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FrgMstr21

Which Degree?

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Hi guys, Im 21 and am in the first year of a computing Degree in the UK. The Degree is a 4 year Sandwich course with a Year in Placement. At the the end of the common first year all students decide whether they want to do a CS , Software engineering, Information systems or 3d Visualisation Degree. I was thinking about CS as i always thought this was the most highly regarded computing degree. I want to become a programmer and would like to know if software engineering would be a better choice then cs to get into the games industry. Would i be too old at 25 to get into the games industry? Thanks

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1. The 3D visualisation one could also be a good choice if it''s the programming side rather than the use of art packages - good knowledge of the maths behind 3D graphics is a *very* important skill these days. Could also be useful for getting your demo together. CS and Software Engineering are both good choices too. A lot also depends on what you want to specialise in within the games industry; engines, tools, AI, R&D, game logic, audio etc...

2. The average age in the industry in the UK seems to be around 25 to 30 (in my experiences anyway), so you won''t be too old. The main thing is that your skills and talent is up to the required standard - which tends to mean a decent degree AND a decent demo AND lots of enthusiasm AND lots of practice* and if possible some experience of commercial software development (particularly if it''s in the games industry or a related field such as multimedia).

* don''t just assume a degree and demo are enough, you need to actually like playing games and be teaching yourself extra development skills - most companies don''t take on "trainees" in the pure sense - the competition to get into the industry is tough (the company I work for isn''t even recruiting and we get on average 4 CVs a week! - some from highly experienced people with many commercially released games to their credit). It isn''t the "easy" option by a long shot!

--
Simon O''''Connor
Creative Asylum Ltd
www.creative-asylum.com

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Software engineering is a course that is designed to teach advanced programming techniques. I would think it most appropriate for a games career since game programming is the most complicated coding that exists!

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quote:
Original post by PAK-9
Software engineering is a course that is designed to teach advanced programming techniques. I would think it most appropriate for a games career since game programming is the most complicated coding that exists!

However, software engineering practice is virtually non-existent in the game programming industry (Kevin Hawk, staff and part owner of GameDev.Net, has done rather extensive research to verify this).

Furthermore, there are forms of programming more "complicated" than game programming - those where errors could imply loss of life or irreperable damage to people (air traffic control software, hard real-time systems in life support...)

[ GDNet Start Here | GDNet FAQ | MS RTFM | STL | Google ]
Thanks to Kylotan for the idea!

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Hi,
I hold a degree in computer science and my profession is that of a software engineer - although not games. I wished my degree had covered more mathematics than it did as I see countless times in every games programming maths after maths, well for the 3D stuff anyway. My programming skills are strong in C++ and assembler (university taught me good OOP skills), but having just a degree is by no means enough to get your foot in the door in game development companies - you DO need a portfolio of work to prove how good you are and I can''t stress enough that as well as being able to code in C++ use Direct3D/OpenGL, you need an understanding of the math involved in 3D games. I started to code games at a very early age, 13 in 6510 on the commodore 64, my first game was published at the age of 14 and I went on to do many other titles mostly for commodore 64 and commodore amiga before doing my computing degree. What has stopped me progressing further with game development is the math, I am one of those people who likes to understand the math involved than to go ahead and just use it. So, the moral of my whittering ons'' are get your computing degree, make sure it has a good math content and get a good portfolio of work together.

Reg''ds,
Steve

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by FrgMstr21
Hi guys, Im 21 and am in the first year of a computing Degree in the UK. The Degree is a 4 year Sandwich course with a Year in Placement. At the the end of the common first year all students decide whether they want to do a CS , Software engineering, Information systems or 3d Visualisation Degree.



Software engineering, Information systems and 3d Visualisation are terms which as you know broadly categorise areas of computing. However, you will find that the detailed content being taught under these headings in degree courses varies widely from university to university. My advice is:

1. Find out what kind of programming you would like to be involved with in the games industry.

2. Make sure that what is taught in the categories you mention does in fact meet your requirments.

This is probably a tall order for you in 1st year since like many of us it is not until we finish your degree course that we have enough knowlegde in the field to know what we really should be studying.

henry

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Thanks guys, i''ll keep all this in mind when i choose. I will probably go for the CS in the end. There is another option to put in another year and come out with a Masters and Chartership.

Do you lot think this is worth the extra year of not earning money or is a good degree all i really need so to speak besides the other stuff mentioned?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Thanks guys, i''ll keep all this in mind when i choose. I will probably go for the CS in the end. There is another option to put in another year and come out with a Masters and Chartership.

Do you lot think this is worth the extra year of not earning money or is a good degree all i really need so to speak besides the other stuff mentioned?


A master''s degree will increase your average lifetime earnings by much more than one years tuition and one year of lost wages. It makes very sound economic sense by every study I''ve ever seen.

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quote:
Original post by PAK-9
...game programming is the most complicated coding that exists!

I hope you''re joking.

-Former Cadence Employee.

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quote:

A master''s degree will increase your average lifetime earnings by much more than one years tuition and one year of lost wages. It makes very sound economic sense by every study I''ve ever seen.


As a generality, sure - but in this particular industry I''ve been told more than once that 2 years experience is worth more money than a masters - and by that time you should be able to teach yourself faster than anyone restricted, ahem, to the acedemic field. And having a masters reduces your job market because many jobs don''t require it, and will hire someone with just a bs.

Many univeristies in the states (MIT for instance) require two years work experience prior to starting a masters in CS.

Now I''m tentatively planning on getting a masters, but I think I have to give the same recommendation to get out there and get a job first.

Magmai Kai Holmlor

"Oh, like you''ve never written buggy code" - Lee

"What I see is a system that _could do anything - but currently does nothing !" - Anonymous CEO

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Hey,

Currently i''m a CS major, and a senior. We have to take a software engineering course here at my uni and they are definitely different majors. Our softwareE course covers the following: (brief descriptions below, heh)

Software processes, requrirements assesment, System models, architectural design, design with reuse, software testing, software cost estimation, legacy systems, and critical systems design, and these are only the ones i remember.

Each of these components of the course could EASILY be a single class or subject within another major. A lot of the course was based around teaching how to approach different types of software systems. You wouldnt design a computer game the same way you would software that oversees control rods in a nuclear power plant for instance. Software engineering is an interesting look at the real life practices and approaches people have taken to design, create, build, and test large software systems. There is a lot of research needed still yet in this field and it is a good place to go into especially if you want to be in more of a managment position some day.

We used UML heavily for our projects to design software, but we coded nothing in the class. It was a great course but i''m not sure if the major would be for me. The most difficult part in my experience was to break problems down into managable components. This is really an art, and no textbook can tell you how to do this. Also team communication is difficult, a lot more difficult than you think.

My CS degree so far has consisted of basically math, with programming wrapped around it. Math is not difficult for me so i''ve done pretty well so far, but there are a ton of courses we have to take. Pretty much standard at most universities here in the states as far as CS is concerned are:

Calc 1
Calc 2
Calc 3
Linear Algebra
Discrete Math
Statistics (this aint business stats either)
Differential Equations
Numerical Methods

This is the standard CS program at a university as far as math is concerned. Not so bad, but could potentially be a bitch. Several of the CS courses could also be considered math courses but they usually rehash things such as induction, and proofs because of the recursive nature of many CS algorithms. When you get through your math classes you will understand why CS is so math based, state machines, graphs, strings, networks, sets, etc etc all based on mathmatic principles. Get used to it.

Choose carefully, CS is not a blow off major, and I assume Software engineering isnt either. You''ll be busy as hell at school, and if you arent, then you arent getting your money''s worth. I have 15 credit hours and barely have time to sleep this semester. So, good luck to you!! And if you get stressed just know, I feel your pain :-)

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I know the electrical engineering route isn''t on most peoples'' lists here, but since I went that way, I would like to make a suggestion:
If you feel your current major lacking in programming experience, you should check to see if your school offers electives in embedded systems programming, typically an EE course. When I went through my major and took this course, it started a little more of a beginner level than I''d expect (engineering students are not generally programmers, though most engineers must be..), but by the end you''re programming with real hardware, which is much different than the theoretical stuff you get from other degrees.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
According to schooling, I''m a mechanical engineer. I threw that out the door a long time ago. I was always a programmer at heart. Although I''m not a game programmer, I am a simulations programmer for robotics (similar stuff, less the cool weapons and monsters). Mechanical engineering gave me the mathematical tools to figure out 3D kinematics, dynamics, and statics. After it was drilled in my head for years, I was really comfortable with it.

After I started working, I decided to take a few CS courses to give myself a better understanding of software engineering. Mechanical engineering taught me what to program, CS taught me how to program. It was pretty amazing, though, when I found out how many CS students were having difficulty with matrix manipulations and basic motion planning. Just goes to show, a multi-disciplinary educational background goes a long way.

_oldie_but_newbie

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I was an electrical engineering/electronics combined major for 3 years, and it''s proven extremely beneficial both in real-world applications and in computer science. Having taken physical electronics courses and learnt how junction diode semiconductors etc work, using SR/D/JK/T flip-flops or designing circuits becomes so much easier. Multidisciplinary education has been a significant boon in my experience.

Furthermore, my college required us to take classes in mechanical engineering (statics, dynamics, engineering drawing), chemical engineering (engineering thermodynamics), computer science (programming I and II [in FORTRAN]), metallurgy/material science (engineering materials). This provides a foundation for so many possible careers. Incidentally, computer engineering majors also took these classes but computer science majors didn''t...

[ GDNet Start Here | GDNet FAQ | MS RTFM | STL | Google ]
Thanks to Kylotan for the idea!

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Well, I am a Computer Engineering major, but from reading your post FrgMstr21, it looks like Software Engineering is the write choice for you. I must say, though, Maths is extremely important. For instance, many times, you will see Mathematics majors and degree holders get many of the jobs of Computer Scientists. Why? This is due to their incredible ability for formulate and engnieer algorithms. If you are leaning towards CS, know your mathematics. Well. That really goes for everything else. Also, Software Engineering is hot, and computer companies are looking for them. I am a freshman undergrade, but have heard information on how well my universities(Rochester Institute of Technology) Software Engineering undergraduates of summer 2001 did salary wise for their first jobs. The average was near $150,000 to start(plus stock options), and one really blessed person got a blank form from Bill Gates which stated that he should fill in his own salary and stock options. The jobs are out there. This goes for all computing fields.

Edem Attiogbe

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I am a computer scince major and a math minor (who just recently kicked math up to major). I realized that I don't have to take everything in 4 years flat. I plan to be there now for about 5 and half years to get the double majors. Because of this I have some more flexiablity on my time to do research and get everything I want out of it. My first two years in college was pretty wasteful (not completely, but some stuff I glossed over) It's now starting to kick in how important it is to me and to a future career.

In terms of which degree is better, the other posts make all the revelvant points. My point is don't limit your education to just 4 years, it will keep expanding, and as Oluseyi said he's taken some courses outside while working in the industry.

Also math is so important. Not just to land a "good" job, but the pratice you get from thinking in that, the more richer your life becomes, and the better equipped you'll be to approach problems.

Pactuul


Edited by - PACTUUL on December 11, 2001 5:26:59 PM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Thanks guys, you''ve all given me quite alot to think about, Im still stuck in two minds however, more so then before.

Oh well i guess i will look into the specifics of each path next and make up my decision based on those findings. It seems game programming definately needs the maths from a CS course but also needs the programming from a Soft Eng course.

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My degree is in Software Engineering. Hindsight is 20/20. I would say in hindsight that only those interested in management should pursue the degree. I don''t mean you want to boss people around and make lots of money. Everyone wants that. Rather I mean you are a natural born leader. People look to you naturally for direction. You bring teams together and make them more productive. Not becaues of the work you do, but in the coordination that you facilitate. When people are all milling around unsure of what to do you are able to identify what THEY should be doing. When everyone charges off following their own little agenda''s you are able to reign them in without a slugfest. If you can do those things then what learn of software engineering will let you do even more. If you don''t have that skill then you are just going to get frustrated and angry at everyone else''s failure to cooperate.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
hi FrgMstr21

most of the replies have been from a US perspective, where I believe the degree structures and content are quite different. I''m no expert on the game industry, I''m also currently on a CS degree in the UK, London. Anyway, I would agree with Oluseyi in that soft eng is not the way to go if you really want to be a game programmer. In fact, having now spent 2 1/2 years at uni, I''d suggest that ( a bit late for you I guess ) the best route would be not to do a computing degree. The problem is that the vast majority of computer science degrees in the UK are moving more towards the soft eng direction, to OOP (nothing wrong with that mind) and most specifically to java. My uni, and I know a lot of others, dont do any C/C++ any more. The courses are geared to getting students easily into highly paid jobs where things like knowledge of UML are most important. This is not going to get you into game programming though. Having done 1 year of a physics degree and then changed to CS and wishing now that I hadn''t, I would suggest the best way would be do a degree in Physics/ Maths related subject, and learn to program in your own time.
Anyway, enough ranting. Bear in mind that I hate my course, and I''m sure there are plenty of better ones around the UK, so if you think you''re course is offering what you want, then go for it ( but definitly the CS side would be best for games ).

Cameron

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quote:
Original post by FrgMstr21
Hi guys, Im 21 and am in the first year of a computing Degree in the UK. The Degree is a 4 year Sandwich course with a Year in Placement. At the the end of the common first year all students decide whether they want to do a CS , Software engineering, Information systems or 3d Visualisation Degree.

Would i be too old at 25 to get into the games industry?

Heh. By the sounds of it, you might well be at the same university as me (Trent Uni, Nottingham). Either that, or the universities are standardising their syllabuses. (Syllabi? Hmm.) If so, feel free to contact me directly about the content of the 4 pathways as I am half-way through year 3 and can give you some insight.

And I hope 25 isn''t too old: I''ll be 24 when I finish, and approaching 25 if and when I decide to try and get into the industry.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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