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What kind of personal project should I work on ?

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Hello,

 

I am currently seeking a first job in the games industry, as a programmer.

I have a master's degree in computer science, but my professional experience is limited to the few internships that I've had, of which none were in the games industry.

 

Since the industry seems to value personal experience a lot for junior applicants (at least in my country...), I figured I'd work on some personal projects while looking for a job.

 

So, I was wondering, is there a general rule about the kind of experience that is deemed more valuable by game studios ?

I am more of a tech guy who is into C++ and low-level stuff, so far I've made a 2D platformer, and now I'd like to jump into 3D, but I'm not sure if I should trust my guts and tackle standard APIs, or use an engine instead. (Or should I do both ?)

Also, I really am more into tech than game design, are tech demos okay or is it really a bonus to have actual games to show off when applying for a programming job ?

 

Or is it irrelevant, and can I just go with whatever I feel like ?

 

I reckon I might be asking too much, as there probably isn't one universal answer, but still if you have any advice I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks in advance :)

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You've got a degree and an internship.  Start applying at game studios.

 

Assuming you live in commuting distance to a game development hub, having a masters degree should land you at least a few interviews.

 

Personal projects show enthusiasm and interest in the field, but they aren't required.  You write that you've written a 2D platformer, you could put information about that on your resume if you want to show that you've had some interest. 

 

Employers are interested in two things:  (1) will you do the job well, and (2) will you fit in with the creative culture.   The degree is evidence of the first, you've done something with the master's program and know some things. It also provides some evidence for the second, since the creative people in a game studio are quite smart.  Having built your own side project is minor evidence of both of them; it shows you have some knowledge of how games work which applies to both the ability to do the job and the culture of creating games. (While some people translate "culture fit" as "young white male", that is not what is meant here. There is a strong culture of creative intelligence that grows around the good game studios, which is important when building games.)

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Mostly in agreement wtih Frob, you should start applying, in the meantime you may want to do something 3d, to demonstrate your understanding of 3d math.  Doesn't matter too much if it's from scratch or an engine, as long as you can demonstrate you know the concepts that the engine is doing.  (By expanding it or utilizing its 3d features in some way)

Edited by ferrous

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Either a nice game mechanic built on an existing engine, or some kind of low-level tech demo would be ok, as long as it's implemented well and made in a way where people will be impressed when looking at both the final product, and snippets of the implementation behind the curtain.
Bonus points for an actual shipped product that looks polished - that basically counts as work experience given today's large indie sector.

Employers are interested in two things:  (1) will you do the job well, and (2) will you fit in with the creative culture.   The degree is evidence of the first ...  Having built your own side project is minor evidence of both

For the sake of another perspective: The degree is evidence that you can stick at a terrible task without giving up and are able to follow direction. Graduate programmers do not immediately add value to a company, because they cannot do the job without further training, and so take up a lot of time of a more expensive programmer while they learn. It takes a long time for them to break even in cost to the company, so companies have to be picky.

Of course, there's the stupid companies that don't know that hiring graduates is a net loss, and try to pump out cheap products by hiring the cheapest labour - they're less picky, but on a course for disaster...

On the other hand, a good side project is actual tangible evidence that you can do the job well.
(and a bad one is tangible evidence that you can do the job badly... like a degree).

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Thanks for your input.
Granted, making something impressive sounds a little daunting when the general wisdom says to start small, but I guess small and impressive aren't incompatible. I'm going to make that work somehow.

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So, your question seems to boil down to:

What should I make for my portfolio?

 

If your looking to do 3D, then join a 3D project.

Someone with a masters in CS should be able to have their pick of indie / Hobby projects.

 

I say join, instead of start, since unless you want to spend 2+ years just getting the ground work done, joining would be a better option for you. (Solid 3D projects take years, it's just how long it takes for the art alone, I've done mine for 5+, and there's just no way around it.)

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This topic is 395 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

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