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Old 05-12-2008, 04:14 PM   #1
dmcgraw
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Default Looking for Summer Advice

This is a cross post that I put on the IGDA forums. I'm not sure if everybody here uses those forums a lot.

Despite my best efforts to lock on a summer internship (game, or other), it doesn't look like it will happen. And, well, graduation is coming up in December.

So in an effort to turn this summer around, before the break starts, I'm trying to come up with a plan to use the time to the best of my efforts -- treating my summer like I'd treat a real internship, 8 to 5+, Monday through Friday (Weekends, etc).

My problem isn't that I don't have the motivation to do it, but I can't seem to solidify a plan for a project. I have too many things running around in my head, and I'm here to see if I can find some advice.

Thoughts...
Develop a 2D puzzle game with C++ and OpenGL or DirectX?
Develop a FPS game using an engine (I still have a license for TGE), but building the graphics would be a pain and a likely real waste of development time.
Create a Modification of a FPS/RPG? Again, the graphics could be a pain, and I'm not sure I'd get the needed programming experience from it.
Create Tools? However, I'm not sure what sort.

Regardless, I really need to make the best of using C++ and/or C#, LUA, a 3D API (likely, DirectX), improving my math skills, and overall problem solving skills.

I still haven't decided what exactly I want to do in the industry. I'm pretty open to doing what I can, where I can. Well, minus graphics (I'm not exceptionally strong at math right now). But user interface, tools, database, scripting, and possibly gameplay, are all areas I could see myself doing in the near future.

So, have you been in this situation or know anybody who has? What sort of projects did they do to utilize their time as good as they good for future employers?

Any advice or ideas are definitely appreciated.

Thanks for your time,
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:21 AM   #2
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Been there (although with the added benefit that I knew programming was what I wanted), done that. Most people go through it too, there's so much that you can do, that it's difficult to limit yourself to just one. But I have something that might help...

Have you ever heard of "Game in a day" competitions? It's quite simple, you have a strict limit of 24 hours to make a game. You're allowed to plan the design before hand, but the actual implementation has to be done within 24 hours. They can be a good way to experiment with ideas & technologies, without it takeing up all of your time, and it can be good fun. Just get yourself a small team together, assign each memeber a specific role & plot out deadlines (eg. No new content to be added after hour #18), stock up on energy drinks, get some sleep, then get developing.

If you come up with something good, you can expand on it later as a full project.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:01 PM   #3
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Have you thought about offering your services to a project on GameDev?
http://www.gamedev.net/community/for...asp?forum_id=8
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:34 PM   #4
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@ Claxon - I have actually thought about that. But the value of having a bunch of mini contested projects vs. one single project probably leans more to the latter.

@yaustar - I have thought about that and I'm going to think about it a little more. My hesitation falls on the very tough nature of finding a dedicated team, or an overly ambitious team. In addition, this is more of a learning experience for me than making something with knowledge that I already have.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:50 PM   #5
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Oh yes you wouldn't use a 24 hour game as a demo when applying for a job, but don't dismiss them out of hand. The problem with a big project is that you tend to spend more time on it than you intended, because you don't set a deadline (or don't abide to it). One of my private projects was supposed to last 6 months, but was "completed" after 2 years, and maintained for another 3 (online games devour your life).

With a short project you learn things quickly, which can really help the development cycle of a much bigger project. And Like I said it's prototyping, you can quickly get an idea if a game is fun, if it will work, and what the main challenges will be, before starting the main project and having to rework the engine half way through.

So best to use a combination of short 24 hour challenges (you can arrange them yourself, they don't have to be part of a competition) to try ideas, then decide on your large scale project & start work on that.

Summary: Prototypes are good
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Old 05-13-2008, 06:47 PM   #6
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I know that the creator of Crayon Physics made the first version of his game over the summer. So I would got with 2d game since it is more feasible but then you wont be working on your 3d programming or math.
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:13 PM   #7
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Also, if you're not the programming type there's a few things you can do.

Run out and snag a copy of Neverwinter Nights and begin making a module. You'll want to plan out your story, plot line and side stories before embarking on that. If you know some programming, that's all the better.

Google "Game Maker" so far it seems pretty good and there's a good backing. Loads of tutorials etc...

Go nuts and make a board game, old school. Also if you want to show programming, adapt a classic board game into programming. Make your own Tetris or Breakout Clone and go nuts from there. I assume you've already got those, so remake something like Spacewar in 3D with some AI programming.

Also, as already suggested, Gamedev.net is pretty snazzy and programmers are in high demand. Also, I hear working on a mod yourself is pretty good for the old portfolio.

A few options from some guy outside the industry... but good luck!

Tim Edwards
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claxon View Post
Summary: Prototypes are good
That is, in large part, what I got from attending the Game Developers Conference this year. Which, in turn, led me to start learning flash. I just started my second Flash project a couple days ago. *thumbs up*
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Last edited by dmcgraw : 05-13-2008 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 05-13-2008, 08:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimEdwards View Post
Also, if you're not the programming type there's a few things you can do.

Run out and snag a copy of Neverwinter Nights and begin making a module. You'll want to plan out your story, plot line and side stories before embarking on that. If you know some programming, that's all the better.

Google "Game Maker" so far it seems pretty good and there's a good backing. Loads of tutorials etc...

Go nuts and make a board game, old school. Also if you want to show programming, adapt a classic board game into programming. Make your own Tetris or Breakout Clone and go nuts from there. I assume you've already got those, so remake something like Spacewar in 3D with some AI programming.

Also, as already suggested, Gamedev.net is pretty snazzy and programmers are in high demand. Also, I hear working on a mod yourself is pretty good for the old portfolio.

A few options from some guy outside the industry... but good luck!

Tim Edwards
I'm definitely interested in programming, which is why I directed this post to the Programming section of the website.

Yeah, I'm not new to this arena, I'm just looking for some project guidance/advice to best help me for when I go for a job next Fall. I've done a 2D breakout remix, a tiny puzzle, have helped several people with their projects with testing and design work, and have recently worked with some flash projects (started my second one a few days ago).

Thanks for the feedback!
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Last edited by dmcgraw : 05-13-2008 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:10 AM   #10
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In fact, if you are stuck for ideas try picking one of these: http://www.squidi.net/three/index.php
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