemathicians are loosy programmers.

Math and programming have a direct correlation. I do agree that a lot of mathematicians are lousy programmers and usually they think more in the theoretical space and have a hard time applying it. In that regards I wouldn't call them 'great mathematicians' at all, just people that can grasp concepts quickly and understand mathematical concepts.

Quote:

While it might have something with theirs approach, and love for programming, there are also excelent programmers that are bad in math.

In my professional career of nine years as a developer I have not yet met one excellent programmer that was 'bad in math' (meaning they couldn't understand the concept I was trying to explain). Also being 'excellent in math' doesn't mean you have everything memorized or can do things off the top of your head, but it does imply that if you read a paper or listen to someone you should be able to follow along and grasp the concept. Obviously even some of the greatest mathematicians aren't going to know absolutely everything, but I'll gaurentee you they can find it out and understand it if they want to.

Now also I can't believe you would post this on a game development forum out of all places! Considering algebra, geometry, calculus and discrete mathematics are core concepts when working in the industry.

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I've never used Calculus in any capacity at work, but here's one thing to consider-- if you ever plan on leaving the industry in the future, a general CS/programming degree will be worlds more useful than a Game Design certificate.

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Original post by krikkit
<snip> I would urge you as an educated adult to take a stab at it...when you get some of the unique oddness down, basic calculus helps explain a lot of things in math and science that, until you pick it up, are pretty much learned by memorization. Calculus helps you gain an appreciation of math and physics that is really beneficial, in my opinion.


This is so very true.

All the equations you will learn through pre-calc/trig make infinitly more sense when you go through calculus. You may think you are bad at math, but that does not nessasarly mean it is true.

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It isn't strictly necessary.

I have known many successful programmers who did not know anything about calculus or formal math. Their strengths were elsewhere, such as being able to write out reams of code from a simple spec.

Here is the simple observation: I have never heard anybody complain, "I know too much math," but I often hear groanings about not knowing enough.

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re JosieNutter

I agree some type of degree is important, however I'd recommend an computer engineer type of degree. Engineer title is somewhat more useful as a fall back if he will not get into game industry (because it's as hard as get into the movie industry), or if game industry wasn't what he wanted.

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Original post by Raghar
Engineer title is somewhat more useful as a fall back if he will not get into game industry (because it's as hard as get into the movie industry), or if game industry wasn't what he wanted.

What the hell are you smoking? Getting into the game industry is actually quite easy as long as you are a great programmer and have personal projects and interests to show. There are always positions open for talented people that know what they are doing and prove they have a passion for it.

Seriously you've already proven that you know absolutely nothing about game development so you shouldn't be posting on threads like this giving people false information.

[Edited by - Saruman on September 20, 2006 4:09:53 PM]

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Original post by Eddy999999
Well, just about any math you take would be beneficial to some degree. I'm just not sure HOW beneficial it would be. Personally, if I were you, I would take at least pre-calc, but thats just me.


I agree with Eddy999999, learn calc.

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Original post by Poetic
Well I already took both introductory & intermediate algebra at another college. I transfered into this college and placed into intermediate algebra. I don't have to take a math class, because i've already taken statistics. The only problem is that I keep getting told that I need to take calc. But i've just recently found out that game designers "probably" don't need calculus. The only computer related degrees my school offers are: Computer Science (requires beyond Calc III) & management of information systems (because it's in the school of business it requies either calculus I or business calculus).

Other than that I have no clue whether going into intermediate algebra, pre-calc & calc would even be beneficial or needed. I already know how to work w/ geometric forms & i'm capable of applying algebraic forumulas for various programming problems.


Take Calculus. Even if it isn't "needed" - the mathematical understanding you gain is well worth it, especially if you want to be able to interface with your coders who probably will have done some form of Calculus, and most certainly will have done calculus and beyond if they're working with shaders and rendering or physics.

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Quote:
Original post by Saruman
Quote:
Original post by Raghar
Engineer title is somewhat more useful as a fall back if he will not get into game industry (because it's as hard as get into the movie industry), or if game industry wasn't what he wanted.

What the hell are you smoking?


Well, maybe nothing. From what I hear, it's not all that hard to get into the movie industry, either. [wink]

However, what I think most people mean by, "It's hard to get into the movie industry", is, "It's hard to be 'discovered' and become an instantly wealthy and famous movie star". Likewise, "It's hard to design a game that will revolutionize the industry" (even harder to get it implemented...). Why are these hard? Because they're essentially pure luck. It's not hard to get into the movie industry if you're willing to do your time in commercials or willing to take a part like "Man in bar #2". If you're willing to do that, you'll be able to work your way up.

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I'm not in the industry, but personally, I find calculus to be the most used area in my hobby game design work (rate/flow problems with combat/character balancing).

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As someone who has worked in the industry for nearly 4 years (more than 1 year as a programmer), I say, Take Calculus.

Is it required? No
Should you learn anyways? Absolutely

Here's a basic philosophy that has been a tremendous amount help. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better able you are to take on challenges. (This is what makes some people more valulable workers). Calculus is an extremely powerful tool used to solve both theoretical AND real world problems. The more problem solving skills you posses, the better off you will be.

Learn Calculus, learn science, learn physics, learn writing, learn as much as you can. Knowledge is a powerful form of currency in this world. You will never be worse off for having more.

Ok, It seems I've gotten carried away at the end. I've just gotten sick of people simply focusing "minimum requirements" or "least amount of effort needed to..." aspect of thier goals.

Take Calculus, it won't kill you and you will be better off knowing it than not.

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Original post by Saruman
What the hell are you smoking?


Please tone down the attitude a bit.

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Original post by Deathscythe
Learn Calculus, learn science, learn physics, learn writing, learn as much as you can. Knowledge is a powerful form of currency in this world. You will never be worse off for having more.


Agreed. I think it's particularly important for a game designer to have an extremely broad knowledge base to draw from, as it can only help you to look at things in a wide variety of ways.

Take the calculus course. It's not really that difficult, like most things in maths it takes a bit of practice and learning to look at problems in a slightly different way to that which you're used to. Learning these skills will only help you in the long run, whether you want to be a rocket scientist, game designer, or a truck driver.

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