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How experienced must you be to land a game programming job?

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#1 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 27 October 1999 - 12:05 PM

Could someone tell me how good/experienced a programmer has to be in order to get a programming job at a game company?

I just graduated from college with a CS degree. I have no professional experience in programming.

I have created two demo games. They are both fully playable but they don't have title screens, high scores, etc. One is a 2D souped up Space Invaders clone, and the other is a 3D space shooter like a stripped-down homemade Starfox 64 for the N64.

I made these games so that I could have something to include with my resume. Will they help or am I wasting my time because of my lack of experience??

Please give me some advice.

#2 DavidRM   Members   


Posted 28 August 1999 - 06:10 PM

I think it mostly comes down to being willing to work for [censored] wages at [censored] hours...sometimes actual skill is handy but nothing beats a good "Slave Mentality" going in.

Samu Games

#3 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 28 August 1999 - 07:18 PM

So, you are saying that game programmers make very little and work long hours? In general how much less would one be paid in an average game job versus an average non-game job?

#4 Pryankster   Members   


Posted 28 August 1999 - 07:52 PM

Well, I was interviewed by a game company, as a developer with over 15 years of programming experience. They made me an offer of 45K a year. I was making over 60K at the time.
When I told them what I was currently making, they said "Gee, only our president is making that much".

(this was a studio which was later bought by eidos)

-- Pryankster

#5 Dave Astle   Distinguished Rhino   

Posted 28 August 1999 - 09:23 PM

Having the demos will help, but the lack of experience will hurt. The way I look at it, though, is you'll only know for sure if you give it a shot.

Last spring, I interviewed with several game developers. I knew I wasn't really ready for it, but I decided to interview in order to see how close I really was. All of them said they'd love to talk to me after I finish my degree or have some professional programming experience (which I am now getting).

The jobs I interviewed for were paying in the $40-65K range for lower-level positions. From what I have heard, the game industry does pay a little less, but talented people can make a lot. The hours are long, though.

#6 Sengir   Members   


Posted 29 August 1999 - 05:43 AM

I'm not employed in gameing industrie, so I just don't understand why the jobs are paid like this. everybody says there are too less people who are really qualified.


#7 Zenroth   Members   


Posted 29 August 1999 - 09:06 AM

The reason pay is probally so low compared to the hours put in, is probally due to the hundreads of teens/ect that want to get into the field will work for pennies and slave unconditionaly.

#8 bit   Members   


Posted 29 August 1999 - 09:43 AM

Try to get what you have already done published independently. It will help A LOT in getting you a job with a company.

Be glad that you have your CS degree -- this will help you out very much. Often times, the decision of "who" to interview falls into the hands of somebody who doesn't know shit about game programming and thinks that a degree must be in your possesion for you to know anything.

In short ... just try to get something out there, or take a shitty game programming job ( e.g. $30,000 ) so you can get the experience they want. If you can't afford to take a low paying job, then I suggest following the independent path for a little while, until you have experience of your own to show them.

- Chris

#9 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 29 August 1999 - 04:17 PM

The problem with getting them published is that I don't feel they are good enough to get published.

I mean, the 3D space game is pretty good, but remember, it's my first attempt at 3D graphics programming and it's only my second computer game.

Don't get me wrong though, it looks okay, but it doesn't look nearly like anything made commercially today. It's about as good a commercial game made 4 or 5 years ago.

#10 bburge   Members   


Posted 06 September 1999 - 12:31 PM

well if you would be interested in sharing the exe we could judge weither it would be worth attempting publishing... but take solitare for instance.. a good programmer could make that in a week.. yet look how many people play it. The idea for developing games is not money but how long people will play it and how many will. you want them to have fun not 30$ worth of graphics.

ICQ# 33345422
e-mail bburge@mid-mo.net

#11 INVERSED   Members   


Posted 06 September 1999 - 06:15 PM

I've come to realize that people will buy just about anything (not a good thing). If you fix up the 3D game, make it presentable and what not, and sell it really cheap as shareware or something, then people will look at it. At least having something out there is better than having nothing at all. That's just my opinion though. At this point it's not about making money, it's about the experience and being able to say I published a game.

#12 TANSTAAFL   Moderators   

Posted 06 September 1999 - 11:28 PM

I'm 25 years old. I've been programming for 12 years (i started in BASIC on the TRS-80 Color Computer 2). i dont have a degree.

i DO have professional programming experience (i wrote DB apps with MS Access for a while).

and now, i have professional GAME programming experience. (for the last week i've been working for Geoff, and i will continue to work for him until the end of the month, or until he no longer needs me, which ever comes later)

so, what kind of experience do you need to get a job?

well, a CS degree should be enough to get you an interview. pro programming experience should get you the same thing. high visibility on the net helps, too. both Rhino and I have been contacted by recruiters, because of SweetOblivion and now GameDev, our visibility is quite high. Articles, demos, and whatnot all increase visibility.

#13 MikeD   Members   


Posted 07 September 1999 - 02:55 AM

I finished University with a reasonable honors degree in CS with AI. I immediately applied for jobs both inside and outside the games industry, seeing what was available.
My background was, compared to most programmers, pretty abysmal. I started programming at 16, had never written computer games and barely programmed outside enforced academic projects.
In the end I went for a job at a low grade computer firm for £12K, about $20K in US. strange though this sounds, the highest a graduate can expect to get in the games industry in England is £18K, most start on about £14K.
My point is that, if you're willing to work for pittance, for no gratitude, on stupid hours (often without overtime) then you should have no problem getting in.
And once you're in, with 2-3 years experience you could probably get a job anywhere in the world.
Also, if you're lucky enough to work on, or be associated with, a product that gets a decent name and decent sales then you're set up in terms of getting a new job.
That's the only reason I'm at my current company, as soon as this project's done _everyone_ is off to find new employment.
Sounds a bit harsh doesn't it?
I guess that's just my experience of the industry.

#14 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 07 September 1999 - 03:59 PM

bburge, I think it would be a good idea to show you guys my program. But, would there be any problems with me giving out my game like that?

I was also looking for a site (maybe this one), that has game demos from regular people that lists their experience level so that others can see where they rank on whats out there.

#15 Sieggy   Members   


Posted 09 September 1999 - 02:30 AM

Is it just me or is it kind of a bummer that one of the most difficult and intense programming arenas of subject to such low pay, job instability, and long hours? I work on the business dev side and caliber of talent seen on places like this board or in a game company is hard to find yet we enjoy better hours, benefits, and salary. Its very ironic. Call me lame but I'd love to make the jump to games, I certainly think its my calling but I'm old enough to have the wife and kids thing and the thought of "Yes Mr. Nagel you're engine rocks but we have to fire you anyway" lurks at the back of my mind. I'm optimistic though. Perhaps as the industry grows it won't be so flaky.

#16 Nurgle   GDNet+   


Posted 11 September 1999 - 12:45 AM

I've been 18 a week, and have about 6 months professional software development experience, with no qualifications.

Sure, my job sucks and pays crap (and I have a boss for an idiot), but it means in a few years I can get a much better job without a degree. Hell, I've been offered $40k a year jobs before...

#17 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 14 September 1999 - 12:33 AM

MikeD's experience has been pretty similar to mine so I don't know if this is the norm but all I got to say is SUCK IT UP! It seems to be a boot camp mentality or something until you pay your "dues". In other words if you ain't got prior experience your just a slave, simple as that. I don't have a college degree but I beat out 75 other people to get the programming job I got now. I heard it was cause I checked the companies web page before my interview so I was familiar with all their products,etc. and that seemed to make an impression. Not to mention being very knowledgeable and quick thinking must've helped too. Anyways, my point is even though I'm sure I'm smarter and know more about programming than most where I work they still don't listen to me. I heard another programmer that's been working there longer than me say that's how they treat all new programmers. They won't bother listening to you for the first few months till you prove yourself to the company(For instance I told one of the lead programmers that his code was buggy and crashing one of our apps and he tried to blame the bug on my code and just ignored me till he finally got back to me a couple of days later and finally admitted I was right and that his code was buggy). And the pay is crappy too for the amount of work you gotta do. I hear that after a while and after you prove your as good as you say they'll start paying you a lot better but that remains to be seen in my case anyways I plan I getting as much paid professional experience while I can and go somewhere else if things don't start looking up.

#18 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 14 September 1999 - 12:45 AM

Oh yeah i forgot to metion this but some of the people I work with even have 2 college degrees and to tell you the truth I don't know how it helped them other than they are in debt still paying off all that money they paid to college. A college degree does show dedication though-it shows that you stuck with a project(school) for at least 4 years. My advice is that if you didn't get paid for those 2 games it ain't gonna do you much good putting them on your resume. Your best bet is to play your college card and play up your college degree as much as you can to distinguish yourself from the crowd. The bottom line is your probably gonna have to slave yourself like some/all of us till you get experience so you can move on to something better.

#19 mason   Members   


Posted 15 September 1999 - 03:04 PM

Not that I've had any direct experience in the industry (yet), but my gut tells me that college degrees wouldn't matter as much as prior experience.

The tough part is getting that experience; many times the first thing a games headhunter asks is "have you ever been paid to make video games?" Say "No" to this question and you're sunk.

Mason McCuskey
Spin Studios

#20 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 15 September 1999 - 03:57 PM

I am 17 and I work for microsoft in the gaming division. I started out by just getting a technical support job then showed my supervisors that I was a way hard worker and reliable. Then when there was an opening in the art department for the gaming division I applied and used my supervisor as back up and got the job. I am still in High school and have 50 a year job. So don't be afraid to start way low maybe even in a different division than you want and just work your ass off get some say that you've worked with a gaming company and apply at as many places as possible. JUST KEEP AT IT. ANYTHING is possible from ANYONE!

dave geurts

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