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Veteran Needs Advice

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As an active duty Marine Corps Officer, graduating with a BS in Computer Science in 2009, I have had limited** application of the technical aspects of my degree.  I have had a blast getting to work with and lead Marines in and out of combat, but am worried now that I am going to transition back to civilian life next year that I won't have the skills necessary to break into the game industry.

 

After reading Break into the Game Industry (Adams 2003), I think that I am best suited for a position in game design.  Working with different people to assemble a game with a coherent vision seems challenging and fun.  The main question I have is more of a philosophical matter for those who are in the industry and have worked with level designers and lead designers.  Should I focus on re-gaining my diminished technical skills or double down on the leadership and management skills I have acquired within the military?

 

I have been trying to teach myself C# to get myself "back in the game," but I realized that I wasn't even sure how technical a position a level designer is.  Any advice would be great.  Should I continue trying to regain technical skills?  If so, where would be a great place to start?

 

 

 

 

**absolutely no

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Go read the articles linked to in the forum FAQ, including all of Tom Sloper's excellent "Sloperama" lessons. 

 

The "game designer" job title is not an entry level or breaking in job. It is also a fairly low demand job, in that one designer can work with perhaps 10 programmers, 10-15 artists (assorted concept/modelers/artists/animators), team leadership, and a small team of QA. That's roughly 1 designer for every 30 to 50 other workers.

 

Since you have a CS degree I would begin the search for any available programming job. Then once you are in the industry consider moving up to design.

Edited by frob

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The "game designer" job title is not an entry level or breaking in job. It is also a fairly low demand job, in that one designer can work with perhaps 10 programmers, 10-15 artists (assorted concept/modelers/artists/animators), team leadership, and a small team of QA. That's roughly 1 designer for every 30 to 50 other workers.

 

Thanks Bryan.  I have been slowly working my way through Sloperama, and have been learning a great deal. I do realize that I will not be starting out in such a position, and that it will take time to get there. Perhaps my question was poorly worded.  

 

I do have a CS degree, but as I said, I have not been using it.  I knew that I would lose perishable programming skills when I entered the service. 

 

My question is, "If a person like myself was going to break into the industry, is there any demand for management positions for people with limited/rusty technical skills?" 

 

Assuming that your answer will be no to the former question, my follow up question would be, "Where should I focus my technical training (what languages/interfaces/programs) over the next 12-18 months to most impress my future employer?"

 

I do realize that this is a pretty broad question, but I do not know anyone in the industry.  All the links on the other articles have been very helpful.  Any help would be much appreciated.

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My question is, "If a person like myself was going to break into the industry, is there any demand for management positions for people with limited/rusty technical skills?" 

 

Oh wacky quote system.  Anyway, they have those positions, they tend to vary in name:

Product Manager or PM

Producer, Assistant Producer.

 

Limited technical skills is helpful there, as you can understand better what it is an engineer/developer is talking about (and possibly bullshitting you.), and perhaps even foresee things the engineer may not think about.

 

AP positions might be a good starting fit for you.

 

Also, for game design, the best thing to do is make games using existing engines.  Mod a game, make levels, etc.

Edited by ferrous

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but am worried now that I am going to transition back to civilian life next year that I won't have the skills necessary to break into the game industry.

 

Hi, Thomas!

 

May I suggest some really great reading?  Pick a book retailer and purchase:

 

Koster, Raph.  Theory of Fun for Game Design (2nd ed.).  2013

Rogers, Scott.  Level Up!  The Guide to Great Video Game Design (2nd ed.).  2014

Schell, Jesse.  The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.  2008.

 

You'll be glad you did.  These books are encouraging, informative, and often just plain fun reading.

 

As far as your skills go, if you plan on being a team leader you should try to familiarize yourself with the duties of everyone you work with.  Download and play with Blender and make some horrible but educational models.  Edit some waveforms in Audacity and create custom sound effects.  Draw something with GIMP and figure out how texture atlases (What is the plural of atlas?  Anyone?) work.  Put your crappy texture on your crappy model and say "Wow!"

 

There are loads of tutorials on all of the above, as well as C# and other languages, many popular game engines, and even the theories and practices behind game design:

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL388FA5B2C8DA8D25

 

I would encourage you to be more than what many call the "idea man".  Sharpen your writing, editing, and communcation skills.  Know enough about programming, 3D modeling, animation, sound and level design to communicate with your co-workers.  Read lots of books, play lots of games, and get inspiration from outside of the game industry.  Use your life experience and leadership skills the best way you can and Make a Game NOW (even if alone)!

Edited by GoCatGo

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