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mrfredman
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« on: March 16, 2008, 05:26:51 PM »

So I want to make games for a living.
I'm a 20 year old student at UCSC, and I just finished making my first game (in Game Maker) for a class, I'm pretty excited because I made it into the classwide finals, and tomorrow there's a big judging for the best game in the class (I'm so super nervous).
Now you know me.
I think that next year I'm gonna start getting an education in game design. I'm thinking about transferring to an Art Institute and get a game design BS from them. My reasons for elaving the UCSC game program are twofold: 1)The UCSC program is really technically oriented, and I don't have the right kind of brain for programming, I'm an artist (and the Art Institute has an art-oriented programming. 2) My girlfriend is transferring anyways so its a good opportunity to try new things.
Now you know even more about me.
Time to start leading up to my question:...
So at the Art Institute they work in Maya and really work hard to get you a job in the mainstream game industry, which would be a pretty awesome day job.
The thing is, I'm a huge fan of indie games, and I would love to contribute some works of my own over the next few months/years. The thing is, if I get a job as an art drone at EA or something does that make my hypothetical indie games less legit?

As I read back over this and think about it a little more, I realize that the answer to my question is probably:
No, it'll simply give you credit experience to bring to your own games, and you can maintain your street cred by offering them for free to proper communities.
But after I've typed all this, I am loathe to delete it, so I'll let other people read about me and I'd love to hear what you think about:

a)mainstream video game education programs
b)working in the game biz and making indie games
c)any experiences you have working with Maya, or if you think there are other programs that are more applicable to the game industry.
d)me... I'd love to push my game on you.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2008, 07:39:41 PM »

"Street cred"?  Really?  To make indie games, just make them.  Don't worry too much about about something like 'street cred.'

Also, re Maya: it is a bloated horrible program which crashes all the time, or, in other words, an industry standard.
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Eden
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2008, 08:25:34 PM »

Quote
a)mainstream video game education programs
Hmm. BS in game design? Does it actually teach game design? Because there's a lot of "Game Design" courses which are really just coding, etc.
 
So the next question is: Do you really want a job at a mainstream studio? There's a lot of people who've worked in "the industry" and've hated it.

And, if it does teach game design, does it teach good design? (That's a hard one to answer though).
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Farbs
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2008, 08:40:33 PM »

So the next question is: Do you really want a job at a mainstream studio? There's a lot of people who've worked in "the industry" and've hated it.
Others have loved it though. It's a great way to meet and learn from talented people, and it means you spend your work hours developing skills that help in your indie work.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 01:52:41 AM »

I'm working in the industry for more than a year now as programmer and I assure you, that if you start working like me, you will not have the time to make any complex indie project, this also having a girlfriend and something that resemble a bit of social life... that's why i decided to quit my job and trying the indie way...

About that "learning" stuff, noone will pay you for having you learning, you need skills to have a job in the mainstream. Of course you can meet also good teams and people more skilled than you and so kind to have you learning from, but the 99% of your time when you have a job like mine is solve the problems someone did, or get a stuff working, so the only things you will learn is to stay calm and how to use debuggers Smiley

Oh, just do great games, following that street-cred thing is only a way to constrain yourself, we're not in the indie music scene, do anything you want how you want and using the tools you think are right for that, just keep doing cool stuff

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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 05:09:39 AM »

(Strong disclaimer - this is based on hearsay, I don't work in the industry)

The only reasons I'd see to avoid the mainstream industry are (1) the hours might make it difficult to work on things, and (2) dodgy contract clauses to the effect of them owning your brain often go hand in hand with the job. If you enjoy it, then hell, do it. I guess if you don't like it, you could end up with a Pavlovian aversion to games in general Tongue but let's hope not >.>
Anyway, don't worry about 'street cred', anyone who rejects your stuff on that basis is being an ass.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 05:15:58 AM by KingAl » Logged
deadeye
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2008, 02:42:51 AM »

So at the Art Institute they work in Maya and really work hard to get you a job in the mainstream game industry, which would be a pretty awesome day job.

The thing is, I'm a huge fan of indie games, and I would love to contribute some works of my own over the next few months/years. The thing is, if I get a job as an art drone at EA or something does that make my hypothetical indie games less legit?

Okay, as a (former? currently un-enrolled? I dunno, I might go back if I can scratch up the dough) student of AI I feel obligated to chime in on this one.

1.  The Art Institute will not "work really hard" to get you a job in the games industry.  That's a big exaggeration.  They will set up events where industry people come and check out student work.  They will give you contact info to send your portfolio out to studios.  They'll give you a heads up on who's hiring.  It's up to you to have a good enough portfolio to get their attention.  If you don't have it, AI can't do shit for you.  And believe me, a good 75% of AI graduates don't have it.  I've been to some of those showings.

2.  The industry doesn't care where you went to school, or even if you went to school.  The only thing that matters is your portfolio... what is it that you can do?  Yes, AI will teach you color theory and how to use Maya and what constitutes good design, and you'll get oodles of practice drawing naked hippie chicks, but it's not a magic place where careers are handed out.

3.  As much as I'd hate to admit it, because it's a little embarrassing, AI is pretty much a joke as far as academics is concerned.  Yes, they are a fully accredited school, but they are very, very easy on students.  They have to be.  They take everyone... literally.  You don't have to place to get in, you don't have to show any aptitude for art or academics.  If you have a HS diploma or a GED, and you can qualify for financial aid, then welcome to AI.  AI is a chain school.  They are, first and foremost, a business.  They want your financial aid money, and they'll bend over backwards to keep you in school to get it.  This means that AI is quite literally crawling with morons.  Judging from your post you seem to be able to string together complete sentences and communicate coherent thoughts with the written word, which means you'll probably be pulling A's in your academic classes without even trying.  I held a 3.98 GPA through my second year, and it only dropped after that because I missed a midterm.  I even got an A in my physics class.  A fucking A.  I know dick about physics.  Seriously, what the fuck.

As far as working in an industry sweat-shop, no, you don't have to worry about it ruining your indie cred.  You have to worry about it ruining your life.  You will have no time for anything else but work, so good luck getting any side projects done.  Plus, right now you don't have any "indie cred" to ruin, (whatever that is).  The only way to get it is to make indie games, I guess.

So I guess my advice would be go to AI for the first year or so (the first year is the most valuable for general design knowledge), then transfer to a regular school and just audit the courses you need from AI (the advanced Maya classes, etc).  Get yourself a part-time job and just concentrate on your portfolio if you're industry-bound, or just making games if you're indie-bound.  AI can be good for certain things, but just be aware that it's not all it's cracked up to be.
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2008, 05:05:39 AM »

Alright, thought I'd step up and drop a few lines, a couple of things said is annoying me a bit...

First of all, the game industry is not only EA or those other big studios. There are alot of medium and small sized studios around everywhere throughout the world. In many cases, small studios have problem finding talent because wannabe game creators think that you only work for the industry once you've joined up the big machines.

Second, working at EA or Ubisoft or whatever big machine you want, isn't like selling your soul to the devil or anything nasty like that. Working for a major studios is hard and in many cases they expect alot from you but they're not ogres either. Don't be fooled: it doesn't mean that your creativity will be at it's best. Unfortunatly, everyone wants to be creative and when you work on a 1000 people project, there's alot of competition. Working in a big studio is all about teamwork and organization, not your own self. You have more chances to get your voice heard in a medium or small studio. You get experience you can't get anywhere else in a major studio, especialy methodology and planning skills, since those machines are well oiled and have taken care of A LOT of games over the years. So if you want to work for a big studio like that, just be mentaly prepared.

Third, education is important. The myth of "only portfolio counts" has been wrongfully perpetuated for years because of the state of the industry in the 90's. Back then, the industry was growing but talent was hard to find. It was foolish of someone to be very picky about who they selected to hire. But now, the industry got a lot bigger and talent is easier to come by. Before, people were hired to search for candidates, now people are hired to sort through the applications studios receive. Well, it's a bit exagerated but the point remains teh same. When studios look for a candidate, they want someone that's good and professional. They want that candidate to be able to work with the tools they have. They want them to code correctly and efficiently. They ant him to spend time working, not learning how to work.

Education gives you alot of tricks and skills you can't get anywhere else because you get them from someone with experience and you can make mistakes. Once you're in the biz, you have no choice but perform or you might loose your job (like any other industry). Education cna only get you so far tho, the portfolio is important Smiley But without the credentials to back it, it's hard for a portfolio to reach the hands of the right people. Resumes aren't dropped on the desks of the art/code/designer director: they first pass through a filter of administrative people who were told what to look for.

True, there are some jobs that do not require some education, like play testers and QA, and someone with mad skills might shine through once in a while but is not happening all the time.

If you want a design position, I suggest that you work hard to get alot of different skills. A designer must know what it's like to code and create artwork as well as being able to plan things ahead while understanding what makes a good game. If you truly want to be a video game designer, don't reject any fields at all, they can always come in handy.

Fourth, being indie is no different than working for a studio except that you have to do it all by yourself. It gives you great control over creativity but it's alot of work. Sure, you can make some simple amateur game with game maker or whatever but being indie is also being able to make games full time. It ain't easy. You'll have to compete with thousands of games and deal with players alone. It's not impossible to succeed but it ain't a cake walk.

Now, if you really want to work in the industry, work in it. Study games, make games, take courses you can use in games, work in a studio part time as a play tester. Alot of studios hire play testers and all you need to be able to do is play games (well, other skills too but that's the basic). You'll also get the pulse of life in a studio and see if it fits your dreams. And if the time is right you might be able to move to bigger titles like tester or junior something (in the same studio or at another).

Well anyway, if you want to be indie or in the industry you gotta be prepared and you'll need to work hard. As for your games, places like TIGS is a good place to show what you can do and get some feedback from players. Read books about game designs, analyse games and test different gameplays. Experience will come if you make something not just dream about it.

Well, I'm out for now, these are my personal opinions based on my personal career and those of a few of my friends in the biz too...
Later!
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alexandersshen
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2008, 04:10:42 PM »

I thought I'd share a little bit here as well.

I'm currently working in the industry on the production side of things.  I can say that it's not a huge company (roughly 150 employees or so), but we make enough to pull us through the cold, cold winters.

First off, as Guert had mentioned, "portfolio only" isn't the way I've seen things work here in regards to hiring.  Unless you are some god/goddess of illustration, it's only something that can help you and emphasize what you were able to pull from the education you received and any prior gigs you may have done.  I'm sure you can point out a dozen people in your classes that are clearly better than you in whatever it is you do, and I'm sure you can also point out a dozen people who are the opposite. 

The fact is that these companies receive mounds of resumes all the time, even some from people who apply to the wrong jobs (we got a waitress application for an engineering position once).  Depending on who and which company, they'll most likely do paper cuts.  They'll look at your portfolio, they'll look at your CV and they decide if it's worth their time to give you a phone interview or even ask for more samples of work.

It's a rough industry to get into, that's for sure.  It's competitive.  The hours aren't necessarily killer, though they can be.  But in the same respect, I expect you would spend an equal number (or more) of grueling hours working on your project to get it done on time.  So there's no disrespect for joining a big company, it provides a lot of good experience in how to work in different gaming environments (people, situations, deadlines, unreasonable expectations, etc.).

As for street cred?  Just make the games.  They'll speak for themselves.

Good luck to you!
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Corpus
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2008, 02:16:55 AM »

I have not the time to read through all of these lengthy replies at the moment, so I may be repeating somebody else, here, but you shouldn't give a crap about "street cred." The whole point of the indie scene is that you can make the games you want to make, as you want to make them, possibly sticking a variety of fingers up at mainstream opinion all the while. You may be confusing "indie" with "hipster."

As for game design courses, from what I gather, some of them are useful but most are not. Personally, I would never consider doing one because I don't want to limit myself to working in the games industry, but if you know that working in the industry is what you want to do, as is obviously the case with you, it would seem to me that it's a pretty good choice to take such a course. But, yeah. Like with any choice of university or course, make sure it's one of the good ones.

I think that working in the game biz and making indie games in your free time is also varied. There are a few people here who do it, like Farbs, but I think that most people simply don't have the time to develop their indie game outside of their job. Also, you have to watch out for contracts which give the company ownership of EVERYTHING you make while employed by them.

It's important that I point out that the preceding two paragraphs are based entirely on anecdotal evidence.

So, do we get to see this game you've made?
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mrfredman
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2008, 04:46:55 PM »

Yea, of course. I apologize for never posting an update on this. So in the end my game made it to the final 7 games out of the 150 or so that we're made for the class. After doing a demo for the class and judges from local game companies, Bacteriophage was tied for third, and I won some PS2 sports game, which I promptly traded in for a better game (Burnout: Takedown (best racing game EVER)).

Anyways after the judging I got to talk to the guys who came from the game companies, and I got some business cards, and now I'm doing my gosh darndest to get an internship at one of two companies, one who makes sports games for Take Two, and an indie game company who worked on Gish and a bunch of other titles that I hadn't heart of. I'm really hopeful that I'll get a chance to work at the indie company cause that would make my summer, etc.

To play Bacteriophage (my game) head over to one of these pages:

A feedback thread I made:
http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=1333.0

Straight to the game:
http://www.yoyogames.com/games/show/27114

Bacteriophage is a nice accomplishment for a first game, but really I am very aware that it lacks two or three layers of polish to really compete in the real world. Right now I need a break, my ADD is telling me to work on new things, so right now I'm working on a new project, but at some point in the next few months I want to go back to Bacteriophage and finish it up, so any criticism and suggestions are encouraged and welcome, because they will guide my changes for the final product.
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« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2008, 03:31:03 AM »

GO WORK AT CHRONIC LOGIC.

DO IT.
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2008, 10:58:57 AM »

working in the commercial industry, while maybe not the most glamorous task philosophically, is the best technical education you could possibly get. It would be very valuable experience to take and do your own thing with later on.
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« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2008, 12:14:30 PM »

working in the commercial industry, while maybe not the most glamorous task philosophically, is the best technical education you could possibly get. It would be very valuable experience to take and do your own thing with later on.

This is true. Working in the games industry sucks, and the experience you get to add to your CV will be worth very little if you want to work outside the games industry, but it sure does put your through a lot, and you'll get to write lots and lots of code, under pressure... But you sure do learn a lot from it as well.
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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2008, 02:27:06 PM »

i've got a few questions for you guys.

I'm a junior in high school. I love making games, it's what I want to do.

What kind of college should I go to? I want to make sure I go to a school that's academically sound yet not arduous and taxing - I don't want to overstress myself. I want to work at a medium to small studio, but at the same time, I want to be able to make a living.

What do I do?
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Melly
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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2008, 04:20:49 PM »

Any craft is arduous and taxing if you want to get good and recognized at it, especially something as complex as making games. But if you love doing it you can probably put the many long hours in with little problem.
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« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2008, 05:54:21 PM »

yeah it's true. but I meant is- I don't want to go to a school that's gonna force me to take four years of english classes. it's not what I want to do. I want to write code, not to write literature. I want a college that's focused on exactly what I need. and if game design really requires four more years of English, maybe I'm not cut out for the job.

(Disclaimer: I loathe English. A lot.)
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« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2008, 06:08:16 PM »

I think most schools will let you have a broad-based education, with classes in many different subjects -- science, art, math, history, literature, sociology, psychology, folk dancing, etcetera. This is probably the best route for a game designer.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2008, 07:07:16 PM »

If you just want to write code, I think you can get through a technical school with a CS degree without taking much English.  For example at Carnegie Mellon I think you could get by with really only two semesters of English.
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« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2008, 03:09:20 AM »

Alternate answer: Come do your degree in the UK. If you do a degree at a UK university you join a department directly, and are typically discouraged from taking courses from other departments. It's usually possible if you really really want to, but not expected by a long way.

I did a CS degree at Warwick, which at the time was something like second or third in the country for CS (I don't necessarily think it's slipped, I just don't know where it stands now), and the only writing course I had to do was a ten-week "Writing for Computer Scientists". Which, holding an English Language A-Level, seemed to me to be insultingly trivial.

Also if you practice really hard while you're here you might pick up an awesome British accent. ;-)
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