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Old 03-03-2010, 01:58 PM   #1
Reklaw
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Default Chasing the dream - Finally

For those who tend to say TLDR… I have been working in the IT field for the past seven years. Four years in the Air Force and then three years as a civilian. I’ve been going back to school for the past year or so and just realized I couldn’t stand the degree I was working towards… Question at the bottom of the post.

As a teenager I wanted to be a Video Game Designer, just like every other teenager out there. I worked on getting into the Art Institute of Phoenix, got to the part where you had to pay the $50 to get in and write an essay and then you were in. Oh and then there was tuition. I had no idea how financial aid worked and didn’t bother figuring it out. Instead I went into the Air Force and got into tech support. Fast forward seven years and I had put the idea of Game Designer behind me because I was being a responsible adult. I got married and started working towards a business degree so I had the flexibility for promotion and the ability to fit whatever position was required.

Then this quarter I realized how much I couldn’t stand finance and business and didn’t want to deal with this for the rest of my life. Now I’m changing my degree to a BS in Information Systems with a focus on programming. The focus is on C++ and C#. I figured I could get into the industry as a game programmer, still provide for my family, and eventually(hopefully) become a game designer.

Going to City U right now and it looks like time-wise that is the only school that is going to work for me but does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to actually get a job in the industry once I finish school at the end of 2011?

I am working on writing up Game Plans(1-2 page synopsis, 10-20 page in depth details), and am working on learning how to build games using the XNA studio. Also planning on learning Python. Any things I need to focus on to increase my marketability?

Side note: Math isn't a strong point of mine, though I understand it and have no problem using it. Will this be an issue as a game programmer?

Thanks for your help!
Rek-law

Last edited by Reklaw : 03-03-2010 at 02:01 PM. Reason: the grammar beast reared its ugly head and is probably still in there.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reklaw View Post
1. does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to actually get a job in the industry once I finish school at the end of 2011?
2. Any things I need to focus on to increase my marketability?
3. Math isn't a strong point of mine, though I understand it and have no problem using it. Will this be an issue as a game programmer?
As far as I could tell, those were the questions you asked. Sorry if I missed any.
1. Yes.
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/jobapp.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson24.htm
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm
2. Build a great portfolio.
3. Can't foretell your future, but... "could be. Can't you work harder at it?"
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:33 PM   #3
Reklaw
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Tom,

Thanks for your help, have actually been reading through your site. Lots of good information there! Thanks for that!

Regarding the math, there is no problem for me with working on it, just unsure of what math I would need to focus on.

Thanks,
Reklaw
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reklaw View Post
Regarding the math, there is no problem for me with working on it, just unsure of what math I would need to focus on.
Discrete math is good for any programmer. Linear algebra is important if you want to work on 3D games. And calculus is important if you want to be able to do anything physics-related.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by kbaxter View Post
Discrete math is good for any programmer. Linear algebra is important if you want to work on 3D games. And calculus is important if you want to be able to do anything physics-related.
Nicely put. There are tons of books on math for game programmers, just search Amazon. If you find yourself struggling to teach yourself, then I'd take an online course at a community college if money permits.

In terms of what you want to learn to increase your marketability, it all depends on where you see your self in five years. Mastering C++ and OOP techniques will be a must if you want to program at a AAA studio. It really depends on the kind of games you want to develop (for instance, you'd need to master Obj-C if you wanted to do iPhone games) but the more languages you are proficient at, the better.

XNA is good if you simply want to be an indie developer, but C# is a good language to know if you decide to move onto become a tools programmer. Python is very useful for scripting, and it's fairly easy to learn so I'd learn that regardless.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:22 AM   #6
Reklaw
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Thanks for the math details! I'll definitely have to check out the books and possibly take a class or two. Ideally I'd like to work on RPG's for consoles and PC's but that's just wishful thinking for the moment.

Will focus on learning enough discrete math, linear algebra, and calculus to apply to game programming. Will also focus more on C++ than C# and work on OOP techniques and pick up Python while I'm at it.

Goals
  • C++ proficient.
  • OOP techniques.
  • Learn Python.
  • Apply discrete math/linear algebra/and calculus to at least 4 different games.
  • Build a portfolio.

Thanks for everyone's help! Will definitely stay around to pick up any other useful advice!

Oh, and sorry about the cross posting, won't happen again.

Reklaw
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:55 AM   #7
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Just some books I'd recommend,
http://www.amazon.com/Accelerated-C-...7728652&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/Primer-Plus-5t...7728652&sr=8-2

http://www.amazon.com/Python-Program...3&sr=1-1-fkmr1

AFTER you become at least intermediate at C++
http://www.amazon.com/C-Game-Program...dp_ob_title_bk

http://www.amazon.com/Game-Coding-Co...ref=pd_sim_b_3

Probably should be last on your list
http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-3...ref=pd_sim_b_8

And remember, start out slow and take your time. Don't rush, don't attempt to program things that are unrealistic. For a while, you'll be programming simple "calculate and manipulate a few things and store information" console programs for awhile. Get a solid understanding on what's going on in your programs that you write at first, how memory is being affected at each step.

Oh! And don't skip the practice questions at the end of book chapters

Edit: Also, any reason you are going with a IT major instead of a straight CS major?
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Last edited by ndimucci : 03-04-2010 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 03-04-2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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Also, you should definitely look into Programmer Patterns.
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Old 03-04-2010, 01:27 PM   #9
Reklaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndimucci View Post
Edit: Also, any reason you are going with a IT major instead of a straight CS major?
Wow, thanks for all the input!

Regarding the IT Major vs a straight CS major... It's my only option at CityU.

I was looking at other schools such as Devry, which offers a Game and Simulation computer science degree but they don't offer it in the area.

Because of the type of GI tuition assistance I'm using I have to take at least one class on campus which limits my options. Digipen is right down the street from me and I'd love to go there but they don't offer anything part-time or online understandably. Current plan is to get my Masters at Digipen down the road.

Thanks!

Last edited by Reklaw : 03-04-2010 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reklaw View Post
Wow, thanks for all the input!

Regarding the IT Major vs a straight CS major... It's my only option at CityU.

I was looking at other schools such as Devry, which offers a Game and Simulation computer science degree but they don't offer it in the area.

Because of the type of GI tuition assistance I'm using I have to take at least one class on campus which limits my options. Digipen is right down the street from me and I'd love to go there but they don't offer anything part-time or online understandably. Current plan is to get my Masters at Digipen down the road.

Thanks!
You don't really need a game-specific degree, nor do you really need a Master's to get started in the industry. A standard CS degree will do you fine! I don't know much about what an IT degree would include, but it may not be enough.

Are there any schools you could attend that offer CS degrees?
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