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Old 02-10-2011, 09:02 AM   #1
jbesh
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Default Career Change from Engineering to Gaming Industry? Please Help!

Well this is my first post, and I'm already really impressed with these forums. This is exactly the environment I need to have some questions answered.

So my story is that I'm 33 and I have a BS in Aerospace Engineering. I have worked as a professional for 9 years now and my skills are Mechanical Engineering, Thermal Analysis, and Structural Analysis. I have very basic programming skills, mainly some fortran and a little VB. I work on several contracts for NASA working on several sattelite components.

I have two kids and a wife and I'm orginally from CO but have been in TX the last 4 years. I'm seriously considering a career change to the gaming industry.

So first thing I did was research schools, thinking my only choice was to go back to school and get a BS in game design or computer science. But as I read through these forums sounds like I don't neccesarily need to do that? This is obviously a big decision for my family and me, so any advice would be great.

I like what Digipen had to offer for degrees sounds like an intense program and I would walk away having designed several games and having some great skills. Not sure which degree though yet I would prefer the BS in Game Design or the BS in RTIS. My other alternative woud be getting back to CO and choosing from Westwood, Devry, and DU. These programs don't seem to get as much attention as Digipen and don't offer the same sort of projects classes from what I can tell. Anyone have any feedback on any of these schools and Digipen?

So after reading through these forums, it makes me think I have another option instead of going to school there are a lot of tools out there already that if I put the work into researching, I can start designing games on my own right now and building my own portfolio, and maybe putting time and effort into that instead 100K and 4 years of school could help land me a job in the gaming industry and give me the career change I want. So now I just need some advice about what you would do if you were in my shoes? I want to be able to create games on my own, but also would eventually like to be in a team environment making big games like Call Of Duty. I'm open to being a programmer, or a Designer. Sounds like from some of these forum posts I wouldn't neccesarily need strong programming skills to be a designer? But obviously if I go to the programming side 4 years of school would be a must?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me, the thought of a career change is very refreshing and exciting to me and video games has always been a passion of mine. I'm not getting any younger so I really want to get the ball rolling on this!

Jbesh
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:49 AM   #2
yaustar
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You already have a good education background so you don't necessary have to back into education although that is a personal decision to you.

As long as you have a strong portfolio for the role you want to do, then you should be fine.

So, do you want to be a programmer? Or a Designer?

Some links to help:
http://www.skillset.org/games/
http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbesh View Post
So my story is that I'm 33 and I have a BS in Aerospace Engineering. ... But obviously if I go to the programming side 4 years of school would be a must?
You already have 4 years of school. Now you just need to learn about game programming. You already have a degree. All you lack now is specialized knowledge about the particular field you want to enter. However you want to get it is fine, as long as it gets you the knowledge you need. Nobody's telling you that YOU need to go back to college, at age 33.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:09 PM   #4
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yaustar, right now I feel like I'm insterested in the design and programming aspects.

tsloper, so if I wasn't to go back to school what would be some routes I could take to get the knowledge I need.

Thanks for your responses
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
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Also I see some suggest doing a project and creating a game first to see how you like the process. Where would I start to do something like that? Would making a game for the Android market be something feasible for a first project? What would I need to study do begin something like that? I'm going to look at the links you suggested now.

Thanks
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:02 PM   #6
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Wow tsloper you have a lot of great info. on your site. The more I read the more I think I want to start out as a programmer and then with experience in the industry decide if I want to become a designer. I'm going to keep reading. Thanks.
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbesh View Post
1. tsloper, so if I wasn't to go back to school what would be some routes I could take to get the knowledge I need.
2. Wow tsloper
3. you have a lot of great info. on your site. The more I read the more I think I want to start out as a programmer and then with experience in the industry decide if I want to become a designer. I'm going to keep reading. Thanks.
4. Also I see some suggest doing a project and creating a game first to see how you like the process. Where would I start to do something like that?
1. Buy books? Or go to school, if you want. My point was simply, "a degree is not required for you, since you already have a degree." Whatever method you want to use to learn is fine.
2. My name is Tom.
3. You're welcome, hope you get a lot of help from it.
4. In your home? On your computer?
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:37 AM   #8
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Hey Jbesh,

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you: I'm 35, have a degree in Psychology from Michigan, and have been teaching 5th grade for 12 years. I ruled out going back to school for financial reasons, so I dove in an started creating a portfolio.

I went about it in a roundabout way. I created my first game was created using xcode and objective C, probably one of the harder SDKs out there. Next, I discovered GameSalad, which is like OOP with training wheels. I made a great game with it, but it felt restricting and a little juvenile. Now I'm working with CoronaSDK. It's got an awesome physics engine, and I'm finding LUA makes a ton more sense to me than ObjC.

So, now, I've got 3 games under my belt and 1 more in development. It's nice know that I few thousand people have played my games. Unfortunately, I'm unsure about the next step: transitioning from a small time indie developer to getting a job with a major studio. That's what I'm here to learn.

Anyways, to answer your question, if I were you, I'd first pick a platform to develop for. If you're Mac-based, it's fairly easy to getting going creating iOS games. Check out GameSalad or CoronaSDK and go from there.

Good luck, and I'm always happy to share advice and be a sounding-board,
Evan
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Old 02-18-2011, 01:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emf715 View Post
Hey Jbesh,

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you: I'm 35, have a degree in Psychology from Michigan, and have been teaching 5th grade for 12 years. I ruled out going back to school for financial reasons, so I dove in an started creating a portfolio.

I went about it in a roundabout way. I created my first game was created using xcode and objective C, probably one of the harder SDKs out there. Next, I discovered GameSalad, which is like OOP with training wheels. I made a great game with it, but it felt restricting and a little juvenile. Now I'm working with CoronaSDK. It's got an awesome physics engine, and I'm finding LUA makes a ton more sense to me than ObjC.

So, now, I've got 3 games under my belt and 1 more in development. It's nice know that I few thousand people have played my games. Unfortunately, I'm unsure about the next step: transitioning from a small time indie developer to getting a job with a major studio. That's what I'm here to learn.

Anyways, to answer your question, if I were you, I'd first pick a platform to develop for. If you're Mac-based, it's fairly easy to getting going creating iOS games. Check out GameSalad or CoronaSDK and go from there.

Good luck, and I'm always happy to share advice and be a sounding-board,
Evan
So at which age did you start making games? Over 30 I'm guessing?

If that's true, than there really is never too late to do what you love

Last edited by FalloutBoy : 02-20-2011 at 12:52 PM.
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