Advice on getting a games development job?

In a bit of a predicament

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#1 Imek  Icon User is offline

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Advice on getting a games development job?

Post icon  Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:17 AM

Hey Guys,

I'm sorry if this isn't the correct forum. I was kind of torn between Game Programming and Caffeine Lounge, but decided that this forum might contain a greater proportion of people in the know.

I've just graduated from Durham Uni with a 1st class CompSci degree. This would be great if I wanted a regular programming job, but I really want to get into games. The problem with my course was that it didn't provide a lot of the skills the employers are looking for - the language was Java, when C++ is the de facto standard. I know a bit about programming in Java3D, but not that much about OpenGL/DirectX. I've done a couple of simple games in Java, but I've only taught myself a bit of C++ on the side and haven't done any game development in it. Most games employers aren't really interested in me.

I've been offered a place at Newcastle University doing this "Computer Game Engineering" 1-year MSc (postgraduate) course, starting in a couple of months. It'll cost me a bit, and it'll mean that I'll be penniless for another year, but if the course is really good I might do it. There is still a possibility I could get an entry-level job, but there's not really enough time to try and get one - I need to decide whether to accept the offer within the next couple of weeks. Below are a couple of links with info on the course.

http://www.ncl.ac.uk...ing/courses/132
http://www.cs.ncl.ac...e/taught/games/

Could anyone here, who knows about the games industry, advise me on what you think the best thing for me to do is? Does this course look worth it, from the info on the above pages? If I don't do the course, I'll probably just look for any old programming job to do for a year or two, and trying to teach myself DirectX/OpenGL etc. and write a portfolio of game demos on the side.

Any advice anyone can give me would be really great.

Thanks

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#2 DTR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:53 AM

Why not take the higher education and teach yourself while doing it?
If you can take the poverty, it might be a beneficial trip.


Advice is dime a dozen in this place: http://www.gamecaree...orums/index.php

Really helpful resource.


The first and last thing you will need is an outstanding portfolio. If the content is impressive enough, you are hired.

This post has been edited by DTR: 14 August 2008 - 09:59 AM

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#3 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:07 AM

Well first I'd like to warn you that I don't think anyone here does much more than hobby game development. That said...

---------------------------

Do you want to learn C++ first, or 3d graphics?

If you want to learn 3d graphics, you need to pick either OpenGL or DirectX. It really doesn't matter which one you pick, and you can always go and learn the other later, but trying to learn both at the same time isn't going to fly well.

If you want to learn C++, try rewriting your Java programs in it.

I would not recommend trying to learn a new language AND a new API simultaneously.

---------------------------

I'm not suggesting that you don't take classes on the subject, but if you like reading and programming in your free time and are willing to dedicate a couple of hours everyday to doing just that then I'm willing to bet you could teach yourself most of what you need to know.

Just speculation but if you had some impressive games to show and $(GAMESTUDIO) asks you what language they're written in and you answer with Java, I'm guessing that's probably not going to somehow diminish the quality of your work.

The advice I've gotten about trying to get a job at a game studio is that they're more looking for someone who is experienced than someone who is technically qualified. If you've written a bunch of games in Java and they see that, they'll probably be willing to give you a little time on the job to pickup C++. Honestly once you learn one programming language really well picking up another one isn't that hard. The only thing that really changes is the paradigm and the syntax, and Java and C++ both are mainly OO programming languages with pretty similar "curly brace" syntax so personally I can't say that should be much of a jump. :)

At the end of the day it's your decision though. :^:
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#4 mocker  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:51 PM

If you have a CS degree with Java, picking up C++ shouldn't be too hard. There ARE some games that are made in java, but not nearly as many as in C++. I'd suggest going for the extra 1 year course and working on C++ on your own during that time. CS courses should focus on programming structures and fundamentals that transcend any specific language. Most companies won't really care what language the classes used.
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#5 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:20 PM

Unless you are applying to a grad school that specifically wants you to know the ins and outs of a specific language. The Guildhall @ SMU wants C++ for example and explicitly states it.
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#6 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:23 PM

my advice -- take the higher education (esp a MS degree in 1 year!). While it may or may not help you learn C++ it will make you more employable. Personally I hate seeing these programmers with far less experience and lets face it no skills to really speak of getting paid more than me just because they have the MS degree.

You may be pennyless in the short run. but you have more pennies in the long run.
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#7 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 15 August 2008 - 07:56 AM

Seems like a good incentive to get a MS degree
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#8 prolulzibus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 15 August 2008 - 04:20 PM

You should go online, take a few hours, and see how many Java-based, game programming jobs you can find. I think that there is an industry for Java programmers in games, especially in the mobile field. Take a look at this:

Independent Gaming Could Flourish on the iPhone

That being said, a little education specifically towards gaming never hurts, looks great on a resume, and can pay off when a big company sees something more than CS.


Either way, you should continue improving your skills, in or out of school.

This post has been edited by prolulzibus: 15 August 2008 - 04:24 PM

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#9 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 15 August 2008 - 06:24 PM

My advice to you is to possibly accept a placement on a course in game development but also keep on applying for an entry level position as a programmer.

Companies see entry level/ junior programmers as (nicest possible way) cheap labour , so to speak.

you will initially get the jobs that noone else wants but you will get all the practice you could need and you will hopefully be working alongside some really talented programmers. If you have already gone through a computer science degree then most game courses especially ones that run for just a year are what a lot of people call hybrid courses, they will teach you a lot of fluff that isn't necessarily going to be useful to you.

that said these courses come highly recommended if you can get on them :)

http://www.goldsmith...computer-games/

http://www.qantm.co....development.php (I actually did this one)

good luck :^:
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#10 Imek  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 20 August 2008 - 08:19 AM

Thanks for all the comments.

After thinking for a while and asking a couple of people in the industry, I've decided I probably am going to do this course. The people I've asked say that the course looks as good as any, and personally I think it would be a good opportunity to build up my portfolio - one thing I've learned from looking into all this is that it's very important to have a portfolio of demos to show prospective employers.

I also looked at other places I heard had good games courses, like Qantm and Hull University, but I think it might be a bit late now to go applying. Because I already live very close to Newcastle, though, and the course looks good enough, it'd be easier and (much) cheaper for me to go there.
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#11 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 20 August 2008 - 01:36 PM

I live close to newcastle too :)

northumbria has one of the best game degrees in the country, but its four years, they have some kind of casual study where you can pay to do modules tho which is cool. Good Luck, you gonna try and work for midway its in team valley retail estate in gateshead, probably the biggest game name around this area :)
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#12 Tastybrownies  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 21 August 2008 - 08:02 AM

Hey everyone, the school I am currently at just switched all the classes about C++ I was going to take to C#. My first reaction was, "Why on earth would they do that!"

I'm asking just because I know some of you guys have done C# and C++, how similar are they really? I was taking VB and just starting on Java and then they do this switch. How much of C# is derived from C++ is my question?
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#13 chaosprime  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 21 August 2008 - 09:38 AM

I think it'd be useful to know more about what kind of game development you want to do. It sounds like you want to work on the big-ticket movie-production-style games that "the industry" is about, but let's not assume. Is your goal horizon just to be working for one of the big development houses in any capacity, or do you have an idea of what you ultimately want to do? Do you want to code 3D renderers, design MMOs, tell stories, make puzzles, get rich? When asking about the best way to start, the question of where you actually want to end up is pretty important.
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#14 stayscrisp  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 21 August 2008 - 03:33 PM

Aargh thats a bit of a gutter mate :( i dunno how similar c sharp is to c++ but most games are written in c++ so its the best language to be learning, but who knows, i think c sharp is kinda like python maybes.
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#15 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advice on getting a games development job?

Posted 21 August 2008 - 06:06 PM

Quote

i think c sharp is kinda like python maybes.



AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Negative one point for you! ;)

Python is an interpreted scripting language. C# is essentially a cross (loosely mind you) of C++ and java as part of MS's .NET platform. XNA uses C# for its programming language. Maybe some xbox games are programmed in C# as well.


edited for typos

This post has been edited by KYA: 21 August 2008 - 06:06 PM

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