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I'm working on a portfolio that shows off coding skills more than anything.  My question is what's better (Using Portal as an example).  Should it just be code like the teleporting and gravity (no gun, no unique environment, no humor), should it be a game idea (rough art that gets the point across of a story that would make the code entertaining), or should it be the first level or two of the game with?  Despite the art or story not being the point of my portfolio, is having that make the code seem that much more impressive or does it not help?

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A programmer portfolio is quite different from an artist portfolio. 

The best things you can show are complete games since they show you can do the work. After that the best is a complete technical demo. Less than that probably shouldn't be shown unless it is somehow noteworthy or unusually good, or if they specifically ask. Incomplete blocks of functionality usually have enough issues to count against candidates, rarely do they help. 

Mediocre art in an otherwise complete project is tolerable and generally does not hurt too badly unless it is truly bad. Bad art in an incomplete demo is not going to help you. 

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Thanks for that.  In some ways I guess this is good because I tend to like to make full games and not just a bunch of examples.  My only problem is my limited artistic ability outside of pixel art.  Everything I make in 3D looks like it's straight out of the Money For Nothing video.  

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18 minutes ago, Kevind313 said:

Thanks for that.  In some ways I guess this is good because I tend to like to make full games and not just a bunch of examples.  My only problem is my limited artistic ability outside of pixel art.  Everything I make in 3D looks like it's straight out of the Money For Nothing video.  

Programmers are not expected to have portfolio pieces that showcase artistic ability, you're not a graphics artist (and if you're the job your applying to isn't for this purpose).

I looked at portfolio a few months ago and the programmer was showcasing all the flashy graphical effects and detailed models.... no code was shown. It was essentially a slide show of someone's art work (not the programmer's) while this individual made an indication that they programmed the functionality. Such portfolios go right into the bin...

Aside from listing your work experience, education, and skills you should show your best work, show recent work, show how you solve problems, and show your code.

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