Game Dev Connections

Hey all!

Just making this post to connect with some like-minded individuals. I’m new to Codecademy and new to programming in general. Starting the long path towards becoming an indie game dev, and wanted to see if anyone has experience in that field. I know that there’s a lot more to game developing than just programming, so I wanted to start a conversation about it. Anyone have any tips? Look forward to hearing from ya’ll. :sunglasses:

I have a background in theater arts and lighting design for both theater and concert settings. I wouldn’t say I’m the most technically savvy individual, but I’m a quick learner. I first dabbled in programming in high school with visual basic… I wasn’t great at it, but i enjoyed it. Fast forward 10 years later and here i am! Trying to switch careers, after some deep personal consideration. Trying to tackle programming first, then will begin to develop other skillsets needed to become a successful game dev.

Anyone have any cool stories or tips?

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Hey! Game dev is great!

I think you can kind of tier your process. A) do you need to get a job fast in programming? B) What kind of indie companies are you into? C) Do you want to try to have synergy with the theater skills, or do you have a specific set of skills you want to develop?

some general ideas:

  • try to find previous job listings in those companies and see what is in demand, search reddit for some ideas as well (it’s very informative). The skill sets that jump out at you are the ones you want to be focusing on first.

  • Great lighting is crucial in games, you can probably see how you can apply your skills in unity with lighting (if you’re interested in 3d).

  • there are great resources out there (like the CS50 intro to game design series). Just keep your ears to the ground and start organizing them.

  • the platform you want to work on is also going to affect what kind of language you’ll want to learn first. Do you want to do mobile (if so, iOS?), browser games, computer, VR, AR? Some of these require more proficiency in one language type than another.

  • Even with very basic programming knowledge, you can already start doing card and text-concept games (towers of hanoi!). As you pick up skills, if you keep doing micro projects not only will it help you know things better, but it doubles as foundational portfolio pieces.

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I would say to ignore paying jobs, what you need is experience. Without the experience you won’t get paid, the best you can hope for is an internship.

The best thing you can do is look at Kickstarter, focus on the video game section, and see who is looking for a sponsored tier. I did this for QA, I sponsored a game and was allowed to be an Alpha Tester for Woolfe. I’m not focused on video game testing, but it was a cool experience and my name is in the credits.

Unfortunately, this kind of game/project is very susceptible to issues. In my case, the company had a lot of problems, the game was delayed, and the experience wasn’t the best. Overall, bad project management. The game was still released but not as originally intended, I still got what I wanted out of it.

If nobody has a tier where you can be a developer, you are more likely to get an internship in one of those projects. No, you won’t get paid but what you need right now is experience. You’ve never worked in that environment, you don’t know what it’s like. You need this experience to really decide if you like it or not. What kind of experience you have (positive or negative) will depend on the company you work with. I say this because there are several reports of game developers being “abused” by the larger corporate entities; long working hours, tight deadlines, and a high risk of losing the job if they don’t deliver.

The other thing to consider is that if you manage to score an internship with someone, there is a very high chance you’re going to have to use your own equipment for development as you will most likely be working remotely. Good gaming systems are expensive, so are the systems used to develop them. Do you own said system at the moment? If you want to be flexible, it will have to be a laptop which means it’ll be even more expensive. Yes, system requirements to develop an iOS game are less than to develop a PS5 game but trying to get by with a cheaper system will lead to more expenses down the road (I’ve been there, I know).

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Thankfully I have lots of time ahead of me that I will be dedicating towards developing all these skills. Just taking a few hours everyday at least. Ironically I am ignorant to what all goes into lighting for 3d environments, or any game in general, but I’ve been curious… now thinking about looking into how I can apply what skills I already possess. Thanks for that idea!

I’ll be trying to work with either Unity or Godot Engine to start actually building games. On Codecademy to obviously develop those programming skills, as I hope I’d find other ways to apply them once I got them (perhaps something like web development). This is definitely a career transition period. So I’m starting with JavaScript (and actually the game design course Codecademy offers), and then will be learning C#.

Khan academy has a cool set of videos that they do in collaboration with Pixar, check them out if you have the time. They might be too simple for you, or they might be interesting!

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That’s all some very insightful advice, I appreciate it. My goal is to start my own indie game studio (either solo or with a couple other people), however, I see the value in trying to at least get an internship somewhere for the experience. I also have realistic expectations, and am not trying to create the next big thing lol.

The Kickstarter idea is interesting to me… but do you need to financially back the projects in order to reach that tier? Shoot sounds like a good business model for me to follow :money_mouth_face:

As far as equipment, I’m rocking a macbook pro at the moment, and hope to get some PC in the near future in addition to what I’m workin with.

Yes they are great! Been doing their Intro to JS course, but did look at the pixar course. Best to consider me as a “child” with no experience, so anything helps! (Not that khan academy is just for kids lol)

Yes, with Kickstarter projects you have to pay them, but you’re paying for the product itself. Depending on the project, they will let you be part of it. In my case, as an alpha tester. If no projects have an option for a developer, you can still contact them and ask if they will let you be an intern. It’s not crazy expensive, I paid $100 for the level that had what I was looking for and took for what it was: a learning opportunity to expand my skills that can land me a better job.

A Macbook Pro is a good start, but it can still have limitations. My Macbook Pro has 16GB of RAM and it’s not enough… should have spent the extra money for the 32GB model. While a Windows laptop with the same specs can be found cheaper, you have to deal with Windows…

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Almost forgot, the best bang for your buck is to spend the money on a Windows laptop with very good specs (cheaper than a maxed out Macbook Pro), then delete Windows and run your favorite Linux distro. Best of both worlds.

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