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SkildNinja

Advice From Former/Current Military Who Make Games

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Hello everyone,
To put it simply, I am in the military (USMC) and I am interested in learning game development on the side. I wanted to make games before I decided to join, and it's still something I'd like to do after I get out. I've just graduated from my MOS school, which was 6 months long, and I'm heading out to my first real duty station in 2 weeks; so these questions are from a Marine who hasn't seen fleet life yet. If there's any Marine POG's out there (former or current) who've been in a similar situation, or other members of the service, maybe you can give some helpful advice. These are the questions I already have:


How do you keep your mind "fresh" and creative after a long day of work?

How do you manage your schedule to fit in development time without sacrificing your effectiveness at work (get enough sleep, get PT in, proper nutrition)?

How do you switch between the creative, free thinking of game development and objective, mission - oriented mindset of the military without compromising?

How do you do all this while living in the barracks(with roommates)?

In short, how can I be a good Marine and learn game development at the same time?

I'm just looking for honest advice. This is really something I want to do, but only so long as I can do it without it getting in the way of being a Marine. Advice from those who have had success learning game development alongside any demanding full time job would be helpful.

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I don't have any advice but it might be useful to know what field of game development you are interested in. E.g. design, art, programming etc. I guess more programming since this is in the technical forum?

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I think Alberth's advice is dead on.
Schedule a time that works for you, 1 hour in the morning before PT, 2 hours in the evening after chow, a four hour block on Sunday for coding "church", whatever works for you and doesn't irritate your barracks mates, then stick to it. Make it your place of duty. Be regimented.
Keep an extra little notebook in your cargo pocket to write down ideas. Inspiration hits anytime and anywhere, so be prepared. Maybe keep a little sketchpad too.
The best part of this is that you'll have a ready supply of playtesters that'll be really supportive once you show them something fun.
The hard part is going to be keeping focus around a bunch of young guys with too much time on their hands and enough money to get into trouble. Partying is fine, just remember to be at your place of duty. If you make one excuse, the next one comes easier. The maximum effective range of an excuse is 0 meters.
Good luck, stay motivated, keep your focus.

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For me, the key is to spend time on it in a systematic way, so it stays part of my life. It's amazing how much progress you make even if you spend only a little time on it daily.

Getting to the point where you left off last time is the difficult part here. For some aspects it takes time in itself (which is not bad, as it's tracing your steps, checking them again for correctness of decisions), for other aspects, you can start in seconds with just one look.

 

+999

 

Pretty much this... if you only have 4 hours per week to spend on game dev, so be it. Just make sure you try to spend your 4 hours EVERY week... or at least as often as you can.

 

Those hours add up fast, and expecially when learning something new, skipping a week / scheduled time is the worst thing you can do. For one, every week you are not doing your scheduled "training", it becomes harder to get back into training... just as with PT for us civilians. And also, you will forget a lot if you do not keep using it.

 

 

The hard part is to start, when you lack confidence and direction as well as skill and expierience, and then from time to time when you have to solve a difficult problem that cannot be done in one or two weeks. Push through these though times, plan smart (maybe make sure you stretch the hard stuff to multiple settings so you have spent at least half of your weekly game dev time on something fun), and you will have a lot of fun with game development.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Gian-Reto

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The well thought out responses are much appreciated. I joined right out of high school and never held a real job before, and all I've experienced so far is my schooling(mentally taxing as well as a very busy schedule) so I'd had some trouble wrapping my head around having a "side project". So it's good to get helpful ideas like these and hear that it can be done.

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1. How do you keep your mind "fresh" and creative after a long day of work?

2. How do you manage your schedule to fit in development time without sacrificing your effectiveness at work (get enough sleep, get PT in, proper nutrition)?

3. How do you switch between the creative, free thinking of game development and objective, mission - oriented mindset of the military without compromising?


1. Stop working. Go live life.
2. Stop working after you've worked enough for the day, or for the week. If you're going solo (which it sounds like what you're thinking of doing), then don't permit yourself to crunch. If you're working in a team, try to find a team that doesn't crunch constantly. If you find yourself in a crunch-oriented team, get out as soon as you can do so gracefully, without burning bridges, and make sure you've got portfolio material out of it.
3. You don't need to. It doesn't have to be a dichotomy. The two are not mutually exclusive.

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