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

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#21   Members   


Posted 17 September 1999 - 12:08 PM

I can't say I've accually gotten into the industry so if I wrong about this correct me.

I think if your 3D game really isn't quite selling quality, just take its code and highlight the sections you thought you did a great job on write down why and any improvements you can think of making now and send the .exe, and code with your views on what you did really well. send this around to a few places this way they'll see what you can do really well even if the finished product wasn't perfect.

If its nearly good enough to get published maybe take it and try spruceing it up some now that you have a little more experience, might turn out real nice now.

#22 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 29 September 1999 - 12:00 PM

It is interesting that long hours are seen as a requirement for game programmers.
I work on business software, and I've found over the past 6 years as a professional developer that
(more hours != more productivity)
, and in most cases that the developers who work the most hours are the least effective, and create the most buggy code.
Is this not true for Game Programming?

Also, I'm amazed to find out that game programmers are paid so low.
6-figure salaries are not uncommon for experienced business software developers, and pretty much any business developer who wants to contract can make $40+/hour. I turned down an offer of $50/hour for a job that was just too mind-numbingly boring (read: junior) to accept.
(Above figures are for the Seattle area)

#23   Members   


Posted 29 September 1999 - 01:44 PM

I don't work in the gaming industry, but I do work in the professional software industry. I graduated from college with a diploma in fine arts and got a job as a software engineer. Granted I only makde $42k CAN, but its quite good for the area. I got the job by getting my foot in the door in another capacity (graphic designer), and spoke to the software manager a fair bit about what they were doing here. After I graduated he offered me the job full time. I've been here 18 months and love it. Granted, it isn't game development, but the hours are good and I can develop my own work on the side. Maybe its just me, but I like game coding because its my ideas, and I figure that most game companies require too much sacrifice of own ideas to others. But then, I'm a snob.

#24   Members   


Posted 30 September 1999 - 07:13 AM

Why are games programming salaries so low?
Think...supply and demand.
Every fresh faced college or uni graduate with a computing degree has udoubtedly considered going into games and with a large base of talent (if not experience) going for the same jobs games companies can pick and chose as they wish.
Most people I know who are in games tend to leave by the time they hit 30 for better paid more relaxed jobs.
Personally I'm going back to University to do a Masters in AI and when I get out I think I'll want back in the games industry but having been here for two years the thought of a well paid job outside games with sensible hours and perhaps a bonus structure (hell, any kind of structure) seems a lot more attractive now than it did when I left Uni.
I think the games industry has to get out of the bedroom mentality which a lot of companies still hold onto and turn itself into a _business_ industry.

#25 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 01 October 1999 - 11:43 AM

Have you ever read some of these game industry job descriptions?

For example, look at http://www.vsearch.com/

They're looking for people who completed one or more game titles,
PSX programming (I didn't even know what PSX was before today),
3-5 years experience, lead/senior programmers, etc.. This is very
discouraging for entry-level seekers.

I say a chance for someone with no experience is very unlikely,
especially right out of college. You either know someone in the
field to let you in, or you don't. Or you either live right next
to Silicon Valley, or you don't. This leaves you with little
opportunities, such as starting up your own company or doing
game programming on the side while you work in other job field.

Hey, getting a job in the major you got your college degree is
better than nothing, so stick with it.

#26 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 01 October 1999 - 12:29 PM

This is what your life might be like 2-4 years right after college.
You'll live in a "catch 22" limbo state. Sure, you'll have the degree and
skills, but you don't have the experience, and everyone will dump on you
bigtime because you haven't "paid your dues". You might think about moving
to another state to get exposed to the opportunities you are looking for,
but wait a minute, you don't have the money to move in the first place,
so you are stuck in a rut. Everyone will tell you to just take any job
as if you have the power to make it happen, but they don't tell you where
and how to get this supposedly -any job-. You might even think about
going back to college or some other learning institution to get the skills
that college "was supposed to" have taught you in the first place (as if
a second time will matter), but again, you still don't have the money, and
you come to the conclusion that they simply can't provide you with the
experience that is found working in real industry.

Seems like hell, eh? You'll wish you never left college.

#27   Members   


Posted 07 October 1999 - 12:02 AM

I think you're right, DevShin. In fact, I think that is probably what it's going to be like whether you're right out of college or not.

#28   Members   


Posted 10 October 1999 - 11:39 AM

I've never accually tried to get a job at a programming company, so if I'm wrong about this tell me.

I'd look at the webs job-listings, and find one that looks good (forget about the past work requirements), and send them a disk with some examples of your work with a filled out copy of the online application. Put the words look on disk for the past work line.

? Anyone in the hiring area would you like games or code for games if someone did this?

I think this is one of the few areas anymore where you can accually show that you know what you are doing before you have work experience.

David Abresch

#29   Members   


Posted 12 October 1999 - 08:23 PM

The fundamental problem: There are just too many programmers. The schools are churning them out at a record pace.

Notice that this doesn't stop big tech companies from making the spurious claim of a great tech-worker "shortage."

#30   Members   


Posted 19 October 1999 - 09:50 PM

To get in, you more or less have to know what the hell you are talking about, and be able to back it up.

Quite frankly, having a degree won't help you much, if you can't solve problems.

I worked at various companies, without a degree. The pay for game programming jobs is less than regular programming jobs, and you are typically expected to work more hours.

Personally, I've decided that it isn't worth it to devote my life to writing someone ELSES' game, when I could make more, and work less writing someones misc. win32 application, then spend all that extra time that I have, working on the game *I* want to play.

#31   Moderators   

Posted 20 October 1999 - 02:28 AM

I agree that having a degree won't guarantee anything. It might help, but if you can't show something you might as well not even have it. I think more companies are interested in seeing what you can do than knowing you can pass some college courses. I worked as an applications programmer for 6 years and just landed my first job in the industry. I don't have a degree. I made a contact at the GDC Roadtrip here in Baltimore and got to show some people a small game I was working on with a friend. Months later I got a call and an interview.

The moral - learn whatever you can however you can, start writing a game you want to plan. If you get a chance to check on a conference in your area to the GDC do it. You'll learn more stuff and maybe make some contacts.

BTW, maybe I just got lucky or it's because I've got a little experience but the job I snagged actually is paying a little more than I was making as an app programmer and I was making decent money (over 50K).

[This message has been edited by Machaira (edited October 20, 1999).]

#32 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 20 October 1999 - 09:46 PM

Hey all, thanks for all the responses!

If you want to know what I've decided, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you. I'm not sure.

I think I'll send my stuff out and I'll see what happens. I might land a job, I might now. They might try to put me in slave labor, I don't know.

Please continue with your comments if you have any.

#33   Members   


Posted 21 October 1999 - 06:11 PM

Are you all really experiencing a shortage of programming jobs? I'm only a year and a half out of college, but my graduating class literally had companies beating down our doors for employees. Nearly 90% of them wanted "willing to relocate" but those were all willing to pay for said relocation. I had to stay here for personal reasons but still managed to land a $40k/year in BFE land about 1 month after graduation.

#34 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 23 October 1999 - 02:39 PM

The reason that a degree is usefull is that it shows the employer that you are a quick learner, you have the motivation to stick with something for long periods of time, and you can work to deadlines.
The reason i think game programming jobs are low paid, is that very often games will not make any money, it can be really hit and miss, so the publishers take a HUGE amount of the profits to safe guard against any losses.

#35 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 26 October 1999 - 01:09 PM

I started writing business software professionally about nine years ago whenI was twenty-one. No degree, in fact no high school diploma (I was a janitor before I was hired as a programmer). And I make over a hundred grand a year, and I go home early every day.
Every time I go out to hire someone, I look for talent, I only ask a few key questions, and nobody is ever able to answer them. I dont care about diplomas, degrees or experience, I want to hire talent.
The reason we pay so much more in the business software world is because people NEED the software.
Let's face it, nobody really needs a game, but everybody wants to write them.
But when a client comes to me and they need some database chewing report writer, I can crank it out in a day, and they have no idea how easy or hard such a thing was. Because it's a one off, our rates are sky high, and because there are only a few of us here, each of us gets a big piece of the pie.
In games, you need a huge budget, a large staff of people, artists, designers, coders, to create what is sold as a horizontal market app. And because you're trying to reach a horizontal market, you have to sell it cheap, which means you have to sell alot.

So you see, if I write a custom business app, my company sells it for twenty thousand dollars, that ten thousand bucks a piece for two days worth of overhead.
But to develop a game, let's say that's a half dozen people on your dev team, two hundred employees at the publisher, Ten thousand employees at Wal-Mart, a years worth of overhead, and your only charging forty bucks!! How can you afford to pay the rent?

#36 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 26 October 1999 - 05:17 PM

You would choose writing business apps over writing games? Why
are you then hangin' out in a game development forum then? Eh?

Me thinks you have a burning desire to get into games, and I am
sure you have the money for it. Heh.

I am sure people pay well for business apps, not directly because
they need them, but because business and game industries have different
types of consumers. You have big money corporations buying those
business apps. And why not raise the price a little, they certainly
can pay for it. You can't do that for games, because you are targeting
the average joe consumer who doesn't have deep corporate pockets.

And I don't think your argument of what-comes-out-of-a-product should
outweigh what-goes-into-a-product stands up too well, because I can
go out and buy movies that cost 100 millions dollars to produce
for less than 20 bucks. I'm sure none of those people have trouble
paying the rent. Yeah, I know they get that money back from movie-goers
if everything goes well, but like them, people who write games just
have to work hard on getting their stuff distributed on a large scale.
And if it is a great game, they will sleep comfortably at night.


#37 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   

Posted 27 October 1999 - 04:47 AM

I agree with cdj5. I've worked professionally for 4 years on business apps with only part of a CS degree. (Took a two month break, never went back). I thought heavily on working at a games company, and even tried getting into Legend as an intern as they're right down the street and I wanted to see what it was like. Now though, I think I'd rather stay where I am because a) More money. b) Nice 9-5 hours, not 9-2am hours c) I can work on my own games in my spare time, like an online graphical MUD I'm currently revising the client for. (www.illusia.com)

#38   Members   


Posted 27 October 1999 - 11:32 AM

When I graduated from college, I just faxed my resume' everywhere that I wanted to work.

Demos are good. Code samples are almost as good, so make sure you take the code for the demos to any interviews and make sure that you are fairly familiar with the code and that it's pretty clean


#39   Members   


Posted 27 October 1999 - 12:05 PM

Well my advice is just to get your foot in the door somewhere that you could work for at least 2-3 years(being a grunt is no fun, might as well work somewhere that its tolerable). After you have some "experience" working in the industry, its pretty easy to transfer around especially if you have talent and you are motivated.

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