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Hydraxy

Fishing for project suggestions/advice

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Hey everyone, I'm going to try to keep this short, but I think knowing a bit about me might help you answer the questions I have in a way that's more helpful to me...
About Me:
  • I'm a junior in college (B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Mathematics, minoring in Physics)
  • I got into programming about 7 years ago because I wanted to make games. I still have that desire (though I've found other interesting subjects along the way).
  • In a year I go searching for a job, and I want something to show prospective employers that shows off how awesome I am.
  • I want a cool project to work on in the coming year.
  • I pick things up pretty quick and like to think I have a good work ethic, so big projects (as long as they're manageable) don't really bother me.
  • I am not an artist.
  • I have some pretty graphics guru technical support should I need it, in the form of a professor who is willing to help me out with the project (not in coding, but in conceptual/technical questions).I have experience with:
    • C, C++, Java, Perl, .NET C++, C#, various other languages that don't really matter
    • OpenGL, shaders, 3D graphics programming. (I'm not a guru by any means, but I've taken a class from a guy who really knows his stuff, and have done a fair amount here, lighting models, shadow mapping, texturing, etc).
    • Visual Studio, Qt, Eclipse, UML diagrams, etcI'm also willing to learn whatever else is needed - keep in mind though I've got about a year, and the rest of 2 majors to finish in between now and then, so while I've got some time, I don't have 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.

      On to the question:
      I'm interested in doing a project where I can practice my graphics skills, as well as hone some other skills and generally have fun. Also of course at the end of the project, if I finish, the idea is to have something cool I can show off. My current idea is to do some sort of procedural 3D maze generator, possibly populating it with monsters of some sort. I'm not an artist so the idea of procedural generation of content (especially graphics content) really sounds good to me.

      I'm not certain though if I should use an engine (does using an engine demonstrate the technical ability I'm interested in demonstrating?), or if I should do it all "by hand" (ie. create my own rudimentary engine, and probably scene graph, etc). Does anyone have any insight into engine vs no engine from the perspective of someone evaluating technical prowess? There are also time constraints to judge - I don't know how hard it would be to learn a new engine, but certainly it would be a learning curve to begin with.

      I have a second, ancillary question, which is: Game vs "Video" - I could make some sort of "video" instead of an interactive application, ie: "Pixel City" (google it). That also sounds interesting, and I'm open to ideas (I need to pick here eventually though) - I'm wondering if doing a "Video" style graphics display is better than doing an interactive game, both sound fun, but they have different challenges, I'm wondering if anyone has insight into one vs the other.

      Suggestions are welcome, especially with regards to engine vs no engine - feel free to propose project ideas too, I'm not set on anything yet.

      Hopefully that wasn't too long. Thanks for reading.

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1. I'm interested in doing a project where I can practice my graphics skills, as well as hone some other skills and generally have fun. Also of course at the end of the project, if I finish, the idea is to have something cool I can show off.
2. I'm not certain though if I should use an engine (does using an engine demonstrate the technical ability I'm interested in demonstrating?)
3. Does anyone have any insight into engine vs no engine from the perspective of someone evaluating technical prowess?
4. There are also time constraints to judge - I don't know how hard it would be to learn a new engine, but certainly it would be a learning curve to begin with.
5. I have a second, ancillary question, which is: Game vs "Video" - I could make some sort of "video" instead of an interactive application... I'm wondering if doing a "Video" style graphics display is better than doing an interactive game
6. feel free to propose project ideas too

1. The usual unhappy truth: it's not likely that this project will be the knock-their-socks-off portfolio piece that you think it will be. During the course of making your masterpiece, you're learning how to draw with crayons. The best masterpiece is one that was made once you'd achieved mastery of the tools, not one that was made while learning how to use the tools.

2. Yes, it does. See #4.

3. We want to see clean, well-commented code, and a mastery of how to solve problems elegantly.

4. It would likely be much harder and even more time-consuming to create a new engine. The usual advice: make games, not engines. Use an engine if you need to; that's better than increasing the difficulty and scope of the task at hand.

5. No. It isn't. (Assuming you are seeking work as a game programmer, not a video programmer.)

6. The best places to ask for project ideas are: (a) from collaborators with whom you work to create your masterpiece; (b) the Game Design forum.

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1. The usual unhappy truth: it's not likely that this project will be the knock-their-socks-off portfolio piece that you think it will be. During the course of making your masterpiece, you're learning how to draw with crayons. The best masterpiece is one that was made once you'd achieved mastery of the tools, not one that was made while learning how to use the tools.

2. Yes, it does. See #4.

3. We want to see clean, well-commented code, and a mastery of how to solve problems elegantly.

4. It would likely be much harder and even more time-consuming to create a new engine. The usual advice: make games, not engines. Use an engine if you need to; that's better than increasing the difficulty and scope of the task at hand.

5. No. It isn't. (Assuming you are seeking work as a game programmer, not a video programmer.)

6. The best places to ask for project ideas are: (a) from collaborators with whom you work to create your masterpiece; (b) the Game Design forum.


To add to this... Figure out what kind of programmer you want to be. A gameplay programmer will be well served by good game demos. Don't worry about graphics, worry about demo'ing cool gameplay. A graphics programmer would be better served by some demos of graphics algorithms they've implemented. There are gameplay programmers, AI programmers, network programmers, tools programmers, graphics programmers, physics programmers, etc. Figure out what you want to concentrate on.

Lots of places have "core programmers" or "engine programmers", which are some combination of [AI, tools, graphics, physics]. Lots of places have "gameplay programmers" who do some combination of [gameplay, AI]. Different places draw their boundaries differently, but the point is, my advice is to focus on one thing and to show that you can do it well.

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If I were to use an engine, does anyone have any recommendations for a "good" one? Free preferably.

Thanks for the help.

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If I were to use an engine, does anyone have any recommendations for a "good" one? Free preferably.

Thanks for the help.


figure out what you want to do, then pick/make an engine.

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