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drdarkon

Questions for the Pros... is it worth it?

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Okay everyone, Guy and gals, I am still in highschool, and seriously considering getting into the video game industry as a programmer. I have heard that the pay is not the best, but I''m not doing it for the money (although I assume the pay for progammers will go up as the industry matures). I really enjoy designing and making games. I am currently learning Direct X and learning to use Direct Draw. One thing I was wondering, is the industry that much fun? I know for me at home and with friends making games is fun because we do it together and have fun together doing it all. We really decide the way our game will go. What I am worried about is when I go to work somewhere as a programmer, I will get there, get stuck doing something very boring and not really being able to guide the game in any way. What I am saying, will working for a game company perhaps not be so much about the game as it is about the technical aspects, and thus will it not be too much fun? Do you guy/gals enjoy what you are doing? I''m just worried that by joining the industry I won''t really be getting into what I thought I was getting into. Okay thanks any comments etc appreciated. Also, just because I am curious, how many years have you been in the industry (if you are not in the industry still please post, I care what you think also). What do you do? Do you enjoy it? etc.. -Thanks

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I''m actually in a french engineering school studying computer science and have the same thought. There are 2 ways for us : work in a company or create our own. I''d like to choose the second one but it''s really dangerous (but exciting !!!). The first one is more reasonable but we will certainly not do what we expect. In fact, the more video games are popular, the more it deals with money. So, it''s a common way to share tasks or reuse existing techologies for a company : less development time for them but less exciting work for us. it''s creation versus reusability...

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quote:
Original post by drdarkon
What I am worried about is when I go to work somewhere as a programmer, I will get there, get stuck doing something very boring and not really being able to guide the game in any way. What I am saying, will working for a game company perhaps not be so much about the game as it is about the technical aspects, and thus will it not be too much fun?


I''ve been doing programming for a long while, and professional game programming for 3.5 years...

Simply put, yes, sometimes you will be bored -- bored and frustrated out of your mind. But sometimes you''ll be excited and having a great time.

Think about it (on the assumption you''re starting from scratch). You''ve got some great game ideas... how do you demonstrate those ideas? You need some display code (putting the system in a certain configuration, handling errors, multiple vid cards on a PC, basic to advanced graphics handling and data structures), control code (keyboard, joystick input, at least), and some basic structures (lists, classes, whateverr....).

Then maybe you can start doing "the game". Great, so you draw a few things, move them around. You fake a lot to demonstrate the game aspects. Now you need to go back and stop faking some things (ie, physics, collision, animation, IK, etc, etc, etc) and write them right. Robust, handle errors, complete, then fixup the game on these systems.

Now you back to doing "the game", and you get a bit further in having something that actually feels and plays like a game. IF you''ve got a good design, you keep going. More likely, you realize some limitations or bad design choices, you go back and redesign. Recode the game, possible recode some tech, fixup the game, try again. Rinse, repeat.

I think this is why some people get discouraged. They want to jump right to gameplay and think the tech will work itself out -- not true. (Or some people who love doing the tech, and think the gameplay will work itself out -- also not true.) So you get frustrated trying to build a game with low-level tools and tech. You tweak and tweak, but in the end, you need to spend time on both tech and gameplay to get things working well.

If you are working with others, it''s good to have a mix of people: those who are primarily interested in gameplay, those who are interested in tech. Create a balance.

But even with a balanced team, you have to realize there are going to be days when you want to rip your hair out of your skull and smash your head with a shovel. AND there will also be days when you''re in your groove, things are working great, and you couldn''t be happier.




---- --- -- -
Blue programmer needs food badly. Blue programmer is about to die!

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Also, what does the gaming industry pay programmers? Entry level and beyond? Sorry if I am sounding intrusive, only answer if you feel comfortable. Thanks!

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I think what you''ll find is that it really depends on geopgraphy. You''ll get paid alot more working in California than in Delaware (does Delaware exist anymore?). It costs alot to live in California. You could probably get people to pay you to live in Delaware (No offense to any Delawarionianesquenesses. I''m just having vague memories of a VERY boring family reunion in Delaware).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I''d just think i''d mention that, despite the clare differences, a game programmer is an engineer. Pure and simple. What comes with that is in the eye of the beholder. An engineer is a commodity, few engineers are outstanding to the point that they couldn''t be replaced eventually. Many of the execs feel that most engineers are created equal and that they should have the youngest, least paid, ones that will fit the job. This is simply because those coming out of school are up to date with everything and are the cheepest to pay. Game Programming probably has more value in expierience then most fields, but, as in all engineering fields, there is a thought that an old programmer is an obsolete programmer. It is possible to end up like the 50 year old car designer working on pencil and paper and unemployable. A close family friend ended up this way in a different field of programming, although she had made enough that it didn''t matter to much. I think what i''m trying to say is; if this is serious, you are about to make possibly the biggest dicission of your life. Consider all the factors. If at the end of reading programming horror stories and bad salary complaining you still want to do it, go for it. But just be sure, its hard to turn back.

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I spent some time in the gaming industry, though currently I design business services. The time I spent in the industry wasn''t as a programmer, but rather as a tester. This actually gave me a good idea of what it was like to be a programmer due the fact that I had to interact with the programming team heavily. I actually got to talk to the programmers; got to play their games. One thing I found out very quickly - you start to hate your product. This is where replayability can save a game programmer''s mind. Because as a game programmer, just like every other programmer, you end up spending an inordinate amount of time with your product, though the tedium of being a tester is far worse than the tedium of being the programmer.

If I may make a suggestion, attempt to get a tester job at a local company if you can; I understand that this may not be a possibility, but if you can you get to see the inside without having a four year degree. Talk to the programmers when you can and get a feel for the company and the industry in general.

Orion

p.s. In the end though, I find myself still drawn to the gaming industry. Like everyone in this forum, I feel I have great ideas that I can bring to the industry, though now I try to take a realistic position. I may end up back in gaming, but only after I have fleged out my "great" (sarcasm) ideas just a little more.

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My $.02:

I spent 6 years writing business applications before getting into the industry. I''d never willingly go back. I make decent money (enough to live in a nice neighborhood and not really want much) and get to work on some cool stuff. It''s not all fun, since the industry is demanding at times, but the atmosphere can''t be beat and for some companies the perks are great (we get all the soda we can drink and a free health club membership among other things). I get to go to work in shorts and a t-shirt during the summer (actually during the winter sometimes too ), plays games during lunch and after work, and generally have fun. The type of people I work with can''t be beat either. Everyone''s pretty cool and mostly geeks like me, something I couldn''t find in the business app world.

Breakaway Games

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