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WaywardSquanderer

How crucial is iOS/ OS X experience?

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Macs are expensive. Installing OS X on a non-Apple machine is a pain in the arse for a noob.

I think it is fair to say that indie development is on the rise and part of that includes deploying a game to as many platforms as possible. While OS X has a small market share in the PC environment, iOS is a very popular mobile platform. So, is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7? Is OS X or iOS development different enough such that an employer wouldn't want to bother with a new hire's learning curve if they haven't worked with it before?

I'm having a bit of a dilemma here, as I am considering a purchase of an HP laptop with superior specs (except screen res and Thunderbolt port) and $900 cheaper than the high end MacBook Pro 15 in. I've looked into how to install OS X on the laptop and none of it is straight forward and much more hassle than I want to deal with at this point.

So would this $900 Apple taxed machine with inferior hardware be a worthy investment in my future, presuming that future is in game dev? While I would like to work in "AAA" development eventually, I'd rather be prepared for as many jobs as possible in game development.

I'm aware that I'm not including premium design features (aluminum body, high quality track pad, etc.) that Mac owners use to justify the price in this discussion. I believe that those things are luxuries that I don't need. I have no disdain for Apple products, and I do in fact want a Macbook Pro. I just can't justify spending that much money for OS X, a Thunderbolt connector and otherwise inferior specs. Unless of course it will give me a significant edge in a job interview...

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It depends on the studio. If they create iOS games then having experience in that area is a big plus (and you'll probably need a Mac to get this).

That being said, your skills as a developer, portfolio, and interview ability is what really matters, not what laptop you use.

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If you're going for a job specifically creating games for iOS then obviously a developer with actual iOS experience would be preferred over one without, but in the general case simply showing you have the ability to learn how to target different platforms should be sufficient assuming you are otherwise qualified (relevant degree, portfolio, ability to answer interview question, etc.).

Unless you're specifically interested in a studio that does a lot of iOS work I would go with the purchase you're more happy to make for now -- you can always pick up the hardware and experience for iOS development later. If you're just after a portfolio piece that runs on iOS hardware you could also consider targeting that platform with Flash -- not quite the same thing, but it may still give you a leg up over someone with no iOS-based portfolio piece, and shows you can take the hardware requirements into consideration and work with different tool-sets.

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is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7?

Not if the studio develops for Playstation3 or Nintendo.
Read FAQ 49.

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It depends on the studio. If they create iOS games then having experience in that area is a big plus (and you'll probably need a Mac to get this).

That being said, your skills as a developer, portfolio, and interview ability is what really matters, not what laptop you use.


Thank you for your well stated point. I suppose iOS is more crucial for a dev studio that works exclusively with iOS, though I wonder if such a place exists. As well, I will attempt to install the Mac OS X on a non-Mac machine and/or virtually.


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If you're going for a job specifically creating games for iOS then obviously a developer with actual iOS experience would be preferred over one without, but in the general case simply showing you have the ability to learn how to target different platforms should be sufficient assuming you are otherwise qualified (relevant degree, portfolio, ability to answer interview question, etc.).

Unless you're specifically interested in a studio that does a lot of iOS work I would go with the purchase you're more happy to make for now -- you can always pick up the hardware and experience for iOS development later. If you're just after a portfolio piece that runs on iOS hardware you could also consider targeting that platform with Flash -- not quite the same thing, but it may still give you a leg up over someone with no iOS-based portfolio piece, and shows you can take the hardware requirements into consideration and work with different tool-sets.



I think I will also do some research on the Unity3D engine, as it seems that it is designed to aid in multi-platform deployment.

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[quote name='WaywardSquanderer' timestamp='1306350894' post='4815722']is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7?

Not if the studio develops for Playstation3 or Nintendo.
Read FAQ 49.
[/quote]

Mr. Sloper, evidently I must apologize for a poorly worded ( or "dumb" as stated in your blog) question. In retrospect, what I had intended to ask was whether not having iOS experience (while having WP7 and Android experience) would be cause for a mobile game developer to discount my resume or job inquiry. An even better question would be to ask "How significant is the difference among developing for iOS v. WP7/Android?" Is the learning curve steep? Is it so steep that a prospective employer would rather not spend time allowing someone to train or learn the environment?

Also, I failed to specify that the original question was referencing mobile game devs. I can see how this would be confusing as I'd stated that I also hope to eventually participate in "AAA" development. I'd like to point out that I hate using the phrase "AAA" as it seems to imply that mobile games are not serious undertakings, which I know is generally not the case. I believe that there are valuable gameplay experiences that can be had from PCs, consoles, mobile platforms and web browsers. I am just trying to plan ahead to take into consideration the trend (anecdotal or not) of the industry moving towards smaller teams working on smaller projects.

Two inferences you make of laziness and trying to cut corners are unnecessary and insulting. I'm aware of your disclaimer of applying the contents of the article to the reader's situation (such as my not being lazy), however statements of judgement like these are still distracting from the point you are trying to make. You also state there being a problem with the "naivete behind the question". A question is generally asked because of naivete, i.e. having a lack of judgement, experience or information. To be bothered by this encourages people to remain naive and ignorant, which is actually more dumb than asking a 'dumb question'.

I think it is fair to say that $900 is a significant amount of money. As well, trying to maximize the utility of the dollar by getting as high quality as possible for a reasonable price, i.e. the difference between getting the cheapest Mac machine v. an equivalently priced but more powerful PC, is also a reasonable action. I refer to the wisdom of loom_weaver, jbadams and the first statment in your comment in this regard. The product in question is really a means to an end, with that end being the development of software that will hopefully aid in my being employed in game development. Thus, having experience with a certain technology will probably not outweigh having a portfolio well designed code and projects written for other platforms, unless the employer works primarily with that technology.

Lastly, I want you to know that I have visited your website on a few occasions and have found it useful. I do take your point that nothing is enough. A better way to state this might be: "you only need to meet the qualifications of the resume, bring more to the table than the competition, impress someone enough to offer you a job without your inquiry, patience, luck, and a strong professional network." That seems like a sufficient starting point. Again, I apologize for the lack of clarity in my original question, hence the length of this response.

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Regarding iOS development, it is sufficient to get a refurb Mac Mini for nearly half the price of the $900 machine you posted. If you want to focus purely on iOS development, you don't need much grunt. Just get plenty of memory.

That said, writing a iOS game on other platforms is possible, provided you keep as much code platform neutral as possible. You can download OpenGL ES 2.0 emulators on Windows or Linux, including PVR texture compression support. OpenAL is also widely supported. However, you will need to do a lot boilerplate stuff on your own, or use some cross platform lib; and then you will need Objective-C to glue everything together at some point, which means using Xcode/Mac anyway.

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Regarding iOS development, it is sufficient to get a refurb Mac Mini for nearly half the price of the $900 machine you posted. If you want to focus purely on iOS development, you don't need much grunt. Just get plenty of memory.

That said, writing a iOS game on other platforms is possible, provided you keep as much code platform neutral as possible. You can download OpenGL ES 2.0 emulators on Windows or Linux, including PVR texture compression support. OpenAL is also widely supported. However, you will need to do a lot boilerplate stuff on your own, or use some cross platform lib; and then you will need Objective-C to glue everything together at some point, which means using Xcode/Mac anyway.



There is much to digest in your response; thank you. And the $900 is the difference in cost (savings) between the Apple product and the Windows machine, not the total cost of the Apple product.

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There are few facets here regarding mac vs PC:

Firstly, while its true that laptops of greater or equal spec can be had on the PC side for less, in my experience owning both PC and Mac laptops, the macs are very competetive with PC laptops of similar build-quality. This is something that's hard to describe in terms that geeks like you or I can appreciate because we tend to look at the bullet-points first, and to not put much value at all on the complete package. The Unibody macbook I'm typing on right now is, to date, the nicest laptop I've owned or used. For what its worth, I kind of consider HP to be on the lower-rung of PC laptops. Lenovo makes good kit, so does Asus. If you do decide to stick with a PC laptop, I would recommend either option (or nearly any other, frankly) over HP. I'm not that surprised that the HP would be so much cheaper at a more impressive spec, but ask yourself, how do the manage to do that? By cutting corners on the overall package. One example I like to give is the trackpad -- trackpads universally suck on PC laptops, not so on the macbook -- in fact, I like it so much that I almost never use the mouse I bought for it. I don't think I've even touched that mouse in the last two years. Battery life is great too -- the value of needing *only* the laptop itself shouldn't be underestimated. carrying a power adapter and mouse everywhere you go is a pain, and just you try using a mouse on a small starbucks table or cramped airline seat.

Second, owning a Mac can give you experience with OSX and iOS, as well as significant exposure to linux/unix tools, as Unix forms the underpinnings of Mac OS. This is another useful and transferable skill -- some tools from the Unix world don't work on Windows the same as, as well as, or in extreme cases -- at all, due to the non-posix nature of Windows. Git is a good example -- it works, but not *quite* the same as, or as well as, Git on any flavor of *nix or other POSIX operating systems.

The third thing is that, ultimately the choice comes down to you and what you want to do. Any skill you develop is a gainful one -- on one platform you might gain access to more or different types of skills. Whether the cost is worth it or not is up to you. Clearly I like mine, I'm glad I got it. Its a 2009 13" unibody model and I still find if sufficient for all my needs. I do wish the screen was higher resolution (1440x900 or 1600x900) but I get by. I'm going to max out the RAM at 8 gigs next month (up from just 2 gigs) and I fully expect to get another 2-3 years out of it.

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