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lougv22

Tips for game programmer portfolio

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I am currently an indie game developer and I am looking to get a job with a game company as a game programmer. I worked for a game studio 9 years ago, but at the time I decided to get a day job as a software developer (non-game development), while focusing (as an indie developer), during my free time, on a vision for a game I've had for some time.

This was then, but i've recently found myself unsatisfied with my day job and I am now thinking of going back to the game industry. The drive to make games is just too strong in me and I can no longer justify spending my days making software I am not excited about. Which leads me to my questions about a game programmer portfolio. Before i first got a job at a game studio i had built a couple of small games, this was way back though, around the year 2006. Would those be too old to showcase on a portfolio?

Second question, i'd like to make the indie game i am working on available for potential recruiters to play, but I am not sure how to do that. I tried to put it up on Shimmer.io (kind like itch.io, but not as popular), but i ran into issues with that. It's a Unity game and the Web build i created for it was about 190 MB and it ran slowly and was very choppy on my machine, at which point i kind of gave up on the idea of putting it up online. The other option is to simply send (through email or Google drive) game companies a regular Unity build and let them play it that way. The question is, should i try to go the Web build route again and if so, any tips on making it work well this time? And also, if the Web build doesn't work again, would it be acceptable to send companies i apply for a regular build?

Edited by lougv22

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As far as web builds in Unity go.  Turn ALL your graphics and quality and texture and LIGHTING and etc. And etc. Settings all the way down.  Way below where you want them to be.  Turn all your compression settings up.  Build it, test it, slowly bring them back to where they need to be one at a time.  190mb seems pretty big for a demo, perhaps some of your meshes are too large/detailed?  Also pay close attention to your number of draw calls and instancing issues.  Use the frame debugger to help sort that out.  Also web builds are single threaded, so some attempts to optimise with clever coding might backfire and result in slower code.

Hope it helps. 

You could also create a project page(here, see menu above, or elsewhere) where you can write a bit about it, post some screen shots, and make a download available.  Then you can just shoot a link to whomever you like. ;)

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On 1/18/2019 at 1:39 AM, Septopus said:

As far as web builds in Unity go.  Turn ALL your graphics and quality and texture and LIGHTING and etc. And etc. Settings all the way down.  Way below where you want them to be.  Turn all your compression settings up.  Build it, test it, slowly bring them back to where they need to be one at a time.  190mb seems pretty big for a demo, perhaps some of your meshes are too large/detailed?  Also pay close attention to your number of draw calls and instancing issues.  Use the frame debugger to help sort that out.  Also web builds are single threaded, so some attempts to optimise with clever coding might backfire and result in slower code.

Hope it helps. 

You could also create a project page(here, see menu above, or elsewhere) where you can write a bit about it, post some screen shots, and make a download available.  Then you can just shoot a link to whomever you like. ;)

Thanks for the tips. I may give those a try.

Any insights on the question of a Web build versus a PC Unity build when applying for game programming jobs? Is the Web build the preferred way of showing off your game? Would I be at a disadvantage if i emailed them a PC build instead?

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I've never "worked" in the gaming industry so I cannot say about this specifically, but generally speaking large email attachments(unless asked for) of any kind are rarely appreciated.  A stripped down web demo with a visible link to download a more complete PC version might be a good idea. ;)  Through my IT industry experience; I found it's way easier to get people to actually look at something if it only takes one click, and it doesn't install anything.

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2 hours ago, lougv22 said:

Any insights on the question of a Web build versus a PC Unity build when applying for game programming jobs? Is the Web build the preferred way of showing off your game? Would I be at a disadvantage if i emailed them a PC build instead?

If you're looking to have a portfolio as a programmer, then you need to focus more on code, and less on visual examples. This is a common mistake juniors make. For example, It's great to showcase the visual result of your code, but it's more important to display how clean your code is and what you did to achieve the desired result, and a way for the recruiter to gage your competency. Even if you make a full featured game with Unity, you still want to highlight the 'coding' parts, this means you're going to want to share your source code files. You're not applying as a game designer, or game artist, you're applying as a game programmer.

FYI, do not email game companies your game. Stick to applying for their posted jobs, and if they want to see your game you'll go through the proper process. Game companies will usually never look at your game in such a manner as there is potential liability. Example, you sent a game as part of your resume to Company A, and four months later they released a game similar to the example you sent. This is common practice everywhere to my knowledge. The same applies to people trying to pitch game concepts to studios.

Best of luck.

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53 minutes ago, Septopus said:

I've never "worked" in the gaming industry so I cannot say about this specifically, but generally speaking large email attachments(unless asked for) of any kind are rarely appreciated.  A stripped down web demo with a visible link to download a more complete PC version might be a good idea. ;)  Through my IT industry experience; I found it's way easier to get people to actually look at something if it only takes one click, and it doesn't install anything.

That makes sense and it's along the same lines of what I was thinking.

And what about small, fun project, types of games that are quite old? As in from around 2006. Would those be too old to show in a portfolio?

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If it can be used to demonstrate your skill as a competent and efficient programmer, it doesn't really matter how old the code is..  So long as it's currently relevant to the position you seek.  But as @Rutin stated having a working game demo is probably less important than following the expected application procedures, unless this demo is based on some bleeding edge research in graphics programming or something otherwise equally impressive... ;)

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On 1/20/2019 at 12:43 PM, Rutin said:

If you're looking to have a portfolio as a programmer, then you need to focus more on code, and less on visual examples. This is a common mistake juniors make. For example, It's great to showcase the visual result of your code, but it's more important to display how clean your code is and what you did to achieve the desired result, and a way for the recruiter to gage your competency. Even if you make a full featured game with Unity, you still want to highlight the 'coding' parts, this means you're going to want to share your source code files. You're not applying as a game designer, or game artist, you're applying as a game programmer.

FYI, do not email game companies your game. Stick to applying for their posted jobs, and if they want to see your game you'll go through the proper process. Game companies will usually never look at your game in such a manner as there is potential liability. Example, you sent a game as part of your resume to Company A, and four months later they released a game similar to the example you sent. This is common practice everywhere to my knowledge. The same applies to people trying to pitch game concepts to studios.

Best of luck.

Thank you. How would I show them my code though? Everything in my game, including the code, is copyrighted material. Doesn't the same potential for liability that applies to games as a whole also apply to the code?

I do have an older game project (XNA with C#) that was just for training purposes. I could show that, but it's old and not representative of my best work.

Edited by lougv22

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10 minutes ago, lougv22 said:

Thank you. How would I show them my code though? Everything in my game, including the code, is copyrighted material. Doesn't the same potential for liability that applies to games as a whole also apply to the code?

Then you should program custom applications yourself just for your portfolio and resume. For example, if you programmed path finding in a game, then you would make a basic application that performs the same thing but without reference to the project you worked on.

Show your best work, when you're competing with other people for the same job you don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage.

Best of luck.

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4 hours ago, lougv22 said:

How would I show them my code though? Everything in my game, including the code, is copyrighted material. Doesn't the same potential for liability that applies to games as a whole also apply to the code?

You shouldn't portfolio all the code for the entire game. Just the code that shows off your good coding habits and the smart solution you used for a particular feature.

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