Anyone know of any game development courses I can take? (NYC)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Andres Munoz, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. Andres Munoz

    Andres Munoz Cinematographer

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    I'm a software developer working for a Wall St. company and I'm looking to get into game development but have no clue as to what is needed.

    Are there any courses one can take for this? Some sort of certification?
     
  2. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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  3. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Off to college to major in ... video games?

     
  4. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been a game programmer for over 10 years now professionally, and several years before than as an amateur.

    Why do you want to get into the games industry?

    Because it's "fun"? Try working 90 hour weeks for a year straight, with huge stress and deadline pressures, and no overtime pay, naturally.

    Money? You'll find that game programmers earn a lot less than business coders. You have to be exceptional to make a lot of money in this line of work.

    Stability? The game industry over here isn't TOO bad, though it's not as good as it was a few years ago. In the UK, it's a mess. Not sure what the long-term prognosis is... I expect that the large publishers will continue to buy up smaller studios and then either merge them into their internal development or close them outright (aka the Infogrames model, buy a studio for the IP, not the people or development capacity).

    Obviously I like my job otherwise I wouldn't do it. I just want to make sure that the right people come into the industry; people who basically love games so much that the rest of the crap doesn't matter!

    Even then you might find yourself burned out after a decade or so... the worst problem with this industry, in my opinion, is that it works people into the ground. I've seen lots of people leave it in the last couple of years for that reason.
     
  5. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    Yeah, I imagine writing games is a lot less fun than playing them. (In the same way that the day-to-day process of making movies is less glamorous than being a movie star sounds.) The testing process must get to be a pain (seriously).

    What languages/platforms do you write in?
     
  6. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    I've heard before that it's good to go through courses to learn C++ and so on, and then try to get a job as a game tester with a company so you can see the whole game making process without being overworked/overstressed by it as much, as well as make friends and possibly use that as a stepping stone.
     
  7. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    Nope - if you want a job as a programmer, get an entry level job as a programmer. Testers are worked just as hard as the rest of the team members, frequenly more as they're moved from project to project faster, and thus get to experience more crunchtime.

    I've seen that advice of "get a job as a tester" before, and generally, it's NOT good advice. It can be viewed as a stepping stone to level design and production roles, but generally not for art/code. If you're good enough for either of those roles, you'll find the right opportunity.

    Generally, I don't advise on going into game testing, period. It's a far from glamorous job, unless you're very lucky with what projects you're involved with. It's usually underpaid & under-appreciated, and are usually amongst the first to go come lay-off time (as they're cheap to replace).

     
  8. david stark

    david stark Second Unit

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    Dave Smith (or others who are working in the games industry)- A few months ago I was looking to maybe go into the games industry. I'm a developer with skills in C, C++, java mainly, but was laid off. Whilst looking for another job I applied for a couple of positions doing game development. I have 4 years(ish) experience in development (and a degree in software engineering), but the compaines said they were only interested in work experience within the industry.

    I found another job quite quickly in business development and am now happy working on a long term contract with java development. Finally at the question, if in the future I look for a position in the games industry would I really have to go back to square one and apply for junior positions? I can understand having to go down a bit, but not back to being a beginner. Also I'm useless at anything arty, I can't draw for toffee, but I'm more interested in the back end stuff, how programs work internally, not the gui, would this be a major hindrance?

    As I mentioned I'm more curious than seriousl interested, I'm happy with my job at the minute, but when the project ends (a few years time) I may come back and look at the games industry again.
     
  9. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I'm trying to make it as an indie developer. I've heard far too many stories about life in the big leagues, or more specifically, about how little money the people most responsible for the product make (sounds awfully close to the way the music business screws musicians over). I'm starting small and with no budget (save what I paid for my tools), but at least I'm in complete control of what I do.
     
  10. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    As Brian said, C++ is the language we use these days. That's for all platforms except the GBA (and even then if you want, though you won't get the speed you need to be competitive for an action game).

    I'm a lead programmer these days, which at my company is about 60% management/40% coding, so I get to interview people regularly. If you don't have experience in the industry, you're going to find it harder for sure. It'd be like me applying to Microsoft for a position developing Word or Visual Studio. The specific skills are just different. As you can code already you'll be able to pick those new skills up, but unless you're applying for an entry-level position, you'll be up against candidates who already HAVE those skills. And there's no replacement for experience.

    There's some crossover though, especially on the tools side, where most development is done for Windows machines using C++/MFC.

    Some examples of skills in demand:

    - Physics: Rigid-body, springs, rag-doll, hair/cloth simulation, collision systems, realtime IK

    - Rendering: visual effects, lighting models, radiosity, DirectX, PS2 microcode

    - Networking: client/server programming, prediction, client synchronization, deterministic systems

    - General: platform-specific optimization, multi-threading, asynchronous data streaming and resource management, calculus, audio programming

    There's more, but if you're an expert in any of those fields you should be able to walk into a game programming job, if you still want to after this thread [​IMG]
     
  11. Andres Munoz

    Andres Munoz Cinematographer

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    Thanks for replying guys.

    Dave Smith, thanks for giving it to me straight. [​IMG]

    I've been a developer for 5 years, all of them in the financial industry (stock market, bond market, electronic trading, etc). Lately I've gotten the feeling that this is not what I want to be doing. I'm getting bored and I just don't have the incentive anymore (even though the money is good and will get better).

    I have to admit, video games are the reason why I became a programmer in the first place. But once I started going to college, I paid less and less attention to my love for video games to the point where I forgot about the desire to create games. I finished school, got a job for this Wall Street company and here I am 5 years later wanting to go back.

    But I don't know anymore, now that you told me how it works. If I'm complaining now about the pressure and stress of my current job, I can't imagine how it would be working 90 hr weeks with deadlines all the time.
    I kind of figured it would be hard work but not that hard.

    As far as the money...what are we talking about? 80 to 100K a year? more? less?

    I also figured developing video games would be fun somehow, but it sounds like it's not.

    I don't know what to do now. I feel like I want to change industries, where there's good money and not so much pressure (isn't that what we all want? [​IMG] ) but have no clue which one would be good.
     
  12. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I'm giving you the worst case. It's not always like that. But when it gets crazy, it REALLY gets crazy.

    The salaries for an entry level game programmer will be around the $45-50k mark usually, rising to about $65-75k after a few years. To get much higher than that, you have to be really good (or work in California). These numbers are from the 2002 Game Developer magazine salary survey so I didn't just make them up or anything [​IMG]
     
  13. Andres Munoz

    Andres Munoz Cinematographer

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    So it is hard to make 100K or more developing games?
     
  14. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    It's relatively easy to make that in California, but outside of there, yes, it's very hard.

     
  15. Andres Munoz

    Andres Munoz Cinematographer

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    I read a few pages of the Game Coding Complete book and the author verifies what has been said here already. It is very hard work. One of the lines that grabbed my attention the most was that a lot of times you end up feeling guilty for leaving work before 7 PM on Sunday night!

    Maybe I should stick to playing video games. [​IMG]

    Any ideas what other programming industries out there pay good money?
     

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