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WJvandenBergh

My 3 year plan - workable?

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Total Newb here...
Well, I guess this has been heard so often it's not even funny, but here it goes. I've decided recently that I want to work in the games development industry. I graduated as a mechanical engineer not long ago, and I'm wrapping up my master's degree in computational mechanics now, and while I find it fascinating, it's not exactly my passion. I can't imagine WANTING to work until 3AM every day on a project. With gaming...I sort of can. I can see myself getting fired up about it. Perhaps that's just rose tinted vision on my part, but I need to try.
Unfortunately, I am a complete Neophyte when it comes to GameDev. Apart from my programming skills, which thanks to my chosen master's field, are not too shabby, and a small Mastermind game once coded for a project, my experience is zilch. Nada. Nothing. Forget sound and graphics. I don't even know where I want to focus in game dev, since I've done so little of it!
So I've come up with a plan. I'm starting my PhD soon, and I'm going to tackle another programming heavy project for that. But the PhD is just an excuse to spend the next 3 years on gaming. In my offtime (which, face it, students have LOTS more of than working stiffs, even at PhD level), I'm going to be teaching myself, running courses and building games. Hopefully, by the time I'm a doctor, I'll be ready to take the plunge, with sound knowledge of what I want to do and how to do it!
Basically, my rough outline is as follows:
2011 : Obtain general game dev skills.
This includes completing a gaming course on C++ (I'm considering buying "Beginning C++ through Game Programming"), a course on graphics software (not sure WHAT though, probably Maya or 3DS), and a course on game design (run after hours from a local college. Also. Buying the Book of Lenses on game design).

2012 : Complete projects
Time will be spent on building a simple game or two, hopefully wrapping up the year with a magnum opus that is at least a decent game. The intention is to discover all aspects of game dev and to find the area I like most.

2013 : Focus
Take the area I want to be in, and expand/practice my skills.

That's what I have in mind. A crazy idea born of boredom in a snowstorm. So yeah. Any thoughts, advice, criticism welcome. I have a tendency to ramble so forgive the long winded post!
Later!
J

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So I've come up with a plan. I'm starting my PhD soon, and I'm going to tackle another programming heavy project for that. But the PhD is just an excuse to spend the next 3 years on gaming.


I am not sure if this is a great idea. You are going to spend a lot of money on something you are not really passionate about just to help kill time for your excursion into game development? Since you are very deep into your current profession, which is still very math heavy, you may be able to find a junior game programmer position somewhere based upon the potential an employer sees in you. If not, you could work in a job related to your current field, and do that until you have the skills required for a game programming position.

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No professional programmer should be working till 3am every morning at their job. If thats your impression of game development then you need to take another look at it. I think you are sorely underestimating the time and effort that goes into a Ph.D. The research time spent weekly to prepare your doctoral thesis is probably more then a full time job. And with no previous experience a Ph.D. will make you almost un hire-able. A degree is no substitute for real world experience so jobs looking for X years of experience will probably pass you over and they won't want you as an entry level as they might think you want more salary from having a Ph.D.

You should get a Ph.D. because you want to further your education in that field. Trying to use it as some kind of jumping point to game dev is going to backfire on you I believe.

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The forum FAQs are temporarily gone due to the ongoing site redesign.

Most of your ideas are summed up on Tom Sloper's site at http://sloperama.com/advice.html. I suggest you read the entire site. There's only 71 of them.

FAQ 24 is "Stupid Wannabe Tricks", and several parts of your plan are described on that page. I suggest you pay particular attention to that one and follow the suggestions at changing them to smart wannabe tricks.

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Thanks for the feedback. While I know that you shouldn't have to work until 3AM at any job, my point was that if you find a job where you wouldn't MIND doing it... To be that enthusiastic is a good thing IMO.
As for the PhD... I didn't mention that my other passion is teaching, and to get a job as lecturer, a PhD is sort of prerequisite. So I'm basically trying to hedge my bets as far as possible. If I get the PhD, and I don't get into gamedev, I'm applying for a teaching position at one of our universities.
But I will read through the link provided, and ponder the feedback so far. :) Advice is why I'm here in the first place!
Thanks!

EDIT: Something I forgot... I have an offer from my current 'employer' (a research institute) to do my PhD as basically a paid job, doing work valuable to the overall research effort of the team. Studentship deal.

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