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tom76

Professionals - what was your first job in the industry?

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i.e. what can newbies expect to get as their first job in the games industry (if we are able to get past the "we want experienced ppl only" notice on the door)? "I envy you, who has seen it all" "And I, young sir, envy you, who have yet to see it for the first time..." - Daniel Glenfield 1st October 2001

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ok well what if you''re looking at programming and can already do some (you''ve done a good demo etc.), the first thing that comes to mind is a junior programming role (checking etc.) but do they stick you in other places, like testing?

"I envy you, who has seen it all"
"And I, young sir, envy you, who have yet to see it for the first time..."
- Daniel Glenfield
1st October 2001

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Hell I wouldn't have planned on going to a four year college and getting a bachelors in Comp Sci if I was gonna get stuck doing tech support or testing. But it is true it depends... I mean if you are well educated, have a degree, and do have some sort of sample of what you are capable of I'm sure you can get a solid programming job right off the bat, even if it is a junior status programming job. Of course there are always the alternative means, taking entry positions and working your way up the ladder, but in today's industry (as opposed to the good ole days) I find it harder to find companies that truely appreciate you as an employee and actually care enough about your loyalty to keep you on or promote you to positions you'd rather be doing (of course this is just cynical old Xorcist talking here, I've had a few bad experiences to say the least). My first job was actually pre-college, I built installation programs. It wasn't exactly programming, but it got me in the door. Later I pushed my way into a junior programming position (Whilst still building and maintaining installations, with no extra pay by the way). I worked on a couple smaller programs for the professional services department as well as some in house stuff, which gave me that "real world" programming experience. But I ended up quiting the job to focus more on school so I could get to where I really wanted to be. Strangely enough, I'm still not where I want to be... but hey I guess that's life huh? I don't know if that cleared things up for you or just made them more cloudy, but hopefully it helped one way or another.

P.S. None of my progamming jobs have yet to be game related in any way, shape, or form. (I'm still working on that)

Edited by - Xorcist on October 21, 2001 2:10:45 PM

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Interesting...
perhaps we should start up another topic - why do people never have any positive stories about the game industy? Why do we only hear about doom and gloom - are all programmers bitter and twisted and moan all the time?
OR
is there a sinister purpose behind this...the law of supply and demand dictates wages, so if no new games programmers came onto the scene because they''d been scared off, a company would naturally have to shell out a lot more to keep/hire current programmers in the industry...

AH, now THAT makes sense don''t you think?

"I envy you, who has seen it all"
"And I, young sir, envy you, who have yet to see it for the first time..."
- Daniel Glenfield
1st October 2001

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Well truthfully, like I said, none of my programming jobs have been in the game industry. So I can only really speak for the business application side of things, and even then only for the crappy companies I''ve had the misfortune of working for. I''m sure there are a lot of good companies out there, but for some reason I just can''t seem to find one. Once I do get myself a position in the realm of game programming I''ll let you know how it turns out. But, and I can''t speak for everyone, it would seem to me most game programmers started out working non-game programming positions (to pay the bills) and got into games later through hobbist work etc. (Which is what I hope to achieve at some point in the future). But I think my experiences should still hold some water. Just keep in mind you may have to work some really crap jobs before you get to do what you really want to be doing...

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No, the games industry isn''t easy to work in and it can be all doom and gloom. There are many ''fly by nights'' many companies still willing to rip you off. Believe me, there are some damn unscrupulous people in this industry. Let''s not even go near mentioning the unrewarded long hours.

As for loyalty...don''t bother trying to get any. I don''t want to suggest that every company is willing to lay you off at an instant, but games development is a difficult business to run profitably and this does force layoffs and other strategic business decisions. The increasing volume of development companies is making it more difficult for developers to line up new work when projects come to an end. Even well established companies can end of with no projects and layoffs, or at best are found to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for projects and taking bad projects, for less money. These projects don''t generate good royalties or help develop a company profile. Thus it gets more difficult each year.

The sad fact is though that these projects are less risky than doing original projects. It''s so hard for a game developer to sell an original idea, the market just can''t support the volume of them. There are too many games, not a large enough market for them all and too many developers wanting to develop them.

Is this supply and demand related? Yes, the fact is now that there are already too many games programmers around and there are a whole lot more on the way. Each college has a group of computing majors and a large proportion of them see games as their desired career. This is driving wages down, which is unfortunate because it is a highly skilled industry. But the bottom line is that development companies can''t afford to pay an awful lot anyway.

Another worrying thought...many publishers are looking at countries like India/Eastern Europe for cheap games development nowadays. This is a trend likely to continue as these countries have some very skilled staff, and they can develop games for a fraction of the cost any western developer can. Exploitation maybe, and also a topic for a different thread, but it''s a fact of life and it''s oly going to make matters worse in the west, where the games development employment market is already overcrowded.

I''ve said it before on this site...getting into the games industry could be the worst mistake anyone ever makes. If you like low pay, long hours, sweatshops, insecurity and an uncertain future then by all means join, but I''d encourage anyone else to put that college degree to better use.

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1. Doing a sideways move from any other commercial programming should be easier than trying to get a job in the industry without any professional experience of developing software.
The multimedia industry is close to the games industry and a lot easier to get into (I did - first commercial database stuff, then drivers for hardware connected to said databases, then a brief spell at an ISP, onto a multimedia/lifestyle publisher, onto a game/software product for a major toy manufacturer and finally into purely games).

2. If you have a degree in a special subject or skills in some area, you might find yourself being dropped in at the deep end. For example someone with a physics degree and a demo showing that may find themselves responsible for all of the physics for a game.

3. For all but the largest companies, every member of staff on a game has a lot of work on their schedule - usually more than there is time for. What this means is nobody has the time to "train" someone new - that is the primary reason for wanting people who can just sit down and start working without having to be watched or have their hand held. (Honestly - there''s no conspiracy - companies just don''t have time/resources to take risks).

4. If you have a good demo, decent qualifications and came across well in the interview and the company can afford to have someone in a junior role, you could expect to end up writing tools (such as file converters, level editors, file packers etc) for a while, you could even find yourself doing more mundane things like handling builds of the game, stripping redundant assets from the game etc...

5. If you are targetting specific companies, send letters and demos to them directly rather than using an agency. Agencies tend to mailbomb all the developers they can find in quite an impersonal way (and sometimes incompetent way [e.g.4Mb portfolios attached to unsolicited e-mails to companies who aren''t after anyone!]) and if a developer hired you through an agency, the fees would be 20-25% of your salary (paid by the developer).
We''re a small company who are *not* hiring at the moment, we get on average 2 agencies contacting us a day, but about 2 direct spec letters a month - the direct ones we still look at, the stuff from agencies we don''t!

--
Simon O''''Connor
Creative Asylum Ltd
www.creative-asylum.com

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freakchild, do you work in the games industry? if yes - hey mate you''re not trying to scare us off are you? lol

Indeed the industry IS highly skilled, and employees deserve to be paid for their skills, but what is the solution?

Games cost far too much to develop in the first place - that''s a fact. There is a lot of waste for one thing - having worked on games mags for 3 1/2 years I''ve seen the huge all-expenses paid trips for the press, as the companies are desperate for good reviews to bolster sales. But of course mags can''t give high scores to bad games - it loses them readers, so it doesn''t really work out well.

Games take too long to develop - we all know as games get more complex they HAVE to have longer development times, but in that time money is eaten up and it can all be for nothing.

Too many games on the market - this is directly linked to Sony''s Playstation. Before, we had companies like Nintendo asking to check the merchandise before allowing it to be sold. However with Sony''s policy of "get them on the shelves" more and more companies popped up with more and more games (most of them bad) and money was spread even thinner.


So what IS the solution? Heck I don''t know, ask a professional!


"I envy you, who has seen it all"
"And I, young sir, envy you, who have yet to see it for the first time..."
- Daniel Glenfield
1st October 2001

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S1CA - I agree with you on agencies!!! I was roped into signing up for all who called me, and it wasn''t until #9 that I found someone who knew anything at all abou tthe games industry. Even a reputable high-profile agency here in the UK was very ''dodgy'' (no feedback whatsoever on my demo etc. you get the idea) so now I have my v.v.poor demos and cv floating around the industry, thankfully I''ve cancelled all those that I can remember were in contact, but there must be about 5 who still have me registered (who haven''t spoke to me since lol).
But of course when my name crops up with my new CV and fantastic demo, my name goes into a computer and returns a "rejected on XX/XX/01" message, and into the bin it goes without being looked at. Thankfully I plan to include a few screenshots and other ways that make my resume scream "I am good!".


So is the solution for us all to bugger off to application development for a few years, wait for the industry to colapse and be reborn again, then come back?
Or set up our own company, make a game, sell a handful of copies, declare ourselves bankrupt, and start all over again?

"I envy you, who has seen it all"
"And I, young sir, envy you, who have yet to see it for the first time..."
- Daniel Glenfield
1st October 2001

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