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Need advice... University Courses

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Hi, This coming fall, i''m off to the University of Manitoba (anybody else there?) and i''m looking for the most valuable courses that will help in my goal to become a professional game programmer. So, naturally i''m looking at the Computer Sciences which are broken up into so many different courses, and I need a little direction. I already have my Calculus I, would Calc. II be a good choice to take? what about programming in general. Is Assembly still used now as much as it used to be? Things like that. Thanks a lot! Scott Email Website
"If you try and don''t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried."

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I really hate to say this but college isn''t the place to learn to be a game developer... Game programming is more about the exceptions, rather than rules. Although in your introductory courses you will learn some EXTREAMLY important things such as linkes lists, trees, ect. From a Computer Science degree you may know ''how'' to programm... but you won''t be nearly as proficient as you need to be (even if you go for the Software Engineering degree). Although you have heard this a millino times before, the trick to becomming a good game programmer is practice. Get the books, do the reading, write some demos and see how well it works out. You could wait till you take a course in computer graphics your sophmore or junior year, or you could start NOW. And as for assembley... very seldom do college courses teach that as indepth as they use to, and even so not at the point of high level optimizations that you will need to squeese that extra frame out.

Long story shot : Goto college, get your CS degree and along the way in your freetime (if you don''t spend it looking for girls or beer) work on your game programming skills. When you feel like your doing well submit your resume and see what happens... best case scenerio, drop out and get your dream job... worse case you arn''t a game developer, but with a degree you can get ::Gasp:: a real job

O yeah, you may not know it yet... MATH IS GOOD, TAKE ALL THAT YOU CAN!

Hope it helps,

CodeSmith the Pixel Pusher
www.cs.trinity.edu/~csmith8

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Take as much math as you can (Calc III, Diff. Eq, etc ); in game programming, that always comes in handy! Assembly is useful, if you want the absolute in speed (and obscurity), but it chains your code to a particular platform. Take it, though, because it is guaranteed to solidify your knowledge of the OS and hardware like nothing else. Take any systems programming courses that are available - operating systems and the like; they familiarize you with low-level performance programming, robustness and stability (I''m doing the same). Take high-level classes too, so you have a solid knowledge of algorithms for a variety of situations. And learns as many programming languages as you can. In the final analysis, all knowledge is power, and you can''t do much wrong.

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quote:
Original post by CodeSmith
... best case scenerio, drop out and get your dream job...


I hate to say it, but this is utter rubbish! An informed survey of the gaming industry will reveal a trend towards the hiring of better and better qualified individuals: more and more people are being recruited from academia, people with advanced degrees.

Of course, CodeSmith''s statements used to be true, back when the hardware wasn''t powerful enough to support real software engineering techniques, when hacks and kludges were the only way to squeeze the necessary performance out of the machines. Today, however, knowledge of true computer science and the ability to write clean, maintainable code are at a premium - and will become increasingly so. In other words, get your degree (as you''re doing), and maybe even take the time to get a masters. There''ll still be game development when you''re done, and you may find something that pays better yet is nearly identical (like flight simulations).

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Take a course on large format photography. Notice I said ''large format''. There is a difference between large format and general photography.

Why do I recommend this? It does tie into computer graphics. A large format camera enables image plane manipulation that has many of the features (if not more) that you find in some of the advanced virtual camera functions of computer graphics. Also, the whole process of taking a large format photograph is a very deliberate process, forcing you to study and appreciate the quality of light, composition, scene analysis, depth of field, texture, detail, and perspective. And the pictures produced are stunning.

I purposely brought this topic out of left field to demonstrate the importance of broadening your skills in a way that creates a more effective study of something by resulting in knowledge that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Besides, I''m sure Manitoba offers wonderful opportunities in terms of scenery to exercise large format photography.

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Well, I don't know how good this advice will be, because it isn't tested yet, but here's what I'm doing...

I went to university (YorkU in Toronto), then got a job in the graphics field (paid miserably). I've since taken a better paying job doing (ugh) database programming. The degree I got was a computer science degree. I took the general courses required, which included some machine language, software design, OOP, and match classes including Calculus and Vector Math (that wasn't the exact name of the course, but you'll find the same thing). They've all been very useful in general. That's what university should be - somewhat general. That way you can get any job that pays well later on in life. Make sure to take some database courses as well since those are very marketable since you won't get that dream game programming job right away (unless you're very lucky).

I have some game-related experience in graphics programming from a previous job I mentionned, but really, I'm depending on my own free-time to develop a COMPLETE 3D game. I've heard it's very important to show prospective game companies that you can actually finish what you start. I've been working 2 hours minimum, at least 5 days a week after work, for about 9 months now.

My university education came in handy when reading difficuly articles about game programming (I'm reading one in game developers magazine now that requires calculus). You'll need all you can get in terms of education.

I didn't go for masters partly because my grades were not top notch, due to the fact that I spent way too much time hobby programming (including some simple games) instead of doing my assignments. Lets not go into beer and girls, ok?

However, I've found that I can learn pretty much anything I set my mind to thanks to that university education. In the past 9 months, I have expanded at least 300% in my game programming knoweldge through books.

Now I'm working on a pretty advanced ROAM based adaptive landscape generation algorithm for my game. It took a lot of learning to be able to get to where I am now. But on your own, with a good set of books, and lots of time, AND a good education behind you, you CAN learn what you need on your own time.

The trick is going to be to convice a game development company to hire you (or me).

I'm gambling that 2 hours a day for a year will produce an impressive enough game to land me a game development job. Just make sure you have an easy and well paying job to get you there, because you're going to have to spend lots of time on your own getting to where you want to be.

I agree with all prior posts in this thread. You NEED to learn most of your skills related to game programming on your own, but you WILL need your education first. However don't ever think your education will be enough to get you a game programming job. You will only have the foundations to build upon. I agree very strongly with a prior post in this thread that creating READABLE, REUSEABLE code is of paramount importance these days. When writing your portfolio code, make sure it's WELL CODED and WELL DOCUMENTED, because employers may ask for it.

Just don't spend too much time game programming while at university. Grades are better, as are the women Create your gaming portfolio afterwards if you can.

Best of luck my friend in your quest. I'll see you there!

By the way, that better paying job I mentionned earlier - I moved from toronto to winnipeg, so I'm nearby. Feel free to mail me if you have any questions.






Edited by - malachii on July 1, 2001 3:14:51 PM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Better idea...avoid being a games programmer. The hours are shit and so are the companies. If you want to set yourself up for a life of misery then go ahead.

Why do people think being a professional games programmer is fun? It isn''t - it''s one of the hardest ways you can earn a living and I would advise anyone to seek employment elsewhere.

Stick to doing it for fun.

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Why? For the sense of completion. Knowing, that the game in the box in front of you on the shelf was made by you. You have made something that is played and seen by thousands of people. It may not be the most fun sometimes, there is acutal work involved ;-), but the payoff is probably the best thing ever.

And just for the sake of programming something that requires more skill than knowing how to word process and copy/paste some controls on a window ;-)

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