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Old 06-30-2012, 08:07 PM   #1
wgsomerville
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Default In need of some guidance

Hi guys, Just found this site (it seems awesome), and decided to make an account and begin to get to know the community.

A bit about me: I am a senior English major, who, up until this point had been very interested in writing professionally. Recently, however, I realized that what I really want to do is develop video-games. There's a variety of reasons for that desire, but first and foremost, I think video-games pose a potential evolution for the art of storytelling. There's so much potential it just kind of blows my mind. I really want to be a part of that evolution, what ever that means.

This change of focus has caused me to toss my self into the programming deep-end, and I've finally hit a point where all I can really do is ask for advice. So here are just a few of the questions I've run into so far:

1. I'm working on developing a game for my senior project (I have the design, story, and some preliminary art done). What I'm trying to figure out now, is where, and with what tools I should develop the game. It's a sort of hybrid 2d action game and traditional adventure-game. I've narrowed my search down to XNA, Unity 3.3, and Gamemaker 8. I've been teaching myself C#, so the first two have the benefit of being based upon that language, but I am already mildly familiar with how Gamemaker works, and making a 2d game would be pretty simple. The game that I want to make involves many variables that effect many different parts of the game world (even between different levels), and while I don't know enough to know if I am right in thinking this, it seems like XNA or Unity would have an easier time handling those kind of complexities than gamemaker would. What do you guys think? Which framework/engine would you recommend?

2. I'll be graduating in about a year and a half (I'm taking a semester off) with a bachelors in English. What I'm trying to figure out is where I should go after that. I've strongly considered pursuing a comp sci masters after that (building upon both what I've taught myself, and the electives I can take between now and then), even though I am way more interested in game design than I am game programming. I feel like the extra knowledge couldn't hurt. I'd love to look into a game design degree, but I'm just not quite sure how that will help me in the long run. I feel like getting a comp sci degree, and reading up on game design on the side might be more useful. But that said, I really don't know what I'm talking about, so what would you guys recommend I look into?

3. Ok, so the education question is out of the way, but how about a first job in the industry? I live in North Carolina, and I noticed that Insomniac has opening in their QA department. Is QA a good place to get my foot in the door? Or should I (continue to) search for an internship, if there are any available? also, as far as non-industry jobs go, what looks best on a resume?

Well that's really long, my feelings won't be hurt if you didn't get through it all, but if you did, I would love it if you could give me some advice and a bit of direction! Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:34 AM   #2
tsloper
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by wgsomerville View Post
1. I am way more interested in game design than I am game programming.
2. I feel like the extra knowledge couldn't hurt.
3. I'd love to look into a game design degree, but I'm just not quite sure how that will help me in the long run.
4. I feel like
5. getting a comp sci degree, and reading up on game design on the side might be more useful.
6. What I'm trying to figure out is where I should go after that.
7. I live in North Carolina,
8. Is QA a good place to get my foot in the door?
9. Or should I (continue to) search for an internship
10. as far as non-industry jobs go, what looks best on a resume?
1. Then you probably should not force yourself to take a degree you're not passionate about. Read FAQ 40 on my site (see sig - click the yellow box).
2. Depends on what qualifies as "hurt." If you are going to have to pay off that extra education for another 10 years, I think that qualifies as "hurt."
3. Whatever happened to "the extra knowledge couldn't hurt"? (^_^) You applied that glib reasoning to a degree you're not passionate about but think you are expected to take, but not to something you are passionate about. Why don't you think about yourself, for once?
4. You keep saying "I feel." That's a college boy phrase. Stop "feeling" your way through life.
5. See my final point, below.
6. So make a decision grid. FAQ 70. List some options for what you might do next, then tally up each option's pros and cons.
7. You need to check out gamedevmap and gameindustrymap. Do research on all the companies in your area.
8. Read FAQ 5.
9. "It couldn't hurt" to do that, but it's not likely to get you far. Consider your resume/portfolio against those of your competitor applicants. Internships usually go to folks whose qualifications outshine yours.
10. Bad question. Just get the jobs you can get. Report job experience truthfully.

Don't try to live a life you imagine some hypothetical employer expects you to live. Life YOUR life the way you WANT to. If you're meant to go into games, your passions will lead you there naturally.
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Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done. www.sloperama.com

PLEASE do not use this website's PM feature to contact me.

Last edited by tsloper : 07-01-2012 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:37 AM   #3
wgsomerville
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

Wow thanks Sloper, all of those things (especially the stuff you called me out on) are really useful, I'm going to work hard to not try to fit into what I think I should look like on paper. Thats a really good point, and something I really needed to hear.

I just started reading through your FAQ and I'm finding it really useful! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to my thread, that means a lot!
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Old 07-01-2012, 10:02 AM   #4
tsloper
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by wgsomerville View Post
Wow thanks Sloper
You're welcome. One more little pointer: not everybody likes it when a stranger calls him by his last name.
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Making games fun and getting them done. www.sloperama.com

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Old 07-01-2012, 10:54 AM   #5
wgsomerville
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

Oh man! sorry! I couldn't find your first name Tom (I didn't really look too hard, haha). I'll keep that in mind as well.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:29 AM   #6
ZackRibbe
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

I'm going to answer a few of the questions you asked. As far as XNA or Unity goes, it's kind of a personal preference. However, what platform do you plan on releasing this game on? Are you planning on making money off of the game or is it just strictly a senior project.

XNA wouldn't be a bad choice but I have heard about some annoyances with getting games onto the Xbox Live Arcade (if you're looking to release it on there). I feel like Unity would be your best choice, especially if you're going to release it onto a mobile device (If I'm not mistaken I think Unity has really simple ways to release onto Android and iPhones, I could be wrong though). And I'm not sure about Gamemaker, I have never used it and haven't heard to much talk about it, so I couldn't tell you there.

As far as your QA question goes, I have heard of a lot of people starting out in QA and working their way up. It would be a good starting job in the game industry, especially if there is an opening near you.

Lastly, take the advice from tsloper, he knows what he is talking about. Live your life the way you want and not what you think it should be. Also, keep a positive attitude. Job hunting is tough in any industry and can be overbearing at times, keep applying and keep your head up!

P.S. Tsloper, excellent website. Offers excellent advice, so thanks and good job!
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:39 PM   #7
Destin Bales
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Default Re: In need of some guidance

I'm a fan of Unity. The amount of online support/tutorials/examples etc make it a fantastic engine to learn from scratch. Also, the flexibility to be able to create games for PC, iOS, XBOX etc. is a great benefit of the engine.

Best,

Destin
www.ineedtomakegames.com
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