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Gameplay Programmer : Balancing a portfolio?

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Hi, I'm new here so hopefully this isn't too off-topic for this sub-forum.

 

I am a recent graduate trying to set up a portfolio for the role of Gameplay Programming, specifically. It seems that my projects that are actually usable within a portfolio don't cover much range in the topic of gameplay, nor does it cover a wide range of languages. It tends to be C# heavy, small games that are optimized for a mobile platform - using Unity3D.

 

Can I get advise on how to balance a portfolio to best show my abilities? Show off C++, C#, C, etc or Camera, Character, Controls or use of Unity3D,UnrealEngine4..?

 

Thanks for any advise given.

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The best way to balance your portfolio is to branch out beyond gameplay.

 

Have you done any graphics programming?  Because that's huge.  Networking?  Likewise, huge.

 

A versatile programmer is much more attractive to a small studio.  Even if you want to program gameplay, that's not always what's needed (even if that will be your main role).

 

Beyond that, though, use of different engines is a huge plus, showing your flexibility and ability to learn and quickly assimilate documentation.

 

Some studios will also be looking for somebody who has worked with scripting, and is able to e.g. implement lua scripting in their engine for writers and level designers to use.

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Apparently my previous post was terrible advice, but nobody else wanted to give you better advice. (I hope somebody from a larger studio can shine more light on what they're looking for)
 
So please let me try to clarify by asking this:  Where are you wanting to be hired exactly?
 
If it's at a really big studio, maybe a strict and narrow focus on gameplay will work (I'm not sure about that), but you'll also need a lot more real world experience, and sometimes shipped titles.  If you don't want to get that by working with smaller studios or doing contract work, you may want to join an indie team to do mods.  From what I have gathered, they usually want to know you can do a lot of work, and make deadlines; working in a well managed team is probably the next best thing to experience in another studio.
Otherwise, your best way in may be through testing.
 
If it's a smaller studio, or contract work (which, FYI, is the best way to flesh out your portfolio and gain experience), versatility and flexibility are going to be the name of the game.  As a contractor, you may need to make entire games on your own (or, all of the programming, anyway); mobile is a common area, so you're good to have experience there.  Many will have networking aspects (from leaderboards, to some form of online play- we're not talking MMO: that's uncommon).
 
Since I work with a small studio, and have for the past ten years worked with a variety of them, and since I've been the one (and am the one currently) doing most of the actual hiring (usually for contractors, but for employees too), I can tell you I look for somebody who is willing to tackle any programming challenges that may come up.  Sometimes we'll only have two or three programmers on a project; there isn't a lot of room for specialization.
Edited by StarMire

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Well I guess it depends if you want to be in a big or small studio. The more indie it gets the more you need to know different skills, and the more AAA it gets the better you need to be at one skill.

 

So you kinda have to figure things out with that. The best obviously is being very very good at one thing and good at some others.

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So please let me try to clarify by asking this:  Where are you wanting to be hired exactly?

 

I don't see any of your advice as being terrible, thanks for all the information and I have definitely taken it on board. I'm looking more towards a middle level company if that makes sense, I've been in discussion with many start ups that have come from previous AAA's and the like, but as of yet have not been able to put myself forward to those roles due to other reasons outside of capability. 

 

I have minimal knowledge in graphical programming, but have an intermediate level understanding of networking, LUA scripting and have had a lot of experience going between engines, languages and styles of software developments. Something that I've heard a lot of positivity about recently is that I know SQL and Scala. 

 

Seems it may be best to aim for that Indie style of focus, but show the ability to hone in on a certain topic, thanks.

 

Moving to job advice forum. With the move, please read the forum FAQ

 

Sorry about that, didn't spot this sub-forum, my apologies. 

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