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Mar Tin

Turning the ship around...

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Hello gamedev community! I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering as my bachelor major, starting my second year. When I first started out, I was around 80% sure that this was the path I wanted to go. But due to oil market plummeting, my country's job prospect in the oil sector (which is what I was primarily aiming for with this major, apart from aeronatics and robotics), I've started thinking on other choices.

 

I have always played video games for as long as I can remember, and it sparked so much of my imagination. My main drive to do this is not to simply create X game I've had on my mind for the last few years. It's the beauty of game development itself, the mix of heavily technical stuff and art, achieving the most complex form of art we humans have made. When playing games like Penumbra and Amnesia in high school, as well as the MMORPG Darkfall Online, I realized the beauty of this interactive media was not only in entertainment, but the ability to summon real life feelings so intense from the in-game content, bringing an incredible amount of depth to the narratives. I've never been more afraid of the dark than that time I had to sneak around in the cellar in Amnesia. I've never experienced such an intense adrenaline kick than the PvP battles in Darkfall Online, almost reaching the levels of death anxiety. And the level of self-satisfactory achievement feeling when I had run through all my 35 or so pirated Playstation 1 games was higher than any of my As in school or sports championship gold medals.

In high school, I was really into the thought of game designing (duh, that's a first..). My high school course was basically multimedia production (got thought in every media discipline, from film production, photography, image editing, journalism, animation, sound design) and from this, I've always been thinking that I have some nice basic skills to bring with me into the game industry as a bonus... But the reason I didn't pick Computer Science or something similar after high school, was because I had literally zero advanced maths or physics knowledge, and the math I had at that time seemed so difficult to me (the most "advanced" maths we had was curved functions, no differential or integral calculus.)

Time flies, and I'm now studying ME as previously stated, and I already finished the calculus classes and physics with pretty good grades. Already did some basic Java programming with eclipse, and some solidworks modeling (not really comparable to proper 3d-modelling in Maya etc. though). Prior programming experience is just ActionScript 2.0, a little bit of AS 3.0 in flash, and some HTML and CSS which bored the crap out of me at that point. In high school, I always liked flash coding more than web development. 

And now I'm stuck, contemplating to drop out of second year ME, and rather wait till next year to start on CS? Or just go all the way and finish my bachelor in ME first, and learn C# on the side of my studies, and after I finish ME, find a job and keep the C#/C++ programming on the side for 1-2 years, before eventually taking some proper game design studies? Perhaps see if I like ME out in the field? 

 

 

 

Anyone with any experience regarding any of this, that can give some tips on how I can get from ME to a career in game design/development?

I just want some insight from people doing this professionally, if any of my ideas sound reasonable, and if there's some tips you guys can give. Not sure if this is the right section to post this in, my apologies if I missed the right one.

 

Cheers!

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Common sense suggests studying mechanical engineering (without overly specializing in the oil sector) or something closely related and in demand, and making games as a side project.

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Hello gamedev community! I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering as my bachelor major, starting my second year. When I first started out, I was around 80% sure that this was the path I wanted to go. But due to oil market plummeting, my country's job prospect in the oil sector (which is what I was primarily aiming for with this major, apart from aeronatics and robotics), I've started thinking on other choices.

My 2 cents: choosing education path based on current market demand is both common and risky. There is no way to tell if the demand will still be that high in few years, but you may be sure that by the time you finish your school there will be hundreds of others that have your degree but finished at least one or two years sooner. Choosing education based on your passion goes longer way as if market will not be that great as the end you will at least do what you love.

 

That said my advice is to finish your ME degree while learning programming in your free time. The language doesn't matter that much, just pick one and master it and then learn basics of other popular ones. At the very least your degree (even if it's not programming related) can show your potential employer that you can finish what you start. It also can give you different point of view and will be advantage in making original game.

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1: Where do you live? Are you sure there is a big demand, or any at all, for game developers? I can tell you, many parts of the world are nuclear wastelands when it comes to game studios... there might be some small Indie studios paying below minimum wage, but not enough of them to make following game development as your professional career a good idea (ignoring the below minimum wage thing for the moment).

 

So if you are not one of the lucky guys born in a country where there actually is a games industry to speak of, you will need to relocate and work abroad for most of your career. Or startup your own business.

 

2: There is never, ever, a high demand in Game developers... just as much as there is never a high demand in movie actors or rock stars.

 

Why? There are always enough youngsters that would kill to work in the industry, and the industry size is pretty limited no matter what profits they make, meaning there is a limited amount of jobs and a lot of potential work force available.

 

 

I would also urge you to a) finish a more traditional degree before concentrating on game development (ME is about as good as it gets really, but if you want to get closer to game dev, programmers are also in high demand everywhere, so an IT degree is also never a bad idea), and b) see game development as a hobby for the time being... not only out of interest, but also because at the time you finish a degree that would allow you to enter the industry in any job or role, you will already need a very convincing portfolio to have a good chance at getting a job.

 

Nothing looks better on a portfolio when applying to a game dev company than a finished game. And who knows, maybe that finished game is good enough to sell on the apple store or Steam, and you might be able to build a business for yourself out of it?

 

Changing to a different degree can be a good idea if ME really is not the right thing for you, and certainly, if game development interests you enough, pursue that. But keep in mind that a more general IT degree (or art / business / sound engineer / HR) is always the better choice because your chances with game studios are just as high, but you have also a degree that will allow you to enter other industries should you not find a job in a game studio (or you get burned out by bad practices that still seem to be more common in the game dev industry than in others, like crunch time or low wages).

No matter if you pursue a game dev specific degree or a more traditional degree, you will have to invest a lot of your own time into building your portfolio. A game dev course can help you here (with basic skills and some assignment results being a good fit for a portfolio), but that alone most probably will not be enough to set you apart from others when looking for a job.

 

And depending on the education system in your country, changing you career later with a second degree, an MBA or whatever actually is not that hard, as long as you have the money for it. Gone are the days when you got a degree and where guaranteed employment in that line of work for life, today you will constantly go back to school "somehow" in many industries... maybe just a 2 day course here and there to keep you up to date... maybe a CAS/DAS/MAS because you really want to change the direction of your career.

 

 

TL;DR: do not quit your studies because of "market demands"... hopefully you started your studies because of your interests in the topic and not just because of the $$$ you hoped to earn in it.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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 My "career path" has me working in mechanical, electrical and nuclear engineering. I'm certified with the ISA and NRC . Take my advice however you want to.

 

  I do not know what country you are from. I'm going to assume you are from the US until otherwise corrected ...

Engineering jobs are getting harder to find as the years go by, especially for some one who is newly graduated. Most of the work is temporary "project" based. More kids are taking engineering classes in collage, even as the job pool shrinks. All those "predictions" of strong job growth in the sector are turning out to be faulty at best.  I've been around the field for a while now, and from personal experience, it's getting harder and harder to find projects to work on.

 

 You mentioned wanting to get into the "oil" sector. If you try this path, you will be competing for jobs on an *international* level, as most oil and gas companies are multi-national. Expect tough job competition, having to move a lot, and lower than expected wages.

Edited by Code Fox

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I think regardless of what you decide: literally just start designing some games.

 

...What aesthetics and dynamics are in your mind? What mechanics would help achieve those things. What inspiration is around you to craft a theme and an objective for a game?..

 

Don't wait to study game design, I'd just dive in and get started. At least then you'll know if it's something you'd really want to do as a career or in your spare time. Designing a game is a challenging and really fun iterative process that takes time but it's something you can start right away.

 

Don't drop anything just yet, just get started and see where inspiration takes you. You don't really know til' you try!

 

Hope this helps smile.png.

 

P.S. Remember game design isn't synonymous with being able to code. That's the 'last step' in respect to the design of a game. 

Edited by Mark Lock

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Moving to the job section of the site, since this really isn't a For Beginners technical question.

 

 

My recommendation is that you read the book "What Color Is Your Parachute?".  It gets republished every year around the globe, so you can probably find a recent edition at your local library or cheap used book stores.

 

The book covers many ideas for this type of transitions, plus much excellent advice about getting jobs in the field you want.

 

It also covers in depth how to help you decide if a job really is right for you -- I've known several people who invested years of their life to become a game developer only to discover they really didn't like it, and then moved on to unrelated careers like teaching music or starting a gardening store.

 

I also recommend you read the links in the job advice Forum FAQ, there is much useful information that you can apply.

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Moving to the job section of the site, since this really isn't a For Beginners technical question.


Yeah, I saw the post listed in FB and had no idea what it was about but figured it was about, like, you know, "I have this ship I need to turn around - what coding technique should I use," so I never opened it. Martin, I second frob's recommendation that you read this forum's FAQ.

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First off, thanks for the positive responses everybody! Secondly, to the moderators, sorry for missing the section; I'll check out the FAQ asap!

 

Regarding some of the responses, I am from Norway. And there's alot of dark predictions for the oil sector in the future. A few months back, the first cut in Statoil involved around 2500 people getting fired, the second round will be approximately the same number. Other companies are no longer recruiting mechanical engineering graduates, not even petroleum engineers. Not that I'm so terribly sorry for my sake that this is happening, it's more dim for all those people standing without jobs in an already competitive job market here. The trend might turn in a couple of years, but I don't want to wait too long to find out if that path is the right one. Regardless of that, I think learning some proper coding would be invaluable anyways. I think finishing what I started with ME first is the best choice regardless.

 

The market for game developers ain't the best here either, although game companies get state funding usually if it's needed to kickstart a project. Apart from that, I am ready to move out into the world. I know around 3 start-ups doing game development, most of the people are friends I used to play with that just ended up starting their own projects. Might have a good shot there once I get some proper programming or 3d-modelling skills. I do have some minor "modding" experience, creating custom maps for Age of Mythology, the PS2 game Shinobido, some CS:S maps, but none of them really involved any coding.

 

When I did some basic java coding at my university, I didn't really find it that hard. But I don't think java is the best option either long term, which is why I'm aiming at C#. Not sure if that is too much water over my head for the time being though... Is Java worth sticking with for the time being?

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Programming is programming regardless of the language. The language you code in really depends on your goals for the platform(s) or game engines you want to use (and a few other factors I'm sure). Java seems to be just as good as any for game development, there's some good libraries out there for game development too.

 

Anyone more experienced is free to add to what I've said or correct me if I'm wrong! :)  

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