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Career advice?

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Hey guys!

I know you go through these kind of posts every day, but I realized it's final time to make a switch to the industry I can fully dedicate myself to, so here is the deal:

I'm 25 right now, I have been programming almost every day of my life for the last 15 years (give it or take few days ;), usually gaming related. I was always interested more in game's engines, technology and inner workings than actual games. I have a master's degree in unrelated engineering field and am currently studying CS for the paper's sake, as basically everything they're going to teach me I already know and applied during work, but I still feel that lack of oficial degree might hold me back in the meantime.

I've been working as a software engineer/architect for the last 3 years (ever since I began my CS studies, but my actual engineering work experience stretches a few years back), doing pretty interesting projects like software for banking equipment and systems, programming for interactive agency (sort of gaming related), many experimental projects involving mobile/web/sensors/scanning and as of recent doing web-dev. I worked with great many of languages and technologies, C++ being my strongest I guess although in recent years my work required me to use mostly C#.

This year I switched countries, after few months got promoted to project manager etc. But all this time I never worked with anything games-related, which is the one thing I love the most! Basically I spend every moment of my spare time working on my own projects or doing more research on algos and techniques, however the main problem is: I have never finished any of my games or even come close, as I always paid more attention to technical aspects then the overall product. After investigating some problem and writing a functional prototype I usually moved on to a new challenge.

My lack of focus towards completing any games or demos is probably related to the fact I don't know any other game programmers, heck, none of my friends even play video games;) Thus I knew very well I won't be able to pull off any project I would like without help of artists or fellow programmers, and I just found small easy games like Tetris or Shoot'em up unchallenging from technical standpoint to polish them up.

I did however write engine prototypes for 2D/3D games (openGL, webGL, DX, XNA), all kinds of editors (2d, 3d terrain, animation editor, texture editors), I tackled optimized networking based on Source engine, 3d actionscript techdemos and a released but not really finished tool. I am familiar with the industry standards and many commonly used approaches, I know 3d math involved in game programming, shader writing, physics, collision resolution, profilers and low-level code optimizations blah blah blah. But again, nothing really to show all those things together :/ My main portfolio pieces are rather enterprise software engineering projects, pretty boring for a funky gamedev community biggrin.png . The closest thing to a game I did last week within few days where I wanted to test how fast can you code a HTML5 canvas game, but it's all javascript (which I consider extremely simplistic even after employing all known hardcore performance tricks and optimizations, at least compared to c++) .


Now, I read a lot about entry level portfolios and how you should showcase your best games/demos to prove how much you know and how full your dedication is. I am not sure however if I should devote any more time into endless cycle of making things just for the sake of presentation before the first job in the industry, as this can go on for years and years, with me never finding my work good enough.

So perhaps some of you can advise me how to approach looking for a job in game industry, as a software engineer, given all that baggage of scraps and pieces of work samples? smile.png
Should I definitely put all those things together and spend next half a year making a big engine utilizing all the features? Or should I rather present what I know in form of a beatifully refactored code samples? or perhaps wrap those into executable modules? Or maybe I should aim for an internship position to begin with?

I will appreaciate every input on the matter, guys!
Cheers

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>> I know you go through these kind of posts every day

Almost all of this is answered in the forum FAQs.... except it looks like the big blue forum FAQ button is gone with the 2012 update.

So instead read all of Tom Sloper's FAQs that covers pretty much everything you mentioned, and then some.

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With all that experience I don't see how there could possibly be a problem for you to get a job in the games industry. Just make a web-page with some screenshots of the cooler tech-demos or similar you've done over the last 10 years, like your WebGL or javascript stuff, and that should be enough to catch their attention, and the rest you can tell them at the interview. Perhaps they will be hesitant to let you start at the same level position that you have in a different industry without games experience, but other than that you should be set.
I doubt anyone will have time to actually dig through your code to see how good it is, at least not until after an interview. Possibly they might spend 5 minutes playing your game in addition to looking at your screenshots, if it's real easy to start (for which web-games are excellent).

And if they give you a programming-test, make sure to do that as good as you possibly can.

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Almost all of this is answered in the forum FAQs.... except it looks like the big blue forum FAQ button is gone with the 2012 update.

So instead read all of Tom Sloper's FAQs that covers pretty much everything you mentioned, and then some.


I've been promised that the FAQs will be back sometime soon. In the meantime, yes - read my site (many of this forum's FAQs are links to my site).

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Thanks!

Tom, wow, that's an invaluable resource you got there, how come other industries don't have such a roadmap... I did stumble upon it few years back I remember.
But you know, it's always good to ask some people anyway I think

Erik, the website is actually a good idea, I think I just should give it a try and contact some companies then, "nothing will ever be enough" like Tom said ;)

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