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Discussion on: I switched from software engineering to game development, ask me anything.

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iamclaytonray profile image
Clayton Ray • Edited

I know this is a bit of an older post but hopefully you'll still be able to answer my questions. First, for context:

I'm a web/mobile developer right now. I've pretty much survived on contracts but the barrier-to-entry is really high for web/mobile, especially if you're JavaScript-centric (ie: React/React Native, etc). I've spent the past year applying to over 100 jobs and only come close to being hired a couple of times. From other developers, I've been consistently told that I'm a mid-level.

With that context, here are my questions?

  1. How open are game dev companies (indie, small, medium, big) to hiring entry-level / junior game devs?

  2. Should I go to college? I've gotten really good at teaching myself skills I need. I know a little C++ and some Go/Rust + pretty competent with JavaScript. I'm not good with data structures / algorithms, which is why I'm thinking I probably should go to college.

  3. As a junior game dev, what were the expectations? Mainly contracting with startups, it's usually "make immediate and large contributions from day one and on". I'm not afraid to make decent sized contributions but being new to game dev could be slow for me in the beginning. (things will become more common and I'll be able to do things faster from previous repetition, I assume)

  4. How is fatigue? I have a love-hate relationship with JS. (For accuracy, I prefer typed languages so I actually use TypeScript 90% of the time). One of my biggest problems with JS, and web specifically, is the amount of changing ground. Today it's X framework/tool, tomorrow it's Y framework/tool. If you didn't hear about the new one or you're not trying it, you're lame and no one wants to work with you. I can deal with things changing every so often but having major changes on a regular basis can be tiring, feeling like you have to learn a framework/tool/etc per week. How does game dev compare to web in this context?

As a side note, I know most people hate JS. I'm trying to avoid a debate on it. So just putting it out there, I know... it sucks.

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rapidnerd profile image
George Marr Ask Me Anything

Woah a lot of questions there, and all good ones!

1: It generally depends on the company and the kind of games they develop, some games that are in VR, for example, will require a lot more expertise to work with compared to something, for example, an indie game. When I first joined I was at entry level and the company knew this, so I was put in a lower end part of the development and gradually started working my way up. Nowadays I'm no longer working on the games themselves but working on the networking infrastructure side of things. If you find a job you'd want to work at definitely speak to the company, ask them to call you or ring you so you can figure everything out from someone who already works there first hand.

2: College is always going to dependant on you and I tend to stay away from telling people to go or not to go however for this I'd say take a step back and look at yourself and how you learn. If you prefer someone speaking to you in person, giving challenges in a class etc as a learning environment then I'd suggest going to college. If you want to learn everything yourself and be independent then I wouldn't be suggesting it. But it's all about your learning style. And just remember to get a dev job you don't always need a degree, they want to know what you can/have done.

3: I made 0 large contributions for a number of weeks, I knew what they wanted but had an entirely new framework to learn from the company so I started off small, attending planning meetings on how things were going to be executed. Bug fixing, small features such as making a light change its state dependant on whether or not it's been shot. It was all small things for about 2 months until I felt comfortable with the infrastructure then I just gradually made my way up.

4: Normally when you're working in web dev you will stick to one scheme of things so for example for the front end of the game you'll use C# and Unreal Engine and for the backend maybe C++ and Redis with MongoDB (all examples btw). Game devs don't tend to overcomplicate with a stupid amount of libraries or sources from 3rd parties, from what I've found if they need something done they'll make it.