Sign in to follow this  
BigFreak

How complex should a demo be?

Recommended Posts

Ok, so I'm about to graduate from uni with a 2:1 in software engineering and am looking to get into the games industry. I've made a basic Breakout clone as a demo for prospective employers, which can be seen here. It contains a bunch of stuff which most games feature(/d?), such as lives, keeping a score, changing level, collisions, a bit of trigonometry, etc. I was just wondering what a potential employer will actually be looking for. Sure, it's only Breakout but it's got a lot of the fundamentals there. Any advice from anyone who recruits or has got an interview off their demo?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A demo is nice but it isn't something that most studios seem to look for in programmers. Instead, they are more likely to want to see a code sample that demonstrates your coding ability. Afterall, the quality of the demo gives little indication of how competent you are as a programmer (unless it is buggy and crashes, etc).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have to disagree with the above post, at least from my personal experience - most companies are keen to see demo's from programmers with no past 'industry' experience. Your demo shows that you have enthusiasm for games and that you have the ability to make all parts of a complete game. It doesn't prove much about the actual quality of your code, but there are other ways to find that out (such as code samples and programming tests).

Be sure to mention what you thought were the trickiest parts of it's development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It should be as complex, as you can make your perfect, bug-free, tested and polished project.

If that's a tetris clone, that's fine.
If it's next-gen MMO, that's fine as well.
If it's a path-finding algorithm, it's fine as well.

As long as it's bug free, tested and polished.

Demo tries to show your capabilities. Going above that is akin to padding the resume (with pros/cons of such approach).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What's the difference between a really large code sample, and a game? (Especially if you list what the hardest parts were.)

Although, I see a lot of people with demos like this who say they just got out of college, but I can't say I'm impressed. Partially because everyone makes a Pong clone as a demo of their skills. Add more graphical effects, alter the dynamics of the game in interesting ways, reflect what you learned in your 2:1 uni, anything to make for game stand out. Even procedurally generated levels. As long as it remains bug free, like Antheus said.

Quote:

Demo tries to show your capabilities. Going above that is akin to padding the resume (with pros/cons of such approach).


BECAUSE demos try to show your abilities, I think going above that is good. Also because if ten people graduate from the same college and send in similar Pong clones...

I could be wrong, though. I've only been through one year of a 4:4 college and I might not know employers well. Still, if I were an employer, I'd look for impressive features, first, and good programming practices second.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The thing an employer is trying to get from a finished demo / game is that you managed a project of your own creation through to completion. This demonstrates not only that you know *how* to make a game, but also that you have self-motivation and the ability to see a project to the end. Everyone knows that it's easy to start a project, but to see it through to the end (often, very bitter end) takes a degree of commitment and technical expertise that is so highly sought after in the industry.

Employers also use your demo to gain an insight into your technical expertise. After all, in todays industry there is much need for specialisation. A demonstration of ability in a given discipline may make your prospective employer look upon you in a different light.

The demo doesn't have to be earth shattering, but it always helps ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by jjd
A demo is nice but it isn't something that most studios seem to look for in programmers. Instead, they are more likely to want to see a code sample that demonstrates your coding ability. Afterall, the quality of the demo gives little indication of how competent you are as a programmer (unless it is buggy and crashes, etc).


Like Geoffrey I disagree with this as well. Having a good demo (bad demos do more harm than good) is the best way to get yourself noticed.

Some comments on the demo posted above:
- Give it a better file name, game.zip is way too easily lost/misattributed. Use your name somewhere in the file name. I have quite a number of demos from applicants kicking about on my machine at work, and half of them I have no idea who they're from because they have a name like game.zip.
- Game failed to start - a simple unzip and run gave a rather cryptic message about incorrect application configuration (winxp, 8800gts). No mention of 3rd party requirements or such in the readme.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the demo is unique in some way, then even better. It is more likely that it will stand out from the crowd of Tetris/Pacman/etc clones that are commonly sent in.

I had a game demo that ran on the GP2X which allowed me to show it during an interview and talk about it was it was running.

As others have said, any demos sent should be finished, polished and as bug free as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ok, thanks everyone. Guess I've got some work to do ;D

Quote:
Original post by Jerax
Some comments on the demo posted above:
- Give it a better file name, game.zip is way too easily lost/misattributed. Use your name somewhere in the file name. I have quite a number of demos from applicants kicking about on my machine at work, and half of them I have no idea who they're from because they have a name like game.zip.
- Game failed to start - a simple unzip and run gave a rather cryptic message about incorrect application configuration (winxp, 8800gts). No mention of 3rd party requirements or such in the readme.


Yeah, that's a good point thanks. Didn't realise it had additional dependencies as it ran on my laptop and my desktop, which...yeah, both had VC++2008. I shall rectify both these points immediately!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alot of the time, companies will assign a small programming task that requires a range of skills that they are looking for, a small program to add to your CV would also be useful, although some companies won't require it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We have a programming test, but to even get that far you'd have to be noticed, that's where a demo comes in handy - CVs (largely) all look the same from grads.

The basic hiring process is:
Receive application, check CV and demo (if provided) - the majority of applicants are rejected at this point.
Send applicant programming test (time given is one evening) - the majority of the remainder are rejected at this point.
In person interview - about 50% rejected at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this