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TIGSource ForumsPlayerGeneralFinally Graduated! (a.k.a. role of university studies on game dev)
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Slash - Santiago Zapata
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« on: March 02, 2007, 10:01:48 PM »

So yes, after many years of trials, happiness and sadness, I finished university. I am a computer systems engineer Tongue

And in order for this topic not to seem a selfish babbling by some guy nobody cares about, I will raise the quintessential question: How useful is a CS degree for a game developer?

I guess some (most?) of you are graduated? how useful has that been? and if not, do you plan on studying something computer related in major education?

What about the difference of impact for indie and commercial development (I guess being an indie makes it irrelevant to have a degree in your back)

For starters, I've been making games since before entering college (ok, I never finished these, but I *was making them* Tongue), but I think lots of people gets into Computer Sciences just to have a chance on making their own games... If this turns out to be unnecesary I will warn those that are about to step this horrible mistake! :D
« Last Edit: March 03, 2007, 07:48:51 AM by Slashie » Logged

Dan MacDonald
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2007, 10:38:32 PM »

CSE degree is one of those things your glad you have when you realize that the games industry isn't going to support you and you family and you're going to have to get a real job with reasonable hours and good pay.  Shocked
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PoV
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2007, 12:19:13 AM »

I dropped out of college to take a game industry job.  That was in '99.  I haven't looked back since.
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2007, 03:22:42 AM »

I have a Fine Arts degree, which is unusual as it seems like most game developers did indeed go to university and study computers. I went and did animation instead (well, I taught myself the animation, but it was the degree that forced me to get stuck into it).

I did actually do a little bit of computer science while I was there. I had to get special permission to do so - apparently no arts student had ever wanted to. They really thought I would be better off doing computer studies instead. Learning how to turn them on and use Word and stuff like that, I guess.

Anyway, it turned out that the computer science at 100 level was so slow-moving and easy that I dropped out after getting an effortless 100% for first semester. I'm sure it would have become useful at higher levels, but I wasn't about to do a full double major. So much for their bloody patronising attitude though.

In the end, I think that for making games the Fine Arts turned out to be more useful anyway. However, my code is a mess and the only conventions it follows are my own peculiar ones that nobody else understands...
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2007, 03:52:46 AM »

I did Maths in college, which is not only not useful for game development, but it's also useless for pretty much any other career you might take up, unless you want to do more Maths. It was a fun degree though Smiley

Congratulations!
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fish
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2007, 11:25:12 AM »

to me, indie design is my rock and roll.
it my great big fuck you to the rest of the industry.
like i mentioned in previous posts, i work fulltime as a level designer and i hate it with a fiery passion. its making me miserable.
and that was my childhood dream, since i was 4, to make videogames.
and now it kind of blew up in my face.

i was always a gamer and i always dabled in all sorts of artistic medium and designs.
i studied art, but always had a thing for design IN art.
is art design? is design art? am i an artist? am i a designer?
i dont know.

what i do know is that making well designed, artisticly relevant games on my own is whats keeping me alive and reasonably sane.

i live in montreal and could be considered something of a scenester. i am surrounded by musicians, artists and promoters. indie rock and roll and the soundtrack of my life. i play drums but not good enough to be serious about it.
so my rock and roll is game design. its my medium.

and like keita takahashi once said: games need to be more like punk, or maybe rock and roll.
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2007, 11:55:19 AM »

I did Software Engineering.

I've found that there's a lot in a degree which makes a lot of sense, but for whatever reason, a lot of it seems to be ignored or disgarded in professional game as  it becomes a mad scramble to get the game done before an impossible deadline. A lot of stuff (but not everything) gets thrown out. I remember in the first couple of months of my job doing a Use Case diagram as part of a design document. We were taught to use those little UML stickment to represent agents. I handed it to some guy in the company and he thought I was being "unprofessional" for putting stickmen in my document. I didn't like to tell him that it's pretty standard software engineering stuff.

SE taught me a lot of good things about system design, and the proper way to do OO. However, games are so speed dependant that doing weird hacks to eke more speed out of the engine is considered pretty normal, so it took a while to adapt, and my early stuff ran really fooking slow. They teach you that you can always optimize elegant code, but that it's harder to turn spaghetti/speed hacks into elegant code. Game programmers seem more like "shit, I've got this really fast way to do this thing!" and just do it. So, I'll procrastinate and over-design systems and work fairly slowly because I start thinking of ways to genericise code, and by the time I get anything done, Tommy has super fast systems going (he's also just more experienced with code than me).

It just feels like two really different approaches, but I'm getting into it more, now.

University also gave me time to work on my own stuff, and learn for myself (I didn't have much of a social life, so I studied and wrote about game design a lot). It's good to be free to do that without the need to get a full time job for rent etc. It's room to breath and develop. That's the biggest thing it gave me.

The other thing the course did well was introduce me to the basics of a lot of different areas. I learned about sound processing (text to speech, speech sythesis) , OO + ADTs + Well formed formulas, real time graphics (although I was already finding that stuff out for myself), integrated systems, etc etc. Within computing, it gave me breadth, which is important for a designer... even if you're not a master of any realm, you should atleast understand what's possible, what's easy, and what's difficult within each so that your expectations are realistic, and your ideas are practical.
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2007, 12:02:05 PM »

So yes, after many years of trials, happiness and sadness, I finished university. I am a computer systems engineer Tongue

...

How useful is a CS degree for a game developer?


Congratulations!

AFAIK, at least in Sweden, if you want to work as programmer at serious game developer, having a MSc in something related is a prerequisite.
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Derek
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2007, 12:48:58 PM »

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Slash - Santiago Zapata
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2007, 02:14:49 PM »

ROTFL at that Derek :D !!!

HAHAHAHA! Tongue

Well, I myself had to work while I was at uni to pay my expenses (Nothing game related, such industry is null in this country), so didn't really have heaps of spare time, I think uni is important as it lets you know about the elegant and theorical way to do things, and you are free to mix it with your own super wild style if you feel like doing it Tongue BUT personal experience is MUCH more important.

@Bezzy: That man who didnt recognize stickdudes as UML actors is surely out of date, it is general culture, even if you wont be using them, Tongue

At work I tend to have the freedom to apply "good practices" at will, they promote that, as they are really useful for mantainance of big projects... can't talk about a gaming project, as I have always worked on them as personal things (one man teams, plus a casual artist that wants to be involved Tongue)

@Fish: I can't understand your unhappiness Tongue lot's of people dreams to be working on that... but I guess any job gets dull after a time

@Echo: But some concepts of math are useful, arent them? Specially if one wants to make a tyccoon or something simulation related (Someday I will Tongue)
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