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Computer (Games) Programmer advice urgently needed

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by coops, May 15, 2005.

  1. coops

    coops Bit Poster

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    Hello all,

    If anyone could offer advice on this I would greatly appreciate it.

    My aim is to have a career within the computer games design industry, essentially as a computer programmer. I have researched several IT Training companies, however I cannot comfortably afford their fees.

    I have also researched my local college but unfortunately the for particular course I am interested in Computer Game Production, they are asking for proof of creativity/artistic flair, which I do not have (I got a Grade A at GSCE however all my artwork was left in school).

    I am going on the assumption that most courses run from books, so I am wondering if anyone knows of any quality books/cd's I can buy that I can use to get on this career ladder. Perhaps whereby I can self study and take exams as and when I am ready, and gain qualifications that way. Or if that isn't possible, I can atleast gain some skills in this area and develop some kind of portfolio I can show to prospective course advisors etc.

    Any help greatly appreciated,

    coops
     
  2. Hello World

    Hello World Nibble Poster

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    If you wanna get into games programming you are gonna need to learn some programming languages... most games nowadays use C++ or something based upon it.

    Well, i heard a lot about XML being used too in some of the new stuff coming out (Egosoft's X3 Game amongst others).

    Really though if you wanna do programming start with something basic in a college or like ... self study for something advanced, try Visual Basic for example for a first language, commonly refered to as "VB", failing that buy yourself some C++ beginners guide books, self study then join a C++ programming course or take the exams (i dont actually think people care about certs in programming though, they will usually ask to see work or give you a test there and then).

    Thing is, most C++ courses will want you to have basic understandings of programming before you go into them, ie know things like what variables, functions, loops, switches and arrays are at very least. You have to be hella commited to coding if thats what you wanna do, its taxing as hell at times.
     
    WIP: CCNA 1, IT Essentials 1(A+)
  3. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    I'm on a mailing list with allot of games developers in the UK. I have posted your message onto the list. I'll let you know if they offer any advice...
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  4. Hello World

    Hello World Nibble Poster

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    @Modey, post the reply public if you can, i'd be interested to hear what they say about it.
     
    WIP: CCNA 1, IT Essentials 1(A+)
  5. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    Here's one reply from a Dev who used to be senior at Argonaut.


    Short answers: "don't", "work in a bank", "learn Chinese".

    (Sorry, joking.)

    Long answer: if you really want to work in games, most of the (expensive)
    media courses you'll see advertised by training companies are worthless. The
    proper degrees or MSc courses are better, as they tend to have good
    industry links.

    Most of the skills required to get into the games industry can indeed be learned
    from books, but entry isn't structured ... there's no standard qualification or
    certification you can train for. A good general computing (note: *not*
    IT) degree
    is worth a lot, but a strong interest in games (as a consumer) and a portfolio
    of demo work is of equal or more importance.

    So, the books to get are those which allow you to learn the skills required to
    write your own simple games, graphics/physics/ai demos (or whatever area of
    games programming most interests you) so you can show me that you a) have
    talent, b) can program, c) have some idea of what 'works' in a game.

    I'm afraid I can't suggest any books, though I believe they exist. What I can
    suggest is you look into games programming websites (www.flipcode.com,
    www.gamasutra.com etc for advice). The Chaos Engine (private industry webste)
    has a forum in its public section which looks good:

    http://www.thechaosengine.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=8

    Hope this helps.

    TomN
     
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    WIP: Nada
  6. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    Another reply on the mailing list. It's worth bearing in mind that this advice is from people who have been in the games industry a long time.

    ---

    Sorry Dom, I meant to reply but got distracted. The thing
    is though... your mate might want to start by doing a bit
    of a Google to start with. There are a million other grads
    asking "how do I work in games" on sites all over the world,
    and lots of answers too.

    > My aim is to have a career within the computer games design industry,
    > essentially as a computer programmer. I have researched several IT
    > Training companies, however I cannot comfortably afford their fees.

    They are mostly worthless, I'd advise your friend not to bother.
    I'd avoid the games-industry-oriented degrees too, to be honest,
    at least on the programming side of things. If he wants to program
    videogames, I recommend getting a degree in computer science or
    software engineering to start with. It's a lot harder without
    that nowadays. I also recommend he actually makes games in his free
    time to see (a) if he likes it (b) if he is good at it and (c) if
    he can create a little demo that'll get him a job interview at a
    games company, showcase his talent and enthusiasm.

    The best way to get into games is to make games.
    BlitzBasic is great for just getting stuff moving about on
    screen quickly. Making mods (Unreal etc) is useful experience too.
    That's a good place to start with, before he tries jumping into C++
    and DirectX etc.

    Lastly I get a few mixed messages from your friends message.
    Does he want to be a games programmer, or a games artist, or
    a games designer? These days those are often separate jobs,
    done by different people. Naturally if he's looking into being
    an artist, modeller, animator, or something else my advice would
    be a bit different.
     
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  7. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    Some more replies to the list ...

    ----

    Do a decent demo and you will often get an interview on that alone.
    Plus, lots of games companies will take on very junior staff because they are cheap.

    Books is a diffult one, as I rarely see a good one.
    Ones like Code Complete are good just for teaching people a bit about how not to do stuff.
    Generally games programming is so different from normal programming that its a bit of a shock to the system, so it'd be good to read up things like post mortems that games companies have written - maybe on Gamasutra for example (not sure if that is publicly available of course).

    ----

    I'd like to offer some encouraging advice, but honestly I'm rather
    hacked off with the whole thing right now. I don't think those college
    courses are worth an awful lot - a homemade demo of some description
    would do just as well. As for books, it might be worth taking a look
    at the Game Programming Gems series. They tend to cover a fairly wide
    range of topics, and come with a CD full of code and samples to run.

    ------

    Finally, if you want a laugh, check this out. It's meant to be serious, but if you think games design is anything like that, well lol! :)
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
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  8. CarlosTSG

    CarlosTSG Bit Poster

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    One worth a mention is www.wildtangent.com

    Wild Tangent is a web 3D driver that can build 3D games with little effort, just to give you a basic concept of programming games if you haven't got any exprience in that area. Languages that it supports are C++, Java, Javascript, VB, VBScript, or any other language that supports COM.

    In the developer section there's a few tutorials and there's also a forum for support.
     
    WIP: MCAD
  9. coops

    coops Bit Poster

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    This forum rules. Awesome advice guys, and MUCH appreciated.

    coops
     
  10. cron0s

    cron0s New Member

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    Certifications: A+

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