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How do I know when to move on to the next step in game development?

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I was given an overview a month and a half ago as a road map to become an "employable" game developer as follows:

Make 2D games with XNA in C#
Make 3D games with Unity (and C#)
Make 3D games with XNA in C#
Make 3D games with SharpDX in C# (SharpDX is a very thin managed wrapper around DirectX)
Make 2D/3D games with DirectX11 using C++

I made pong and I am currently working on a top down hack and slash game "like Zelda" but with level loading like the old final fantasy games. (walk to the end, load the next area)

My question is two-fold.

How do I know when I'm ready to move on to the next step?


What should I be learning in each step?

I understand I could use xna and 2D to make the next big thing like a Braid, Fez, or other XBLA game... but my ultimate goal would to be working for a AAA studio working with 3D, top of the line tech.

Any input would be appreciated!

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Each of your games should include a new challenge for you. When you feel like you have mastered a level, move on to the next. There shouldn't be any big jumps in how challenging each game is to make because if there are, then you'll be missing learning some things along the way.

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Start making contacts then, that is probably the biggest barrier to working for an AAA studio. Also take a look at your geographic area, if you aren't in a hotbed area ( LA, Boston, Vancouver, Seattle, Montreal, Austin, etc... ), be prepared to relocate, or frankly you will never get a job at an AA studio. From there it is honestly more a matter of who you know than what you know.

Thats the reality of the situation. You want a job that a trillion other people just like you also want, and even if 1% of them are actually good at it, that is still a lot of people competing for the same job.

Other than that, well frankly, just start adding as much as possible to your resume. This is about one of the few times I will recommend C++, but if you want in a AAA studio, it will be expected. Then again, when hired for an entry level position, the odds of actually doing any C++ coding are very low. Also, with someone with 0 days of actual experience, the expectations of actual skill are also very low.

Now, if you can get a published game under your belt, something that is actually shipped and people actually pay money for... that opens a world of doors for you.

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