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Sam Arutyunyan

Unity Looking for Game Programming Work Examples

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I am trying to get started in my career as a game programmer. My goal is to work on some indie projects until I get experience and then apply at larger companies. I was hoping that people who have already worked in the game industry could give me some sample assignments that are typical of what I would find on the job. I need figure out where I stand as a programmer and if I am ready to start asking people to pay me in return for my work. I would really appreciate it.

 

About Me:

I studied 2 years of animation in college before realizing my passion for programming, at which point I changed majors and studied programming for 2 years. A few months ago I decided that college is holding me back, since I do most of my learning outside of class from online tutorials. I dropped out in order to focus on developing my game. I am making a first person shooter with Unity3D. While I develop my game I would like to start working because: 1) I need money to pay the bills... and 2) In case my game doesn't work out I want to have started building a reputation in the game industry. I am very passionate about game development and spend most of my time on it. My skills include: Programming in C++, C#, Java, android. 3D modeling, Character Animation and Rigging. Texture Mapping and Painting. 

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I've had interviews with all faucets of software / game / web development. Out of all the tests I had to take only a few companies really drilled me. One of those being Western Digital. But none of the questions in the tests stood out to me, except one I had with a gaming company (get to that later). The main thing I noticed was my experience wasn't up to par, I had zero just a small portfolio and almost if not all companies didn't even look at it (So your game better be impressive).

 

On to the question that stood out to me, was a pretty straight forward question... Write a function on a white board that outputs the factorial numbers of (n).

 

Easy enough took me like 2 minutes. The two came back in said "okay, good!" Now can you write that same function recursively. I was stumped I haven't written a recursive function since my 1 year of college (4-5 years prior). So I was honest, then came the explanation of that method. I understood and thought well they are still going so I still have a chance. Now where it got harder for me at least. They asked 2 questions, "What is an advantage of using a recursive function?", no problem answered. Next question, "What is the downside to using recursive functions?" This is where I blew it, I had no answer because honestly I don't remember enough about the method.

 

I went home found out the answer and wow, simple easy answer and yes it made sense but I didn't know that off the top of my head. But in 2 - 3 mins of testing the function you can easily find out the answer. Was that a gauge of my skill set? No, absolutely not. So what I am trying to say here is no matter how much studying you do unless you are some kind of "Sheldon" (Big Bang Theory) and remember everything you read, you will always get a curve ball at some point. I don't know everything I never will and there will always be questions that stump me.

 

If you spend all your time trying to prepare for an interview, you will never have an interview. Get your feet wet and go out there they are all different none of the interviews are linear in any sense. I had so many when I was first starting out. From flip-flops to suits, to laid back conversations with 3 coding questions to 3 interviews and 3 tests in one sit down (Western Digital) roughly took 3 hours total.

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Wow, I didn't expect such great answers and so quickly. The first one made me nervous because its been a while since I thought about those definitions. I could answer Most of them. The second response calmed me down a bit ^.^ both were very useful. Thanks guys, I guess now I need to go find some tiny company that will hire me. 

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Keep in mind that for entry-level positions you will likely face a very different set of questions.

 

Moreover, every company has different things they will grill you on, so the best thing to do is not to try and memorize a bunch of questions and answers. The best thing to do is learn how to problem-solve, since that's the skill you really need to succeed. Everything else can be taught on the job.

 

However, knowing how to use common tools and libraries is a major bonus.

 

Work on projects that interest you, no matter what they are, and show that you can complete projects and "ship" software. For entry-level work the contents of your portfolio isn't nearly as important as the quality of your code.

 

 

One last thing to remember: you're in competition with a ton of other people, and you will be passed over if you don't really blow someone out of the water.

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Mostly, just work on stuff.  Stuff you enjoy, but stuff that also stretches and reinforces your knowledge.  Preferably in a language that you will use for any prospective jobs.  (ie if you want to work for EA and make console games, learn C++ and make something on the PC, if you want to make mobilephone games and work at a mobile gaming company, make something for android, or iOS)

 

If you want to work on 3D games, make sure you work on a 3d game, and one that involves vector math.  If you want to work on graphics, do some shader coding, and make a game or demo with fancy effects in it.  You want to work on physics for games?  Do some physics in your games.

 

That said, if you're brand spanking new to game programming, it's okay to start small and make something tiny and 2D and simple to get started, but you should be working your way up to doing what you enjoy.  You may not yet know what it is that you enjoy, so feel free to dig in and try different game concepts and different game platforms.  Having variety on a portfolio can help too, especially if they end up going, "Well, that position has been filled, but we do have a position for ...", if that other position is something you enjoy.

 

 

Programming interview questions are a whole nother ball game.  You tend to get asked a bunch of questions that you'll probably never do outside of programming interviews.  It's stupid and irritating, but it's the way of things.  Some places are better than others, and just ask questions that are somewhat related. Intersection of a circle and a ray, for example, or ask you to design a some small portion of a game, or do a take home test.  I wish more of them did that.

Edited by ferrous

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Oh yeah also a bit of advice I was given by my friend who was Senior Software Engineer at Motorola. Even if your experience level doesn't always match, apply anyways, that is ideally what they are looking for. Doesn't mean they won't still hire you. I followed that and I landed my first two jobs and he was right I didn't have experience here or experience there, but I was good enough for them to give me a shot.

 

Also, I recommend a job placement agency that specifically deals with IT jobs. I have had great luck at landing contracts through them in the past. It will help to get experience on your resume which is great.

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My advice would be to show your passion, a home project that really exites you. I sounds cliche, but stand out with something special you've made.

On assignments I heard the test to make a pacman varant within one or 2 working days. Might be interesting to try that anyway. I've did it with a asteroids like game and absolutely didn't make the 2 days deadline (not for an application but for fun). Never the less, the experience to actually finish a full game definately satisfied me, all in, audio, music, levels, difficulties and even a boss fight :)

Last note, always go for specialism, don't try to be semi good in everything. Better to shine and standout on game logics, tech code/ engine or AI rather then showing average quality on all of them (that is if you want to apply to a big studio, don't know about smaller ones)

Good luck

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My suggestion to you would be to start pumping out games that you make to show off what you can do.  This will also help you think about how games are made, and where the pain points are in development.  This knowledge will truly help you in any interview.

 

Start with small games too... don't try to build a MMO.  Make clones of old Atari games .... things that you can actually complete in a few months so that you don't get discouraged. 

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And this should go without saying, but only put things on your resume that you can actually talk about. 

 

I currently work at a non-game dev software shop with mainly C# and SQL. Almost every resume I get, I'll see Assembly language on senior developer's resumes. I have not met anyone who uses Assembly language in any business application yet. It's obvious the last time they thought about Assembly was in a class they took years ago and have long since forgotten everything about it.

 

Me: So, I see you put assembly down on your resume'

Them: *nervous look*

Me:  Explain how you'd check to see if two values were equal.

Them: Um....

Me: List a few instructions of assembly and tell me what they do.

Them: Errr...

Me: When you get home today, I'd like you to remove Assembly from your resume'.

 

And only put languages/technologies for jobs you actually want. Let's say you're awesome at SQL performance tuning. But you HATE dealing with SQL performance issues... You can include it, but don't put that as a main feature on your resume. If that's the main selling point, you might find yourself with a new job as the SQL tuning guy, and hating life.

 

- Eck

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