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zyrolasting

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Hello folks. I'm sure glad this forum exists. I've my share of questions. I am an undergrad, and my background is summarized here (EDIT: Link removed). I do not want to pay for college as I am nowhere near ready to put myself 62 grand in the hole. I met one of the mods here in a Starbucks, and he told me that he did not have to go to college; he just showcased his work and ended up with who found him impressive. I liked that, so I decided to try it. Just one problem... I now live in Mississippi. I'm in no rush to get out the door, but I have good skills to share and I would prefer to make use of them for profit soon. The link above takes you to my 2-3 week old site, so there isn't too much content, but enough in the portfolio to show a little of what I can do. What would be a good move for me from here? All I know how to do in the business here is to toss more work on my site and cross my fingers, hoping opportunity will call me in this yokel-ridden state. [sick] [Edited by - zyrolasting on November 4, 2009 10:35:04 AM]
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Original post by zyrolasting
1. ...I do not want to pay for college
2. ...I now live in Mississippi. ...cross my fingers, hoping opportunity will call me in this yokel-ridden state.

1. Okay, then you have to build a doubly spectacular portfolio.
2. Wrong. This is Stupid Wannabe Trick #6. You cannot get a call from Opportunity while you live in a bad location. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm - stop doing those things, and start doing these things instead: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm Opportunity is not going to Mississippi. You have to go to Opportunity.
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Okay, then you have to build a doubly spectacular portfolio.


On it.

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Wrong. This is Stupid Wannabe Trick #6. You cannot get a call from Opportunity while you live in a bad location. Read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm - stop doing those things, and start doing these things instead: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm Opportunity is not going to Mississippi. You have to go to Opportunity.


Wrong yourself. You say it like it's easy. Do you think I'd move to a hellhole like MS out of desire? Like I opened a brochure and said "Hey, I want to go there"? I moved here because I did indeed have an opportunity to take. Unfortunately it wasn't for the VG industry, but I needed some income to make that happen for me. Please don't toss out references and head off like you made a real contribution. Even if they are just words, "Stupid Wannabe" is an ignorant title to toss out if you pose as a "Stupid Wannabe" E-Psychiatrist. By the way, don't be offended. These are just words.

Seriously though. I'm not trying to pick a fight. Just please put more thought into what you say, rather than parrot articles without any idea of their impact.
To give you a better idea of what I'm looking for, it's more of what to do from a situation like mine. My options are quite limited here. I have little money, there is nothing video game related anywhere. Got any advice on grabbing digital opportunity?

Thanks for the references, anyway.
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Wrong yourself. You say it like it's easy. Do you think I'd move to a hellhole like MS out of desire? Like I opened a brochure and said "Hey, I want to go there"? I moved here because I did indeed have an opportunity to take. Unfortunately it wasn't for the VG industry, but I needed some income to make that happen for me.

So save money until you can move. But seriously, video game opportunity is NOT going to come to you there in Mississippi. How can you possibly believe realistically that it will?
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Just please put more thought into what you say, rather than parrot articles without any idea of their impact.
Er... you do realize he wrote those articles, right?
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To give you a better idea of what I'm looking for, it's more of what to do from a situation like mine.
Be willing to move, or give up.
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So save money until you can move. But seriously, video game opportunity is NOT going to come to you there in Mississippi. How can you possibly believe realistically that it will?


Believe me, I don't! You are totally right in that respect.
You could say I'm teetering on Stupid Wannabe Trick #3.
I don't want to jump in too quickly, but I've been one to want to find some sort of placeholder to get some On-The-Job training. It's one thing for me to make my own efforts alone, and another to observe or get a feel of the work actually being done.

Thing is, any chance I have of doing that costs money. A lot of money. My goal here is to try and compromise these two issues. Sorry about not clearing that bit up. Your documents are well-written and I'm still reading them, but understand that it is a touch elitist. It is helpful information, though. :)

Quote:
Er... you do realize he wrote those articles, right? Be willing to move, or give up


My apologies. I had a lapse in judgment, since I do believe that relocating is one of the most difficult things I can do right now, and I thought it was a little pissy to tell me to "just do it" when I'm over here wishing I could. My response was hasty. Take my word for it, I am more than willing to get out of here. The redneck next door is trying to convert me.

[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 1, 2009 11:41:40 AM]
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1. You could say I'm teetering on Stupid Wannabe Trick #3.
2. Your documents are well-written and I'm still reading them, but understand that it is a touch elitist.
3. I am more than willing to get out of here. The redneck next door is trying to convert me.

1. I realize that it's difficult to overcome impatience. Many things worth doing are difficult.
2. If it was easy to get into the game industry there would be no need for any of those articles. People in the industry would be just saying "come on in, the water's fine," and we wouldn't sound elitist. But it's not easy to get in. So we seem elitist, I suppose. And since my articles are there to show you how to overcome the difficulties of getting in, I have to wonder how that's being elitist?
3. I don't know if he's trying to convert you into a redneck or to his religion. But conversion requires willing cooperation from the convertee. So it doesn't matter if he's trying to convert you. He's obviously not elitist, I guess. (^_^) BTW, you'll get people trying to convert you no matter where you go. My articles are my attempt to convert people too, I suppose. I'm trying to convert them into thinkers and effort-makers, if anything.
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3. I don't know if he's trying to convert you into a redneck or to his religion.


Given his speech mannerisms I can't tell either. I mostly stare while he does what I can only guess is speaking ==> [sick] ( But seriously, religion. Agnostic here. )

As for your articles: You've been bookmarked. Your intentions are lovely, I'm just still defensive on doing what I have to do with the lack of funds. No hard feelings. [smile] I'll just keep saving. Definitely have to put off any hopes of getting a Quadro GPU for a while.

I spoke to my father about our conversation to get his input since he's a good businessman. (Yes, in Mississippi. Long story.) He told me that a college degree is a great way to aim to be working for someone else, but is not a high priority when it comes to building one's skills independently. I don't have a problem with working for someone else for a bit, but my long-term goal would be to have my own company. There was also the mod I met up with who had no high school diploma or a college degree and was working in a game company as a programmer. I'm not totally convinced on getting a degree. Do you have anything to add I should consider against that?

On a relevant note from that... What would you qualify as a doubly-impressive portfolio?

[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 1, 2009 12:56:51 PM]
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I've given all the arguments I've got as to why one should get a degree, if possible. Not only in the FAQs on my site but also in my IGDA columns.
No, I didn't read your story or look at your portfolio. It would not change my advice.
I'm sure someone else will have a look at your portfolio and give you feedback on it.
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On a relevant note from that... What would you qualify as a doubly-impressive portfolio?
Since Tom is not inclined, I will give you a brief rundown of what I see. Please don't take my criticism too harshly - it is intended only as a guide.

Currently your portfolio seems to contain a handful of (good) photoshop jobs, and a C++ crypto application.

If you are applying for a position as a technical artist, then the crypto app has zero bearing. Equally, you are going to need to demonstrate a working knowledge of 3D modelling, rigging and animation, familiarity with at least one scripting language, some practice in shader development, and a thorough understanding of the content and graphics pipelines for at least one game engine.



As for your site, I feel that you are pulling way too much of your personal life into the blog - spin that stuff off into a personal blog hosted elsewhere, as it doesn't apply in any way to your professional career. Also consider axing the last paragraph of your Bio (mostly fluff), and remove every reference to the word 'seclusion' (employers want team players, and technical artist is a highly communication-oriented job).



I am afraid that your resume needs to be scrapped in its entirety. The education section has no content as is, so consider mentioning high-school, or removing the section entirely. Previous work experience here has no bearing on your intended career except as character references. Each skill you list as 'proficient' needs to be backed up with a reference to the project(s) you developed/used the skills in, each of which also needs to be added to your portfolio.



Re the college issue, to quote a thoroughly clichéd phrase, 'where there is a will, there is a way'. There is always community college, which is pretty affordable, can be taken as night classes, and provides a good spring board onto a 4-year degree if you remain inclined to. You could also consider moving to Canada (or anywhere else with free/cheap education), as you need to get out of Mississippi anyway [smile]

If you don't go to college (and to a lesser extent, even if you do), you need to get experience, and get your name out there. Join a team developing a mod, or even an indie game. Build a few small python/flash/processing games to add to your portfolio. Grab the free version of unity, and see what you can build...
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That was beautiful! I'm glad you caught what you did, as I did not understand what was generally acceptable or sought. I'm glad I put off SEO for a bit so I can get a change to strengthen what I can.

I took advice from other developers and looked at what other people did. This guy was mentioned every now and then, and his site isn't too horribly different than mine when it comes to layout. I know I can keep some material that might not be impressive professionally since when I made the site I wanted casual surfers to have more to look at. [smile]

If I get the funds for another domain, I can have a site dedicated only to professional work and another to total crap. But overall, a better portfolio is really my highest priority.

Kudos to you!
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Get a degree. $62k is not exactly a whole lot of money for college these days.

I do programming now without a degree, but have easily lost more than $62k while spending 6 years doing less interesting/fun/profitable jobs working my way into it. And of course, that means less relevant professional experience which means less pay now that I do have the programming job.

I can't believe how many people come through these forums bemoaning the cost of higher education when it's the most profitable, least risk investment you'll make in your entire life.
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Get a degree. $62k is not exactly a whole lot of money for college these days.


Absolutely!... If you have it. I talked to an admissions counselor at Westwood (Rather, I listened for 92 minutes to the torturous program overview) and I will try to get as much financial aid as I can, but I can't be taking loans or doing anything to risk putting me in the hole. I'm close enough to the edge to make loose rocks fall as it is.

I understand that a degree is a great investment. Anything I can do to help my chances for a successful career, I'll do it. Just realize I don't have as many options as the rest of you guys. My entire time in Westwood may be online as a result. I'm only 18 so I may have a few years before I can get in anyway. Thank god for parental support, even though I share the bills. [smile]

Are there any good scholarships or grants aspiring game developers normally go to I can apply for digitally? Scholarships.com did not allow Westwood on registration for whatever reason.
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Westwood -- and "game schools" aren't the only option, mind.

Why can't you take loans out to pay for school? Are you just afraid of being in debt? As far as I know, going in to debt to pay for school is pretty common practice. At least among my acquaintances, extremely few of them were able to pay for school out-of-pocket as they went. Those that did were actually supported entirely by wealthy relatives, as of course they were in school and not in a position to making money.

Educational loan debt is relative safe.

I agree with the general "get a degree" sentiment. You will meet a lot of people who work in the industry now who didn't get degrees, but you also need to keep in mind how long they've been there and when that means they started -- things were very different years ago. In most hiring experiences I've been through (on the "interviewer" side, not the interviewee side) I've seen enough enough incoming applicants that lack of a degree was often a very easy thing to use to cull down the volume -- regardless of whether or not you believe that an education and degree have any real bearing on your capabilities, you can't escape the reality that it does get used commonly as a way to thin the herd.

I agree with most of swiftcoder's points vis-a-vis your page. For me especially the implication of seclusion and isolationism is a huge negative, because I care very much about my ability to interact and socialize with my co-workers in addition to their technical prowess.

I also dislike the color scheme, but that's just me.

What is "Microsoft Native C++?" I've never heard of such a product and Google doesn't find me anything useful in the first page of results either. I am similarly turned off by your capitalization of "Graphics Programming, Artificial Intelligence," et cetera. They aren't proper nouns and read to me either as sloppy copyediting on your part or sleazy attempts to hit case-sensitive buzzword searchs (depending on how cynical a mood I'm in at the time).

I appreciate that you're trying to convey your passion for the field in your description here as well, but when you say things like that you have a "contempt for bureaucracy" that is a negative. Some amount of that is going to be present anyway, and it sets you up as arrogant and a loner, which feeds back into the isolationist drawback.

You spelled "oppurtunity" incorrectly (opportunity).
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Why can't you take loans out to pay for school? Are you just afraid of being in debt?
That question knocked me out of my seat. I'm terrified! The mannerism in which you delivered that query is all too new to me, as I have a background with a bad foretelling of loans. I've been raised to be a penny pincher. Even if I took out the loans, no promise is made that I can have the money when the loan is called. I may have to spend money due to an emergency, to pay for the bills when there is no work, (We do contract work) etc.

However, I am interested in your reasoning on why educational loans are "relatively safe" as you seem very confident in that statement. Could you please elaborate?

EDITS:
*Snip*: I should really watch my impulsive arguments...

...Tell you what, I accept your points as they are. You're more experienced. Just whoa, all I will say is: lighten up!


[Edited by - zyrolasting on November 2, 2009 6:11:58 PM]
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I think you missed (or just didn't respond to) what I thought was the most important point, which is that Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast). That should run you less than $20,000, all told. That sounds like a lot, but when you break it down into $1,800 a year for MGCCC and $5,100 a year for USM-GC for tuition, then add books and other expenses, it doesn't seem like too bad a stretch.

If you take out the usual government-subsized loan for half of that amount, it'll run you just over $100/month for 10 years. And that's with today's unfortunately high interest rates. Many people spend more than that for their cell phones. So yeah, the risk is very low, unless you have absolutely no confidence that you'll finish.
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Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast).

I second this endorsement of community colleges.
An excellent way to get that education started for a lot less money.
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I think you missed (or just didn't respond to) what I thought was the most important point, which is that Westwood is not the only option. Even the traditional four-year university isn't the only option. A quick search reveals Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers the first two years of a BS in Computer Science (after which you can transfer to the University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast). That should run you less than $20,000, all told. That sounds like a lot, but when you break it down into $1,800 a year for MGCCC and $5,100 a year for USM-GC for tuition, then add books and other expenses, it doesn't seem like too bad a stretch.

If you take out the usual government-subsized loan for half of that amount, it'll run you just over $100/month for 10 years. And that's with today's unfortunately high interest rates. Many people spend more than that for their cell phones. So yeah, the risk is very low, unless you have absolutely no confidence that you'll finish.


THERRRE's a nice tid-bit. Thank you.

...I'm ignorant of way too much information to appear professional on my site for now. I am pretty clueless to what my place even is. Seriously, I know almost nothing. I know there is no finish line, but I sure wish a (non-biased!) starting line was more clearly marked.

I have some work to do. Thank you guys so much for the needed advice, and wish me luck!
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YW. GL.


WYSIWYG personality on this one. [smile]

The MGCCC is actually local, and I can indeed make it work if I summon enough family support. I just gave my mother a call to start. I think you just helped point me away from a life of mason work, lmelior. For that I wish I could shake your hand!

Kudos!
-Zyro
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Original post by zyrolasting
However, I am interested in your reasoning on why educational loans are "relatively safe" as you seem very confident in that statement. Could you please elaborate?


A typical subsidized educational loan repayments typically only kick in 6-months after you leave college. Assuming that you got a degree in something like computer science, that's usually more than enough time to get a decent job, assuming you're pro-active with job hunting. They typically have low interest rates and are tax deductible. The fact that you got a college degree (for something with concrete applications to real-world jobs, like CS => Software Development) means that your earning potential is up, and you have a good chance of repaying.

I'd also like to point out that there's nothing keeping you from working while you're going to college. I, and many other people I knew, held down jobs while attending college. We still took out loans, but working and frugal living meant that our debt was kept fairly low. I came out with a $20,000 bill for a typical 4-year college, which I've managed to pay off at a fairly leisurely pace over 5 years.

Now, it looks like others have pointed out community college, and that's another excellent way to save money. Even if your aim is a 4-year school, doing your entry-level classes at a community college means that you can cut down the time spent at the 4-year to 2-3 years, and save money.


As far as opportunity and location, it is possible to get job offers cross-country. Typically, what it takes is for you to be above average, willing to move, and to have a small fund set up to facilitate your movement. It also helps if you're young and don't have a lot of possessions.
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Original post by Rycross
it is possible to get job offers cross-country. Typically, what it takes is for you to be above average

WAY above average.
Nobody should take the phrase "it is possible" to mean "it is probable". Typically, one should move to a game hotbed before one starts sending in those job applications.
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I grew up in Mississippi. I got my start in Water Valley, a tiny settlement in Yalobusha county, working for a small Macintosh developer porting PC games. Turned out, opportunity was about 45 minutes from my house. You never know.

Granted, this was rather unusual. Mississippi isn't exactly a hot bed for game development, but you need look no further than Georgia to find one. Atlanta, GA is host to several game development companies including White Wolf/CCP, GameTap, Hi-Rez Studios, and Cartoon Network. Also in Georgia is the Savannah College of Art and Design, which has a great game development program.

Go to college. Make games while you're there. Your portfolio isn't nearly strong enough yet, and I mean that in the most constructive way. Also, listen to Tom. He really knows what he's talking about. That guy has been advising people just like you on this forum for a very long time.

EDIT:
To supplement Tom's articles, here's some advice from my boss: http://www.firaxis.com/jobs/career.php

[Edited by - geolycosa on November 2, 2009 9:58:19 PM]
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WAY above average.
Nobody should take the phrase "it is possible" to mean "it is probable". Typically, one should move to a game hotbed before one starts sending in those job applications.


I don't know about way above average. I'm not employed at a game company, but I moved cross country for my current job. I was offered another job before this one cross country. I had a friend who moved from Illinois to California to accept an offer at Naughty Dog. I personally don't consider myself above average or WAY above average.

But granted, its far easier for you to move to a game hotbed and then get into the industry than vice versa. If anything, what my input should tell you is that you can move cross-country on a "normal" job and then spend time putting down roots before getting a game industry job.

Again, the game industry may work differently. I'm not in the industry.
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