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  • I need help on this :(

    Okay so I don't mean to pull a downer but I need some serious help on this. Basically I'm at a pivotal point in my life and I'm lacking direction. I know what I want in terms of a career but there's no set degree and all my research on the topic has turned up nothing. Not to mention I have a tough time on the topic of dealing with college.

    So yes anyways, my chosen career has been to work in the video game industry. I know this might seem a little childish but I've had the desire for quite some time. At age 9 I got my hands on a little computer program called "How to Program BASIC" (ages 11 and up). I've messed around with HTML and CSS from middle school and beyond. In high school I did a website for my friend's uncle (davcoconcrete.com) most of it is still up but it's changed quite a bit and it was a one time deal. Junior year I took Visual Basic and Senior year I took Java. I messed around with numerous mod tools and have self taught myself applications like Flash.

    Anyways my dream job has always been to work at Insomniac. These guys were the reason I bought a PS2 and consequently a PS3. Looking through their job application screen they say they can't recommend any kind of degree, they just act that I have one. I've considered an art degree, it gives me access to all the classes I want, but the only problem with this is an Art degree is largely worthless unless you wish to teach art. All jobs in the art field require a portfolio, not a degree.

    So where I stand now is the middle of my second year at community college and I'm still undeclared. I enjoy my sociology classes but was thinking of a major in Computer Science and minor in Art (thus giving me the opportunity to build up my portfolio).

    As far as what I want to do in the video game industry, I can't see myself sticking to one thing at a time. I'm constantly doing more than one project at once, and from what I've heard the more things you can do in that line of work the better. If you can code but your job is to work on level design, both compliment each other. I'd also like to do concept art because I have great ideas running around and some are purely game mechanics and code side, and some are actually visual and layout wise and I'd like to think I have a knack for drawing.

    So I'm asking all of you if anyone has any experience, input, help, comments, suggestions, and more. I live in California and I like that school is largely cheaper here than the rest of the country, as well as most of the jobs, but I've also had my eye on Digipen up north in Washington. I'm extremely unorganized and I've had an extreme problem with filling out applications for college (hence why I'm stuck at community college), the least of which has been anxiety attacks. I've talked to school counselors and largely since the video game industry has grown so much in such a short period of time and has been ever changing, they've all been unable to help.

    Anyways, that's why I'm here asking for help, I know my post sounds pretty lame but I don't think I could bring myself to proof read and correct all the mistakes so please forgive my stream of thought post. Any help is greatly appreciated :)

    Sincerely,
    -Sirus

  • #2
    Re: I need help on this :(

    I'm sure you'll get some good advice here but there are other forums you might try as well. I would recommend http://www.yakyak.org. Its mostly made up of crusty old UK game developers but there are some industry heavyweights who work there and could probably give you some good advice.
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    • #3
      Re: I need help on this :(

      I know nothing about the game developer world. I do line of business apps.

      But ask yourself this. Why do you want a job being a game developer? What exactly is it that you want to do?
      Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
      - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
      - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
      - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
      - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
      - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
      - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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      • #4
        Re: I need help on this :(

        Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
        What exactly is it that you want to do?
        I really wish I could answer that for myself. I'm working on an associates for Radio-Television-Film but after just one semester I'm already disliking it. I've thought about going to the new Game Design department of my community college as well but the problem is I don't know any programming, drawing, modelling or anything else. :(


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        • #5
          Re: I need help on this :(

          That's the thing though, I have so many ideas for game mechanics, art style and more. I play games and absolutely decompile every little thing and think of how it could be solved.

          Mainly level design is a big thing for me. I've done some modeling work with Maya and while it doesn't bother me too much I just don't enjoy it as much as other things.

          I've thought about other things. I like coding, that's why I do websites and have taken an interest in coding. I also like drawing and thus concept. I've made maps before using software development kits and while my workflow right now isn't very efficienct I consider myself to have a knack for that.

          Also I forgot to mention I have some experience in cinematography. I'm kinda looking to improve games as a whole. Better narrative, better art direction, better game mechanics and better cinematics. That's why Insomniac seems to be just up my alley. I've researched their work flow and everyone kinda jumps around, everyone has a say, and everyone has fun.

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          • #6
            Re: I need help on this :(

            I'm not sure how much input I can give, considering I've just let life take me where it's going to. So after having had the experience so far living in different places, doing different jobs, pondering upon pondering, etc I finally discovered what I really want to do myself.

            Which I think, after 12 years or so of wondering what I really want to do with life (computer work in I.T. is NOT what I want to slave myself to until the end of my days...) I'd say I figured it out pretty quick.

            My ideas even at 23, were vastly further away than the ideas I had at 19. Your best bet in my opinion, is just to go for what you think you're going to like. If it doesn't end up being what you thought it would be, then move on to the next thing. It's better than sitting in limbo doing effectively nothing and wondering and stressing about it.

            It isn't time wasted, it's life lived.
            "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
            Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

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            • #7
              Re: I need help on this :(

              I'm in the same situation as you, the only difference is that I now have a degree in Computer Science which might help me in getting into the videogame industry. I just lack the stupid x-years experience though. =(

              My best advice is to start with what you enjoy and start EARLY. If you enjoy art, then go for 3D modeling then. I heard they are on-demand ( well from what I heard anyway ). If you hate portfolios, then a programming degree might help. Also, I think its better to specialize in something. I don't think comsci and art would go well together. If they gave you a programming job, I doubt they're gonna let you touch art. You're lucky you're in California ( where nearly all the game companies are ), the place where I'm at doesn't even have a lot of IT companies in it. ><

              Try joining a game mod team, it's your best bet. Most of the video game jobs I've looked up require you to show them what games have you made, or what assets did you contribute to making a game. Even progammers are sometimes required to have experience in tinkering with the Source or Unreal 3 Engine. From what I see, landing a videogame job requires both a degree and experience in making a game. So join a mod! =D

              BTW, this is all speculation in my part. I don't have any experience in working on a mod or in a videogame company ( though I'm trying to join a mod team... ). These are the ideas I've thought up while researching on how to land a job in the video game industry. I hope I helped. =D
              - -




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              • #8
                Re: I need help on this :(

                Originally posted by Sirusblk View Post
                That's the thing though, I have so many ideas for game mechanics, art style and more. I play games and absolutely decompile every little thing and think of how it could be solved.

                Mainly level design is a big thing for me. I've done some modeling work with Maya and while it doesn't bother me too much I just don't enjoy it as much as other things.

                I've thought about other things. I like coding, that's why I do websites and have taken an interest in coding. I also like drawing and thus concept. I've made maps before using software development kits and while my workflow right now isn't very efficienct I consider myself to have a knack for that.

                Also I forgot to mention I have some experience in cinematography. I'm kinda looking to improve games as a whole. Better narrative, better art direction, better game mechanics and better cinematics. That's why Insomniac seems to be just up my alley. I've researched their work flow and everyone kinda jumps around, everyone has a say, and everyone has fun.
                I don't know where you attend school now, but here at DePaul there are three possible majors that might fit you quite well:

                As for level design, there isn't a major specifically for that, but the latter two I mentioned allow you to take classes that deal with level design and development. Currently, there's a large focus (has been for the past 5-8 years) on having students learn the Unreal Engine and Unreal Editor since that is the majority of what popular games are based on right now by the bigger and well-known companies.

                I've had very similar experiences as you through high school and such, so I understand where you're at. I'm still debating if Computer Science fits me more or if Computer Games Development does (with a heavier concentration on the programming and AI part). And I'm already a 5th year student (changed from a double to single major sophomore year).

                I hope that helps point you in the right direction.
                |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
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                • #9
                  Re: I need help on this :(

                  Well, not to put a damper on things, but I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger. When I was 9, I visited NASA in Houston. When I was in high school, I even went to Space Camp and everthing. I love watching the NASA channel on satellite and when I lived in California I was always amazed to look up and see rockets launching into space from Vandenberg. Guess what? I'm not an astronaut.

                  OK, so I never really wanted to be an astronaut, but my point is that there are lots of industries that, really, you don't get to decide that you want to join. They select you. Lots of kids want to be pro athletes, or rock stars, or this or that. Lots of teens become very good at what they want to do, better than anyone they know personally, but not good enough to become a pro... Ask yourself if you really think there are enough jobs in the industry that you can just apply and be selected with nothing but a degree and a convincing interview. Be honest with yourself.

                  Originally posted by Sirusblk View Post
                  I've considered an art degree, it gives me access to all the classes I want, but the only problem with this is an Art degree is largely worthless unless you wish to teach art.
                  I'll point out that there are many employers that merely want a degree and don't care what subject it is in. A degree indicates, in general, a basic ability to follow through with a goal, a basic education, and a certain work ethic. Employers seek college grads in much the same way that they seek military veterans.
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                  • #10
                    Re: I need help on this :(

                    Originally posted by Sirusblk View Post
                    That's the thing though, I have so many ideas for game mechanics, art style and more. I play games and absolutely decompile every little thing and think of how it could be solved.

                    Mainly level design is a big thing for me. I've done some modeling work with Maya and while it doesn't bother me too much I just don't enjoy it as much as other things.

                    I've thought about other things. I like coding, that's why I do websites and have taken an interest in coding. I also like drawing and thus concept. I've made maps before using software development kits and while my workflow right now isn't very efficienct I consider myself to have a knack for that.

                    Also I forgot to mention I have some experience in cinematography. I'm kinda looking to improve games as a whole. Better narrative, better art direction, better game mechanics and better cinematics. That's why Insomniac seems to be just up my alley. I've researched their work flow and everyone kinda jumps around, everyone has a say, and everyone has fun.
                    It sounds like you enjoy designing system architectures. This is an important part of development in all industries.

                    You are fixated on the game industry but you really shouldn't be. You you should be fixated on is those things you are good at and that you enjoy doing. Focus on that and jobs will come.

                    Plus you are young. Develop your skills. Get some internships at various companies and see how things go.
                    Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                    - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                    - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                    - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                    - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                    - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                    - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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                    • #11
                      Re: I need help on this :(

                      If you want to work video games, I suggest two things:
                      1) Complete a degree. Any will do. Find something that interests you and ride it as best as you can.
                      2) Get working on games now. Between indies and mods, there're more than enough places to showcase your talent. THAT is your selling point; being able to point to something you created and published.
                      [volun2]
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                      • #12
                        Re: I need help on this :(

                        Originally posted by Pokerface View Post
                        If you want to work video games, I suggest two things:
                        1) Complete a degree. Any will do. Find something that interests you and ride it as best as you can.
                        2) Get working on games now. Between indies and mods, there're more than enough places to showcase your talent. THAT is your selling point; being able to point to something you created and published.
                        Agreed.

                        Remember the game Tower Defense? That guy made money and probably got noticed by game development companies.

                        Even if the little games don't make you rich you can use them as your portfolio.

                        Make some games that implement your game mechanic ideas even if the games themselves are average. Use them to showcase your ideas.
                        Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                        - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                        - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                        - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                        - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                        - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                        - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: I need help on this :(

                          The best advice I can give you is contact gaming companies and get their advice. If you ever attend any sort of gaming conventions, try talking to people there - that's always a good place to start.

                          I've been planning to go into Meteorology for some time now - need to finish college after I get my life back on track. But for me the epiphany moment was when I talked to a real National Weather Service meteorologist and asked him up front what degrees would best help me get a job with them. His answer helped me shape my decisions for the future.

                          **

                          "Remember to pillage BEFORE you burn!"




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                          • #14
                            Re: I need help on this :(

                            And just to add in a few extra bits.

                            Vortex is right, get to know people in the industry, as they can be very helpful. And game conventions are not the only place that you can mingle and talk with folks in the games industry, try participating in your local chapter of the International Game Developers Association, IGDA. There's one in Orange County and here's a little tool to help you track down the studios and publishers with offices in your area, www.gamedevmap.com.

                            Now this is an important one, you're going to want to specialize and build up that skill set, because most, if not all, game developers hire programmers, artists, level designers, and game designers specifically. You say you would like work with gameplay mechanics and design? Learn to write, both technically and professionally, and especially learn the importance of Design Documents. Level design could also be a good avenue of exploration for you, as not only is this where gameplay events are shown and expreseed, a lot of scripting is done to facilitate all the nifty features that have been built into games, from simple security camera systems to triggered, level-changing events.

                            The best way to build up this skill set is to take Poker's advice: Join a project, either a full-on indie game or a simple mod. I'd suggest going the mod route as there are loads of mods out there looking for talent. I would suggest that you gain a strong grasp of the rudiments before joining up, and be constantly learning and watching. And don't be afraid if the project your on goes no where or tanks, quite a few due and you're bound to gain experience and, if you're doing content development, you'll begin building a portfolio.
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                            • #15
                              Re: I need help on this :(

                              Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                              Well, not to put a damper on things, but I wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger. When I was 9, I visited NASA in Houston. When I was in high school, I even went to Space Camp and everthing. I love watching the NASA channel on satellite and when I lived in California I was always amazed to look up and see rockets launching into space from Vandenberg. Guess what? I'm not an astronaut.
                              LOL, we had the same dream. I ended up catching the computer programming "bug" :p in the late 70's (I think I was 17-18 at the time) when playing with a machine one of my junior college instructors had borrowed. (It was a Wang with a cassette deck, similar to the later Commodore Pet.) I borrowed the manuals and learned Basic overnight.

                              As others have said, concentrate on the skills, not the specific job. You may find they work well in other industries. My buddy works for a sister company of Deepflight and has contributed to their development. His regular job is in remote weapons control at Precision Remotes. He didn't set out as a kid with that career path in mind. He's just a whiz at all kinds of engineering.
                              Dude, seriously, WHAT handkerchief?

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