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Vfor Vikram

Tools Developer - Examples

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Hi,

Can someone please explain the exact meaning of "Tools" for Game development, or more precisely "Tools Developer".

Is it like programming level editors and IDE?

Also, things like "mesh deformation / fracture tool" provided by game engines like UDK / Unity3d - Are they part of "tools" development or "engine" development?

I am a hobby game programmer and have been looking out to break into the industry. I have intermediate experience in c++ and I'm pretty good in C#. I don't want to go the QA route and hence thought applying as a tools developer would take me closer.

My Reasons for this approach -

All the small start-ups near my place are not really focused. For example, they do archi visualizations, click on baby mobile apps, etc. The more focused ones ask for experience and also "game programmer" salaries are like 50% - 70% less than other software domains. I thought I'll apply at some big studios as I have experience in C# and usually preferred for tools development

I'm not a great algorithm guy. I'm just average. But I'm good in OOPs and designing applications, etc. I may not be cut out for "engine" programming

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Yes, it includes those things.

Tools editors may be state machine editors, level editors, tools to visualize animations, build chain for packing assets, build chain for preparing producer-created tuning files or packing audio assets or whatever else.

As for feeling like you aren't cut out for engine work, don't worry about that! Most programming is of the gameplay engineering work. The programming grunt work of projects is creating things like spawners, rule-based event logic, interaction handlers, and so forth. Relatively few people work on the core engine itself.

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[quote name='frob' timestamp='1329835063' post='4915172']
As for feeling like you aren't cut out for engine work, don't worry about that! Most programming is of the gameplay engineering work. The programming grunt work of projects is creating things like spawners, rule-based event logic, interaction handlers, and so forth. Relatively few people work on the core engine itself.
[/quote]
Whoa, don’t be so hasty!
Yes most programming is of the gameplay nature, but if he is applying for a position that actually has “engine” or “tools” in the name, I expect they will have him working on the core engine itself, and he should worry (I feel from his initial post).

Language here is a tricky thing—many studios interchange a lot of words that really mean something else (especially here in Japan, where a “planner” is a game designer and a “designer” is an artist [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/huh.png[/img]).
For example, during my interview at my current company, the CEO said, “We have our own in-house engine. Well it’s not really an engine, it is a framework.”
Then you have people such as Hodgman who claim an engine and a framework are the same thing.
I asked, “How is it different from an engine?”, to which he replied, “There is no main loop.”
Then my coworker later said, “Huh? No main loop? Yes there is. I mean sort-of…”

From my experience, anything with “tools” in the name suggests also working on the core engine.
This is how it is in my company and it makes sense, because the tools are closely related to the core engine. They need to be made together, and with tight communication.
You don’t want to have a core-engine programmer trying to explain how the tool should handle modifying such-and-such super-advanced feature and have the average-level gameplay programmer making the tool scratching his head.

Generally they are the same team. In my company we even switch between working on the engine and working on tools, so they are not only the same team but the same people.


The bottom line is that this is very much open to interpretation and you should really ask the company itself.
If you feel that is not possible, but you see reason to consider you are skilled enough for the job, apply anyway. The worst that can happen is that you don’t pass the interview.
Just make sure to clarify what they expect of you during the interview, and if it is not what you expected, you can politely explain you misunderstood the position and ask if they have another position for which you might be qualified. You may still get a job yet.


L. Spiro

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