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Programming Games

Ask Slashdot: Experiences Working At a High-Profile Game Studio? 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the hope-you-enjoy-crunch dept.
msheekhah writes "I have a friend who, when he gets out of college, has been promised a job at well known electronics company with a salary around $70k. However, he wants to instead go work for Blizzard or some other game company as a game programmer. I've read enough on here and on other tech websites to know that he should take the job he's been offered. Can you share with me your experiences so I can give him real life examples to convince him to take this job? If your experience is contrary to mine, I'd appreciate that input as well."
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Ask Slashdot: Experiences Working At a High-Profile Game Studio?

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  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:46PM (#44594843) Homepage

    Game development sounds fun because games are fun.
    Like how being a prostitute sounds fun because having sex is fun.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I had not laugh thatmuch in a while. Thank you! :)

    • by Chelloveck (14643) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:12PM (#44594999) Homepage
      Tru dat. I've worked at two large game companies. Developing games is sweatshop work. But a guy's gotta follow his dreams! If he's already been offered a job he'll be able to find another one if a gaming gig doesn't work out. Now's the time, when he's young and relatively responsibility-free.
      • by slart42 (694765) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @04:04PM (#44595749)

        After reading several comments that game industry jobs are all sweatshop work, I thought I might share my (different) experience. I work at Unity, so not exactly a games company, but game industry anyways. I've been here for quite a few years no and have always been (and I still am) very happy about my work. While everybody has done overtime work to get urgent fixes done at some time or other, this is not the rule, and we are far from the working conditions in many places described here. The development team has a great culture, we get to work on exciting stuff, and we get plenty of opportunities to try out things which interest us -- as a rule, similar to Google's "20% time", we have FAFF (fridays are for fun) to work on pet projects, as well as regular Hack Weeks, were the whole dev team is brought in to one location to form teams to try new ideas. It's fun.

        If you're interested, check out http://unity3d.com/jobs/ [unity3d.com] - but then, I guess your chances of being hired for an engineering position when fresh out of colleges are somewhat slim, unless you have done some really awesome stuff besides your education. But that will not be any different in any of the other larger companies in the industry.

        • by eulernet (1132389) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @05:34PM (#44596411)

          I'm an ex-game programmer, and what you say is not supported by my experience.

          Developing a framework is totally different than releasing games.

          When you work on a framework, you spend a lot of time on the same project, by incrementally adding new features.
          Quality is very important, so you must spend most of your time building quality, by writing tests and writing optimized code.
          You also have direct contact with your customers.

          When you program games, what is important is the delivery date, especially in large game companies.
          Quality is not really important, and all the conception is already done before the game started, so there is not a lot of place for innovation.
          Porting games is mostly what large game companies do, since you cannot rely on a single console to earn money.

          And when you write games nowadays, your job as a coder is mostly using libraries, because a game is too much work if rewritten from scratch.
          The "fun" part as a coder is to write your own routines, so that you master everything, when you rely on a library, you always expect bugs.
          And the "fun" part as a gamer is to fine-tune the game, and this is the most tedious task !

        • by gmueckl (950314)

          Well, at Unity you are in the cozy position of not having to work much on actual games. Game studios have a lot of shit going down because of the creative and economic aspects of games. Game engines are sort of decoupled from that. Consider yourself lucky in that regard!

          Also, you guys at Unity are doing great work.

        • by SirSlud (67381) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @12:09AM (#44598243) Homepage

          I work for one of the top 5 developers on console games, as a programmer. Are there crunch times? Yes. Do you get comp time? Yes. I'm going to be taking 35 days vacation this fall. The work itself is vastly more interesting and personally rewarding (to me) than working on business intelligence software, which is probably where I'd be otherwise.

          You get what you put into it, and you also get what you put up with. I don't recommend that anybody sacrifice their quality of life simply to be in games, and certainly some studios are worse than others, but in making games for 9 years, if you can put up with a some crunch every year or two, it can be a really fun job. Just put up resistance if you're being treated unfairly (80 hour work weeks? Never.) .. once you get some experience, you can move around. The entire industry is a game of musical chairs, so you should be able to find something at your 'pressure' level. Some people will put up with those insane for the privilege of working on a GTA title, but there is plenty of middle ground.

          And as somebody else pointed out above, just because you like playing games (or even making them for yourself) doesn't necessarily mean you'll like making them in the AAA game space. I just wrapped up a title where the credits take about 40 minutes to watch, so there are lots of considerations in terms of how much time you're willing to put in, how much individual credit you're looking for, etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Like how being a prostitute sounds fun because having sex is fun.

      When I visit them, they always make a point of telling me how much fun they had ;-)

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      Game development sounds fun because games are fun.
      Like how being a prostitute sounds fun because having sex is fun.

      Yep. The "game industry glow" wears off pretty damn quick when you're working non-stop 80 hour work weeks. I don't really miss having a sleeping bag by my desk, the perpetual deadlines, low pay, crap benefits, vacations you were never allowed to take, and all the other crap from the game industry. Yeah, it's cool to see your game on the shelf and if you're lucky, good game reviews but that is a small consolation for basically being a sweatshop slave.

      The first job I got after leaving the games industry doubl

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Yep. The "game industry glow" wears off pretty damn quick when you're working non-stop 80 hour work weeks. I don't really miss having a sleeping bag by my desk, the perpetual deadlines, low pay, crap benefits, vacations you were never allowed to take, and all the other crap from the game industry. Yeah, it's cool to see your game on the shelf and if you're lucky, good game reviews but that is a small consolation for basically being a sweatshop slave.

        You don't actually say it, but this relates to what- as I understand it- is the biggest problem with the games industry in general. In general, it's a "dream job" for young people who've grown up with computer games, and now have the opportunity to be involved in "making" them. Of course, the reality- as others have mentioned- is that a lot of computer game development is monotonous, separated from the design side and poorly paid for what it requires. But the fact is that there will always be college/uni-ag

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Generally speaking, the game industry is stratified. If you start at the bottom, you're pretty much stuck with the crap. High turnover, crap work, little room for advancement. Basically the treadmill for the "I w4nn4 m4k3 g4m3z!" folks who see all the glamour and all that and who are too young (or stupid) to realize so does everyone else who grew up with video games.

          However, if you start with a portfolio of games, you already know you won't take crap so you get into the design and high level architecture an

    • by Assmasher (456699)

      Where do I send royalties for using that analogy in the future?

      Cheers for hitting that right on the head...

    • A lot of the time, by the time you hear that ABC place is the really cool place to be, the people who made it a really cool place to be have moved on to other locations, having been replaced by other people who have all these other ideas as to how a shop should run (which do not involve being cool), and now that really cool place to be is now "meh, not so much" similar to investing is stocks, by the time the mass market gets in on it you may be on the wrong side of the curve.
  • Not me but friends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:46PM (#44594847)
    I have a few friends who worked for the bigger companies and their experiences were pretty uniformly miserable. One worked directly for a big company and even though he could make opengl dance they had him working on what was basically build scripting. The others worked for game companies that did the porting of the larger games to the lower tier platforms such as the DS. These companies put a huge amount of effort into glamour (highly photogenic workspaces) but were just thankless sweatshops with the few owners being the only ones making any money.

    That said, their resumes now have a golden game programming glow. So they have been able to go out into the indy/startup world and be treated like kings. Way way better than some third rate "game programming" degree or diploma program.
    • by interval1066 (668936) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:52PM (#44594891) Homepage Journal
      I have a friend who worked for Zynga during the high-flyin' days; she worked on Farmville. Said it was a sweat shop and the management were terrible overlords. Same thing from another friend at EA, again, during EA's salad days. But then I have another friend who works for Valve and he says its great there. So, I guess you kind of have to get lucky. As for the comment above that goes along the lines of "he's lucky to have an offer at $70K", that seems kind of low. If he knows GL native code or ActiveX, either managed or native, he doesn't have to take that offer, he can get more from someone else.
      • Haha, ActiveX, hells yeah!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:23PM (#44595061)

        I completely disagree, coming right out of college and getting 70k is actually damn good. He has no experience and yet they're willing to pay him that? I suppose it depends on which city he is at, though. But, even in expensive L.A. I know developers who make around that who have experience. Though, I suppose it could be potentially low. Just remember, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. He could apply at Blizzard, get turned away, and then lose the offer and end up sitting on his ass for a year which leaves a big gaping hole in your resume and makes you nigh unemployable. Take the job, and apply at Blizzard. If Blizzard accepts, be a douche and jump ship. Companies have no loyalty to us and can drop our asses at any time for no good reason and they often do, we should have no loyalty to them either. If Blizzard does not accept, you're still making money in the interim and getting great experience. Pad that resume, and you'll look better and better to future employers. If you end up staying at the company every year you get a 4% to 5% raise (assuming you're doing well), after a decade that adds up. Not to mention you'll have benefits in the meantime; insurance (you may be young, but anyone can be hit by a bus or experience health problems), 401k w/ matching (e.g. free money), life insurance (if you met a girl and made her your wife in college and she's having your baby, this is handy), etc.

        • I have no idea why you got modded down. If I had mod points today I would definitely mod you up.
        • I completely disagree, coming right out of college and getting 70k is actually damn good.

          Not around here, 70K is actually a low end figure. Coming right out of college or not, they're actually favoring new college grads. Come to sillicon valley and see what nonsense is going on here, with new grad & h1b recruiting. Its a fucking slaughterhouse.

          • That's because you have to pay to live in Silicon Valley.

            For the same salary he'll have a significantly higher standard of living in, say, Austin, assuming he's willing to live in Austin.

        • by Sir Holo (531007)

          ...Take the job, and apply at Blizzard. If Blizzard accepts, be a douche and jump ship...

          THIS!

          Part of management training in many organizations is to ensure that no employee is irreplaceable. Redundancy, even in the workforce, is one of their key focus areas. That is –– you are expendable.

          OK, not everywhere, but at many places yes. Treat your employer with the same respect they give you, and to your colleagues.

      • by SirSlud (67381)

        Knowing GL/DirectX is pretty meaningless in games unless you're looking to be hired as a graphics programmer. Even more interesting these days is that as more of the gaming experience moves online, we're seeing fairly traditional skillsets such as DBA or server side programming become much more in demand. It all depends on what you want to do *on* a game development team. Knowing graphics programming doesn't guarantee you a job anymore than being demonstrably skilled in any other facet of game programming.

  • He will need experience if he wants to go to one of the high-profile studios. So he should take the job, and work hard so he gets a good resume.
    • by tepples (727027)

      He will need experience if he wants to go to one of the high-profile studios.

      I'm building a career plan. What's a good way to get such experience? Will, for example, a low-profile studio pay someone enough to afford relocation?

  • by kschendel (644489) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:47PM (#44594861) Homepage

    It's really simple:
    If you have a job, you can get a job.
    If you don't have a job, getting a job is harder.

    "Promised" is an elusive word, but assuming that the $70K offer comes thru, why not take it unless he has a gaming company offer in hand? which I assume he doesn't. It's always a good thing to be able to afford housing and food while looking for the job of one's choice.

    Besides, he might be surprised, and like the promised job. (Or, it might be a small step above a Siberian work camp. One never really knows about these things until one tries it; but of course the same goes for the "dream" job at a gaming company!)

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      "Promised" is an elusive word, but assuming that the $70K offer comes thru, why not take it unless he has a gaming company offer in hand? which I assume he doesn't. It's always a good thing to be able to afford housing and food while looking for the job of one's choice.

      Besides, he might be surprised, and like the promised job. (Or, it might be a small step above a Siberian work camp. One never really knows about these things until one tries it; but of course the same goes for the "dream" job at a gaming com

  • he should pursue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by csumpi (2258986) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:50PM (#44594883)
    the path that makes him happy.
    • by Nutria (679911)

      Unless that path is surfing, living with your parents and getting Food Stamps.

    • by sinij (911942)
      >>> he should pursue the path that makes him happy.

      I find this highly inapplicable advice. Very few people enjoy work, just ask yourself and co-workers as to who still would come to work if they won a lottery.

      Assuming he is a normal human being, he won't enjoy work. The best he can hope is fulfilling career with adequate compensation. You can trade increase in fulfillment for decrease of compensation, but "happy" is definitely out of the question. Happy is what happens outside of work. If
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        If you dread going to work every day with no bright points, you really do need a different job or different employer.

        For example, I have to deal with whiney instructors who don't follow directions, who check out completely 3 months of the year (and are proud of it), and who ignore emails or manage the work related messages they have after returning from 3 months off by saying "there were too many so I just deleted them all".

        But, I also get to play in our teaching zoo, work on setting up webcams, experiment

      • by seebs (15766)

        I might do different work if I had Infinite Money, but there are things I work on for $DAYJOB now that I would likely continue to work on if I had free time and no other obligations.

        • Same here. If I came in to a lot of money I'd probably go back to college to brush up on a few things, but I'd definitely want to stay in my line of work.

    • by khchung (462899)

      the path that makes him happy.

      The path that makes him happy for a year, or the path the makes him happy for the next decade but not so happy next year?

  • by Drewdad (1738014) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:51PM (#44594885)
    Based on the experiences of some colleagues, I've avoided getting involved with gaming companies. First, there's tremendous pressure any time a new release goes out. Developers, admins, etc. are all expected to be available around the clock (with many choosing to sleep at the office) for weeks. Second, game popularity is very fickle. Working on a game that loses popularity? Pink slip. Some people view game studios as sexy and edgy, which is fine. Young, single people can afford to take risks that people with families and mortgages just can't afford.
    • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:02PM (#44594951)

      >Young, single people can afford to take risks that people with families and mortgages just can't afford.

      Indeed. If his dream is truly to work for a game company and he can get an acceptable offer out of college perhaps he should take it. It may go well or badly, but he may never again have as much freedom to chase a dream for the hell of it as he has now. Better to chase it and be disappointed by what he discovers than spend his life dreaming about what might have been.

      On the other hand if he doesn't have a gaming offer in hand I'd start chasing the offer now, and go for the electronics job if he can't make any headway there. I imagine even gaming companies prefer candidates with a proven work history. Just not so much of one that they demand a reasonable compensation package.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 17, 2013 @01:52PM (#44594887)
    Having left Blizzard in the last year I can say that it was once a really awesome place to be! Just not any more sadly. The politics have stunted too many people's ability to get things done. On top of that revenue is down so the idea of "low base pay with more from profit sharing" doesn't make up for how overly stressful things are. That said, working somewhere where the other "perks" of the Blizzard Culture aren't apparent will make working for a game studio a bit better; just have a decent savings account first and be ready to work twice as much for half the pay you used to get. From my friends that decided to say in the industry many are going to indie developers or starting their own small game companies so they can get back to what they really wanted to do in the first place: make games! On my end I've just created a bit of a "gamer culture" on the engineering teams I've started since I left to get the best of both worlds. My suggestion would really be to take the decent paying job for a few years while making some indie games on the side to make sure that they really want to make games for a living.
  • by FSWKU (551325) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:00PM (#44594941)
    Does he have a piece of paper in his hand from this mythical company that clearly states they are offering him a job and what the compensation will be? Does he have one from Blizzard? The correct choice is whichever of these two he can say "yes" to.

    If your friend doesn't have this dubious "$70k as a college graduate" offer/promise on paper, signed, and in his possession , then such a position doesn't exist. Period. If he believes otherwise, he's gonna have a bad time.
    • by fermion (181285)
      I was listening to the radio last night and they reported the top job desired by children is that of reality star. I see this in a number of high school and college graduates as well. They want to be a star working at a star company. For jobs that do not really create anything, CEO, lawyer, doctor, that is OK. But for an engineer, who should be innovating everyday things that makes our lives better, that should be making the world safer, it does. Of course a game developer is likely more like a lawyer t
      • by julesh (229690)

        I was listening to the radio last night and they reported the top job desired by children is that of reality star. I see this in a number of high school and college graduates as well. They want to be a star working at a star company. For jobs that do not really create anything, CEO, lawyer, doctor, that is OK. But for an engineer, who should be innovating everyday things that makes our lives better, that should be making the world safer, it does. Of course a game developer is likely more like a lawyer than an engineer, but still. I would say find somewhere you can make a difference, not somewhere you can be a star. It is not a bad thing to know that you went into work and did something meaningful. Of course that could happen a Blizzard. But if someone is offerring you a job at a firm where what you do matters, and you are getting well compensated, I think that is a good thing.

        I think working on a project that would likely make millions of people happy (even if only for a few hours each) is pretty damned meaningful. Sure, entertainment isn't life-or-death, but it's got to be more rewarding than, say, accountancy.

  • by Njovich (553857) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:09PM (#44594985)

    The guy isn't exactly wanting to go into drugs or some such. Nothing good will come from trying to interfere with him. If he never starts at the game industry he will always keep some romantic vision of how it would be.

    Going into game dev can be a tough choice, but if that's what he wants to do there isn't much you can do about it.

    Let him work it out himself if it is for him, he will find out the reality soon enough after starting there. Also, if he can get 70k offers now, I'm sure he will be okay after a year at a gamestudio finding a new job too.

  • The average game developer leaves the industry after 5 years. The reason is that as much fun as it is to play a game at the end of the day, you are never able to play your game until it is complete and by then you are exhausted and burned out and the last thing you want to do is play your game. Of all the games that I have shipped I have never played one of them after they shipped.This is a hard industry and it is not for everyone (most)

    The next consideration is that just because you qualified for a job of
  • be wary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alx (7083) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:26PM (#44595095)

    I had an offer from Bioware that I ended up passing on because I had another offer from another company to do full time iOS development which is what I really wanted to do. A friend of mine ended up taking the same job at Bioware that I had been offered. I left a year later. His experiences can best be summed up in a single line from a chat he and I had one time -- "they cancelled Christmas" ... he had been working 80hr weeks for almost a year by that point. I felt like I dodged a bullet.

    If writing games is your passion, and you can't live without it, and you don't mind doing it ALL the time, then that is the only time I would say it's okay to work for a games company. If you do, try to find an indy shop that works a sustainable pace. The other downside is that the people working there were very grouchy and mean. Not a happy place.

  • From what I've gleaned (I'm also interested in game development), you'd be best to avoid the very large developers like EA, Activision, Blizzard, etc. They tend to consider their manpower as resources to be exploited and discarded if they stop working properly. The hours are horrible and the salaries don't match up. Instead, try finding small or mid-sized studios; the pay might not be the highest around, but the atmosphere and challenges will usually be a lot better. With smaller devs especially, you get to
  • I'd say your friend is quite fortunate to be wanted straight out of college, but here's the thing: the electronics company only PROMISED him a job when he graduates. As the old adage goes: promises are made to be broken...and in the tech world, so are verbal agreements and temp jobs.

    SHOULD the electronics company follow through, he should still take the job, and find satisfaction in getting whatever real-world experience he can get out of it!
    I had this idealistic dream of working for Blizzard, EA, etc..a

  • First, 70$ out of college is unbelievably good. I am willing to bet that some people here don't make that much.

    Second, Blizzard, or any other gaming studio will be very high-demand low-reward position. Your friend will be knowingly taking less pay for more work.Plus his work at gaming studio won't translate well into broader IT field, a lot of gaming technologies are not used elsewhere. (e.g. programming gaming engine will not help him get a job at CISCO or Google)

    Don't try to stop your friend, but ma
  • 11 year veteran (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:48PM (#44595213)
    11 year veteran here - I've worked in a number of roles at an independent studio (as a programmer), and my advice to anyone wanting to make games is this: it's hard bloody work, which doesn't pay that much, and you'd be better off working on your own games in your own time. Very rarely do you get to work on games that you are interested in, the last project I was on was a Disney game with a MASSIVE budget. It was hell on earth and I got pretty down about my job - to the point where I considered quitting without having secured another job first. On the plus side - I have gained experience in working with large, complex code bases, and worked under tight deadlines with hardly any budget. I've accepted a programming job outside of games, and I'm counting down the days until I leave.
    • by sinij (911942)
      Mod up so others can see this AC post.
    • it's hard bloody work, which doesn't pay that much, and you'd be better off working on your own games in your own time.

      But how does working on one's own games in one's own time produce verifiable "game industry experience" that one can show to a publisher or a console maker?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Write a web game, post it online.

        Contribute to an open source game, be able to point to the github repo or list of contributors or whatever.

        When I was interviewing people for a gaming studio, we had people do both, and they both looked very good on the resume -- they show both your technical skills, and your passion for gaming. You are clearly excited enough about this to go do it in your spare time, which means a lot!

  • 70 grand? 70 grand in LA or New York isnt shit, 70 grand in Atlanta is a good living, where is this magical electronics company?

    Whats the job position? programming a microwave timer may suck, programming the UI to the new BMW might be cool, or whatever

    Why Blizzard? They do not generate enough projects to keep every wishful nerd with a BS in the world employed "just cause they like starcraft"

    Why are you so worried to convince him when you obviously do not have all the info? Worry about screwing up your own l

    • programming a microwave timer may suck, programming the UI to the new BMW might be cool, or whatever

      You might be surprised. By and large, I had far more fun programming point-of-sale systems for petrol stations (US: gas stations) then I did the far more glamorous world of TV digital effects systems. Once you got over the initial eye-popping "oooh wow" factor, it was a sheer grind most of the time. The analogy with "being a prostitute is fun because sex is fun" that someone made up there is spot-on.

  • promised a job is not an offer and they can say stuff like we where banking on a big deal to happen and it did not so we can't hire you. Upper management is moving a different way and we don't need people with your skills, ECT.

  • by E-Sabbath (42104) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @02:52PM (#44595241)

    Well, I'm sort of in the same situation. Except that in my case, my friends and I decided to start our own company. We're building a MMO. No publishers.

    We're not just out of college, we're veterans in a number of fields, and this is my point.
    Education is transferable. If you know how to code, you can start in a good job, and move over later. Or, even better, do your own game. If it was art, I'd say, join a studio. But for coding? Sadly, you're replaceable. But you can replace them as well.

    If you've got a good offer, go for it, but don't kill yourself. Go for the job, spend a year or two, and if you don't like it, move on, then come back as a more experienced person, and get back in higher in the food chain. Just out of college is a great time to try out something risky, that looks great on the resume.

    But don't let them abuse you. Work hard, work well, but you are not a chew toy. The one thing most people right out of college miss, though, is that every project has to be finished and polished to be done. The stuff you do for class is under too tight a deadline to actually finish, you just get it working. This stuff, follow through on. Ask your boss about what I mean, if you get the job - knowing to ask that question can mark you as someone with a future.

    I've had some good education from the following books:

    Making Fun is a book about how a game is put together, the various jobs that exist and how they relate.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007RV3UTS/ref=oh_d__o08_details_o08__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 [amazon.com]

    Interactive Entertainment is a book about the life cycle of a game, and the various fields of gaming that exist.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0041T4HG4/ref=oh_d__o07_details_o07__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 [amazon.com]

    Level Up! is a book on game design. Once you know about what a game is, and how it's put together, this is pretty handy to dig style with.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0046REX10/ref=oh_d__o02_details_o02__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 [amazon.com]

    They're all a little generic, but they're also solid starting points.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0046REX10/ref=oh_d__o02_details_o02__i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 [amazon.com]

    (For those curious about my personal project, it's a spiritual successor to City of Heroes. The MAN shut it down. Well, we can make our own game! With blackjack! And... forget the blackjack. With superheroes! And costumes! And all kinds of awesome stuff. And the best part is that in the ten years since CoH launched, the industry's come a long way - we can do all kinds of crazy stuff now.)
    ( www.missingworldsmedia.com if you're interested. )

    • by julesh (229690)

      Except that in my case, my friends and I decided to start our own company. We're building a MMO.

      Everyone's building an MMO. It seems to be the default I-want-to-make-this-kind-of-game genre (just like building an OS is the default for big software engineering projects -- just look how many hobbyist OSs there are out there!). Perhaps you shouldn't let this discourage you, but still worth thinking about.

      If we're onto book recommendations, there are a couple more:

      A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster. If you read his blog, it turns out there's a new edition due out soon, so may be worth waiting for it, but thi

      • by E-Sabbath (42104)

        I love Raph... but mostly I love to disagree with him. About so very much. That being said, his statements existing to disagree with are absolutely essential. If that makes sense. I love reading his work.

        I'm working on a MMO - but this guy might not be. What I was posting about was basic level books on the field in general. I hope they prove helpful to him.

  • It's About Culture (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As someone who recently start working for a game studio that is profitable, incredibly player-focussed and protects its culture with both hands, I just want to say that genuinely good opportunities do still exist in the gaming industry - though it would be disingenuous to pretend that they're the norm.

    However, more fundamentally, forget gaming or any other domain for a second and demand that the people you work with embody and project as much of the following as possible...

    integrity
    compassion
    kindness
    a deter

  • This situation kind of reminds me of the character played by Randy Quaid in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," where his wife explains that he's been out of work for close to a decade because "he's holding out for a position in upper management."

    But on the other hand, why is it your job to tell him what to do with his career? It's his life, let him live it for better and for worse. Any mistake he's intent on making is his to learn from, and most great successes looked like suicide missions to other

  • Use reason.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday August 17, 2013 @03:16PM (#44595419)

    ... take the bird in the hand (the job offered).... then work at the company making money and gaining reputable XP while trying to apply to blizzard and get in there....

    Nobody is going to think less of you for working in your field. If anything, the xp will only help validate your friends' skillset and give more power to the application to blizzard.

    Also, who the hell considers turning down a job offer in this economy? I had to win a grant to get my job.

  • "I have a friend who, when he gets out of college, has been promised a job at well known electronics company with a salary around $70k. However, he wants to instead go work for Blizzard or some other game company as a game programmer."

    This is NOT an "either-or" situation. He's not going to die in two years, he's not committed to the job offer for life, and a gaming company isn't going to see electronics work on his resume and blacklist him.

    Entry-level is HARD, and a college degree is worth very little with

    • Yup, entry level is HARD to get into. I've been trying to get any job to start my career for close to a decade. I even graduated from Carnegie Mellon, and my hobbies are playing video games and programming. I'm doing the Indie scene now since I have no choice of getting an actual job. I code extremely well, but I have a very difficult time getting interviews. I chalk it up to graduating at the dot com bust when they only hired people with experience, and then having not getting any experience, no one e
      • by evilviper (135110)

        I chalk it up to graduating at the dot com bust when they only hired people with experience, and then having not getting any experience, no one ever was interested in me. I'm a 90-120k+ yr quality software engineer, and I'd be willing to work for 35k/yr since my family isn't rich, but I can't find anyone in the world to give me the time of day.

        That timing makes it harder, but that's a low enough salary requirement that you should be able to get in, somewhere.

        I've only had 7 interviews in the past 10 years,

      • by evilviper (135110)

        BTW, noticing your .sig I think I should mention that pretty much all discussion of politics and religion is off-limits in interviews, resumes, and mostly verboten even in the office once you are hired. Those are the two big hot-buttons you want to stay away from. Work life and personal life are best kept separate, anyhow.

  • by jtara (133429)

    Sony is a big electronics company AND a gaming company, so perhaps your friend can have his cake and eat it too. (Or perhaps it's a lie...)

    I spent a couple years at Sony San Diego Studio as a contractor, albiet not as a "game programmer". Two contracts doing Ruby/Rails backend stuff, first working on internal software that manages configuring back-end servers and deploying them, and then working on back-end admin and console services. The latter was definately much more fun, since it was working in the same

  • Take the game job. Follow his dream. My experience in games is pretty great. I've heard horror stories but I've not personally experienced them that much. Blizzard is supposed to be great place to work so if he can get into Blizzard he should definitely go for it. I've even worked what I would consider massively under paid by I'm still happy for the experience.

    I programmed games for ~25 years. The last 5 I did something else (worked at a big IT company). I hated the last 5 years. Hated is a little strong. I

  • Experiences depend on various things:
    1) How well is the company doing?
    2a) What products are their business model?
    2b) If they're building a new product, do they have the cashn/ provide the cash to finance a prototype and the time it takes to develop a good product?
    3) How good is the team / teamlead / project manager / internal pipeline / development method?

    I've worked as a dev and later on as a Scrum Master for a gaming company on a product/prototype team. It was plain awesome. The lead was very good at taki

  • First off, if he has a job offer in hand from the first company, then he should take it no matter what his ultimate desire. Once you have a job, it is easier to start looking for the perfect job.

    I have a friend of mine who desire has been to work in the game industry. First he worked at a board game company and now he works for a high profile video game company. From what I know about what he's doing, he's not making as much money as he'd like and he's not doing ideally what he'd like to be doing. Also

  • And make your own software on the side. Don't do games, though, unless they're butt simple and sell like hotcakes. You have magical powers. Know this --> You can create a product that can be reproduced for no cost. Go for the largest number of customers and where you stand a chance to compete in the current market.
  • Games are hard but fun.

    Programming in a "company" is likely a lot less fun.
    Personal temperament can make anything fun or anything dull and lacking in adjectives.

    Big bucks from games is possible but so is winning the lottery.
    There is still some VC money for game companies but less and less makes it into the hands of creative programmers.

    Youth.... go for it, what ever it is.....
    Wife and kids ... games maybe not but there are some great game companies.

  • by CyberBill (526285) on Sunday August 18, 2013 @03:44AM (#44598797)

    I have worked at 3 game studios - Amaze Entertainment (now Griptonite), Sony Online Entertainment, and now Microsoft. I've worked on the PSP, PS3, PC, and Xbox One. I have worked on relatively short cycle year long games as the main programmer, I've written back end software for MMOs as a core-tech guy (mostly removed from the game) and as a part of the game team. I've worked on more MMO titles than most devs.

    The closer you are to the game, the more hours you're going to work. SOE was particularly bad - I worked there for 6 years and only had a single real raise. The first two years was on a core tech team that was really awesome. My manager was super experienced, and we set time lines and expectations for raises, and he followed through. I learned a lot, and was making my way up. But then the team evaporated and I was put directly on a game team. I was promised bonuses that regularly fell through. "When we hit Alpha in June, you'll all get bonuses!" - Great! Oh... the game doesn't hit Alpha in June? Well, there goes June.. July... August... Game gets a facelift... Alpha the next year in June! Or July, or August. Get used to that. And promotions? Few and far between, and they always pull the "no promotions until we ship" card, which if you're working on a 6-year long dev cycle for an MMO doesn't make sense. I don't know of a single programmer who got a promotion while at SOE for the last 4 years when I was working there. At most places, if you're not directly on a team, you get a standard bonus at the end of the fiscal year - it's not huge, but it's pretty reliable. If you are on a game team, you get milestone bonuses instead, which get pushed around, and without fail they always claim that the parking lot will be filled with Ferrari's.

    Management is usually bad. My last boss seemed bipolar about my performance. One month it was "Great! On track for a promotion at alpha!" to "We really expect you to put in 60 hours a week." When you're young and fresh into the industry, don't have a wife or kids, you can do 60 hours a week. But you're going to feel miserable doing it when you're trying to have a reasonable work/life balance, and with experience you'll realize that 60-hour weeks for a year is not sustainable. There was a month when I did 90+ hours every week to help a project ship on time - I didn't get a bonus, didn't get any time off, nothing, even though my manager for the project praised my work.

    Of course, there is a reason I still work in games. The most passionate programmers are working in games. You get to do something you absolutely love, with really smart people, and make pretty good money doing it. At Microsoft I'm a bit more removed from the game team - which means I do my 40 and I go home. I think that you have to strive to find the balance that you want. I can't see myself ever trading my job for some boring programming position outside of games.

  • Can you share with me your experiences so I can give him real life examples to convince him to take this job?

    No. It's better to learn what type of job you enjoy on your own. If he is talented he will be fine; maybe he will hate it and quit, maybe he will like it, who knows. If he likes it you'll just end up looking like an asshole. The important thing is he will probably learn and move on. There are good and bad jobs across industries in technology, I've had my share of both and I would never trade those pe

  • The gaming job is not guaranteed, the electronics one is.

    If you are a good friend your ONLY advice is to take the electronics job now and then apply for the games job. Telling him to turn down a promised job and shoot for his dreams will only mean you will probably have your friend sleeping on your couch because he is jobless and broke.

    Not sure of many gaming companies that are going to hire someone straight out of college unless he has a pretty damn good portfolio of his own independent gaming projects to

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