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RousingNotion

Is there need for rather mediocre graphics programmers?

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Hey everyone,

I have been programming for like 6 years more hobby-wise and just finished my first small team project a few days ago.

I recently came to the conclusion, that I need to specialize, if I really want to land a job in the game making industry. I really enjoy most of the steps involved in making games, I did the prototype art for our project as well as the UI and input programming. But what is the most fun for me is basically making the screen display the colors I want. I took like 3 attempts to get into openGL programming and really enjoyed those (didnt take it much further because programming graphics AND everything else at the same time just didnt work out).

On the other hand, i visit math lectures at university every now and then and... well, dude, those guys are on a whole other level! I dont have an easy time understanding all the complicated math stuff to be honest.

Is it math skills, that make a graphics programmer? Can someone without being a math genius be a successful and job-landing graphics programmer? Is there even a need for programmers, who dont achieve bleeding edge graphics?

 

Would really be grateful for some advice, since I dont want to go through the frustration of learning graphics programming the best I can and still end up being a dead-weight jobwise.

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Personally I've seen some really crude graphics engineers get some decent jobs while sucking at math. It's mostly just about how hard you work and what kind of portfolio pieces do you have. Hiring for an entry level position usually wants to ask the question "will this person get promoted within the year or two to mid-level, or just leave the game industry". Showing due diligence in the portfolio will answer this question for you. Nobody achieves bleeding edge anything when looking for an entry level spot :)

Edited by Randy Gaul

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The industry doesn't need "mediocre" anything. Can you see your way clear to charac-
terizing your skill level as "competent" rather than "mediocre"?

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My experience is that there is little demand for graphics programmers of any level. The number of teams using their own engines has shrunk a lot and even those teams usually have in-house experts who can maintain and extend it. The demand for other types of programmer - gameplay, networking, physics, etc. - is still high, as ever. Obviously having good graphics skills is always a benefit, too.

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I call myself a graphics programmer on LinkedIn and get messaged quite a few times a year for graphics programmer roles in the EU and US, usually on a pretty decent pay (~$150k USD).
I am not great at maths, it's all greek to me. That means that I'm not the guy to do the R&D work in deriving a new BRDF from scratch, or new lightmap compression schemes. I can implement them efficiently after someone else does that hard robust math stuff though. I can also design a hell of an API :D
Most of the other graphics programmers that I've worked alongside are all in the same boat, so I would say there's plenty of room for "mediocre graphics programmers" :D

The number of teams using their own engines has shrunk a lot

Every game that I've worked on has had at least one graphics programmer attached to it, often one on the game side and one of the engine side of things too -- regardless of whether it was in-house or off-the-shelf. Even studios using off-the-shelf engines have to extend/modify them to suit their game. I haven't worked on two games with the same lighting/shading pipelines... or even then, most games have some kind of game-specific special effects or materials, etc.

 

[edit] As Tordin says below "it´s hard to come by" specialists. After I quit my last graphics programming job, it took 2 years for them to find a new one to replace me, so I had a steady stream of contract work from them :D

Edited by Hodgman

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I call myself a graphics programmer on LinkedIn and get messaged quite a few times a year for graphics programmer roles in the EU and US, usually on a pretty decent pay (~$150k USD).

I am not great at maths, it's all greek to me. That means that I'm not the guy to do the R&D work in deriving a new BRDF from scratch, or new lightmap compression schemes. I can implement them efficiently after someone else does that hard robust math stuff though. I can also design a hell of an API :D

Most of the other graphics programmers that I've worked alongside are all in the same boat, so I would say there's plenty of room for "mediocre graphics programmers" :D

 

 

The number of teams using their own engines has shrunk a lot
Every game that I've worked on has had at least onr graphics programmer attached to it, often one on the game side and one of the engine side of things too -- regardless of whether it was in-house or off-the-shelf. Even studios using off-the-shelf engines have to extend/modify them to suit their game. I haven't worked on two games with the same lighting/shading pipelines... or even then, most games have some kind of game-specific special effects or materials, etc.

 

Pretty much sums it up for me to. i get loads of emails every week or month about graphics programmers here and there.

a reminder is that graphics programmers does not only do "triangle math" there is a ton of things to do, vegetation system, tree rendering, clouds, particles, optimization, postprocessing and much more. the graphics area is broad, really broad. and it´s one of the things companies does look for, it´s hard to comeby and as Hodgman said, it´s pretty decent money.

im not excellent at math either, but you will get the hang of it. the word typical nonesens of ûber math skills are faulty, you just need to think in the right terms. and most people find it complex and intimidting, thus the "uber skills".

If you want to be a graphics programmer, just go for it and fuck what the rest say. with enough passion and drive you will succeed.

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I call myself a graphics programmer on LinkedIn and get messaged quite a few times a year for graphics programmer roles in the EU and US, usually on a pretty decent pay (~$150k USD).


I originally wanted to be a graphics programmer(still want to at some degree), but I'm not sure of it's future now.

Isn't it too late for me or for the OP to become a graphics programmer right now?
Demand is becoming lesser. Pay may be good right now for seniors but what about 5-10 years later. Nobody knows, but I want to hear your thoughts. :)

And thank you, I read your posts alot. They are really useful.

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I call myself a graphics programmer on LinkedIn and get messaged quite a few times a year for graphics programmer roles in the EU and US, usually on a pretty decent pay (~$150k USD).
I am not great at maths, it's all greek to me. That means that I'm not the guy to do the R&D work in deriving a new BRDF from scratch, or new lightmap compression schemes. I can implement them efficiently after someone else does that hard robust math stuff though. I can also design a hell of an API :D
Most of the other graphics programmers that I've worked alongside are all in the same boat, so I would say there's plenty of room for "mediocre graphics programmers" :D

This is interesting, at least I don't feel that bad about myself now.

Sometimes reading the siggraph papers just make me feel it's completely out of my world. Especially now that I have moved into offline rendering, it just feels like it's imperative to know all the maths behind the rendering equations and those statistical sampling methods, especially when most paper seem to assume they are somewhat "common sense" to the readers.

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