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  A career in games? Advice wanted  (Read 4922 times)
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Offline yaakovdov

Junior Newbie

Java games rock!

« Posted 2004-11-09 20:49:09 »

Hi there

I was wondering if anyone out there would like to give me some advice? I've just finished a conversion course in software development, and obviously now should be looking for a job. However, I've always wanted to learn how to make games, and after doing a fantastic tutorial on how to make a space invaders game at, I'd love to look into a possible career in this, be it in 2D Java games, or advancing into 3D and/or other languages.

Obviously I currently have, well, only about 48 hours of game development experience, but I was wondering if people have any good advice on how to pursue a career like this. Obviously I presume I'd need to learn lots more before I became employable, but how much experience do I need to get there? How long would it take to get the required experience/knowledge? Or alternatively, is a career in games very unrealistic, (due to it being highly competetive, or some other reason)and therefore should I just start looking for regular jobs using Java?

Thanks a lot in advance for anyone who replies to this
Offline nonnus29

Senior Devvie

Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco

« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-11-10 01:21:40 »

I've just finished a conversion course in software development

What is this conversion course you speak of?

My .02$:  

I make a hellofalotta money NOT programming games.  I work a MAXIMUM of 40 hours a week.  My weekends are free.  Plus I get the satisfaction knowing the work I do contributes to the US economy.

If you've done any research about the games industry you know its low pay, long hours and no reward.

Thats why I will keep game programming as a hobby.
Offline fire_ant16

Senior Newbie

GTA: san andreas is the worst game!!

« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-11-10 01:23:08 »

I don't know what you want, but I think you should try to pay a little to somebody who helps you, just some kind curticey
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Offline JasonB

Junior Devvie

« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-11-10 02:01:22 »

I don't know what you want, but I think you should try to pay a little to somebody who helps you, just some kind curticey

I think you shouldn't bother posting messages on an open/free forum if you want to get paid for the privilege. You should probably find somewhere else to frequent.

By the way, this advice is free.
Offline JasonB

Junior Devvie

« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-11-10 02:12:23 »

Or alternatively, is a career in games very unrealistic, (due to it being highly competetive, or some other reason)and therefore should I just start looking for regular jobs using Java?

A career in games development using Java is probably a bit unrealistic if you have no experience.  Considering there isn't a huge amount of commercial Java games dev going on, other than in J2ME, you'd probably be better off getting some general development experience under your belt, or perhaps trying to get in on the ground floor at a games dev company (as a tester or gofer or whatever).
Offline yaakovdov

Junior Newbie

Java games rock!

« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-11-10 16:25:24 »

Thanks to all who have replied so far. If there's any more opinions, keep them coming.

In response to nonnus29, my course was a Masters degree (although really, its more like squashing a normal degree into 1 year). My original degree was History, so this was a course that taught you stuff in a brand new area that was actually of some use (i.e how to program)
Offline crystalsquid

Junior Devvie

... Boing ...

« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-11-11 08:36:34 »

I used to help select candidates & perform interviews for programmer jobs at my last place (large European publisher), and heres my thoughts on the matter:

Profesional games development usually look for one of two things: Experience, or potential.
2 years writing games is good, any more is better.

However, the thing which really shows it is a good demo. It doesn't have to be a quake-beater by any means, but for mainstream console work you should have something using 3D, showing movement and decent graphics (not programmer art - there are plenty of free textures out there that can make a demo look halfway decent). It doesn't have to be a game! Console games are written by large teams, only the top few need to be able to put whole games together.

The other end of the spectrum would be Java oriented web games or mobile phone games. For these, a demo of a 2D game is more appropriate again with respectable graphics, effects, and preferably  and good gameplay. This should be some kind of playable game. these are generally written by much smaller teams, and so demonstrating you can handle ALL the input/AI/collision/etc. is more important.

Things employers will be considering:

Given your History degree, are there other roles/aspects where it could be useful? What skills did a history degree give you (researching, thouroughness, working with other people, etc.) that can be applied to development? The fact you changed direction can be counted in your favour if you show it demeonstrates flexibility and a willingness to learn.

Age: this is an important concern because of salaries. The older you get, the more responsibilities you have (wife, mortgage, kids, etc.) and so the higher the salary they will expect to pay. Note that this is 'expect' - this sort of consideration will happen when they see your CV, before you even get a chance to talk to them.

Most places will consider hiring a beginner (on a low salary - but beware the expected expectations mentioned above) if they can show that they have the potential to be good, the willingness to learn, and the ability to fit in with teams. A well made demo or two can show you have the potential (& the necessary starting skill), but the other aspects are just as important to a potential employer.

Don't be concerned about companies 'ripping your demo off'. Firstly you shouldn't do anything too innovative (they may not get it, etc.). Secondly, after a few years writing professionally you will look back on your demo and think 'Flaming Heck - that was rubbish!'. And last but not least, almost all publishers will consign your demo to the bin after viewing it. Partly for legal reasons, but also because they are only interested in seeing what it shows you can do programmatically, and not what the content/idea actualy is (there is probably not a huge amount you could show that would be new to them).

Sorry for the long ramble, but I hope it helps Smiley

(PS: I know of only 3 testers who made it into actual development. one as an assistant designed, one artist, and one coder. They had a VERY hard time of it, needing nearly a year of pestering to get the chance after they first said that was what they wanted to do. Dev. tends to look down on testers, particularly those who 'think they can code too'. Sad but true.)
Offline yaakovdov

Junior Newbie

Java games rock!

« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-11-11 18:32:44 »

Thanks crystal squid for that absolutly fantastic advice.

My current state of mind is that I should attempt to get whatever Java programming job I can get for now, but I will continue to improve my Java 2D game skills for a bit in my spare time. Then, when I'm ready, I'll try out 3D games and C++ (in fact, if I have trouble getting a job, I may decide to lean C++ for to help me with that)

Thanks again to all who have replied thus more, and to anyone else who has anything further to add....
Offline sillysoft

Junior Devvie

Projects: 1


« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-11-13 06:37:54 »

Making little 2D games in your spare time can be both fun and an excellent learning experience. This is regardless of what your day job is.

Offline Middy

Junior Devvie

Java games rock!

« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-11-13 07:03:22 »

Dunno if this story is true. But if it is, consider your choice again :-)

When do I get my makeMyGameAsILike() extension?
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Offline Tzan

Junior Devvie

« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-11-15 14:39:15 »

I'm sure its true.
I know people who have worked at companies that had to deal with EA, they are not a fun bunch to work for.

I had a somewhat similar experience this year while working a contract job at Turbine. Even though I would like to go back, I doubt that they would hire me. My boss was a dick. I was working as an hourly employee and they had an unwritten expectation that I should be working over 40 hours and not putting it on my time card. One contractor who did this got an extension, another got a permanent job I got shown the door at the end of the contract. Because I obeyed the law.

I had been trying to get into a company for 20 years. I did top quality work and got treated like shit for $12/hour.

I had a 6 month contract in QA doing perl programming for automated testing $10/hour. Then after 3.5 months I got hired onto the MEO content team for a 6 month contract $12/hour after asking for more money. I created the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs and several dungeons. I also did some more perl and generator scripts and piles of other random stuff Smiley. The QA lead said he never saw anyone get out of QA faster than me. That was mostly because I was totally qualified to do the content work a decade ago. My background is architecture, art, boardgame design, programming.

I met a guy earlier this year and we talked about how to get in a company. He said it was really tough. I asked how long he had been looking. He said 5 months. I laughed and said let me know when its been 5 years.
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