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confusedcoder

Help me plan my next move.

6 posts in this topic

Hi guys. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I should do for my next move. My inside perspectives are having a hell of a battle and I’m at the point where I need some outside perspective to tip the scale…

 

Any advice/input/comments/quips/queries are much appreciated! Thanks.

 

My Current Situation…

  1. I’m 27
  2. I work in Pittsburgh, PA at an enterprise software developer as a Build and Release engineer.
  3. I have an interest in game design and game production.
  4. I have a dual major degree in Computer Science and Information Systems
  5. While I was in school (for computer science, yes, I know) I didn’t like programming that much, so I didn’t do any “programming on the side.” As a result, I don’t consider myself that great of a programmer.
  6. I have dabbled in game design all my life, but I have nothing to show for it. I could make a bunch of excuses as to why, but I’ll just leave it at “I’ve got nothing.” I’ve got a bunch of little things that aren’t polished and don’t matter and I don’t want to show them off.
  7. I really want out of the company I work for. I need to get out of my current job for multiple reasons, but I don’t know how to use my experience from my current company to get a job in games.
  8. I’ve been applying to game dev positions for a while, but avoiding contract and temp positions out of fear (if it’s this hard to get a job in game dev, do I want to be looking again in 6 months?)

Here are my options, as I see them…

 

Go Indie

  1. I have plenty of ideas, like everyone else, and maybe 2 or 3 ideas that are really solid and I think they would sell.
  2. I don’t really have the money to go indie and support myself while developing a game.So I’d have to stay at my current company while working on the indie game. Or try to get a job somewhere else in the Pittsburgh area (that isn’t games).
  3. It’d be harder to use any indie games (if they were 2d, which all of my ideas are) to get a AAA job later if I wanted to.

Make a mod

  1. I have a couple of mod ideas (one for Skyrim, one for Fallout) that I think would be great if done well.
  2. I would have to stay at my current company while developing this (or try to get a different job in games, see below)
  3. Can’t make any money off of a mod. If I end up not getting a job out of it, I’ll be right back to where I am now.

Try to get a job in AAA

  1. I could bite the bullet and try to get a job as a build engineer at a gaming company, even though it’s not really what I want to do. I think even if I don’t enjoy my current position maybe it’s just the company and not the job itself, and I’d enjoy it more if I were closer to game developers.
  2. When I read build/release engineer job descriptions for game companies, I don’t know any of their toolsets. They all use things like perforce, svn, python, etc...I don’t use any of that at my current job.
  3. I could “try” to swing a tools engineer job. I’ve written some tools at work, but I haven’t used C++ professionally and I haven’t used it at all in a couple of years.
  4. I’m not local to many game companies. And I can’t move (or convince my girlfriend to move) unless I have a job already waiting for me when I move.  I may not have any kids to worry about, but I’ve got student loans and my savings isn’t big enough to live off of for more than a month or two. I’d be more than willing to take a pay cut and try to get in through QA if I knew for sure I’d have a job when I moved. People don’t hire non-local QA (nor do I expect them to).

Try to get ANY job near AAA

  1. I could try to get any job I can just to move closer to AAA companies.
  2. Then I’d be spending more time “not” working in games, but I guess it would get me closer, and it would give me time to work on my portfolio.

Get ANY other job at all

  1. I’d be out of my current company.
  2. It probably wouldn’t be games. If I send resumes out to non-game companies I can almost guarantee they’ll respond first.
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" I know you're not a fan of programming"

I'm not very good at it, but I don't mind programming. I didn't mean to give you that impression, if that's the one I gave. Being forced to do it in my current job sort of "made" me okay with it.

I just don't think it's what I'm meant to do long term. I'll never be a John Carmack and I'm fine with that.

 

I've seen both of those links several times before. The Ira Glass quote is inspiring in some ways, but it still doesn't have anything to do with me not wanting to show off my stuff, right? 

 

A game programming job isn't the answer. Nowhere in my post did I mention game programming. I said game design, I said tools engineer, I said build engineer.

The engineer jobs are a means to an end, because ultimately, game design isn't an entry level job and so I need to find some other way in and work my way to game design. Programming, for me, is easier than art. That's where the build/tools engineer thing comes into play. I already have a build engineer job, it's just not at a game company.

 

I also don't think "What can I do to make a lot of money" should be the question anyone should ask if they want to get into games. There are a number of ways to make more money with less "head to wall" action than games, right?

 

The "how can I love my job?" and "I just want to be happy, so what should I do?" are questions I think we've all been asking ourselves our whole life, right? We're never 100% sure until we do something for a while.

 

"You know how at work, when they're making new software, and someone comes up with a really great "way" of doing something, but after months of work is doesn't work?  Because they didn't stop at the beginning, clear off the desk and ask "What problem am I trying to solve?"

 

This happens frequently at my job (not just to me either) because the client decided to change the problem mid-solution. It's not always lack of planning :)

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Sorry, poor medium.  Those questions I asked were not actual questions, just examples of the question you need to find.  What's you questions.  It might not be any of those.  

 

As for the Ira Glass, you don't want to show your stuff because your taste is still killer and you know your stuff isn't good enough.

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Are you up for moving a long distance?

 

Would doing build/release management for a major studio appeal to you?

 

Do you have a recent and polished resume you could send me?

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perforce, svn

 

I suggest you toy around with this, source control software is essential.

SVN stands for subversion. You can easily get a server from assembla.org and a client (Tortoise SVN for example) all for free.

They are easy to use.

 

I would try to land any game dev related job, really. Will teach you whether this is for you or not (living the indie life is a bit different, but there are still intangibles, plus, when you work for someone else, they pay you to learn, which is awesome).

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Are you up for moving a long distance?

 

Would doing build/release management for a major studio appeal to you?

 

Do you have a recent and polished resume you could send me?

 

I would absolutely be up for moving long distance if it meant work. I have no ties to Pittsburgh.

 

Whether or not build/release management appeals to me depends on the company. I get a sense from the ads that I've looked at that build/release management really varies from company to company. I think it appeals to me on a level that "I'm already doing it, so transitioning should theoretically be easier than, say, transitioning into network programming."

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