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Road to being a game programmer[ late or not]

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Hello guys, I'm new here in the forum. I would like to share if my plan on being a Game Programmer is a good idea or better I shouldn't because maybe it's too late. OK, here goes... I'm 25 years old and I have a degree in Computer Engineering. After I graduated, I was an employee in my dad's company for 2 years as a Data Encoder. So for 2 years, I haven't touched any programming languages. Now, I'm practicing programming (C++) again for about 3 months. Then I applied to a game company but unfortunately I failed their technical test. Currently, I still continue practicing programming and I was able to decide that maybe I should try applying as a Game Tester first and work my way up into higher positions. Of course I will still practice programming even I'm already working as a Game Tester (if I will be accepted). Now my question is:

1] Can a Game Tester be promoted as a Game Programmer?
2] Do you think I have spare time in learning/practicing programming if I ever get the Game Tester position?
3] Do you think I'm old enough to start programming again basing on what I wrote above?
4] Do I have the right plan?

Any advice, suggestions, comments will be much appreciated. Thank you. :)

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if you can afford not to work.. I wouldn't waste my time testing, just stay home, get a couple of good books and code until your fingers are burning in pain biggrin.gif

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or better I shouldn't because maybe it's too late.
1] Can a Game Tester be promoted as a Game Programmer?
2] Do you think I have spare time in learning/practicing programming if I ever get the Game Tester position?
3] Do you think I'm old enough to start programming again basing on what I wrote above?
4] Do I have the right plan? (maybe I should try applying as a Game Tester first and work my way up into higher positions. )

0. You are not screwed (you are not too old). Read FAQ 71 (you can get to the FAQs above).
1. Yes. Read FAQs 50 and 41.
2. [Edit] The problem is that you might be subject to an intentions/noncompete clause.
3. Not only are you not too old, you are also not too young.
4. [Edit] As per #2, your contract might get in the way of you making games on the side. You'd have to see what the contract says, you might have to negotiate it, or you might not be able to negotiate it. But since you're just making games on the side to learn, not to compete, they might agree to allow it.

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Hi Spark :).

My story is somewhat similar to yours. I have a degree in Computer Science and worked in defense contracting for two years after I graduated. When I was 25 I started looking for a job in games and have been happily employed as an engineer for about 3 years now (I'm 28).

So you are definitely not too old. If you're failing the technical tests, then the number one thing you need to be doing right now is making games. Especially if you haven't touched any programming for a few years. Design a simple game and make it. Don't shoot too high, the important thing is to finish it, so I'd go for maybe 3-4 months tops. Make a schedule, get it done. Then do another.

You'll be surprised how much this will teach you. You'll run into problems you never would have thought of. You will bang your head against the wall. You will discover all kinds of cool tricks and ways to make the code easier to work with. You'll probably make a few decisions early on that will come back to bite you hard later on, but you'll never do them again. And most importantly you'll be learning. Every mistake, every thing that works right, these are all things that you will be able to talk intelligently about at an interview, to offer small insights on and show the company that you have something to provide.

Also, read. Specifically read books and articles on good code design. Try to get a feel for what is maintainable, and what isn't. Don't go nuts with specific design methodologies, these are often more academic than useful, but at least be familiar with them. Try to think as you code "if I were somebody else, would I have any idea what this code does?". It's very important in games that you be able to write clear and concise code that others will be able to work with. There is often little to no documentation outside of the code itself, and every minute somebody spends trying to figure out what your spaghetti logic is doing is one minute closer to missing your ship date.

It might take a year and 2-3 small games to be truly ready, but if you stick with it, have some smarts and work hard you'll be able to land that job.

Good luck!

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It takes years to become a great programmer, but there is no reason why you can't pick up a simple framework like Flash, Pygame, or Love and start writing simple 2D games, regardless of how new you are to programming. The concepts you learn in any language can be applied everywhere. An array is an array, a map is a map, and a fibbonacci sequence algorithm will be all the same whether you implement it in Java or Javascript. Best of luck to you. :)

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You are definitely not too old! I was 33 when I finally decided to join the game industry. I applied for the one job I wanted, got it, and have been at it for over 7 years now.

However, I had an ace up my sleeve. To avoid the dreaded Catch-22 of not having game development experience before getting game development experience, I designed, programmed and sold my own game. If you can do something similar, you will develop needed skills and show that you have the drive to be a game programmer. Any decent programming manager will respect that.

Let me ask you this important question, WHY do you want to join the game industry?

I'm not being snarky, it's a rough business. I have never played so few video games in my life since joining the game industry. The pay is far less than what you can make in a non-game industry job. For example, by best friend who is my age, same brain power, same experience, heck - we even worked for many of the same companies, now makes 150k a year not including bonuses or stock. I make far less than that.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I just think you should know that once you start making games, you will be playing far fewer of them, and not getting paid as much, or at least not at first.

That said, I love my job and the company I work for. The work is exciting and every year or two you have a new project to work on.

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You are definitely not too old! I was 33 when I finally decided to join the game industry. I applied for the one job I wanted, got it, and have been at it for over 7 years now.

However, I had an ace up my sleeve. To avoid the dreaded Catch-22 of not having game development experience before getting game development experience, I designed, programmed and sold my own game. If you can do something similar, you will develop needed skills and show that you have the drive to be a game programmer. Any decent programming manager will respect that.

Let me ask you this important question, WHY do you want to join the game industry?

I'm not being snarky, it's a rough business. I have never played so few video games in my life since joining the game industry. The pay is far less than what you can make in a non-game industry job. For example, by best friend who is my age, same brain power, same experience, heck - we even worked for many of the same companies, now makes 150k a year not including bonuses or stock. I make far less than that.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it, I just think you should know that once you start making games, you will be playing far fewer of them, and not getting paid as much, or at least not at first.

That said, I love my job and the company I work for. The work is exciting and every year or two you have a new project to work on.


its passion... theres nothing cooler than creating your own world .. screw the money.. as long as i can feed me and my wife every day i am happy

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It is great to hear your stories guys. 24 here, no education other than high school, and going to program in order to get some designs pushed :P

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