A Guide to Higher-Education for Aspiring Game Programmers

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this piece for a South African Game Development Magazine prior to leaving South Africa. It has been some time since I send the piece in for copy-editing and have heard nothing back regarding it so I’m simply going to post it here. The topic is a matter of some debate and the below article is simply my personal opinion! It was mentioned during the initial review by the game development magazine that certain sections of this article are rather inflammatory and we had agreed to remove them from the final piece. Seeing as this is my personal blog I figured I might as well post the entire un-edited version.

Once Again this is simply a personal opinion and should be taken as such!

Introduction

When asked to write an article for a local game dev magazine, I was initially apprehensive as writing is not exactly a strong point of mine. It was only once I realized that the article might actually benefit some prospective game programmers that it was well worth the effort. That being said trying to find a topic for the article proved quite challenging. My initial plan was to write a brief article describing the basics of vehicle steering and waypoint following. That idea got scrapped once I built a simple test bed and I realized that I don’t know nearly enough about physics of car motion to write an in-depth article on the topic.

While I was still deciding on a topic, huge discussions (read arguments) started popping up in various game dev communities I followed, all based around the same theme – education:

There seems to be quite a lot of debate on what prospective game programmers should study as well as what current college curricula should include. The most common questions still being asked by prospective game programmers are: “What do I need to study to become a game programmer?” and “What do I need to do to help me land a game industry job as a programmer?”. It is these questions that I wish to address in this article. Continue reading

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A wannabe game developer no more

So after all these years of hard work, I’ve finally managed to get into the game industry and into a well known AAA studio to boot. I’ve accepted an offer from IO Interactive (Hitman, Kane & Lynch) who are based in Copenhagen, Denmark. I will be moving to Denmark and starting at IOI in August!

This whole thing still feels a bit like a dream. I cant believe that I’ve finally managed to achieve what honestly felt like an impossible goal when I set it all those years ago. I guess it goes to show that with hard work anything is possible. As excited as I am, I cant help but feel a bit nervous. I’m a little fish getting thrown in the deep end. Then again, I dont think I’d want it any other way. I’ve been dying to improve and to learn and I’m finally going to be working with people that I can really learn a lot from and I honestly cant wait for that!!! To everyone that’s helped me along the way, you know who you are, thank you so much! I honestly dont think I’d have gotten this far without your encouragement and support.

On the downside, I dont know how active this blog will be once I start working but I will do my best to try and keep the content coming. Game dev blogs have been a huge help over the years and I would love to be able to pay the favor forward!

Pathfinding Thesis Complete

WOOT! My thesis, the bane of my existence for the last 2 years, is finally done! Its basically a review of the video game pathfinding field as well as presenting a novel grid map search technique: the spatial grid A*. The version linked below is the final draft that is being submitted to my faculty.

Experiences with Interviewing So Far

So I’m currently looking for a job in the game industry, location and salary are secondary to the work at this point. I kinda just want to get out of South Africa and work on something cool. I’m still young enough not have to worry about supporting a family, stability or dealing with crunch time, I kinda just need a chance. I’ve spent the last few weeks sending applications, writing programming tests and interviewing. And to be dead honest, I’m kinda starting to lose a bit of faith in myself and my chances of landing an entry level game dev job without any game experience.

Now before I carry on with this post, I need to just say that I, in no way regret any of the interviews I’ve had, I’ve learned something from each and every one of them. It’s actually been kinda fun even though I felt like a complete idiot a couple of times (I tend to be really hard on myself). The programming tests were a lot of fun and one plus is that I’ve passed all the tests I’ve written. Continue reading