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Old 05-07-2008, 12:32 PM   #1
AcuraSpeed
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Default From Programming to Design?

Hello, I am graduating from a top-tier university in May, and am determined to get a job in the industry. My primary interest is in design, and possibly production. However, I am interested in programming as well, and probably any area in the industry other than sound and art (as I have no skills in those areas). Anyway, I tried deperately to find a job in the industry to no avail. It is impossible to find an entry-level designer or producer job. Additionally, they say that a designer doesn't need a technical background. Well, from my research, it seems like they do in this day and age, or at least it is almost necessary.

Well, I also realized that there are tons of postings for entry-level programmers, with the only hard requirement being a Bachelor's degree in computer science. Also, programmers get paid the most, have the most job opportunities, and have the best job security. All of these factors (combined with my unsuccessful job search) have caused my decision to stay in school for another 2 years to get a second degree in Computer Science. Also influencing my decision is that my university's computer science program is amongst the country's top 10. Additionally, the computer science department has a student group for game development, and they are currently creating an original game and building an amazing mod for UT3. This group would help me build a portfolio and demo. Now my question is this -- is this a good idea? I really don't see how it's not. I need a solid job, and it seems as though I can only definately find that as a programmer. Also, I will have been in college for 6 years, but will have both a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and a B.S. in Computer Science. I think this would be perfect if I decided to move into design after programming for a few years. I would have a solid technical background, combined with a creative, artsy liberal arts education. I should also mention that if I were never able to move into design, I would still be happy as a senior programmer. Does my plan sound solid? I really don't know what else to do. Another two years of school is not a big sacrifice for me if it exponentially increases my chances of getting a job in the industry. Any thoughts?

Last edited by AcuraSpeed : 05-07-2008 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 05-07-2008, 03:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Additionally, they say that a designer doesn't need a technical background. Well, from my research, it seems like they do in this day and age, or at least it is almost necessary.
They don't, I work with two designers that don't have technical skills. Level designers do though and it certainly help.

If programming is what you want to do then there is nothing wrong with your plan.
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Old 05-07-2008, 05:40 PM   #3
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Do you enjoy programming?
Have you tried it?
The only reason I ask is because it is not for everyone.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:53 AM   #4
AcuraSpeed
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Originally Posted by Gshonk View Post
Do you enjoy programming?
Have you tried it?
The only reason I ask is because it is not for everyone.
It's funny you ask that, because I was just about to ask Steven Yau, and the other programmers in here if they liked what they did. Anyway, no, I really haven't programmed much before. I downloaded Java and an IDE (NetBeans) to play around with, but got little further than a "Hello World" program. This isn't because I am bad at it, I just was messing around with no instruction. However, I do understand what programming is all about, and the fundamentals of it. In addition, I am very proficient with computers and have built several machines (and blew one up by overclocking when I was 13). I love computing, and I am sure I would be adept to programming.

However, design is my first choice, as I am more creative than technical, but I know that is nearly impossible to get into, at least in the first few years. I am also interested in production, but those jobs are also few and far between. Programmers, on the other hand, have the most jobs, make the most money, and have the best job security. I would ideally like to work as a programmer for a few years, and then move into design. However, if I were never able to move into design, I would still be happy as a senior programmer.

Anyway, I wanted to ask the programmers out there - Do you enjoy what you do? Is programming for a living enjoyable and rewarding? Do you ever get frustrated that you do the core work, but don't get enough say in the development of the game? Or are programmers able to pitch ideas to the designers? Any thoughts would be appriciated.
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Old 05-08-2008, 03:19 PM   #5
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Odd... I just replied to another post saying almost exactly this. Yes, I love being a game programmer. I've been programming since the age of 11, mainly spurred on by the idea of "I love this game, but it'd be great if.....".

Yes it can get frustrating. At the moment for example I'm working in the Namco's Mobile games company, so most of my time is spent on porting. That is making the j2me game work on 600+ mobile devices, each with different specs. Some can handle smooth 3d graphics and play several sound effects at once, others have a maximum download limit of 64kb, can only play "Tones" and have no floating point support what-so-ever. On top of that, most devices react differently to different events, they have different screensizes, some have multiple screens, others have touchscreens and no physical keys at all etc. The range is huge, and you never seem to get anywhere because there are always more builds to make. But I keep doing it because despite the frustrations, I love programming games.

The amount of say you get in the design depends on your exact role, the game and the company. If you get onto a game late in development, you wont have much say at all, unless there is a problem and you can think of a creative way to resolve it. If you get in at an early stage, and your team know that you know what you're talking about, you may be asked for advice, "How could we do this?", "What do you think about using this technology?". If you're in a particularly progressive company they may create a prototype based on the main design, then get the employees to try it and have everyone provide feedback. You will never get as much influence as the designer, but you can suggest things to them, and they might agree with you.
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