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emcconnell

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  1. I am pretty qualified to give you good advice. I have a MS in Computer Science and I am currently a designer at a top of the line AAA studio. It's generally hard to go straight into design and honestly I am glad to have had a variety of programming jobs.   The key to making the transition to design is to always be improving your design skills. Listen to game design podcast, read game design books and most importantly, design games. In my humble opinion, having a MS in CS and a decent portfolio of games you created is 1,000 times better then any "design degree" or video game degree.   I've darted in and out of the industry a few times, do not let that discourage you.   Think about it like this, if you keep making games on your own, you'll eventually get good enough that you won't need a studio to work for because you'll be able to support yourself off your own creations.
  2. Unity

    I wrote a 2d fighter engine in SDL when I was in grad. school. If I had to do it again I'd probably choose Cocos2dx for the cross platform abilities. Programming a fighting game engine is easy in OO languages. Netcode for fighting games is another story...   Both of those are C++ based, though I think SDL and Cocos2dx may support other languages. Either way, the most important thing in traditional fighting games is 100% consistent frame rate. Honestly out of everything you listed I'd go Unity. It's very easy and will do a lot of the heavy lifting.
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Gerstmann   I mean the free swag isn't the problem, it's the fact that these sites run off of the advertising of the games they review. It's along the lines of politicians getting all their money for the business that rely on their legislation for profits. In a lot of cases reviews are simply another outlet for advertising. Ever notice how many games get 9/10's? I really don't think as an industry we are constantly "hitting it out of the park".   Game reviews are a difficult subject. Nothing qualifies you to become a game reviewer and not all game reviewers pour hours into a game before giving their opinion. Don't even get me started on reviews segregated into categories (graphics, gameplay, story, blah blah blah 38/50). What about games that require a specific skill (difficult platforming, very in depth fighting games, etc.)?   What I find even more laughable is when my colleagues are hedging whether to buy a game or not based on reviews that they know are in fact paid for.The game has 309123 banner ads, is the background of the website, plays a trailer for the game when you load the website, do you really think their going to give it a 6/10?
  4. What? Why would someone make an game for someone who doesn't even want to make it themselves?
  5. I've worked on teams ranging from 5-500 and as various programmer and designer positions. The hours vary honestly. I've worked 9-5, 9-7 and 8-6. Crunch can mean anything from 10 hours a day for a week to 80 hours a week for months. Things can get really depressing honestly.   Depending on the company you may lose your job at any time. Your team could get shut, the game could get canceled or the company could go under. Everyone has stories of awesome games that never saw the light of day.   The money has always been good to me, I have a MS in Computer Science. Comparing to my jobs outside the industry, it only trails a bit.   The atmosphere also greatly varies from a hanging with your friends feeling to a everyone getting drilled and turning on each other due to the stress.       The industry can be amazing but it can also be absolutely terrible. It can be creatively fulfilling and soul-sucking. I honestly wouldn't recommend it at this point. The high end of the industry is rough. If you are "considering" it then don't. Try making some indies games and get educated in game development that way.
  6. I recommend not writing GDDs and just prototyping core gameplay loops with squares/circles/etc. There was a great video on the making of Journey, and it showed all the prototypes they created before it evolved into the game everyone loves
  7. My wife and I watched the movie a couple of times. She has never played video games and I wanted to show her a glimpse into the life of what I do. We both agreed the Guy with the wife and cat was clearly the happiest and most level person. He also was able to identify his emotions, express himself clearly and honestly had the best grasp on game development as a whole if you ask me.   But it is a documentary for entertainment. Remeber the editing, interview questions, and cinematography can help tell a story that is barely there.
  8. I remember a year or more back there was a "Facebook" for gaming. You could post the games you were playing and it keep saved all of your network accounts. It's a great idea, even better if it was a facebook app that could be used anywhere.
  9. Having darted in and out of the industry a few times, and recently entered negotiations with a AAA company, I'll give you my take on it all. Getting to a AAA company is all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and with a dash of luck. Tom Sloper is the man and has a giant FAQ to explain everything about the industry.   First, acquire the skills needed. Sometimes people are skilled enough upon graduating with a BA/BS. Sometimes it takes a few years in the industry. Sometimes it never happens. AAA companies need a wide range of people, so master what you find most interesting. For example realistic lighting, ai programming, combat design, etc.   Second, prove you have the skills. You won't be proving to industry peers, but likely HR recruiters who may or may not know what C++ is and how great it is that you can optimize hashing algorithms. You'll need a personal website, portfolio, copious examples laid out so even the layman can tell you are a badass, and a playable game.   First is the skills, second (and much more difficult) is proof of the skills.   Things that help with proof: Industry experience from other areas (mobile games, web games, indie games, educational games, serious games) A resume with recognizable names (i.e. Zynga, intern for Peter Molyneux, presented at GDC, articles published on GameDev.net or Gamasutra) Friends at big companies Releasing a game that makes significant amount of money or wins awards Being skilled in an area that has less competition*   * Wanting to be a character designer is WAY more sought after than a lighting engineer   Ok so you have the skills and can prove them, now what? You must be in the right place at the right time. Generally AAA studios do most of their hiring before a development cycle, and at the start of crunch before shipping (these are usually contract positions). So if you are eyeing particular studios, these two periods are key. Also, you should move to areas of interest (check GameDevMap for help). It is exponentially easier to land a job when you live within a few hours the company. Although, I've gotten job offers cross country, the best jobs I have landed were within driving distances.   The "luck" is a multiplier. Some people land amazing jobs out of college and that's great. But as your skills and experience go up, the amount of luck needed to land a AAA job go down. It goes from "I'm the student who, out of 3058239 applicants, got the entry level designer position at thatAAAcompany #baller" to "Sigh, AAA recruiters keep hounding me on LinkedIn #firstworldproblems". Just understand this takes years so enjoy the journey.   Now some random advice. - Read industry websites everyday, mine are Gamasutra, IndieGames, GameDev, RockPaperShotgun, and GamesIndustry. - Don't be put off by rejection. I've failed many o' interviews, some were embarrassing. I've also aced many, high fived everyone in the room to only get rejected a week later. Learn from every experience, interviews are great ways to find out holes in your skillsets (i.e. not knowing quaternion math). - Make your own games. FINISH PROJECTS no matter what!!!! Enter projects into competitions. - Do not get salty over other people's success. I use to get insanely jealous over people I unfairly deemed "not worthy" of their job positions. I was a whiny child. Don't do this! - Always be professionally and friendly. - Finally have fun!
  10. This depends on a lot of thing, monetization, game quality, accessibility of gameplay, accessibility of art, the icon of the game, the game style, and lets not forget advertising, etc.   Here are some hard examples:   1) Tower defense game, 3d cute art, $1.99 cost = $2-3k 2) F2P slot adventure game, cute 2d art, good animations = $200-$400 a day for first month then nothing 3) Ad support endless runner platformer, midcore art = Didn't make enough to mention   But like I said, it's the gameplay + art + monetization technique + accessibility/design + game icon/description = money * luck It could go many ways but I would bank on making under $2k for your first game while you are working out the kinks (and likely under $500 if you don't know what you are doing).
  11. This company is very well documented to have very bad working conditions. From glassdoor, to interview with employees to articles are popular industry websites. I can't really say more without throwing them under the bus.   The pay will be less but the potential bonus would make it very lucrative. According to some people they crunched for a year on their last title. I imagine the crunch would be 6 months and could be more. I know the project they are working on and it's an extremely popular franchise that will likely win awards. I think I would have a decent voice on my particular section of design. The people I talked to are great, but all of the reviews, postmortums and interviews with employees point to production/management as a HUGE problem. I have not spoken to anyone on that side.
  12. I'm at a crossroads. I have a cushy 9-5 that pays well in a creative space. I have been offered a dream job at a very big, and well known, AAA company to be a designer in an area of design I find fascinating (I come from a programming background with a MS in computer science). The studio has a very bad QOL reputation and the morning drive would be much longer. On the other hand if I stay in my current job I can keep chugging away at my indie games with hopes of turning hobby to profession. In the past I have worked as a professional game programmer, so this wouldn't be my first foray into the industry. I am married, so my QOL (quality of life) worries are mainly for my wife.     I know you guys on GDNet have loads of knowledge in this area. Is working design at a AAA company worth 12 hour work days 6 days a week (hours according to people who work there)? Does anyone regret taking their dream job and have it end up being sweatshop labor? On the other side, has anyone worked for a company with a bad reputation but actually is glad they did?  
  13. Unity

    I use cocos2dx which is a mobile engine but also supports desktop. I find it easy to have one game be on iOS, Android, Win32, OSX and Linux all at once. Just abstract all the platform specific code out and use ifdef's when needed.
  14. I've left and re-joined. I left f2p mobile games and went to a 3d printing company. Now I'm going back to gaming and working with autistic kids making therapy video games.   I haven't found it hard to re-join the game industry. Having small indie projects on the side is more than enough to justify your passion and will lead to game companies actually coming to you. I recently turned down a technical designer position at a major AAA company after not being in the industry for a year (I can't work for a company in which EVERY glassdoor review says it's the worse job ever haha).   I think the archaic idea of "If you leave the industry they'll never take you back" shouldn't apply anymore. Some companies might think that but those are the companies that aren't going to pay you anything, work you to death, leave your names off the credits and lay off 90% of the talent. You don't want to work for them anyways. I've really enjoyed working a stress free 9-5 and working on my own games on the side.
  15. It's a toss up. I've been at game companies where we wrote in C++ and the lead programmer barely knew any c++ and in general the code base was horrible   >_> Alternatively, I've had two lead programmers who never went to college and were absolutely amazing.   Like the post said, it's all about getting through the interview and most of the time the interview isn't about how good of a programmer you are.