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Breaking into Industry?

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I'm a Game Development Student and I need some guidance in terms of Games Programming. I've been learning how to write code in an array of different languages since a young age - I'm currently 17 - and I've always wanted to write videogames, like many of the other users on this forum.


However, I'm starting to worry a lot in terms of becoming a programmer. I honestly don't think I am intelligent enough or possess the knowledge to break into the industry. I'm somewhat comfortable in C++ and understand the language, however have never written anything practical using it. I'm not amazing at Maths either (I got a C in my GCSE, not sure what the US equivalent is) although it does interest me.


I also have moderate experience with C# and XNA, although in industry I don't see that being applicable. I guess the whole point of this question would be, what should I have a strong understanding of in terms of languages and mathematics alongside API's (OpenGL or DirectX?) in order to land a junior position at a company as Gameplay Programmer.


I'm sorry if this is a confusing post, I couldn't word correctly to be honest. And I understand that it may be broad question, but any help will be highly appreciated.



  - Will

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array of different languages

heheheh... Array of programming languages...


Anyways, a good portfolio is very valuable. Try and learn some of the specifics of Monogame (it IS very similar to XNA), and make something. Eventually make a game you want to make, and get it out into the world. Perhaps it'll take off smile.png Perhaps not. All that matters is you expand your portfolio.

Edited by Ovicior

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There's a forum dedicated to these sorts of questions that I'm sure a mod will move this to soon enough.  You'll get plenty of opinions there.


It really depends on what you want to work on.  I'm going to assume you're interested in working on PC or console games for mid-size to large studios.  On that, here are my thoughts:

1.  Know C++.  You don't need to be a template metaprogramming guru or anything, but C++ is the lingua franca of the game development world in a lot of ways, especially outside of mobile-land.  As a gameplay programmer, you may or may not write a great deal of C++ (it really depends on the studio), but at the very least you'll probably be interfacing with it a lot and you'll want to know how to read it.

2.  Learn a scripting language.  Most gameplay programmers spend at least some of there time in some high-level language domain, some spend all of their time in it.

3.  Know your data structures.  If I asked you why you'd want to use open addressing with a hash table, you ought to at least try to be able to give an answer.  This is mostly interview material, but it's interview material for good reason.  Know how to write a binary tree, a linked list, and the usual stuff.


When I started out a couple years ago, these were the sorts of things I was expected to be able to do (these were engine-related jobs, but people often use the same test for all programmers) before landing an interview:

Parse arbitrary (but simple) arithmetic expressions.

Write a Vector (List in C#)-like container that operates entirely in a pre-allocated buffer.

Wrte a color-space conversion function with SIMD instructions.


Some of them cared about performance, and some didn't.  You'll typically get a pre-interview offline test (with stuff like the above), followed by a phone interview, followed by an onsite, followed by an offer.  Expect 90% of your applications not to get past the resume.  That's just par for the course, and it's probably slightly worse without a degree.

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I got a C in my GCSE

Don't sweat it. I also got a C for my GCSE maths and my maths teacher told me I'd never get anywhere without a good maths grade (her idea of good being an A*). GCSE grades are only relevant for two things, getting into a college course or getting into an apprenticeship.
The A-level scores you get (or equivalent) at college, which you're basically trading for those Gcse scores and some hard work, are usually only useful for one thing, getting into university and go towards your ukas score.
In the end what matters to anyone wanting to hire you as a developer, games or otherwise, is your experience, willingness to learn and sometimes (depending on the role and company) your degree results. You don't see many programmer roles saying "needs grade B or above gcse" as it's assumed a programmer will have taken their education further.

My advice: learn outside of university, join open source game development projects etc and make sure your code is out there for people to see and that it is good code. Contribute to projects, have a portfolio and concentrate on passing your degree with a good grade. These matter most.
Secondly when you're offered a job take any job and expect to start at the bottom, gamedev equivalent of "tea boy". Those with aptitude and ability will always work their way to the top. Starting at the top is uncommon to extremely unlikely.

Good luck!

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