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Ping Mathematix

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Fergal1982, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    I've considered Games development from time to time, since deciding that I wanted to do programming. But Im interested to know how you progressed into the field?

    I know its a highly competitive business, but have no real idea how you would go about getting into it, or even if it would really be that appealing once in there.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  2. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Yo Fergal!

    My journey into the industry has been about 4 years in the making. Endured many interviews where I'd narrowly missed out on programming positions due to a lack of experience, so I got into programming after spending some time in QA. So how did I get up to that point?

    First off, you will need to master C++ in some depth. As I'm sure you know, if you have not done this already it will take some time. Check out sites like Guru of the week, but don't worry, no-one that I know get everything right on there, if any. Also you will need to know how to build a game engine, and the best way to do this would be to make your own game in C++. The common SDKs used are:

    1. OpenGL - A graphics-only set of libraries.
    2. DirectX - An SDK that covers everything for a game engine (graphics, audio, IO, etc.)

    It is preferable that you learn the DirectX SDK to some detail as it quite accurately reflects that custom technologies used by games studios to create their games.

    Whilst you are doing this, you will more likely need to network with games developers to gain some 'inside knowledge' that is impenetrable from outside. I networked by joining the International Game Developers Association and going to the local meetings getting to know other developers. Before getting the job I ran the London Chapter of the IGDA arranging meetings for those in game development and industry hopefuls where meetings were given by Sony for the PSP and PS3 before they were released (yes I was one of the very first guys in the country to get my mits on a PSP! :p ) and where Autodesk showcased 3DS Max and associated tools for both modern and future games in development. Great time they were!

    During these events I became quite an extrovert going up to people and introducing myself, where I would be questioned on my skills and desired position within the industry. After my old business application development contract had finished I was invited to hand my CV into a studio and within 24 hours had a job as a tester in QA. Although it wasn't exactly what I wanted I wasn't having very much luck otherwise, so jumped at the chance seeing it as a way into the industry.

    Whilst in QA I was observing how games are developed professionally - paying particular attention to the challenges that programmers faced. Whilst there I got to know many programmers (who are now good friends both at my studio and others), and made know my own skills in what I had to offer. Out of the blue I was requested and briefly interviewed for a junior programming position that I'm doing now.

    As you can see it is a great big load of work, but I'm not trying to put you off - just giving you the heads-up on why it is so challenging to get your foot in the door.

    I won't ramble on any more, but will point you to a few resources of interest:

    - IGDA Breaking In FAQ: Answers many of the questions on breaking into the industry. I was a contributor to this (Dean Butcher). I strongly suggest that you read through this to save yourself a lot of question asking.
    - IGDA Programming and Technology forum: I'm one of the moderators there and am accompanied by other very good programmers both as moderators and regular users. Feel free to post with any problems that you encounter whilst developing your game.
    - LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn profile detailing your skills and qualifications. This is your electronic calling card allowing other to link with youso that you maintain contact with those you meet. I'll PM you my profile so that we can link. Looks better if you have someone from the industry as your link! ;)
    - When you have work, create a website showcasing it and your skills. I got my job before putting any more work one mine, so it only shows my very first ever 3D game that I wrote from scratch. (See my profile for the site.)

    This is is in a very tight nutshell. it's a very long road from a standing start, but keep in mind that you are younger than when I decided to embark on the industry, so you have loads of time! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  3. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    Had to give you reps for that reply Math. I do have a question too. Do programmers make up all their games? Or hmmm, not sure what you would call them. Maybe an (inventer) of a game knows what he wants and has a storyboard, but can not program themselves hires you guys? Or am I just asking a really stupid question?:biggrin
     
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  4. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Awww thanks, Mitzs! :biggrin

    A game goes though many stages before getting to the finished product. The very first stage is call a 'pitch' where a games designer or designers would briefly write up a document describing the concept of the game, its rules and control scheme. This pitch is normally looked over by a lead/senior games designer to see if it is viable. If it is, various meeting are held between art and design teams to fill out this concept into what is called a GDD or 'game design document'. This goes into some detail as to the into the story of the game (where the writers usually come in), the various assets that the levels will have (objects in the world and the characters and their roles in the game), the precise rules of the game, the user uinterface design, etc. and some artwork. Basically every little detail you see in a finished game.

    Either during the process or a short time after, this pitch is backed up by a demo created by the programming team that gives a feel for the game and how it will play. During the creation of the demo and therafter the programming team will be creating their own TDD (Technical Design Document) that details who, why and how certain technologies will be developed for the game. The artists will also begin creating other assets like textures and model to put into the demo.

    During these stages the business team of the studio will be negotiating deals from publishers in order to fund making the game. This is usually promised just after the initial game pitch has been approved. Once everything is in place a 'producer' is assigned to the project to manage the development of the game.

    This is generally how it goes. :)
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  5. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    wow, there are so many different levels to it. I don't think that is something I would enjoy being a PM on. I would think with that many creative people that some would have to clash somewhere along the way. It does sound really interesting though. Thank you for such a detail explanation.
     
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  6. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Mathematix, thanks for your insight, its very interesting. I'll certainly take a look at the resources you listed.

    To be honest, I have to admit that my interest was rekindled after watching the Fable 2 webisodes on xbox live from Lionhead Studios.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  7. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    I've sat in design/art meetings and they usually get on very well in deciding what is best for the project, but for the programming ones everyone has their own idea on how best to approach development - often with equally valid reasons. That's a toughy to resolve. :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  8. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    No probs, Fergal.

    Just bare in mind that if you do decide to go for it that the love of developing games takes precedence over playing them. Working in the games industry is work and not playing games all day, if you get my drift. :daz
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  9. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    I absolutley get where you are coming from. But I enjoy the feeling of people getting benefit/enjoying features that I implement in the program(s) I work on. I find a satisfaction in working past a problem, and in taking a desired feature and turning it into a reality.

    Like I said, I like the idea of developing games. I may not like the reality, but I wont know until I spend some more time looking at it.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  10. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    fergal, I say go for it dude! You never know untill you try it. This might be your nich like it is Maths.
     
    Certifications: Microcomputers and network specialist.
    WIP: Adobe DW, PS
  11. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    I hope you do look into it mate. :)
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  12. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    One thing that I've noticed about games is that it gives a unique insight into software development that can only be gained once you start to make them professionally. Also, the problems that you are tasked with solving, you better not be reliant on Google because the answers simply won't be there.
     
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.

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