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shaolinspin

Suitable Education?

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shaolinspin    202
Hi all,

This is really a question to those people here who sometimes hire game programmers or know what might be required of the staff they hire.

I have just finished (pending my oral exam) my PhD in computational quantum physics, and I also hold two master's degrees, in astrophysics and molecular modelling. During the course of my PhD I realised that what I really truly want to be is a game developer. However, while I have quite a bit of experience using C in my scientific degrees and C++/DirectX/HLSL as a hobbyist developer, I have no formal CS qualifications. After such a long time in university I simply can't afford to spend any more money on education, so a formal game dev or CS course is unfortunately out of the question.

Is it likely that anyone would hire me as a junior game programmer with my qualifications, or should I put my ambition on hold and remain as a hobbyist developer? I am a pretty good programmer, I've written complete games, but all of my game programming skills are self-taught. Would this be too much of a barrier for games companies? Would my clear ability in physics and mathematics and my passion for my spare-time projects be enough to counter my lack of a relevant degree and commercial experience?

EDIT: I might as well provide a link to my CV and ask for criticism! It's here.

Thanks

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Telastyn    3777
Sadly, your education is likely to overqualify you for almost everything.

Companies (HR especially) are likely to look at you and guess (perhaps rightfully so) that you're going to quickly tire of working tons of hours for Jr. Programmer cash when you should be thoroughly qualified for 2-3 times (I'd presume?) the cash to teach kids for 2 hours a day or 3-5 times the cash working in some government/private lab.

As long as you can actually program and answer questions there-in, that's all that matters to most hiring managers. You'll still need to beat out your competition, which will likely fall to your scientific background which will likely only interest a small portion of companies.

You likely have a bit of a challenging road ahead of you.

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shaolinspin    202
Ah crap, Telastyn, you're probably right. Although no one has any right to assume anything about what I'm willing to accept, I guess they will.

Perhaps it would be wiser for me to find some non-game-related scientific/programming work for a few years, just so I have some real-world experience, and continue to build my portfolio of game projects in the meantime?

The thing is, I'm 30 now, and I don't want to be trying to get into the game industry aged 35 or 40. I can't see anyone hiring a 35-year-old with no commercial experience over a 22-year-old in the same situation since the younger person will likely be willing to take much more crap and less pay. I can't even relocate, since my fiancee is tied to the area through her job, whereas the 22-year-old can follow the work.

Well I'll keep trying nonetheless, but maybe the small indie dev route is the only one open to me?

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szecs    2990
Or a work on your own field. Then save enough money to start an own business (um.... you might have a small chance)

"Although no one has any right to assume anything about what I'm willing to accept"

"right" is in fairy tales. It's not about right. It's a pretty obvious assumption (I would assume it myself, and I'm not by any means a careerist and not about money).

But if you can convince them about the opposite, I guess that's years of hard work. Hobby games, lots, and very cool games.

For example I wanted to be a lumberjack. Just to try it out for a few years (...). But "unfortunately" I have a masters degree in mechanical engineering and I'm too honest to lie about it. I guess I wouldn't have the slightest chance to be a game programmer either, even if I think I'm freaking talented in programming and creating stuff (real programmers said so). But everyone knows that I can earn a lot more money with engineering (even in an entry level engineering position).

The other chance you might have is to have a friend at a company (and that someone is not just an "anybody").

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swiftcoder    18437
Quote:
Original post by szecs
The other chance you might have is to have a friend at a company (and that someone is not just an "anybody").
Even an "anybody" could be enough to get you past the HR smokescreen. HR is where your resume is likely to end up in the trash for being 'overqualified' - if you make it past that for you application to be seen by an actual developer, chances are much better that they will judge you on your ability, rather than some (irrelevant) piece of paper.

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frob    44974
You have a lot of math and physics. Leverage it.

Rather than looking for a generic gameplay programmer, how about a physics system programmer?



Your CV looks very weak since it doesn't list any transferable skills or even show that you have done programming. It blandly states that you have a degree and blandly states that you have done some jobs. Then it boldly (in a negative way) asserts that you have a passion. I've seen passion before. Nothing in that CV demonstrates a passionate game programmer. I can see a mild passion toward martial arts, but not game development.

You list your generic "computer skills", but they are a self-assessment. It should be cut. Saying that your knowledge is "good" or "advanced" is meaningless. I've seen people say they are "advanced" but they cannot do anything; I've seen other people modestly say they are "pretty good" (interpreted as moderately skilled), yet are able to cite the language standards and are far better at writing correct programs than their peers. Give specific examples of where you used the skills and let the employers decide for themselves if your abilities are advanced or novice.

Have you written any simulators? Tell me about them. Tell me the languages used, and what they accomplished.

Have you done any programming assignments in your coursework? Tell me about the project.

You say you are doing hobby work. Where is the evidence? Do you have something I can download to see that you program games? Do you have source code I can review?

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shaolinspin    202
Thanks for the replies everyone.

szecs & swiftcoder: I don't know anyone in the industry in person, unfortunately, but I'll keep my ears open - things sometimes have a funny way of happening just when you need them to.

frob: I did think about that, maybe physics programming is the route in to the industry for me. I guess I should put together a physics demo. I genuinely do have passion for game dev - I spend all my free time (and much time when I should be doing other things) game programming. It's more of an obsession in fact. Possibly I've been too cautious about emphasizing the game programming aspects, since at the moment my CV is being picked up by various recruitment agencies and I don't want to frighten off any potential employers who might consider me for a research or scientific programming position (which is my plan B in case the game dev thing just isn't going to work out right now). I guess I need to split my CV into two versions, one heavily slanted towards game work and the other towards scientific work. Thanks for the advice.

On reflection, my best plan is probably to search for work closer in nature to my training, while I build up my games portfolio some more, including some physics and 3D work.

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szecs    2990
Quote:
Original post by shaolinspin
szecs & swiftcoder: I don't know anyone in the industry in person, unfortunately, but I'll keep my ears open - things sometimes have a funny way of happening just when you need them to.

= "Things will work out eventually"

You'll think the same as a 40 year old homeless?
Sorry to be harsh, but that's not a plan.

Quote:
On reflection, my best plan is probably to search for work closer in nature to my training, while I build up my games portfolio some more, including some physics and 3D work.

That's more like a plan.

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shaolinspin    202
Quote:
Quote:
szecs & swiftcoder: I don't know anyone in the industry in person, unfortunately, but I'll keep my ears open - things sometimes have a funny way of happening just when you need them to.



= "Things will work out eventually"

You'll think the same as a 40 year old homeless?
Sorry to be harsh, but that's not a plan.


That wasn't what I meant! ;) I was implying that when you're properly paying attention, 'networking' happens more easily than you'd expect.

Quote:
That's more like a plan.


Aye. One definite plan is better than any number of vague plans put together.

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Quote:
Original post by shaolinspin
frob: I did think about that, maybe physics programming is the route in to the industry for me. I guess I should put together a physics demo. I genuinely do have passion for game dev - I spend all my free time (and much time when I should be doing other things) game programming. It's more of an obsession in fact. Possibly I've been too cautious about emphasizing the game programming aspects, since at the moment my CV is being picked up by various recruitment agencies and I don't want to frighten off any potential employers who might consider me for a research or scientific programming position (which is my plan B in case the game dev thing just isn't going to work out right now). I guess I need to split my CV into two versions, one heavily slanted towards game work and the other towards scientific work. Thanks for the advice.


My resume is all game experience. When I was looking for a job I had it posted up on all the online job searches and I got lots of calls from non game related places looking for people with 3D programming experience. So I'm not so sure that having game experience on your 'professional' resume will have that much of a problem. I suspect your main problem is people are going to be seeing a Ph.D. applying for entry level positions. But that has already been talked about.

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BGrizzMayne    100
I agree with the above. Seems with your qualifications that developing physics engines should be your emphasis, not so much the game development aspect. Though if that's what you truly love, then follow what Slope said. Make yourself all about games and prove that to the company.

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