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Programming  » Possible Futre Programmer- Info needed

17 posts found
  bboneheadd

Novice Member

Joined: 8/27/07
Posts: 116

 
OP  11/14/09 2:48:07 PM#1

Basically  I have been a gamer for as long I can remember and I am very intrested in becomming a game programmer. I am doing my last year in school and will be going to University next year and was wondering what type of course would it be best to do Computer science or courses specialising in game development?

  User Deleted
11/14/09 2:52:43 PM#2

IMO, pick a programming language, learn it, specialize in it, and write demos to show how tight your code is or what cool things you can do with it. There are so many programmers out there that you really need to prove your one of the best in order to land a good programming position. Your degree will often move your resume further up in the pile, but your programming ability will fetermine the outcome.

  mrroboto40

Novice Member

Joined: 5/31/05
Posts: 674

11/14/09 2:53:33 PM#3
Originally posted by bboneheadd

Basically  I have been a gamer for as long I can remember and I am very intrested in becomming a game programmer. I am doing my last year in school and will be going to University next year and was wondering what type of course would it be best to do Computer science or courses specialising in game development?

 

Well I'm pretty much doing the exact same thing as you, except I'm there.

Certain Universities offer a computer science course with an option to major in Game Development, it requires higher marks because it is a honours course in University.

It's pretty hard, at least the logic classes. But if you like programming it's worth it.

  huntersam

Novice Member

Joined: 11/07/07
Posts: 147

11/14/09 2:54:14 PM#4

if you do decide to go for a degree in game development find out as much about the courses since a lotof them are not worth the time . i know in the uk there is a university that does seem to have a good write up on couses but for the life of me i cant remeber the name

  Abrahmm

Novice Member

Joined: 12/01/05
Posts: 2485

11/14/09 2:59:10 PM#5

I would first try to learn a little bit of programming on your own to make sure you enjoy programming and aren't just doing it in order to make games. You may actually enjoy designing game better than you like programming.

If you find you enjoy programming, go for a traditional Computer Science degree. A computer science degree will give you the opportunity to be a game programmer, or any other type of programmer. A game degree will only allow you to work on games.

You may find that you like programming but don't care for game development, or don't want to do it professionally. That's the boat I'm in. I do some basic game programming in my free time, but I probably won't do it professionally, just keep it as a hobby. Regular programming jobs pay more than equivalent game programming jobs because competition for game jobs is higher.

Tried: LotR, CoH, AoC, WAR, Jumpgate Classic
Played: SWG, Guild Wars, WoW
Playing: Eve Online, Counter-strike
Loved: Star Wars Galaxies
Waiting for: Earthrise, Guild Wars 2, anything sandbox.

  Death1942

Novice Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2596

11/14/09 3:07:24 PM#6

I'm in the same boat as you but i am very lucky and i have a world class games development training centre in my town

 

My plan is 2 years at this Special institute getting a diploma of games development (Programming) and a Business diploma at the same time (both courses only run 2 and a half days a week)

 

Once that is done i am going to my local Uni (i had a choice between a more theory or a more practical based Uni and i chose the latter) and doing a degree in software engineering (most likely specialising in games) and the 1st course knocks off a year from that degree.

 

While all that is done i am going to mod and help my friend make games in an effort to build our portfolios (and have fun of course) and above all try and gain as much experiance as i can.

 

As for you, Computer science is nice (and hard to get into) but realistically when it comes to games you want experiance and practical skills more than theory.

MMO wish list:

-Changeable worlds
-Solid non level based game
-Sharks with lasers attached to their heads

  mrroboto40

Novice Member

Joined: 5/31/05
Posts: 674

11/14/09 3:16:08 PM#7
Originally posted by Death1942

As for you, Computer science is nice (and hard to get into) but realistically when it comes to games you want experiance and practical skills more than theory.

 

Co-op in Computer Science: Computer Game Development is pretty much king. 5 years, a lot of work experience and a degree in Game Development (focus on design, but you learn programming from the computer science aspect).

 

  bboneheadd

Novice Member

Joined: 8/27/07
Posts: 116

 
OP  11/14/09 3:22:39 PM#8
Originally posted by Abrahmm

I would first try to learn a little bit of programming on your own to make sure you enjoy programming and aren't just doing it in order to make games. You may actually enjoy designing game better than you like programming.

If you find you enjoy programming, go for a traditional Computer Science degree. A computer science degree will give you the opportunity to be a game programmer, or any other type of programmer. A game degree will only allow you to work on games.

You may find that you like programming but don't care for game development, or don't want to do it professionally. That's the boat I'm in. I do some basic game programming in my free time, but I probably won't do it professionally, just keep it as a hobby. Regular programming jobs pay more than equivalent game programming jobs because competition for game jobs is higher.

 

I know a tiny bit of python and wrote a few games like a guessing game, and I enjoyed it ^^ . I love games so I  think it would be a lot more intresting making games then software but I suppose it's better to leave my options open when I know so little about programming.

  bboneheadd

Novice Member

Joined: 8/27/07
Posts: 116

 
OP  11/14/09 3:29:08 PM#9
Originally posted by Death1942

I'm in the same boat as you but i am very lucky and i have a world class games development training centre in my town

 

My plan is 2 years at this Special institute getting a diploma of games development (Programming) and a Business diploma at the same time (both courses only run 2 and a half days a week)

 

Once that is done i am going to my local Uni (i had a choice between a more theory or a more practical based Uni and i chose the latter) and doing a degree in software engineering (most likely specialising in games) and the 1st course knocks off a year from that degree.

 

While all that is done i am going to mod and help my friend make games in an effort to build our portfolios (and have fun of course) and above all try and gain as much experiance as i can.

 

As for you, Computer science is nice (and hard to get into) but realistically when it comes to games you want experiance and practical skills more than theory.

A lot of the courses have work placement options and I would also work on a side project while in university so practical skills should not be a problem. I'm just finding it hard to find the right course that would help me the most in becomming a game programmer.

  Death1942

Novice Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2596

11/14/09 4:32:40 PM#10
Originally posted by bboneheadd
Originally posted by Death1942

I'm in the same boat as you but i am very lucky and i have a world class games development training centre in my town

 

My plan is 2 years at this Special institute getting a diploma of games development (Programming) and a Business diploma at the same time (both courses only run 2 and a half days a week)

 

Once that is done i am going to my local Uni (i had a choice between a more theory or a more practical based Uni and i chose the latter) and doing a degree in software engineering (most likely specialising in games) and the 1st course knocks off a year from that degree.

 

While all that is done i am going to mod and help my friend make games in an effort to build our portfolios (and have fun of course) and above all try and gain as much experiance as i can.

 

As for you, Computer science is nice (and hard to get into) but realistically when it comes to games you want experiance and practical skills more than theory.

A lot of the courses have work placement options and I would also work on a side project while in university so practical skills should not be a problem. I'm just finding it hard to find the right course that would help me the most in becomming a game programmer.

 

If i was you i would pick a course, do as well as you possibly could at it and then work your way up in the industry.  There is no magic degree/diploma that will get you instantly employed or shoot you to the top.  You need a few games/projects under you belt and the right attitude and you seem to have the attitude.

MMO wish list:

-Changeable worlds
-Solid non level based game
-Sharks with lasers attached to their heads

  User Deleted
11/19/09 8:36:06 PM#11

My school doesn't offer Game Design. But, a nearby school does and I was thinking about transferring to their CS dept. I took a look at the classes and they are junk. You're going to be stuck in a game design field, where you're under qualified and game companies aren't exactly the most stable of companies in the world. You'd figure if you spend time getting a computer degree, you'd want to work for a company that's at least semi stable.... your chances of getting a job at the big names is about the same as a High School athlete making it pro.
 
Just stick with computer science. You're going to have all the ability in the world to make games, if you do self study. Either degree you're going to need self study anyway. We had a guy from my school graduate about 3yrs ago who immediately got a job working for Blizz. Dunno what he does there, but he had a computer science degree.

Computer Science kinda sucks though, it requires alot of independent study learning languages and getting experienced with them. I'm working on a portfolio when I graduate, because the degree teaches alot of theory and how things work, rather than just a whole bunch of languages. But, it does give you the ability to pretty much pick up ANY language or any aspect of computers and learn it really fast, because you understand how everything works.

 

I'm almost done with my Computer Science core, but I haven't picked a minor yet and I don't want a Math minor. I hate calculus and for the life of me, I can't see any application of it that's not in standard libraries.  I'm still up in the air on what minor I want. It's between Business Information Systems and Graphic Art. I'm probably going to see if I can just audit the Art classes or something, I don't really want the minor... I just want the classes. Photoshop and 3DS Max/Maya to be specific. I'm already fluent in all of them, but I could be ALOT better.

  Vagelisp

Novice Member

Joined: 11/01/05
Posts: 446

11/22/09 5:09:52 PM#12

CS is more theoretical and has many sub-fields that are game development related but of course this does not mean that they are focused on it. Game development courses are more practical and they rely on current technologies and methodologies in order to make computer games.

To make things more clear let's just put some CS courses and some Game Dev courses together:

CS courses (game related)               Game Development courses (current standards)

Computer Programming                     C++
Computer Graphics-Audio                  Directx or (Opengl and OpenAL)
AI                                                              Decision making, path finding etc
Computational Physics                       Game physics which are not actually simulating the real deal

in my opinion It does not really matter what path You will take, since it's obvious that You will have to bind practical and theoretical knowledge from both. As a computer scientist You will have to learn an OO programming language, some 3D apis etc, while as a focused game developer You wil have to study CS terms methods and algorithms in order to understand new technologies.

In both cases i wish You success but be careful since some "modern" "Colleges" and "Universities" try to bypass the importance of mathematics which imo is the key and "the right course" of beeing a succesful game programmer.

  sepher

Novice Member

Joined: 6/10/06
Posts: 3561

11/23/09 12:06:47 AM#13
Originally posted by Vagelisp

CS is more theoretical and has many sub-fields that are game development related but of course this does not mean that they are focused on it. Game development courses are more practical and they rely on current technologies and methodologies in order to make computer games.

To make things more clear let's just put some CS courses and some Game Dev courses together:

CS courses (game related)               Game Development courses (current standards)

Computer Programming                     C++
Computer Graphics-Audio                  Directx or (Opengl and OpenAL)
AI                                                              Decision making, path finding etc
Computational Physics                       Game physics which are not actually simulating the real deal

in my opinion It does not really matter what path You will take, since it's obvious that You will have to bind practical and theoretical knowledge from both. As a computer scientist You will have to learn an OO programming language, some 3D apis etc, while as a focused game developer You wil have to study CS terms methods and algorithms in order to understand new technologies.

In both cases i wish You success but be careful since some "modern" "Colleges" and "Universities" try to bypass the importance of mathematics which imo is the key and "the right course" of beeing a succesful game programmer.

 

Agreed.

As a hobbyist that messes around with DirectX game development, but has professionally worked with Microsoft's .NET stack ever since college in other applications, math is most certainly the biggest differentiation between programming for games and programming for everything else.

At the very least you need vector/matrix calculus to even approach writing sophisticated 3D. Things like physics and so on are value additions that allow you to do even more.

When I earned my CS degree, the math was much more focused towards finding algorithms useful in engineering applications...i.e. numerical analysis and etc.

All very helpful, but drawing vertexes one by one for example in game development requires just one kind of math to generate an entire mesh. You can find you didn't pick any of that up at all in a computer science trek, though its not too hard going back and learning what you didn't before.

If you want to be a game developer and you're sure that's what you rather pay for in education with your money, then go for it. Nothing stops independent learning afterwards, and a game development degree will probably do exactly that; equip you best for game development.

Computer science is still a good degree, but as Vagelisp put it, its more theoretical than practical. It doesn't by incident equip you for game development more than a game development degree would, but its arguably a better basis to learn more specific math, specific languages, specific technologies and associated patterns from.

You won't go wrong either way.

  User Deleted
11/23/09 12:33:15 AM#14

 


Originally posted by sepher
You won't go wrong either way.


But, what gets me is that there are so many people out there getting Gaming Degrees and lets be honest here, there isn't exactly that many stable companies out there. There are a few and they do employ quite a bit of people, but how many new people do they really need each year? How many of those people quit, just to float around company to company getting whatever work they can? 
 
Sure, you could probably BS your way into an IT job somewhere with a gaming degree. You're going to know computers, but that's the thing. With a CS degree you could do everything from being Mr. IT Fix-it for some random company, all the way up to a programmer for space ships to working with massive server clusters for the government.......... and everything in between. Is a person really going to have that kind of flexibility, to find the job that's right for them, with a degree in Gaming? .... if they can't get a job with a gaming company or do get a job with a gaming company, just to have that company collapse out from under them. There have been way more gaming companies collapse and go bankrupt, than there have been that have made major hits.

CS isn't just programming, it's really Computer Science. (something I didn't realize when I went into it, lol)

 

Personally, I went into my CS degree hoping to get into gaming someday and if not, then at least programming. But today, 4yrs later (I lost 2yrs of school due to Iraq), I'm a junior and I really just think I would be happy as an IT guy for a decently sized company. As a matter of fact, looking around at jobs online, the general IT guy position (that requires a CS degree and not some BS from ITT-Tech) gets paid WAY more than the average programmer. Hell, I found one that's a network Admin for some little bitty restaurant in SoCal that pays $75,000/yr starting out.

 

Actually my dream jobs would be:

Game Development

Flash Development

Part of an IT dept for a high-rise... or something with alot of people. I like interacting with people.

  KirinShadow

Novice Member

Joined: 11/06/03
Posts: 51

11/23/09 1:29:33 AM#15

I'm currently a Masters student at DigiPen (www.digipen.edu if you were wondering), with a bachelor's in CS from Tennessee Technological University. My opinion when it comes to education is this:

Math: Extremely important. I've seen so many people telling kids to "learn to program!", but that's just not enough. Strong math skills are listed as a must-have on almost every game company's hiring calls. This means Calculus, (the ENTIRE sequence you can take, not just the minimum required for a CS degree). This means Linear Algebra (Extremely important. Graphics relies more heavily on these topics than you can imagine.).  Any CS program worth its salt will also require that you take Discrete structures. If you're planning to pursue advanced topics math, then I recommend you add to that the math course that covers formal logic, basic set theory, and proofs. While the topics may not help you directly, they are excellent for preparing you to take on later courses, as you will be MUCH more comfortable expanding on given information and understanding why things work.  Finally, you might want to throw in some probability and statistics as well. I'd rate this low-ish, but it could be important if you were going to work in nondeterministic AI.


CS: This is a broad one. Take everything you can get relating to algorithm design and analysis, Computer graphics (if it's available), is also important. I personally really enjoyed Operating Systems, but every CS student I've spoken to has described a totally different course by that name, so I have no guarantees for you there. Make sure that you have a very strong working understanding of C++. There are other languages, and you should know how to use some of them too (Lua, C#, and Java come to mind.) , but C++ is hands-down essential in the game industry. Other than that, you will probably want to focus on topics of interest to you. The fact is that you can learn specifics if you have a strong base, so make sure you pick up on how to learn independently within your course choices. This leads to one other thing: Independent  study. If your school doesn't offer much in the way of graphics, then see if any of the profs is interested in the topic and will mentor you for a semester.  Finally, if you have the opportunity to do projects (Capstone, anything like that) then don't make a web page or a database app, make a game. Hell, make a game in your free time. Post them online and put the URL on your application. Self-motivation like that impresses employers.

Other stuff: For your traditional sciences, take calculus-based physics at a minimum. This will give you a stronger backing on several math topics of importance.

Schools: I said I'm here at DigiPen as a grad student. I came here because I did not have the opportunity to take any computer graphics courses during my undergrad, and I had a lot of interest in the topic. Is a school like DigiPen necessary? I don't believe so. I can say that it helps though. They do have (from what I've seen) a solid Computer Science curriculum (they call it RTIS, but it's CS with extra math/graphics and project courses). The students here have a heavy course load, and they cover all of the topics I mention above, and more. It is brutal. That said, companies present here on a regular basis, and there are some networking opportunities that you won't get at a lot of other schools. If you want to do what I am and take six years, go for it. If not, you can manage without it, but make sure you plan accordingly.

I can't speak for other schools, but my intuition is to avoid places that talk about how much fun it is to play games. Game development is software development and then some. It's hard, it takes a lot of work, and not everyone is cut out for it. Oh, and if you really want to program, avoid "Game Design" degrees. That is something entirely different, which I am not yet convinced is marketable at entry-level. (this is my opinion, mind you). Once again, the main thing is a solid set of CS and math courses. As you apply ask questions and steer clear of places who won't give you actual answers (Course numbers and descriptions, at very least.) 

Practical Stuff: I don't know where you live, but chances are you will be moving if you want to make games. Convincing any company to let you work from home at entry-level (and even later) is unlikely. Note that this could be entirely on your own dollar, and before you're hired. On the bright side, you're a college student, and you don't really have a whole lot of your own crap to move around, so you could do so pretty cheaply.

Lastly, I'd just like to say that for all my talk about how hard it is, the main thing is that if you're willing to spend the time and do the work to learn what you need to, and go that extra mile (be it relocating, doing independent study, or whatever) to succeed, then you will.

Note: the advantage of going the CS route over "Game Design" means you're also perfectly qualified to LEAVE the game industry should you so choose. You'll have most if not all of the skills to develop software in most fields.

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Society: Reaching new lows every day.

  Death1942

Novice Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2596

11/23/09 2:13:41 AM#16

The above post raises some very good points but is also very general in his view on the programming skills.  Granted jobs can be tough to get but ultimately in this industry you must specialise which means cutting off some options (for further delevopment).  This also means you can infact specialise in one or two areas during your training (e.g i wont be doing 3d programming or networking.  That reduces the math skills i need (but math is still important)). 

 

Does that mean you can ignore some of the more demanding requirements of maths and physics?  Sure but only if your chosen specialisation doesnt need it and only if you know you can get a job from those specialisations.

 

if you where wondering some specialisations are:

 

AI

Networking

3d programming

UI programming

Scripting (boss fights for example)

MMO wish list:

-Changeable worlds
-Solid non level based game
-Sharks with lasers attached to their heads

  sepher

Novice Member

Joined: 6/10/06
Posts: 3561

11/23/09 4:15:00 AM#17
Originally posted by TheHatter

 


Originally posted by sepher
You won't go wrong either way.


But, what gets me is that there are so many people out there getting Gaming Degrees and lets be honest here, there isn't exactly that many stable companies out there. There are a few and they do employ quite a bit of people, but how many new people do they really need each year? How many of those people quit, just to float around company to company getting whatever work they can? 
 
Sure, you could probably BS your way into an IT job somewhere with a gaming degree. You're going to know computers, but that's the thing. With a CS degree you could do everything from being Mr. IT Fix-it for some random company, all the way up to a programmer for space ships to working with massive server clusters for the government.......... and everything in between. Is a person really going to have that kind of flexibility, to find the job that's right for them, with a degree in Gaming? .... if they can't get a job with a gaming company or do get a job with a gaming company, just to have that company collapse out from under them. There have been way more gaming companies collapse and go bankrupt, than there have been that have made major hits.

CS isn't just programming, it's really Computer Science. (something I didn't realize when I went into it, lol)

 

Personally, I went into my CS degree hoping to get into gaming someday and if not, then at least programming. But today, 4yrs later (I lost 2yrs of school due to Iraq), I'm a junior and I really just think I would be happy as an IT guy for a decently sized company. As a matter of fact, looking around at jobs online, the general IT guy position (that requires a CS degree and not some BS from ITT-Tech) gets paid WAY more than the average programmer. Hell, I found one that's a network Admin for some little bitty restaurant in SoCal that pays $75,000/yr starting out.

 

Actually my dream jobs would be:

Game Development

Flash Development

Part of an IT dept for a high-rise... or something with alot of people. I like interacting with people.


Very good point. Credentials and meeting job requirements is important as well.