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mmz71687

Game Development Career

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Hello. I have a few questions about designing and making games for a living. But before I ask I would like to tell you a little about myself. I''m in 9th grade at Rockledge High School (in Florida.) I know and have programmed in QBasic, Visual Basic, and Visual C++. And I consider myself to be pretty computer "smart". Anyways, I''m not doing this for a school project or anything, you don''t have to answer all the questions, and you can add things if you want. Here are the questions: 1. What is your job? 2. How long have you been doing it? 3. What is your favorite thing about it? 4. What is your least favorite thing about it? 5. How much do you get paid? 6. How many hours do you work? 7. How many people do you work with? 8. What classes should I take in high school and college? 9. Do you have any suggestions for good colleges? 10. Do you have any advice or suggestions? Thank you for your time. -mz71687

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Well, let me start off by saying I am also in 9th Grade. Once you have started, if you happen to get some of your teachers (the nice ones) to know, you''ll be very flattered with the compliments they will give you. :-) I know I was and still am. My answers may also not be what you are looking for, but I''ll try and answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

quote:

1. What is your job?


I am the President, Lead Designer, Lead Programmer, and Webmaster for PointSoft EA Co., Ltd. (lol, basically I do a lot of things if not everything when I can.)

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2. How long have you been doing it?


Um... 4 years now I believe.

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3. What is your favorite thing about it?


Programming. I love to see all that messed up crap you can''t understand after you type it up turn into a Polygon you can move around the screen. :-)

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4. What is your least favorite thing about it?


Mmmm... Lets see... That would probably be how hard it is to get funding and support. A lot of people need money when they look for positions from ''small ventureing companies'' like mine, and well, ''small ventureing companies'' are just not funded with the money it takes to pay the professional living standards of th people who want work.

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5. How much do you get paid?


Hm! LoL, again. If you start up your own ''small ventureing company'' you most likey get paid whatever money you get from your parents that doesn''t go to buying your school lunch. :-P In the future, though, as President, there really ain''t a salary for that position. Programmers usually get a nice load between $50k and $100k depending on their seniority.

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6. How many hours do you work?


As much as I am motivated to work. Probably 10-12hrs a week on normal weeks, and maybe 24-30hrs on motivated weeks.

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7. How many people do you work with?


As President, I manage the staff of my ''small ventureing company'' and so people come and go. Currently I work with about 13 people. Note that this is all over the internet, so there is no office or anything like the such.

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8. What classes should I take in high school and college?


Anything related to Computer Science if you plan on being a programmer. As a President or someone up there, probably anything related in Business. I was going to take both Intro To Business and a few electives that lead up to Computer Science at my old HS, but then I moved to Russia, and that option isn''t avalible to me here, so I''m back to the drawing board with my own education.

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9. Do you have any suggestions for good colleges?


Sorry, don''t have any. I most likely won''t goto College *if* my PointSoft Company kicks off really well in the next few years, but if not, then I''ll be looking around. Probably a pretty well known College for me.

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10. Do you have any advice or suggestions?


There are people who will critize and ridicioul you for stupid things. Don''t let it get to you. If I let it get to me, I''d be out of this business the first month I started. You just have to press on and know what your doing is what you want to do. You will also probably get very demotivated a lot. I currently don''t have any advice for that except for finding some friends in your area or over the internet that you can talk to about the kinds of things you are doing. Listening to their own success or trials might give you motivation like it sometimes does to me.

Best of luck, (and sorry for my atrocious spelling... lol)

Alex Ford
PointSoft EA Co., Ltd.
http://www.pointsoftonline.com

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quote:
1. What is your job?


Programmer. There is no lead programmer in our team, because us programmers have been a team for over 3 years.

quote:
2. How long have you been doing it?


Proffesionaly for over a year, mostly on PS1 but now GBA/GC at my new job. Amatuer for about 5 years.


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3. What is your favorite thing about it?


Having input into the game design and actually completing a game and having people want to play it.

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4. What is your least favorite thing about it?


The programming! Seriously, there is nothing that I would say I dislike about the job. The games are creative, the enviroment is good and there''s no suits involved!

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5. How much do you get paid?


A good wage, plus accomodation, plus bonuses/royalty share.

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6. How many hours do you work?


Tons. I like to work all hours during the week and have the weekend off for fun and a social life. You have to, otherwise you''d go mad!

We work on flexi-time, so there''s no set hours, we can be trusted to get the job done (another rare thing in this industry, trust).


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7. How many people do you work with?


We consist of 3 programmers (+1 freelance), 4 artists and are getting a sound crew involved.


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8. What classes should I take in high school and college?


I didn''t go to college, I decided to use my time to study making games, rather than go for a general subject. In the UK, colleges are now starting to offer more game orientated courses, I don''t know about the States.

Go for anything programming orientated.

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9. Do you have any suggestions for good colleges?


Anything that can offer you the subject you really want to do, it''s no good going for something you aren''t completely happy with.


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10. Do you have any advice or suggestions?


Stick with it and don''t believe the industry knockers! This is a brilliant creative industry to be in, the only bad people I know of are small-time publishers (not all though!) and the business types who have got involved in some of the larger companies (like EA).

Don''t give up on your idea''s, mine was to not ever work in an office enviroment where the creativity was affected, otherwise I would have been employed in it years ago! This industry is improving all the time, it''s getting into a rythem now and you''ll start to see more creative games coming out over the next couple of years. Enter it at all costs!


I hope I''ve been of some help to you :-)







Marc Lambert

marc@darkhex.com

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quote:

1. What is your job?



Programmer. If I have to use posh titles "Lead 3D Programmer" (our company has a flat structure though, everyone has their own specialities in the team - everyone pulls their weight so we tend to avoid imposing artificial hierarchies/red tape).


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2. How long have you been doing it?



Professionally, full time: about 6 years
Semi-pro (freelance): about 2 years before that 6
Amateur: about 17 years total

Platforms I''ve worked on professionally: PC, PSX, PS2 and GameCube (lots of Amiga stuff freelance before)


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3. What is your favorite thing about it?



No single favourite:

a. The start of a project - ideas are flowing, everyone is keen to get going, you can forget all fudges of previous projects - it''s a clean time. On previous products you make mistakes, the start of a new project is a chance to avoid making those mistakes again.

b. The very very end of a project - when a game has gone gold, there''s no more bugs to fix, there''s nothing more you can do (apart from make up for lost sleep).

c. Seeing a product you made on the shelves of the stores, reviewed in magazines etc, and getting positive feedback that people are enjoying and appreciate your work.

d. Working on something you enjoy, and getting access to hardware and documentation not publically available.


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4. What is your least favorite thing about it?



a. Red tape: scheduling, too many production meetings, bad specifications, politics with publishers and within publishers etc.

b. Bugs you can''t find just before a major milestone. Going down to dissasembly level at 2am because a bug just doesn''t make any sense isn''t fun. You just want to go home and sleep but can''t until the bug is found.

c. Late changes to how a major part of a game works made by publishers a year after the original design was agreed. Especially when they still expect the same original deadlines to be met.

d. Licensed games where the license owner doesn''t understand the limitations of gaming hardware and gaming generally. It''s not fun having to educate a TV company in hardware restrictions when they aren''t happy at the quality of compressed videos in a product which has to run on a slow machine.

quote:

5. How much do you get paid?



A reasonable wage. I could make more in other companies in the industry (i.e. I''ve had offers), but I''m happy where I am. And I could make a lot more working in business software, but I prefer games.
Also have ok benefits - Relaxed atmosphere, no power hierarchy, I own company shares, have a co. pension, get an equal share in any royalties, get bonuses/share dividends etc.


quote:

6. How many hours do you work?



Average: 8-9 hours a day
Deadline time: the most I''ve done is 20 hours (after having to fly out to the clients office).

Since I do well if the company does well, I sometimes work in my own time - such as now - I''m at home, and I''ve just been writing a document to help with the planning of a new product.


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7. How many people do you work with?



At Creative Asylum, 8 people (2 other programmers, 4 artists and a manager [ex. programmer]).

But we rent office space in the same building as another game development company (Warthog), and they have about 100 people involved in development. We know their people well and have done some work with them.


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8. What classes should I take in high school and college?



For programming...

High school: Maths, Physics, Computer Science, English etc
College & Uni: Maths, Physics and/or Computer Science

Maths has become very important now that games are generally 3D. A basic knowledge of physics is useful - it pops up all over games programming. Computer science is most useful for a general grounding in what computers (really) are, what they do etc, how to program them better etc...


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9. Do you have any suggestions for good colleges?



Nope - depends where you are etc - and what you want to focus on. Many offer the skills you''ll need. Some specialise in certain areas - depends on what you need.


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10. Do you have any advice or suggestions?



Learn as much as you can about all areas of computers, maths, physics, the games industry etc, and specialise in something you enjoy. For example you might like graphics programming, so specialise in that - but seemingly boring stuff like sorting algorithms etc are still useful to know. Get an idea of what''s available out there in the world so you know where to go for help if you come up against something which isn''t in your area of expertise.

Get a real life - don''t become a geek - have proper fun away from your computer, games and other geeks. Your eyesight, sanity, sense of humour will benefit. And it''s good to be able to switch off with people from outside of the industry.

If going to trade or developer conferences, learn to handle your beer - you''ll have to get drunk and socialise while not embarrasing your company, and not giving away any company secrets while trying to persuade everyone else to give theirs away.


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

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