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buttear

Do I need a degree to make mobile games?

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I am transferring from a community college to a 4 year this coming fall as a math/cs major. I can finish the degree in cs/math in 2.5 years or I could go to a cs degree and finish in 3 years (4 years if I do a co-op). The issue I am concerned with is the fact that it seems a lot of 'breadth' is in the degree and I have ultimately decided to focus on the mobile market for my future career.

Is a degree in CS (or in my case math/cs) a must for app development or can I pick up some Java books, look at the SDKs for Apple and Android and get to work on making my own app? Please keep in mind I am dead set on app development, if that means I am flipping burgers by day and coding by night, so be it.

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Finish your degree. Your bachelors degree will open many doors for you.

To be fair, it is certainly possible to program without a degree. Just like it is possible to drive without completing a driver's education course, or possible to do math with no formal training, or learn how to cook by trial and error; so too can you become a code monkey by reading a few books and online SDK documentation.

There was a time when CS degrees didn't exist and most programmers came from mathematics backround; back then you really could succeed without the college degree.

But that is not today.


If it truly is your intent to flip burgers all day, then go ahead and ignore schooling. It is not a career path that intelligent people tend to prefer.

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The flipping burgers thing was meant to be a way of getting by while working on my own project in my spare time, it was not intended to be a career path.

Why is a degree a must? I only ask because I did some research and there are really 5 or 6 core courses for CS, as well as your choice of electives. Aside from having the degree be a check on a HR screening, what else does it provide?

Don't get me wrong, I am not against the degree, but I just want the best path towards my goal and a lot of times I hear experience or sample work trumps a degree.

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Since this isn't a question about mobile games, and instead is a question "Should I get a degree", I'm moving it over to the appropriate forum.

Please read all of [url="http://www.gamedev.net/index.php?app=forums&module=forums&section=rules&f=101"]Section 3 and Section 4 of this forum's FAQ[/url]

Yes, it opens many more doors than just HR screening. The FAQ entries list many benefits, no point in retyping a partial list here.

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[quote]1. Do I need a degree to make mobile games?
2. I am concerned ... that... a lot of 'breadth' is in the degree...
3. Is a degree in CS... a must for app development or can I pick up some ... books... and get to work on making my own app?
4. Why is a degree a must? ... Aside from having the degree be a check on a HR screening, what else does it provide?[/quote]

1. Only if you want to get hired to make mobile games. If you want to make them on your own, you can blaze your own trail. But you'll need a job to pay the bills until your games start paying your bills for you, and a degree will help you get a job.

2. There's a good reason for that. Colleges (unlike trade schools) like turning out well-rounded, well-educated people.

3. False choice. You need to do both.

4. A degree gives you flexibility, the ability to switch jobs/careers -- and higher earnings potential for life.

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[font="Arial"][color="#222222"][size=2]I hear ya Tom. Those are some valid points for a degree. I would like to clarify it is not laziness about not wanting to get a degree, but impatience that's my biggest flaw. Ok with that said I guess I have some follow up questions if you would be so kind.[/size][/color][/font]
[font="Arial"][color="#222222"][size=2] [/size][/color][/font]
[font="Arial"][color="#222222"][size=2]In getting my CS/math degree, aside from the core courses (data structures, algos, programming languages, OSs, complexity) what additional courses or side reading would you recommend for preparing to make mobile game apps. The obvious choices would be java and obj C, but anything you can recommend while I still have student loans to float me for the next few years I would appreciate it.[/size][/color][/font]
[font="Arial"][color="#222222"][size=2] [/size][/color][/font]
[font="Arial"][color="#222222"][size=2]To give an idea of what kind of game I am thinking of doing is a puzzle based game, I do not want to give out more details than that atm.[/size][/color][/font]

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Trying to take at least one graphics course could help out, considering you are wanting to make apps. If you can find one without going too far off your course track, taking an interface design class could help, too. Granted, both of these can be self-taught through various means (trial-and-error, online tutorials, or a closer to school way: video tutorials).

As for your puzzle based game, if you are just doing a sliding type puzzle game (15 Number puzzle) or a simple click game (Bejeweled -- this one is iffy in my book for the genre), then you shouldn't need too much aside from a language, a way to get input, and a way to display output. If you plan to incorporate other types of puzzle scenarios, you may need to find the relevant math/physics class that could help you.

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[quote name='buttear' timestamp='1333855286' post='4929216']
I am transferring from a community college to a 4 year this coming fall as a math/cs major. I can finish the degree in cs/math in 2.5 years or I could go to a cs degree and finish in 3 years (4 years if I do a co-op). The issue I am concerned with is the fact that it seems a lot of 'breadth' is in the degree and I have ultimately decided to focus on the mobile market for my future career.

Is a degree in CS (or in my case math/cs) a must for app development or can I pick up some Java books, look at the SDKs for Apple and Android and get to work on making my own app? Please keep in mind I am dead set on app development, if that means I am flipping burgers by day and coding by night, so be it.
[/quote]

You don't need to have a degree, but it certainly helps keep future doors open for you. If you really want to make mobile games, start making them while you continue your education. In fact, Unity iOS and Android are both FREE right now ($800), but this ends today. [url="https://store.unity3d.com/index.html"]https://store.unity3d.com/index.html[/url]

Best,

Destin

www.ineedtomakegames.com

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If you want to make games by your own, you need a brave heart.

If you have a brave heart, a degree should be very easy to get:D

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Making games and studying are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, you'll likely have more opportunity to make games while studying than while flipping burgers.

You'll be in an educational environment surrounded by other students with a similar goal.
That alone will teach you a ton you won't get from hacking away on your own.
You'll have people to review your work, you'll have people you can bounce ideas of and brainstorm with.

Finally, the content of a CS course is not as irrelevant as you think.
It'll prepare you a ton better for the industry than only slaving away using those free evenings.

If you want to make games right now, just do it. But keep studying.
You can do both and you'll be a better developer for it.

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Don't need anything other than a compiler to write mobile games (or games in general). I see you say "Apple and Android" - note there are other big platforms if you intend to cover mobile platforms (as opposed to only writing for whatever phone you happen to have).

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[quote name='buttear' timestamp='1333858949' post='4929222']Why is a degree a must?[/quote]

Because you're not the only person applying for the job. Imagine an employer who wants 1 person, and 10 people apply for the job. He's probably not going to choose the one who doesn't have a degree, to put it that way.

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Degree is a waste of time if you're a developer other than the chance to network with other developers. Spend your time actually making games. Open source your stuff on Github. Having a portfolio of great work will get you a gig much faster than a degree without the portfolio.

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A portfolio that shows off some really top-notch programming can be just as strong on an application as a degree, especially if you're applying for something that isn't really taught very much in schools, like app development. That said, if you're an average programmer, it's much better to be an average programmer with a degree. You're always going to be up against someone else, and the degree gives you an edge.

Make sure you take as many classes with big many thousands of lines of code projects as you can. Learn design patterns. Learn optimization. Try to take a real-time simulation and modeling class if they don't have a specific game development program.

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[quote name='richcollins' timestamp='1334349171' post='4931047']
Having a portfolio of great work will get you a gig much faster than a degree without the portfolio.
[/quote]
[quote name='keratacon' timestamp='1334689234' post='4932233']
A portfolio that shows off some really top-notch programming can be just as strong on an application as a degree
[/quote]

Even if you have a portfolio of work, you are still behind people with a degree, as they will have a degree and a portfolio of the work they have completed as part of that degree.

When I finished my degree in Software Engineering, I had multiple systems which were fully specified and coded to degree standard in multiple languages. I highly doubt that a hobbyist would have a portfolio which matches that of a graduate, unless they are gifted or had some help along the way.

A degree is not just a piece of paper that says "I can do this and this", it is a sign that you have been educated and tested to degree level and passed the course.

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Could part of the reason why the repliers (myself included) have different ideas of how much a degree matters, have something to do with where we live in the world? I'm thinking it does, I mean it makes perfect sense.

So depending on your location and opportunities, you may be given a bit of a break. In Norway, where I live, there are generally very few studios and I imagine they got a limited number of positions available throughout a year. So my chances are slim, thus a degree would likely be even more important.

But for the US, especially around Texas or whatever, the situation could be vastly different.

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[size=4][font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]My overall take-away from reading this thread is that those arguing against having a degree may not be looking at the entire picture.

First off, I agree 100% that a “strong” portfolio could possibly beat out a degree and no portfolio – situation withstanding of course. That being said, the advantage of getting your degree cannot be overstated, and in the end will usually win out against those without one - eventually in most cases.

My opinion strong is that anyone who successfully navigates the waters of a college education and emerges with a degree is ready to function “professionally” day one on the job. A solid education primarily provides a student with the skills necessary to properly communicate both in oral form and written. The ability to determine what type of communication is required in a given situation is not only critical but also expected; if you are wondering what I mean, you may want to consider a higher education. A large majority of individuals who lack degrees are devoid of basic communication skills, never having been exposed to fullfilling the requirements in areas such as technical writing, proposals, formal and semi-formal reports, etc. In the professional realm, these skills are what jobs consider “communication skills,” of which are paramount and expected. Furthermore, developing an understanding of language culture and how it affects the way we communicate is crucial in a global society. Your average indie developer without a degree is not going take the time to develop these skills on his/her own.

Consequently, this is just a small sampling of an argument that I could make for striving to get your degree, or expanding on the understanding of why having a degree is important. In addition to communication skills, subjects such as ethics, psychology, and a host of humanities topics could have easily been substituted above, highlighting the importance and benefits of an education. If you noticed, I left out “degree” specific topics and touched solely on general education.

[b]Bottom line: [/b]a degree lays the foundation and places a person on the path to becoming a highly effective communicator and contributor to any professional workforce. Sure, learning how to code, write algorithms, developing patterns [computer science] and whatever else is important, but without a well-rounded and solid educational core, your chance of beating out that guy/gal with a solid degree and “[b]A Strong Portfolio[/b]”...well it just swirled around the porcelain bowl and disappeared.[/font][/size]

[size=3]That’s my 2-cents spent….[/size][img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/wink.png[/img] Edited by a_insomniac

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[quote name='DrMadolite' timestamp='1334343807' post='4931023']
[quote name='buttear' timestamp='1333858949' post='4929222']Why is a degree a must?[/quote]

Because you're not the only person applying for the job. Imagine an employer who wants 1 person, and 10 people apply for the job. He's probably not going to choose the one who doesn't have a degree, to put it that way.
[/quote]

If the employer is a good one, they will choose the person with the best portfolio and potential.

John Carmack never had a degree, in fact he dropped out to work freelance.

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@buttear
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The only person who can decide if its worth it, is you. You don't necessarily need a CS degree but in this day, a degree is a bonus for you, anyway, why
rush to get to the world of work? Continue your studies and have some fun before being part of the corporate jungle!

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