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bronxbomber92

Preperation for Professional Game Development

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Hello, I've been wondering lately what exactly I should study/learn if I want to pursue a career in game development for a high end company. I know I'm a bit away from that, but I have 4 years ahead of me (roughly) before I even go to college. Is there any specific fields I should study that will give me an advantage? Currently I know c and a good amount of c++ and a scripting language called Lua. I'm learning OpenGL, and I program for the PSP specifically. So any suggestion (anything, languages to learn, specifics, ect...) to get me heading in the right direction would be highly appreciated :) Btw, I've heard that if you have a good demo/example when applying for a job you'll more likely be accepted, is this true usually? If so, would it be smart to start something now and spend a good amount of time on it, and eventually get it up to near professional quality ( RPG, or FPS possibly )? Thanks, Jedd

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Original post by bronxbomber92
Btw, I've heard that if you have a good demo/example when applying for a job you'll more likely be accepted, is this true usually? If so, would it be smart to start something now and spend a good amount of time on it, and eventually get it up to near professional quality ( RPG, or FPS possibly )?
A good demo/portfolio is pretty much an essential these days. What that consists of depends on what you want to do. If you want to focus on game play then a fun game would work. If your interests are in the area of AI or physics then demo's which focus on those areas would be good. The more you have the better.

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Mathematics - learn as much as you can. Trigonometry, vectors/matrices/linear algebra, a little calculus (or a lot of calculus if you want to specialise in physics), etc.

Do you want to specialise in any particular role?, AI?, physics?, renderers/graphics?, etc - learn as many key/base algorithms and methods from each as you can (e.g. A*, Euler integration, etc).

Algorithms and general techniques in general are more important than specific APIs - most companies have in house engines or middleware abstracting away platform specifics and API details, algorithms are more transferrable.

That said, a 'familarity' with commonly used APIs and libraries like OpenGL, DirectX, STL, Win32, etc can still be useful skills to have, particularly if there's a chance you will be (or want to be) working on engines/abstraction layers.

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Original post by bronxbomber92
Hello, I've been wondering lately what exactly I should study/learn if I want to pursue a career in game development for a high end company.

That really depends on what you want to do at the company. Advice for an artist, programmer, tester, or other career paths are different. Even within those general areas, advice is different depending on what specialty you want to follow.

Quote:
I know I'm a bit away from that, but I have 4 years ahead of me (roughly) before I even go to college.

WARNING! Be careful with that thought.

Although you are just fine to keep game development as a target, don't exclude other career paths at your age. You are just entering your teens and have a world of opportunities open to you. Nobody at that age has enough real-world experience to understand what will follow for the remaining 70+ years of your life. I'm well over twice your age, and still frequently rewrite major portions of my roughly-sketched plan.

It would be unfortunate to exclude tens of thousands of other career paths because of a premature focus on one particular career path. If you ignore your own feelings because of the focus, then discover after you have a job that you hate the career, you will have a difficult time moving to something you truely enjoy.



Quote:
Is there any specific fields I should study that will give me an advantage?

Math. You use it in nearly every career path, the more you learn the better position you'll be in.

Interpersonal skills. Way to many people in the field (including myself) have difficulty working with other live human beings.

Writing. Not just creative writing, but clear, effective communication generally.

Quote:
Currently I know c and a good amount of c++ and a scripting language called Lua. I'm learning OpenGL, and I program for the PSP specifically. So any suggestion (anything, languages to learn, specifics, ect...) to get me heading in the right direction would be highly appreciated :)
At your age? Nope, sounds like you are on track for programming skills.

Quote:
...a good demo/example ... would it be smart to start something now and spend a good amount of time on it, and eventually get it up to near professional quality ( RPG, or FPS possibly )?

Yes and no.

Yes, you will eventually need a demo, but that's probably seven years out.
Yes, feel free to write small games and give them out on your web site and on here. But those aren't demo discs.
No, you shouldn't make that a focus at this point in life.
No, don't plan on getting it up to "near professional quality".



You really should focus on living your teenage years doing what you enjoy, going out with friends, and otherwise living outside of computers. From the sounds of it, you are already deep enough in to meet your goals. Now you need to get out a little bit.

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Thanks so much for the great responses! I figured math would be a "shoe-in". I'll read up as much as I can about trig, and specific math for 3D concepts. And for what I wish to do exactly is either physics or graphics, but if you mean modeling, then no, not really.

@frob,
Thank you for the indepth answer. I've thought about other careers, and they include sport analyists/reporter, architect, or sports radio host.

Human interaction has always not been difficult, I won't say easy, but I always end up being the voice of reason in arguements whith no reason :p. As for writing, I'm good, but not the best. Not much I have to say about this topic.

Ok, I won't focus on any LONG-term projects, but I'm currently working with a professional game programmer on another job (well, he is advising it but cannot program due to his contract with his employer, but he has laid out a good foundation) and hopefully it will come close (emphasis on hopefully).

Living my teen years outside of the computer? Yes I am :P. I LOVE playing sports, such as Baseball (I'm a fanatic) and basketball. I hang out with my friends frequently. But the main reason I have time to learn programming is because many of my friends have gone down a road leading to drugs annd drinking, and I do not wish to follow their foot steps, so that frees some of my time while they are out being immature...


Thanks again for the responses :)

Jedd

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Great to hear that you are avoiding the whole drugs/drinking crowd. It will serve you well down the road. If your current circle of friends is leading you down a dark road, don't be afraid to reach out to others. Getting involved in other activities at school (sports, clubs, etc.) is a great way to meet new people.

Don't be too worried at this point about knowing exactly what you want to do with your life. At your age I thought for sure I would study physics and astronomy. Instead I ended up going to college for music and now work in the film/TV/videogame industry. I never ever thought that I would end up in this career and find it so rewarding.

Continue to work hard in school and continue engaging in activities outside of school and away from the computer. Writing and communicating effectively is a necessary skill if you hope to advance in any career, so pay attention in your English classes and make those essays and reports stellar! Math is also a skill that will benefit you in most any career, so continue to do your homework, even when it's a drag. (Yes, I still use math and English as a musician. While my calculus studies don't directly apply to most of my work, having the basic knowledge has been useful.)

You may be quite surprised at what opportunites life will throw your way in the coming years. Having a goal now is a great thing to motivate you. Just make sure you don't completely shut out other possibilities.

Go get 'em!

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