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RedDwarf

Why does it seem like game programming doesnt attract "responsible" programmer

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RedDwarf    122
This post is meant to generate some opinionated responses because i would really love to get some insight on this. I am a college student, and i recently joined a game development club. I attended the first meeting last sunday and i was very surprised about some things. First of all, the top programming students in the school, that can make applications in a plethora of languages, know c like the back of their hands, and dream in object oriented theory were absent from the club. For some reason i thought it was the dream of every guy or girl, that grew up playing a lot of games and gets into programming, to eventually write games. Some of the guys i was thinking of are straight bit flippers and total genious... why werent they there? Instead of them, it was the "back of the class" bunch that would probably rather be playing eq or q3 then learning how to write a calculator with c++. I now consider myself a responsible programmer as in i program any type of application and i make sure that its done right. I havnt always been that way in fact i have dropped c++ before and settled with b''s in other programming classes that i could of aced. I used to be a much bigger gamer, but i am discovering that i only have time to either make games or play other peoples games. Is that why so many people fail at game programming for a living? Is it because they do not have the discipline and hard work ethic to crank thru thousands of lines of code that may not having anything to do with gameplay. Is that why so many crappy mods get made all the time? And mb why there are so very few ppl that actually make engines for mainstream games.(I mean are you telling me that Carmack is the only one who can write a great 3d fps engine?) I read a professional game programmers article about this same thing, and i really didnt believe it until that first meeting. Who really makes it as a game programmer? The hardcore gamer? or the hardcore programmer? How many people out there have the skills to make games that are writing PL/SQL instead for 120k a year? If the current situation is that game programming attracts the irresponsible 24hr/day eq freak or the "rail god" of q3, thats pretty sad. One thing i have learned is that game programming takes more hard work then most professions. Whats the ratio of professional atheletes to professional game programmers? Maybe some people need to wake up and realize that the only way into the elite is by hard work.

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KalvinB    102
I wouldn''t join a club even though I''m a good programmer. What''s the point?

You sit around in boring meetings and talk. My time could be better spent actually coding. Or hanging out with friends who have other interests. In order to be a good programmer you have to be able to come up with ideas on your own. There is no need for groups if you''re good unless the size of the project warrents it.

And besides they''re spending how much to be taught by the teacher? Why would they want to (which they know they''ll end up doing) teach others who they know from class are slackers anyway?

Maybe you should talk to the good students about what they do. Maybe they view the club like most people on Gamedev view the newbies looking for people to join their team.

Part of working hard is avoiding things that waste your time. Why not try to get into their group instead of complaining they aren''t in yours?

Ben

Icarus Independent

Jump Down The Rabbithole

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I think the problem boils down to the fact that there are two types of people in the world...And forgeting what I learned in Psych 101, we''ll just call them left and right brained. The left brained people(creative I believe) and the right brained people(analytical?).

With this in mind, you have to realize what it takes to be A) a talanted programmer, and B) A talented GAME programmer. It is a special breed to be the latter. (being a beginner game programmer I know how hard it is to become this)

Left brained individuals are creative and innovative. If you are this sort of person, you mostly lack the analytical skills to a programmer. This is were you find your gaming artists and graphic designers. It is hard to program if you left brained...but not impossible.

Right brained people are very mathematical and scientific. These make excellent programmers because programming is if nothing else mathematical and scientific. These people will usually find graphic design harder than programming.

Right brained individuals can write great word processors, web scripts, database programs, and very "does the job" type of applications. It is just a matter of ''this is what we need, this is what I need to do.''

Game programming however introduces many variables into the metaphoric equation by forcing you to realize what will be fun, not just do the job. What will look good, and not just ''work''. What will be new and exciting, not tried and true.

When it comes down to it, no amount of dedication or practice will allow a math-god to be able to think like a designer, or a designer to be able to flip through 1000s of lines of code.

You just have to have both...and I like your point...this type of person is probably rarer than a profession-caliber athlete. You have it or you don''t, and no amount of practice will change that.

Perhaps the people you expected to be at the club realize that they could write the ''Next Great OS'' (god know we need it) but not the ''Next Great Doom.'' And those gamers who did show, could give a sh*t about "real" applications and think it would be cool if they could make the next million dollar title.

And c''mon now, wouldn''t it be cool?

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KalvinB-

--I wouldn''t join a club even though I''m a good programmer. What''s the point?--

Why are you here then? Isn''t GameDev.net just one big club?

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Forcas    181
I like the idea of a game programmer''s club.

I think it''d be really cool to sit down with a bunch of people who have the same hobby as me and actually talk about it face to face. Unfortunately, I live in a little logger town, and I beleive that there''s only like 3 people including me who know C++. Neither one of them is probably interested in making games, so I guess I''ll just have to wait until college.

I actually got two of my friends involved in programming, one of them quit. The other one actually didn''t start programming until he moved to another state, but then he started while I was talking to him over ICQ. But I have STILL never been able to talk to someone about C++ game programming face to face! The one friend I had that quit used basic.

So anyway, I think a club would be a great idea. Unfortunately, it sounds like the club you''re talking about is just a bunch slackers.


-Forcas


"Elvis is alive. He is Barney the purple dinosaur. He is the pied piper that leads our children into the wages of sin and eternal damnation."



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simon_brown75    123
RedDwarf/
Why do you assume that writing games has anything to do with joining some dumb programming club? The best people, with the initiative to find their own answers and learn for themselves, don't need the club.

If as you say, the club is full of novices, what's the point in the talented guys joining up? To write dodgy half finished rubbish because three quarters of the team either don't know what they're doing, or don't put the time in? Why teach if it's not your profession?

If games programming attracts large numbers of hardcore gamers, I honestly don't mind, because I know most of them will never produce anything, so my own work has a better chance to shine.

I personally suspect the opposite is the case, that too many games programmers are good application programmers. Filling their awfully conceived, badly executed games with fantastic code. The PC games shelves are full with this kind of rubbish.

Anon/
There definitely are people in this world who are analytically brilliant and extremely creative. Something I've realized from looking at a large amount of demos though, is that they are very rare. Usually you'll find the better the programming in a demo, the worse the aesthetics.

Edited by - simon_brown75 on August 6, 2001 5:04:35 PM

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RedDwarf    122
The game development club i joined is not about a bunch of pointless meetings it is an effort to collaborate with artists in an art school and programmers in my school to create a game as a team effort. It''s a bunch of ppl who are willing to dedicate a lot of part time effort into actually creating a commericial quality game not just a bunch of newbies looking to leech ideas.

And my comment about the "good" programmers at my school was not that they actually make games and dont want to join the club. It''s that they don''t make games they make useful applications and other stuff. They have all the discipline and hard work necessary as well as the skills but they do not game program... Is that because mb they are more grounded in reality and realize what it takes to actually make a game then the guy who just got done playing his favorite game and thought "I could make this game better, i want to be a game programmer" Or the guy that sits in the back of c++ and decides not to listen to the boring lecture about pointers and instead dreams up his totally new and wow creative idea for a game.

I guess the main point of my post is that i believe there to be a great many disillusioned gamers/"programmers" that dont have the hard work ethic to become successfull. From all the articles i have read about commercial game development there are alot of GREAT ideas that dont get realized because of the lack of resources. And really its not all about a new idea or incredable creativity that makes successful games. Whoever posted that here obviously doesnt realize that we have been dominated by only 2 genres. RTS and FPS.(How many times are they going to recreate warcraft or doom?) The same ideas have been used,reused and used again in many successfuly commercial games. And that is my point the disillusioned newbie thinks that they can make a great game programmer because they have a new or fresh idea. If you dont have the discipline to realize your dream you got nothing.

-Red Dwarf

"You can crap in one hand and dream in the other and see which one gets filled up first."

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ztn    133
Sit around and ''talk'' with good coders?

You have to admit there is some irony here about starting clubs with people who stereotypically are not social people! lol. Maybe this has something to do with the phenomenon noticed here...



PS sweet sig quote Red Dwarf...

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KalvinB    102
Maybe you should talk to them instead of asking us. Everyone has their reasons for doing and not doing things.

Games programming is no more difficult than apps programming.

And don''t give sappy speeches about dreams. That is a major turn off for people.

Programmers are not going to waste their time sitting around while everyone else argues over what they want to actually do.

You get that happy dream out of your head and onto paper and I bet they''ll start talking. Until then stop complaining that they aren''t joining your group. They''ve got things to do and money to make.

Ben

Icarus Independent

Jump Down The Rabbithole

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DarkTerrax    122
Ok first thing in response to the post about the left brain, right brain. I believe it''s other way around: right brained = creative, artistic and left brained = mathematical, analytical. (not that it matters)

About the issue at hand:

It seems a lot of really good, serious programmers are also people who are determined, and would like to be successful. It''s no secret that it''s much easier to earn a living writing useful programs for microsoft or doing contract work or such for corporations. There isn''t a huge game market, and most of the money is made by a few companies (id comes to mind).

Personally I know I''ll never make a decent game, I won''t put the required time into it. I focus the brunt of my programming efforts on things that I can use in the real world, writing database tools and server script, and that sort of boring thing. I program games as a hobby, it''s something fun to try and learn and tinker around with (much more rewarding than making a program to manage a company time sheet).

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RedDwarf    122
Hey KalvinB,
I really wish you would stop just posting rhetoric to this thread because its not helping me at all, i started this post because i wanted opinions on a theory i had about game programming vs applications programming. I really just wanted the opinions of talented applications programmers and succesful game programmers and the types of people they have seen drop out of the race. I do appreciate advice about these topics because i am still in college and have not committed myself one way or the other. I have done game programming and i have done applications programming. I wanted peoples opinions not there rhetoric.
Read DarkTerrax''s post because i really appreciated his insight and that was the kind of info i was looking for.
Thank you DarkTerrax.
About the comment you made about game programming not being harder then applications programming... Judging from the calibre of your games i can see why would say this. But i dont think you can honestly compare the ability to use calculus, linear algebra, many different api''s and the c language in the process of creating a realistic 3d engine to the task of validating user input and catching errors or writing scalable extensible class in c++. Big difference. I really hope that you dont post any more rhetoric to this thread because i am getting really annoyed at having to defend my earlier posts from it.

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quote:
Original post by RedDwarf
This post is meant to generate some opinionated responses because i would really love to get some insight on this.
I am a college student, and i recently joined a game development club. I attended the first meeting last sunday and i was very surprised about some things. First of all, the top programming students in the school, that can make applications in a plethora of languages, know c like the back of their hands, and dream in object oriented theory were absent from the club.
For some reason i thought it was the dream of every guy or girl, that grew up playing a lot of games and gets into programming, to eventually write games. Some of the guys i was thinking of are straight bit flippers and total genious... why werent they there?
Instead of them, it was the "back of the class" bunch that would probably rather be playing eq or q3 then learning how to write a calculator with c++. I now consider myself a responsible programmer as in i program any type of application and i make sure that its done right. I havnt always been that way in fact i have dropped c++ before and settled with b''s in other programming classes that i could of aced. I used to be a much bigger gamer, but i am discovering that i only have time to either make games or play other peoples games.
Is that why so many people fail at game programming for a living? Is it because they do not have the discipline and hard work ethic to crank thru thousands of lines of code that may not having anything to do with gameplay. Is that why so many crappy mods get made all the time? And mb why there are so very few ppl that actually make engines for mainstream games.(I mean are you telling me that Carmack is the only one who can write a great 3d fps engine?) I read a professional game programmers article about this same thing, and i really didnt believe it until that first meeting. Who really makes it as a game programmer? The hardcore gamer? or the hardcore programmer? How many people out there have the skills to make games that are writing PL/SQL instead for 120k a year?
If the current situation is that game programming attracts the irresponsible 24hr/day eq freak or the "rail god" of q3, thats pretty sad. One thing i have learned is that game programming takes more hard work then most professions. Whats the ratio of professional atheletes to professional game programmers? Maybe some people need to wake up and realize that the only way into the elite is by hard work.


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I think the reason the good programmers avoid clubs is they now it''s an attartion for the back of class people who just want to goof off. Thats my opinion. I personaly make games on a rare occasion and for my own amusment and their normally 2d.

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Sydan    122
Everyone has their own idea of what is challenging. You may think it''s programming games... but try delivering a mission critical application in half the budgeted time-frame to users who don''t even know what they want. I''m not saying it''s more challenging -- but I am saying that people can and will be challenged by problems that are not gaming related. (it seems you''re surprised by this?)

However, I do feel that game programming is a very good way to keep your coding skills sharp. And my bread and butter coding is much better because of it.

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I think there are a few good points in the thread. I just want to say that I''ve visited, and talked with, several seniors at DigiPen. DigiPen is the college based in Redmond, Washington next to Nintendo dedicated to creating games. The Seniors I talked to were four-year students graduating in December. I asked them what their workload is, and according to them, they''re working 13 hours a day with school credits + their semester project(a game). This just shows that you had better be DAMN dedicated to think about a career in game programming. The guys I met were really quite cool, and weren''t socially defective. However, they (I met a team working on an N64 game) said there were just as many socially defective "nerds" who expect their mommies to pick up after them. The dropout rate at that schools is upwards of 80%. Now, some left because they were offered jobs while still in the school, but some just couldn''t take it.
Just adding my two cents.

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simon_brown75    123
I suspect most programmers in the games industries are people who got their computer science degree and thought "What shall I do now? Games programming - that should be a laugh". Most of these people don''t have any great interest in games, apart from the odd half an hour a week on their sony playstation, and they don''t have the judgement to be able to say what makes a good game.

I am forever picking holes in every game I play. Even the games I admire, I can still see all the flaws, the ways I would improve them, and the poor decisions the dev teams have made. You only pick this up by actually playing games, by being ''into'' games.

Although I''m a novice really myself, I''m entering the industry already knowing exactly what games I would write given the choice, and exactly what would and what wouldn''t be in them.

I know this is sort of the opposite point from the one you were making RedDwarf. You are basically saying why don''t the talented people make it, whereas I''m saying the people who do make it aren''t talented.

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Nytegard    839
Ok, rant time.

Not everyone in the back of the class is exactly a dumb bolt, despite what their grades are. Not everyone in the front of the class with a 4.0 is a genius.

Sometimes, people get bored in a class with it going too slow and don''t exactly get good grades because of boredom. Maybe its the people in the back of the room, maybe not.

I''m attending college too, and I can guarentee you, I know some people with 1.5-3 as their GPA that can easily outprogram most of the 4.0 students, if not all.

Granted, I would like to make games when I got out of college (going into my senior year), but I''m realistic. I''ve already got 2 companies who''ve already recruited me for a decent salary, and I do have loans to pay. Also, I will admit that maybe I don''t have the skills to be a game programmer, but that''s not to say that I don''t know how to program. We all learn.

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Kylotan    9857
quote:
Original post by RedDwarf
First of all, the top programming students in the school, that can make applications in a plethora of languages, know c like the back of their hands, and dream in object oriented theory were absent from the club.

The best people probably don't feel they need the club. They have the confidence, and probably the determination, to get there on their own. Just because they weren't there, doesn't mean they're not programming games.
quote:
Instead of them, it was the "back of the class" bunch that would probably rather be playing eq or q3 then learning how to write a calculator with c++.

Well, as has been pointed out by previous posters, "back of the class" is not such an informative term. I was consistently top of the class from the ages of about 4 to 13, but after that I got bored of school and so my grades varied. By the time I was old enough to take programming classes, I was 'just another student' to most people. Is there something so wrong in wanting to do interesting things?
quote:
Is that why so many people fail at game programming for a living? Is it because they do not have the discipline and hard work ethic to crank thru thousands of lines of code that may not having anything to do with gameplay.

Now, I see where you're getting this hypothesis, but I disagree. I'll pose counterpoints later, but for now, here's my alternative hypothesis, which probably makes more sense: game programming is a very attractive industry from the outside, but is an industry that doesn't employ many people. It is also an industry that usually requires a degree to even get considered for interview. If suddenly every potential game programmer in the world put a lot more effort into their work, it wouldn't mean that the games market would make jobs available to them.

It's a bit like saying "well, all the kids play <insert name of your national sport here> at school... how come they all fail to do it for a living?" Some things are hard to get employed for... it doesn't necessarily reflect badly on the people who take it up as an interesting hobby or pastime.

I think you're confusing intelligence for 'putting in a lot of effort'. The two concepts are sometimes related, and sometimes not.

quote:
And mb why there are so very few ppl that actually make engines for mainstream games.(I mean are you telling me that Carmack is the only one who can write a great 3d fps engine?)

Don't forget that John Carmack didn't start out making engines. He started out making Commander Keen and games like that. So your point isn't too valid. Carmack didn't make it big by knuckling down and working on engines. He made it big by writing simple games. He was in the industry for about 8 years before he even started using object oriented methods in his publicly released code.

The people who are going to be The Next Carmack are the ones making the games and working up to the engines, not the people who do nothing but make engines.

Also, a good engine is versatile. Therefore, you don't need anywhere as many decent engines as games.

It takes longer to make a good engine than a simple game. Which means it'll cost you more and there's more risk.

Lastly, the market for an engine is smaller. You can only sell an engine to other programmers. You can sell a game to many more people.

quote:
I read a professional game programmers article about this same thing, and i really didnt believe it until that first meeting. Who really makes it as a game programmer? The hardcore gamer? or the hardcore programmer?

Both. I think that a large number of professional game programmers are not actually all that good. (Read some of the code in Mickey Kawick's RTS book for just one example..) But they obviously have the determination to get the job done.

quote:
How many people out there have the skills to make games that are writing PL/SQL instead for 120k a year?

Very few. They have some skills that could be turned to game programming very well, but they lack some of the other skills.

quote:
If the current situation is that game programming attracts the irresponsible 24hr/day eq freak or the "rail god" of q3, thats pretty sad.

Stop - 'irresponsible' is a judgement that you can't back up. 24hrs a day... doesn't that sound like "committed" or "determined" to you? I thought you were saying these people don't have the discipline to spend such lengths of time on a task? They are obviously very devoted to their task. They are the kind of people who could do well in game programming, if that is what they enjoy.

(edited cos it thought some of my wonderful prose was HTML. Grr.)

Edited by - Kylotan on August 7, 2001 3:30:44 AM

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core114    122
the problem with programming clubs is that something must happen before people will actually start working.
that means that mostly people will end up doing nothing.
if someone starts making something really cool, everyone will be willing to help, but untill then, they could just argue about how the structures should be set up and all the other things you can''t be sure of untill you actually have done something.

not all of the 4.0 students who can ''program'' actually understand how to make a game.
also, some of those people in th back row who aren''t listening about pointers are probably bored because it is all so simple, and already are making games.

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Tha_HoodRat    156


The left/right brain psycho thing is nonsense , well at least in reference to me . I enjoy spending 4 hours picking apart an obscure mathematical proof in the same way I would enjoy writing a song or painting (I love painting its so soothing and calming). I do the artwork and music in most games I make.But well I digress .

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Chronoslade    122
I have found the most rewarding programs that I have worked on have been ones that I did by myself. PLus if you cant make a game by yourself, who says a group of you will be able to do it any better. I personally recommend that you design and program at least 2 or 3 games alone first to make sure that you understand all the concepts involved, plus working alone you will learn things at a much faster pace since you dont have to help somebody "catch up".

"There is humor in everything depending on which prespective you look from."

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