Game Development 101 – Part 2/2

By on August 29, 2011

From rabid gamer to budding developer; what does it really take to make the transition?

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As a self-proclaimed tech-lover and video game enthusiast, Rohan Anchan has been with MEGamers for a little over 4 years now, spending most of his time ranting about the good and bad stuff that comes out the doors of the video game industry. However, having recently acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with specializations in Games Programming & Software Engineering, he now shares his insight and opinions on the various matters/issues that come with preparing oneself to make a break into one of the most commercially successful and rapidly growing entertainment industries today – video games.

In this second and final part, we take an overarching look at the diverse roles that exist within the field, the kind of skills and expertise it takes to land a job in one of these roles, and what potential candidates can do to appeal more to prospective employers.

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Welcome back, fellow gamers and wannabe game developers! Having touched upon the subject of game development and obtaining a formal qualification for the field in Part 1 of this series, we’re back again to contaminate your mind with more nonsensical ramblings of a similar nature, and secretly hope that your brain magically processes it into some sort of useful information. So, what new shenanigans are we bringing your way this time? Well, it’s time to take a step beyond those degrees and diplomas, and check out what the real-world job scene is like for aspiring developers. As with any complex, vast subject, it is impossible to cover every aspect of game-related careers in detail here, but thankfully, the bits that we’re concerned with can be generalised into fewer categories.

Before we dive in, it’s probably best to drive this all-important fact into your head: if you think that, at the end of 3 or 4 years of hard work, you’re just going to be able to walk straight through the doors of companies like Valve, Rockstar, EA, Ubisoft, or Bethesda, solely on the basis of your oh-so-cool degree, you’re sorely mistaken. “But…but…I spent countless nights awake, trying to understand those damn Quaternions and make sense of that Fuzzy Logic crap! And…and fifty thousand dollars for the whole course! And damn you, I sacrificed my social life and partying and all the good stuff that goes with college…all for my career!”. Yeah, yeah…you and everybody else, princess, so shut it. That little piece of parchment only bears testament to the fact that you’ve been formally educated in the art and science of making games. It is, in no way, a direct indication of you possessing ninja coding skills or the ability to churn out lifelike 3D models, and so on. Getting to play with the big guns in the industry takes way more than just a degree. The talent and skill required to produce today’s games comes from years of experience, tonnes of trial-and-error, and a whole lot more knowledge than what came with your qualification. Moral of the story? Be realistic and focus on finding your footing with smaller ventures first, and when the time is eventually right, look at moving up the ladder.

With that bit out of the way, let’s take a look at the different types of roles available in the corporate world of video games, and what the big players really look for when hiring. While the title and number of job roles will obviously vary depending on the total number of people required on a team, they can be examined under a bunch of general categories. Programming, art, audio, writing, and project management – these are the meat and potatoes of any game project, the main set of tasks that shape the final product. So, on with the details.

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Loves video games lots, but loves video game development even more. Has a Bachelor's degree in the field, yet the technical complexity behind those billions of interactive pixels boggles his mind. His brain will either conjure up the next best game or turn into gravy in 5 years time.

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