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Kethis

Newcomer seeks general advice from knowledgeable gave devs

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Hello, I am a 22 year old Math student. I am interested in taking game development up as a serious hobby, possibly more. I currently go to school but have about 8 hours a day of time I am willing to dedicate, due to a low workload (Cal B & Physics w/ Cal A as my only classes). I have come here seeking advice on two general fronts to start off on, and once I get some feedback I will go ahead and ask some questions that are more strictly related to game development. I have no noteworthy formal training in programming beyond the high school level (my high school actually did a good job of teaching that, though) and am not exceptionally auto-didactic, but I do understand the OOP paradigm, polymorphism, and am experimenting with DBMS. I have a strong understanding of logic and have some small level of insight in using simple mathematical principles to create uncommon solutions. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: Will I be able to learn how to create quality, visual game components despite my limitations? Professional testing a view years ago revealed that I express -2 standard deviations of fine manual dexterity (-2 standard deviations of intelligence is the level for retardation, hence the joke that "my hands are retarded"). This was no surprise because I have difficulty drawing anything more complex then charts or stick figures. I scored +0 to +3.4 standard deviations on macro scale manual tasks, and all other functional and intellectual tests. I can use a mouse without limitation. I am a high functioning autistic. My fine motor control skills suffer as an aspect of that. My primary difficulty is perceiving certain things from a proper frame of reference (ie, recognition rather then cognition). One similar aspect of this is that I have a hard time telling when things look good, or not good. In my day-to-day life I base my aesthetic decisions on past compliments and my esoteric personal taste. While I am a visually-oriented person, that approach seems untenable for the creation of visual game components. How will I know if a model is proportioned properly or if their smile is believable or if the color scheme conveys the mood? Can such a thing be taught? Can it be taught in the presence of a handicap? How do I go about learning it? What investment of time to what level of return can I expect? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q: Should I seriously consider majoring in game development, or is its competitive nature unsuitable for me? I hear that game development schools, such as Full Sail, are extremely intensive and require basically 100% of your time. In public school I learned zero studying habits, and was left without any other aspects of a good student. When I hit college I started having anxiety problems, that resulted in me dropping out. It took a couple years, but I hit my 'rock bottom' and turned around. I am now back in college, have good work experience under my belt, and am doing fine. I control my anxiety with a low dose of a medium strength anxiolytic and regular Tai Chi. I have little ties to where I live, and would like to move, but my mother insists I remain nearby so I can have a 'safety net'. I am capable of my best work when external forces provocate extreme investments of time - in so long as my anxiety doesn't over ride my calm, at which point I have a hard time remaining on top of things. I haven't had a severe anxiety episode in almost two years, and have learned many techniques for successfully recovering from set backs. I ponder if placing myself in a situation where I have to study /constantly/ would be beneficial to me. When I begin to focus on something intensively I can easily stay up all night working on the same problem/project. I have difficulty doing anything halfway. If it requires only a modicum of my attention/effort/insight it is easy to allow it to slip below my radar entirely. I have been subverted by such problems in the past. (ever walked out of a final holding the test?) My current school is a state university with good Engineering and Physics programs. I am interested in pursuing a career in some combination of the following: Math, Education, Programming, and Physics. I prefer to constantly be amongst a very small group of friends (usually me and one to two others), but my social amiability has been on the rise and I believe I can work with a small team without problems... in a non-inter-competitive atmosphere. I try to find myself elsewhere (with zeal) when faced with infighting, especially if it is motivated by group politics. (As mentioned above, I am a high functioning autistic. Social competitions are not my arena.) On average I require 0-2 hours of down time a day in order to keep myself feeling sane. The rest I am willing to dedicate to tiring activities (socialization is included here). Would I be foolish to seriously consider intensive game development schools? Are there any schools that employ a different paradigm of teaching that you think would be more appropriate for me? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Please excuse my verbosity. I would have made this post shorter but I did not have the time. I thank you for your help and consideration.

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If you want to take game development seriously, then you have to specialize.
You should either become a programmer or an artist/modeler.
If you want to be a programmer then you have to be good in general maths (geometry, algebra, probability and calculus).
If you want to be an artist I don't know what it takes, cause I'm a programmer. I am not good with colors nor drawing, so I always outsource the art I need.

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Sounds to me like programming would be right up your alley. Visual design can be taught to a certain degree, but some people just suck at it [wink] The thing about game development though is that (on the professional level anyways) you're working with a team, so you have an artist handle the aesthetics of things. I don't see why a lack of motor skills would be any sort of deterrent, either. If you can type then you have the motor skills required to be a programmer. The biggest thing that a programmer needs is a highly analytical mind. Well, that and a willingness to work well with others!

If you have an interest in game development then go for it. Yes it is competitive, but what interesting professional job isn't competitive?

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If you can't create visuals, and can't learn how to create visuals, than you won't be able to create visuals. But that doesn't mean you won't be able to create games. If you are good at math (physics can also help), and can understand programming, than you can learn to program games.

The way I see it, game schools are mostly for game designers - the jacks of all trades, masters of none, creative managers and leaders of development teams. Sure, you can be a game designer if you give it your all, but according to what you've wrote about yourself, I think you are more suited and will enjoy more being a game programmer.

Now, the game schools in my country(Israel) don't teach serious programming, but I guess each school has it's own classes and subjects, so schools at your country might teach that stuff. However, if you decide to take a general programming or computer science classes, you can still learn game programming - it's a subject beast learned by doing and practicing anyways. It will also allow you to study closer to home, and a programming/computer science diploma will give you a wider variety of job possibilities than and game related diploma.

It's up to you.

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From Kethis:

>Q: Will I be able to learn how to create quality, visual game components despite my limitations?

None of us has a crystal ball. Rephrase, please.

>How will I know if a model is proportioned properly or if their smile is believable or if the color scheme conveys the mood? Can such a thing be taught?

Probably not.

>Q: Should I seriously consider majoring in game development, or is its competitive nature unsuitable for me?

Not enough information.

I have little ties to where I live, and would like to move, but my mother insists I remain nearby so I can have a 'safety net'.

Are there game companies in your area? Use gameindustrymap or gamedevmap and find out.

>I ponder if placing myself in a situation where I have to study /constantly/ would be beneficial to me.

No way to answer that.

>Would I be foolish to seriously consider intensive game development schools?

Perhaps a little more so than most. I don't recommend those schools anyway, except for the individual with lots of money and energy and patience.

>Are there any schools that employ a different paradigm of teaching that you think would be more appropriate for me?

Just go to mainstream school near to home, and study at your own pace.

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When I think of all the complaints about games/software with inconsistent visual design I begin to understand the need for an obsessive mind that can effortlessly perform repeated and routine, perhaps mundane, tasks consistently.

I suppose that you would work under a visual director who would already have a design for the game and you would just have to execute their vision; in which case you would just be following instructions, perhaps mapping colours and moods to your own complex charts and stick figures. I don't think anyone would force you to think in their way as long as the result is what they require.

I'm trying to answer the question:

"Q: Will I be able to learn how to create quality, visual game components despite my limitations?"

You would already have a drawing from an artist or a model and you would then be asked to draw the computer version which is all about small shapes combined to make more complex ones; pixels become textures and polygons become 3D models. Surely a team would have someone responsible for the details and creative aspects of the process.

I don't work in the gaming industry so I'm only offering a personal opinion. I think that some of the software I've used would have benefited from consistent technical design.

All the best!

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