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New job in games is killing my passion

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Hello all,

 

When I was in uni I was all about studying to get into the industry. I'd work on projects all the time. I'd put in long days and enjoy it.
It paid off, I got two offers from AAA game studios when I graduated.

I accepted one and have been working there for about five months.
Needless to say, it feels like it's killing my passion.
The work isn't creative. It feels like I'm just another slave building a pyramid.
It's not about creativity it's about finding the right api.
I get little guidance and have even felt like I'm getting set up to fail, not succeed.

 

I used to study to be the best I could. But after working for 5 months it seems there is little payoff for working that hard to be the best. I've come to believe it's foolish. People don't care and you won't be rewarded.

It does make me sad to say these things. I've worked hard to get into games.

IDK I guess I'm here for advice and guidance and a little venting.

Once again I used to be very passionate about computer science and creating games I was dedicating my life to it... now... well, to be honest I want to cry. I feel terrible (work was bad today, no guidance I'm lost, when I ask for help it's not very helpful, and to be honest I don't think my seniors care)

Thoughts? Advice?
All sentiments welcome, brutality, compassion, hard truths... Anything goes.

 

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It sounds like there are two main problems:
 

The work isn't creative. It feels like I'm just another slave building a pyramid.
It's not about creativity it's about finding the right api.


What are you working on, and what do you want to be working on?

Creativity in games comes in a range:
- Gameplay decisions (usually outside of a programmer's jurisdiction, but you can discuss ideas with your design team especially if there are nasty implementation consequences)
- Architecture (usually your bosses' jurisdiction)
- Algorithms (usually the senior programmers' jurisdiction)
- Implementation (usually junior programmers' jurisdiction)

 

I get little guidance and have even felt like I'm getting set up to fail, not succeed.

... I'm lost, when I ask for help it's not very helpful, and to be honest I don't think my seniors care)


What kind of guidance do you want? What are you getting? Edited by Nypyren

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Agreed with the post above. Not every company is the same, not every project is the same. Sometimes they're just not a good fit for you, and you have to consider moving on.

But the other thing is, you're a junior. The creative decisions are reserved to people who've put in more time and who have more experience than you. So you'll find things will get more fulfilling as you progress through the industry, providing you make it that far.

But it's never going to be as creative as working for yourself, on your own project. There are big budgets involved and everybody's job depends on getting the product right and reducing risk. That is the price you pay for moving into 'The Industry'.

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I think your problem may be landing a job in a AAA studio.

The larger the studio, the smaller your role, and if you're not cast into what you like best, that goes downhill fairly quickly.

You have many options:

 

1 - Try to recast yourself closer to what you like at your current studio (could be very tough as AAA studios can be rigid and capability/need-oriented)

 

2 - Find a smaller studio where you can be a 'bigger fish' and get more control over what you do, and generally just touch a lot more things.

 

3 - Start your own thing with a few people. It is a struggle, but then you'll be as creative as you want / need to be. Think this is risky? Think again, the very reason you are not doing the creative work at your AAA studio is because someone else is doing that, likely someone who took risks much earlier, and on a related scale and either was there day 1, or did something similar elsewhere to land a job there.

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Another aspect is that many people forget that in spite of the topics being fun and generally having fun workplaces, it is still a job.  It is still work. Like every professional job, there is a long list of tasks to get done and never enough time to do them all.

The work isn't creative. It feels like I'm just another slave building a pyramid. It's not about creativity it's about finding the right api.
This is part of the learning curve.  When you start out on a team you have to look up how to do everything. You need to ask questions, you start out as a beginner on the code base.

As you gain familiarity, often requiring a half year or more, tasks become easier because you know what you are doing.  At first someone can give you a minor task like adding log entries to a system and it feels daunting. A few years later someone gives broad direction to add a completely new system and it feels easy.

But after working for 5 months it seems there is little payoff for working that hard to be the best. I've come to believe it's foolish. People don't care and you won't be rewarded.

Consider that it might be the company, it might be the project, it might be the team ... or it might be you.  

Game development is usually a fun job, but it is still a job. The attitude you bring to the job makes an enormous difference.

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Not that much left that hasnt already been said, but really it can depend on the studio. I mean I have a friend who graduated and has been working in a AAA studio for almost 1 and a half years and he loves it there.

Not sure how rough things were for the first few months, but having settled in there he loves the job.

But as the guys above said, as you get more senior within the role / company you tend to get more "freedom" in choices and input on direction, though it could just be that the company isnt a good fit for you.

And as the guys said, in terms of guidance that really is about asking questions, a lot.. generally the more senior guys wont care that you bug them with questions (I mean, where I work now I bug the guy who built most of the core system all the time because I've only been here a couple months so dont know a lot of the functionality already built).

But, if the company doesnt fit well with you, apply for jobs elsewhere, take the skills and the time you gained at that company and try to move to a place that does keep you interested and feeling like the work is fun.

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Consider that it might be the company, it might be the project, it might be the team ... or it might be you.


That's what I was thinking. Crisp, you say your first job is at an unnamed AAA
company. I bet you would have enjoyed working at a small company (somewhere around
30 people). At a small company, you don't feel like a tiny cog in a huge machine.

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Thanks for all the replies.

I think you all bring up good points and have really hit the core pieces. This helps. Thank you.

Tbh it's a combination of me and the company. But, with that said, two juniors have left before me. One literally left and never came back, no two weeks nothing. The other left at 6 months. Reviews of the company are generally unfavorable. I think I picked a bad apple.

Anyways, here is my plan:
- do my best to stick around till ship so I can have a game under my belt.
- look for a new company, before I leave games, if I leave games, I should try at least two other companies, one of which should be indie.
- shift to a gameplay programming position


what makes this harder is the fact I was offered a gameplay position at another company, but I took my current gig for reasons not related to the position like family and finances, and I had verbally accepted my current job's offer before I got the other so I couldn't back out... I didn't know what I was doing, but now I know the other was a better match.

How much more time should I give the company until it's acceptable to leave? I really want to work for the other company but that offer is long gone. Should I contact them telling them I'm interested in interviewing if/when a position opens? Mentorship was very important to them and I think that is something I need.

The hard part is the balance. Loyalty to self, not sticking around if I'm too miserable. Persistence/Dependability, sticking it out when the going get's tough.

thanks again.

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There really is no "how long before it's acceptable to leave" - If you simply dont get on at the company you shouldnt feel "forced" to stay, though staying till the game ships and you are credited etc is usually a good idea (to get a game under your belt).

 

And in regards to the other company, you obviously have had contact with them and they were interested in you, the best idea would likely be to contact them and explain that you had already accepted a job, but discuss that you arent feeling that you get the mentoring etc you would like and would be (when the title ships) interested in working with them if there was still that possibility (Seriously cant hurt to ask). I swapped jobs about 2 - 3 months ago now, and both of the companies I interviewed at were not hiring for the position I now work at in one of them - So honestly, just keeping contact open can lead to a job.

And to the last part, yes it can get pretty tough to stay motivated in almost any job at times - I tend to set a deadline though of when I plan to leave as I find this helps me - In your case, set a deadline of when the title you are working on ships, or shortly after as when you plan to leave. As that grows closer you can generally re-asses how you feel about the company and the work you are doing and if it has improved, push the deadline back. If it things havent improved you at least get the knowledge that your "leave date" is getting close which can help you get through the work you arent enjoying.

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