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


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#1 of 15 Andres Munoz

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Posted August 29 2003 - 06:26 AM

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?
Andres


#2 of 15 BrianB

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Posted August 29 2003 - 07:56 AM

Quote:
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.

What's needed is good C++ skills, good software engineering (though you'll be shocked at how poor some teams are at using them), good maths & good design skills.

How to "get in" depends on your current skillset/experience. The usual reccomendation I make is to get some books and start plowing through them with the goal of doing your own simple "demo games" - they don't have to be super sophisticated, just a way of showing off concepts & the ability to finish stuff. If you're already an experienced developer, it'd be better/easier to do demos to show off your knowledge/background - if you want to go into AI programming, do a demo featuring some cool AI moving about. Graphics don't matter - just the AI concepts involved. Of course, if you want to be the next Carmack, then graphics /do/ matter.

Well, what exactly are you looking to do? General "logic" programming, AI, tools, engine? I'd suggest buying some good "game programming" books, & plowing through them.

For example - Game Coding Complete by Mike McShaffry is regarded as a good "all round" book.


Spend some time on Gama Sutra. Spend some time on [url=http://www.flipcode.com/]Flip Code.

C++ is the language of choice, though some developers do still use "straight" C.

There are no real "game programming" certifications. These days there are a number of colleges/universities offering specific degree courses, but they're expensive & I'm not sure of the value of them in the longrun for a game programmer. A general CS degree/background is better in my experience.

Developers are more looking for a good CS knowledge & a proven desire/ability to do "cool stuff" related to games. That could be from writing wow 3D renderers to some cool Maya plugins or tools to a sophisticated AI system onscreen to a full clone of Pacman using an off the shelf engine. Just depends what you want to do.
high resolution ipod featuring dlp hd programming is the best, almost as good as playstation 2 with wega windows media on a super cd! ps2 and tivo do dolby tv with broadband hdtv!

#3 of 15 Max Leung

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Posted August 30 2003 - 07:26 AM

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

Quote:
This fall, Southern Methodist University in Dallas will enroll 32 students in its new 18-month master's level certificate program in video-game design. Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, is offering for the first time a full-blown undergraduate major in "game and simulation arts" as part of its bachelor of fine arts degree program.

Not in NYC, I know...but maybe there is a program in the works?

Heh, I'm still a bit mad at Bioware for not hiring me a couple of years ago. I can smugly say that Star Wars: Kinnigits of the Old Republic would not be so buggy if they only let me work on their quality control (aka debug their quest logic). Posted Image Posted Image
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#4 of 15 Dave Smith

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Posted August 31 2003 - 03:40 AM

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 of 15 Chris Lockwood

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Posted August 31 2003 - 08:18 AM

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 of 15 Morgan Jolley

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Posted August 31 2003 - 01:51 PM

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 of 15 BrianB

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Posted August 31 2003 - 01:57 PM

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).

Quote:
What languages/platforms do you write in?

The industry is generally C++, though there are a good number of developers who are straight C still, with a smattering of micro-code on the likes of the PS2.
high resolution ipod featuring dlp hd programming is the best, almost as good as playstation 2 with wega windows media on a super cd! ps2 and tivo do dolby tv with broadband hdtv!

#8 of 15 david stark

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Posted August 31 2003 - 02:23 PM

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 of 15 Ricardo C

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Posted August 31 2003 - 02:28 PM

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.
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#10 of 15 Dave Smith

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Posted August 31 2003 - 02:56 PM

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 Posted Image

#11 of 15 Andres Munoz

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Posted September 02 2003 - 01:19 AM

Thanks for replying guys.

Dave Smith, thanks for giving it to me straight. Posted Image

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? Posted Image ) but have no clue which one would be good.
Andres


#12 of 15 Dave Smith

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Posted September 02 2003 - 02:17 AM

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 Posted Image

#13 of 15 Andres Munoz

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Posted September 02 2003 - 02:36 AM

So it is hard to make 100K or more developing games?
Andres


#14 of 15 BrianB

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Posted September 02 2003 - 02:46 AM

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

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

It is fun. It's also damn hard work in a very deadline driven workplace though.
high resolution ipod featuring dlp hd programming is the best, almost as good as playstation 2 with wega windows media on a super cd! ps2 and tivo do dolby tv with broadband hdtv!

#15 of 15 Andres Munoz

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Posted September 02 2003 - 04:00 AM

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. Posted Image

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



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