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LeNinja

Game Development as a Career

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Hey Guys
I'm thinking about going into game development as my career and I want to learn the programming and the arts and animation so I can be more versatile when looking for a job. I'm currently attending a community college in the Virgin Islands and it doesn't benefit me too much. This semester i'm learning visual basic and I'm planning to drop out by next semester and i'll look for a job. Now the real question is when following my career what should I do? I was thinking about doing online courses for game development, but then i read that you should learn programming and arts separately instead of game development. Aside from that can I do both art and programming online or should I go to a physical college?

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Thank you Katie, Tom and Sean. Your help was appreciated.

 

Katie i should have been a little more specific but I understand where you're coming from. My first intentions were to finish college here then i would have decided whether i should move on to an online course, but when my professor told me that this isn't the place for game programming, along with knowing the learning game programming and arts is hard and time consuming, discouraged me from wanting to continue.(the college use to teach C++, but they stopped) I'm trying to make connections with a bank so i can have a job by the end of the semester and I am currently trying to develop a fps, but with learning more about art and animation and programming in the free time I get combined with the six courses I'm doing, it is everything but easy. Thanks again for your response. Any recommendations for textbooks?

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but when my professor told me that this isn't the place for game programming, along with knowing the learning game programming and arts is hard and time consuming, discouraged me from wanting to continue.

 

He is partially right.  No school will bestow upon you what you need for game programming, not even game-centered schools.

 

Schools are an environment to help you learn. Instructors guide through topics you may not normally know to cover, and topics you may not want but still need to know. They are guides to help you learn, and hopefully they can offer insights and direction that you wouldn't easily find on your own, but still it is up to you.

 

Games are software. Courses on software development are useful. You must learn how to develop software if you want to develop games.  Any tool or technology you learn about in a computer science program is going to have uses in game development.  You probably won't use everything on every job, a gameplay engineer is not going to use much of their database schooling, and a back-end game server engineer uses different knowledge, a UI engineer uses different knowledge, a developer working closely with designers is going to use different knowledge, but all the knowledge is useful to people in the industry.

 

Exactly what you learn and accomplish is entirely up to you.  

 

If you want to make games, doing it during college is a great time to build a portfolio of small stuff because you are in a safe environment, have tools and resources at your fingertips, have professors and peers to help answer questions, and have time that becomes less and less available as the years roll by.

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I am currently trying to develop a fps

Horrible idea.
10 small completed fleshed-out projects with whistles and bells are 100× more impressive to a potential employer than a half-finished unpolished FPS game. How do I know you will end up making a half-assed FPS game? Because you are not a major studio with a huge budget and you are a beginner.
Why do you think it is a good idea to use beginner-level skills to pursue such a demanding project?


A polished pack of games, including Tetris, Pac-Man, a space shooter, etc., even if all in 2D, will get you much farther as portfolios go.

I good portfolio can make up for a poor education (I dropped out of high school, even), so no matter what you choose to do regarding your school (I’m much more middle-ground than the above posters—there are down-sides to dropping out, but also for sticking with it) it is extremely important that you don’t screw up your portfolio.

Not only will you not be able to make a decent-looking FPS game in a reasonable amount of time:
#1: You will spend so much time on it it will starve your portfolio of diversity.
#2: It would scream to a potential employer, “Does not know his or her own limitations, takes on overly ambitious projects.  Not sure if I can trust his or her time estimates or promises to deliver.”
#3: It might even scream, “Motivated only for specific types of games.  Possibly unwilling (or unmotivated) to do menial tasks or games other than FPS games.”
 
Focus on 5-10 smaller games that look professional even with their simplicity.  These are good ways to show off your art too, but you really should focus only on programming (mention your art in passing, if at all).  Put diversity into your portfolio.  Games of different genres, complexities, etc.  Finish what you start.  Even if you drop out of school, you can explain that away as, “I found out after joining that it wasn’t suitable for my goals.”  It happens.  There are no excuses for providing an unfinished work on your portfolio, unless it is an on-going task.
 
Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio.
 
 
L. Spiro

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Thanks Spiro. You're right, even a few friends, who aren't into games said I should try to make more simple games. I guess my hard-headedness and my liking of CoD got the best of me. Thanks again

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IF you want to do programming I am going to recommend you go get a CS Degree. Without this it will be very hard to get your foot in the door, plus it will help you out immensely. You can make games in your spare time but learning how to code properly is important.

I'm not saying to get into game development you have to but it is highly recommended. I wouldn't try and branch out into art and design to much at the start as companies are usually looking to fit a specific role. Coding, or art, or project manager, or designer, etc.

If you want to go into design, this is a hard field to get into because of the number of limited positions and the huge candidate pool to choose from. Make games if yo uwant to design though as they wont care about your coding abilities and knowing how to code when your a designer is a huge plus. Might even want a CS degree for this as well.

I wont recommend game development schools like the art institute though as they usually only give diplomas and you need a really strong portfolio to get a leg up on someone with a CS degree.

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I agree with ~70% of Katie's post, disagree with the other 30%, but so over-agree with this following bit that I think Katie deserves +500 points:
 

Have you written any games? Why not?


Your degree will be borderline useless whether you graduate or not; what's going to make all the difference is whether you can actually demonstrate any level of competence at game development. Make games.

 

This.

 

 

I am currently trying to develop a fps

 

Horrible idea. 10 small completed fleshed-out projects with whistles and bells are 100× more impressive to a potential employer than a half-finished unpolished FPS game. How do I know you will end up making a half-assed FPS game? Because you are not a major studio with a huge budget and you are a beginner.
Why do you think it is a good idea to use beginner-level skills to pursue such a demanding project?

A polished pack of games, including Tetris, Pac-Man, a space shooter, etc., even if all in 2D, will get you much farther as portfolios go.

I good portfolio can make up for a poor education (I dropped out of high school, even), so no matter what you choose to do regarding your school (I’m much more middle-ground than the above posters—there are down-sides to dropping out, but also for sticking with it) it is extremely important that you don’t screw up your portfolio.

 

And this too.

 

I'll also add that in addition to full, polished, small-scale games its also a good idea to pick individual systems that you can make a non-game demo for, and try to built that out to state of the art. The stable of simple, well-polished games will show your breadth, while a focused demo of a state-of-the-art system will show that you can do depth too.

 

An example of a good system to pursue in depth would be something like particles -- its sufficiently complex, but non-trivial, and a state-of-the-art implementation would give you a good survey of modern design concerns both high (interfaces, composability) and low-level (data-oriented design, SIMD/GPGPU, rendering lots of particles with correct transparency). Mind you, state-of-the-art is a goal to work torwards, not an end -- you don't have to get all the way there, but the closer you end up, all the better. You could easily spend as much time on this one state-of-the-art system as you do on any of the other polished, small-scale games.

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