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jumpingrock

Getting into the game industry for a business developer

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So my situation is not unique. I've read many articles on getting into the industry already. However, I still have a question or two :-) First: I have a Bsc in Computing Science. Second: I've been developing business software for 2+ years in C# and .NET Third: I have created a game using the XNA framework (it's in alpha now) I'm looking to get into the gaming industry and I'm not sure the right way to proceed. I have the option of returning to school and doing a Master's in Artificial Intelligence. Taking the Game & Simulation Program at DeVry University, not terribly interested. Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here. Any suggestions on which course of action would be the most likely to get me into the industry?

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Well applying for a job is the only one that will get you a job, so I vote for that one. Mostly work on the polish of your demo and go for it.

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Original post by jumpingrock
Any suggestions on which course of action would be the most likely to get me into the industry?
Others might disagree with me here, but I'd learn C++ if you don't already know it. It's quite unlikely that you'll get a job in the industry as anything other than a tools programmer (I'm assuming you're going for a programmer position) without knowing C++. Particularly if you intend to do any form of console development.

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Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here.

You have one demo? How about making another one? Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet.

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Ya, you almost certainly need C++. There are only a handful of companies (usually smaller ones) that are using langauges other than C++ as their primary development language.

I actually entered the game industry from web software. A perhaps similar transition to the one you're trying to make. This was my path

First year
1) keep working at my web job
2) start developing a game/engine in your spare time (avg. 3 hours per day for the whole year)
3) also get involved in a hobby project in some capacity

Once my engine was in a good place - i.e. it'd be impressive to someone looking at it:

1) quit my web job
2) move to LA & live off savings and random contract work
3) spend fulltime working on my engine
4) constantly apply to companies in the area / meet people already in the industry (through IGDA meetings, friends and such)
5) eventually get job

You can probably skip the "quit your job & panic" stage of the process. For me that was just the only way I would have actually been motivated enough to land an interview.

-me

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Original post by jumpingrock
Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here.

You have one demo? How about making another one? Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet.


Thanks for the comments everybody.

It's a pretty involved demo with lots of potential for additions to it. I read your site, I think FAQ 2 or 3? Anyway, I'm going with the DIY method for this idea. I'm pretty psyched. That said, I haven't decided whether or not to continue working on this one or to move onto my next ideas (2 or 3 in the pipeline in my head), so that's definitely a given. Just a question of when. There is never going to be another point in my life where I will not have a game on the go, I enjoy it too much.

As far as the C++ goes, while I don't know it right now. I know PERL, Java and C# and have worked with both C and C++ in the past. Therefore, pickup time would be minimal. So the question would be, next game in C++/directX?

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Yes, I'll agree with both statements so far. C# is becoming more and more accepted, especially on the tools side, but it will be some time before we see AAA titles written in C# on Microsoft's platforms and we'll likely never see them on the others.

C++ is a necessity if you desire to work on mainstream commercial games. I'm sure you're already familiar with C++, but work to develop your skill and comfort with it, including the C++ standard library (containers and algorithms).

Also, make sure you've boned up on your math skills. Linear Algebra (Matrices and vectors and such) and calculus are the big ones. Discreet math is also very important in many aspects of programming. Learn specific principles that apply to game programming such as Quaternions.

Pick up a 3D API and/or become exceedingly familiar with the workings behind the scenes. Being familiar with the workings of the 3D pipeline is all the more important now that the fixed-function pipe is going away (both in hardware and in newer/upcoming versions of Direct3D and OpenGL.) and everything is moving to shaders. Become familiar with a prevalent shader language.

Pick up a scripting language such as Lua, which is very popular in the games industry. In every interview I've been on, I've always been asked if I was familiar with any scripting languages. 80% of the time they are using Lua, the other 20% has been lisp variants.

Definitely put a high degree of polish on your game if you intend to shop it around as a portfolio piece. A small, highly polished game is often more impressive than a larger unpolished one. It demonstrates attention to detail and commitment, as well as serving as an excellent conversation point containing sufficient complexity while having a limited scope.

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Original post by jumpingrock
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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Original post by jumpingrock
Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here.

You have one demo? How about making another one? Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet.


Thanks for the comments everybody.

It's a pretty involved demo with lots of potential for additions to it. I read your site, I think FAQ 2 or 3? Anyway, I'm going with the DIY method for this idea. I'm pretty psyched. That said, I haven't decided whether or not to continue working on this one or to move onto my next ideas (2 or 3 in the pipeline in my head), so that's definitely a given. Just a question of when. There is never going to be another point in my life where I will not have a game on the go, I enjoy it too much.

As far as the C++ goes, while I don't know it right now. I know PERL, Java and C# and have worked with both C and C++ in the past. Therefore, pickup time would be minimal. So the question would be, next game in C++/directX?


Yea, sure, although definitely grab a few good C++ books and read them through. I've had a few interviews recently and they all tested a thorough understanding of C++ beyond stuff that I might've considered as an indie developer.

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As far as the learn c++ thing goes, if you are looking for a more traditional games job then yeah that is where it is at. If you want a web game job they tend to use java or flash.

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here.

You have one demo? How about making another one? Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet.

I'm going with the DIY method for this idea.

Oh. Then you've decided not to "try and land a job."

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Original post by Tom Sloper
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Original post by jumpingrock
Or to just use my demo to try and land a job with one of the local companies here.

You have one demo? How about making another one? Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet.

I'm going with the DIY method for this idea.

Oh. Then you've decided not to "try and land a job."


Well, I want to try to land a job, using the game that I've built as a demo to get into the door.

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Original post by jumpingrock
Well, I want to try to land a job, using the game that I've built as a demo to get into the door.

Okay... and I said one demo isn't enough. "Sounds to me like you don't have enough practice at making games yet." And I suggested you might need to make another one, in order to land that job. (Apologies to all for repeating myself. Just not sure you heard it the first time.)

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Alright. That I can accept. What about the Artificial Intelligence Masters. Is it worth it?

Worth is subjective. IOW, "it depends." Only YOU can determine if it's worth it to YOU. If you want to go for it, go for it. If it's too much cost or trouble, don't do it.
In MY "humble" [cough] opinion, you should create a 2nd demo, maybe a 3rd. Get more practice making games.
Read this: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson41.htm (and check out the links at the bottom too).

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I have noticed, that most of you are saying that you need to learn c++ in order to get anywhere, but, it has come to my attention, as i have been searching Google, that C# is becoming more and more used for creating XBox 360 games, considering it supports XNA, so, by the time you learn C#, i am sure that the industry would give equal opportunities to both languages. In my suggestion, continue writing your demo until it is a full blown game, then i would apply. Keep in mind i am still a beginner, and you should do what is best for you, but i would continue learning C# with XNA.

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Original post by themagicalrock
I have noticed, that most of you are saying that you need to learn c++ in order to get anywhere, but, it has come to my attention, as i have been searching Google, that C# is becoming more and more used for creating XBox 360 games, considering it supports XNA, so, by the time you learn C#, i am sure that the industry would give equal opportunities to both languages. In my suggestion, continue writing your demo until it is a full blown game, then i would apply. Keep in mind i am still a beginner, and you should do what is best for you, but i would continue learning C# with XNA.


Professional developers don't use XNA because right now it doesn't offer full access to all the 360's hardware (I think this is still true).

More importantly, most of our current code is in C++ so to start an XNA project would add 1-2 years to the development cycle. This is because by sticking with C++ we can use the same engine we just released a tile with as our starting point.

That said, there is always a benefit to learning more languages so don't take this as a "know C++ above all else" argument. Just know C++ and then also know lots of other languages. Another way to put it would be: knowing C# could probably help you in the future, knowing C++ will definitely help you in the present to get a job.

-me

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Original post by themagicalrock
I have noticed, that most of you are saying that you need to learn c++ in order to get anywhere, but, it has come to my attention, as i have been searching Google, that C# is becoming more and more used for creating XBox 360 games, considering it supports XNA, so, by the time you learn C#, i am sure that the industry would give equal opportunities to both languages. In my suggestion, continue writing your demo until it is a full blown game, then i would apply. Keep in mind i am still a beginner, and you should do what is best for you, but i would continue learning C# with XNA.


Professional developers don't use XNA because right now it doesn't offer full access to all the 360's hardware (I think this is still true).

More importantly, most of our current code is in C++ so to start an XNA project would add 1-2 years to the development cycle. This is because by sticking with C++ we can use the same engine we just released a tile with as our starting point.

That said, there is always a benefit to learning more languages so don't take this as a "know C++ above all else" argument. Just know C++ and then also know lots of other languages. Another way to put it would be: knowing C# could probably help you in the future, knowing C++ will definitely help you in the present to get a job.

-me


one more suggestion, i think that learning python might also be a good choice, considering it is very easy, and can be used.

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I think the best advice is to just actually start applying for jobs and see what happens, once you become more familiar with the interview process you will be able to flesh out whatever it is you need to get your foot in the door.

I was in a similar position to you a few years back, Id just graduated but I had no portfolio, my university offered me a place to do a Masters degree which I was considering or my other option was getting an industry related job such as a tester whilst working in my spare time to build up a decent portfolio.

Luckily I decided to start sending my CV around anyway and managed to get a job as a scripter, pretty basic but my foot was in the door, 6 months later I was given a full time contract as a gameplay programmer.

Basically you will never know whats available or what you can achieve if you dont start sending of your CV and landing some interviews. I was pretty lucky, but then id like to think I made alot of that luck by being proactive.

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