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About Silverwings

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  1. Silverwings

    Do developers enjoy what they do?

    Quote:Original post by -JetSirus- Just work it on the side Silverwings! That's what I am doing. Look at Bejewled 1 and 2. Both have sold countless copies and both could have been done by a single dedicated programmer/designer. Just takes drive and good inkling on what people find fun. Once again, very true, Jet. My programming skills are a bit ...er... underdeveloped to do my own projects, but I'm learning how to do so "on the side". The goal is to be a university professor for my "day job", and to paint and make games in my spare time. I'll always like game design, and doing exactly that, little projects on the side, is what I dream of for the long run. I'll be writing games for my grandkids. ;D
  2. Silverwings

    Do developers enjoy what they do?

    Quote:Original post by -JetSirus- Love that reply Silverwings. It's seems a very truthfull and down to earth example of the lower end of the industry. The best part about this industry in my opinion is that you can make it on your own. You don't have to go work for someone else. It's almost like a career in music. True, JetSirus. If you're running your own company, it's a different story. I haven't tried that yet... but my tolerance for risk is low, since I need to support a family. :D
  3. Silverwings

    Do developers enjoy what they do?

    Hmm... a couple of things, some reiterating others' comments: Playing games and making games are different things. It's still work, but if you like programming, the end result is more interesting than Database Spreadsheet #225.B Crunch time stinks. Depending on the production cycle and company you work for, this may or may not be a long period, but when you're stuck at work for an 80 hour week for three or more weeks, it grates on you. Wildly variable conditions. One company may be the coolest place to work in your state... and its neighbor may be worse than flipping burgers. There's little industry cohesiveness, so you'll have to do your homework. Unstable industry. A corollary to the variable conditions, the cool place to work may not be there next fall, while the crummy place may be the only studio to work with for the next five years. Localized industry. If you don't like California, your options are minimal. There are studios all over the place, but most are small and inherantly unstable. And they don't have all that impressive games, for the most part. Retarded testers. Maybe you won't have to deal with end users (but if you're on PC, working on patch 12.49c, you will have some of this still), but most decent companies have testers that try to break your game. Some of these people are bright, professional testers that make the game better. Some are typing Shakespeare in the zoo with the other chimps in their spare time. There are idiots everywhere. (So you'll just have to get used to them. No big deal.) The Final Fantasy conundrum. You won't get to work on Final Fantasy. Or World of Warcraft. Or Doom. OK, OK, there are exceptions, but especially starting out, be prepared to work on many projects, and none of them are likely to be blockbusters. Yeah, this one's obvious, but worth noting. Education. Don't bother with a specialized game school. You are studying CS at a good university. Stay there and finish the degree. Your university experience with real educational breadth and depth will serve you much better than a specialized education at Digipen or the like. Are they bad? Not really, but they are expensive and don't cover the width of problems you're likely to tackle in the real development world. They are more like a seminar in that respect; tasty, but not filling. Bureaucracy. There will always be a chain of command, and at some level, that chain will either break or be useless. Some managers exist simply to be a dead zone between the CEO and the people who actually get the work done. If you're unhappy with the things you're dealing with, well... that happens everywhere. The bigger the company, the less effective it is. In games, the extra layers of managing are also there to squelch out innovation in the name of minimizing risk. That's sound business, but if you want to have creative input, you'll have to accept the risk inherant in a smaller company with less management. Learning. Well, in any industry, you'll pretty much just have to be self-motivated there. Companies exist to earn money, not to have their employees learning... things. Good companies recognize that education is the key to progress, but most, especially the heavily bureaucratic ones, just don't place much value in education. Management. A corollary to the others, management may or may not actually understand what you are doing. Good managers will know, bad ones will just "manage" and you'll have to turn their businessspeak into real solutions. This one's pretty common and obvious, too, but sometimes it's really been a bother in my experience. Ethical/Moral considerations. Maybe it's irrelevant, but if you're not comfortable working on things like GTA or Doom, your choices will be narrowed further, since those seem to dominate the market... and the money. If you're looking for a mental challenge, it's almost better to go the Academia route. Yes, there's good times to be had in the game industry, but it's not the holy grail of careers. Perhaps the most troubling thing about it is that games are luxuries. Well duh, sure, but people don't really need what we make. They want games, they like games, but there's a big "Emperor's New Clothes" potential when people start to live real lives. Entertainment, like art, just doesn't get all the respect it deserves, and tends to fall through the pay scale and respect meter cracks as a result. You may find that creating something beautiful is deeply satisfying on levels that drudge databasing can't touch. That's the good part, and if you're still interested after hearing about some of the underbelly of the beast, it's most definitely something worth trying. I'm enjoying my tenure in the industry, but it's a means to an end for me. I'm good at it, and it pays the bills. My long-term career goals are in Academia, but in the meantime, this is a fine place to be.
  4. Silverwings

    Game Art

    Even so, it's nice if the artist knows a bit of what goes into the coding. At least a passing familiarity with what the engineer needs (formats, bit depth, why big textures aren't always ideal, how to tile properly and why, etc.) will make the entire workflow go better. In my experience, it's essential for the engineers and artists to be able to communicate, and if there's a shared vocabulary and knowledge base, things go smoother. You don't need artists to be programmers, exactly, just to be aware of what you do and at least a little of why, as it pertains to what they do. At least when it comes to creating assets to be used in-game. When it's just concept art, there's no reason to be anything but an artist. ;D
  5. Silverwings

    New to game development.

    Ick. Avoid Poser. Your stuff will come out looking prepackaged, and professionals won't be too impessed. It's better than nothing, sure, but it's much more impressive to employers if you learn to model on your own. As for Painter 9, definitely get the trial and test it out. I bought a big tablet on eBay, and shortly afterwards I splurged and bought Painter 9. It's been the single best software package that I've purchased. If you have an artistic bone in your body, and you want to work digitally, Painter and a tablet will be your best friends. Even so, Photoshop is generally enough for most game texture work. I never use Painter at work, but then, I'm only a backup texture artist (I spend my time in many other parts of the process). Our head artist uses both, and a few other things. Painter is wonderful for digital painting, like matte paintings and huge "artistic" textures. If you're not doing high end work or backdrops, though, you're probably fine with Photoshop.
  6. Silverwings

    Maya or 3DStudio Max?

    Mental Ray is a great renderer, and I can see it being used to do some prerendered 3D objects for the UI... that should then be manipulated with Photoshop or the like. If you want a 3D UI that rotates or something like WC3, sure, you're probably just loading models to render at display time. If you want high-end 3D looking stuff (like some of Starcraft, say) that you're just going to use as a 2D UI, Mental Ray is great for lighting especially. Still, though, it's about your budget and capability.
  7. Silverwings

    Maya or 3DStudio Max?

    And, like frob mentioned a bit back when this was brought up, Autodesk owns both Maya and Max these days, so the differences between the two may not be much of an issue sometime soonish. For better or worse.
  8. Silverwings

    Maya or 3DStudio Max?

    The maya Personal Learning Edition has a few kinks, though, if you want to use the output for projects. I'd suggest Maya, but others will swear by Max. It's a matter of which one you're more comfortable using. Then again, it's true that both have big price tags. Much as I dislike Blender (it's a royal pain to use after using Maya for five years), it does have the virtue of being free. If you're starting, and on a budget, it's probably the best choice, as you won't be tainted by the UI for other programs. Wings is another modeling program that might work for you.
  9. Silverwings

    Art in indie games

    As an artist, I'll usually espouse the use of good art, or else your game may fall into the "bad first impression" loop. Even so, I agree that if your game is no fun, or the programming is severely broken, it's not worth pumping lots of art time into it. So, as a second voice (this one from from the art side), I figure that if you're still in the testing phase, it's probably best to focus on the programming and gameplay. Once you have an idea of what sort of art you want, then you can start some serious work on it. Two other things to keep in mind, though, especially if you have a willing artist and are open to teamwork: One, you may want to use an artist in the testing phase, so you can see what sort of things they come up with, so you know what you'll have to handle from the programming side. For example, an artist's approach to modeling and animation might need a different approach to programming (to use their work) than you might anticipate. Two, if you have an artist working with you as early as concept designs, you will most likely have a stronger design overall. These are facets of the overall design strategy that I try to abide by: use both the technical and the art as much and as synergistically as you can. They enhance each other, and you never know when a technical issue might be solved by an art tactic, or vice versa.
  10. Silverwings

    Hex-based pathfinding

    Thanks, all! Sandbar, I'll let you know if anything great comes of it, but for now, this is something I'm sandwiching between a full-time job doing art for a game, prepping for the GRE in Physics, and helping my very pregnant wife. It's fascinating stuff (that Amit site is very nice), though. It makes sense that it's not all that different from other pathfinding scripts, but it's good to get more information, so thanks again!
  11. Silverwings

    Hex-based pathfinding

    I've done a bit of research on hex-based pathfinding, and I've found a few Python A* scripts, but I wanted to see if any of you have any other recommendations. I'm still learning the coding in the first place, but I would appreciate any pointers to good AI pathfinding commentary. Language is irrelevant, as I'll learn what I need to know and use it. Thanks!
  12. Silverwings

    n00b here, Max or Maya?

    So true, frob. I have to wonder what the future holds for the poor little 3D community. ;D I'm more than a little nervous, actually... but we'll see.
  13. Silverwings

    n00b here, Max or Maya?

    Highend3d.com has all the support you'll need for either program. Really, they have both been used enough that you'll be able to find whatever you need to do whatever you need. It's a question of your ability with a program and its feature set.
  14. Silverwings

    n00b here, Max or Maya?

    I've worked with Maya for about five years now, and it's a beautiful program. It does all I need and more for the games I'm working on. It does seem that Max is more geared to games, and Maya to movies, but really, it's all about what you can make the system do. So yes, learn one and run with it. I prefer Maya to Max, partly because of the interface, but also because of MEL. I don't know if Max has a similar facet (though if it does, it wouldn't be a surprise), but MEL (Maya Embedded Language) allows me to script almost anything I want Maya to do. It's a very open-ended toolset, and I've become pretty proficient working with it. I will mention that Max's Character Studio has some nice tools for game animation, where Maya is a little harder to get working. My speciality is rigging for animation and animating with those rigs. I've worked with both systems, and Maya is more open ended and powerful, but Character Studio is better to jump in and get animating, and it's more intuitive earlier. Maya requires some heavy-handed manipulating to get it to behave as well as Character Studio already does.
  15. Silverwings

    Question a grizzled and not yet bitter veteran

    Well, when the Game Industry uses the term "mature" to describe the sort of things that go on in GTA games or the like, I don't think they are using the word the same way you are. Besides, studying the marketplace for games is pretty much a business application, which isn't really about making games so much as it is about analyzing any other market and how to develop for it. On the other hand, studying how to make games for that market might indeed use some study, but it's just not that important in corporate beancounters' eyes. It should be, since it might streamline the process and affect the bottom line, but it's a peripheral concern, so it won't get much attention. At least not from our side as the developers. The accounting department might be the best place to target, since it sounds like your work is most likely to be most relevant to them. In that vein, though... Jeff, what is your experience with how the corporate side mingles with the development side, especially when it comes to R&D? It's probably come up before, but do you have any experience with this particular topic? I'm curious, too, as I usually find myself as the R&D guy for whatever team I'm working on, whether or not there is actually any company support for it. The work needs doing, so I do it. They guys in charge don't notice it, but without proper R&D, things just don't get done, or they don't get done well and on time.
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