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mastermind2004
Sep 14, 2007



I'm one of the people who will also be answering, I've been a gameplay programmer for almost 10 years now, a couple years at EA, and have been at Robot Entertainment since.

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mastermind2004
Sep 14, 2007



JPrime posted:

I've done software development (c#, web/windows based apps) for the last 15 years or so, how does game dev compare to a "typical" software dev (think web-based app talking to sql, along those lines)? I'm completely self taught so I wonder how much formal training helps in that industry (algorithms, complex maths, etc).
I will preface this all by saying that I have not worked a "typical" software job, other than a little bit in college, so my knowledge of "typical" dev is pretty limited.

The biggest difference between the two is probably how focused you have to be on performance in games. If you're aiming for 60FPS in your game, it means you have around 16ms to execute everything. If you're doing a VR title, that drops to around 11ms (due to VR being 90FPS). There's also less of a concern with things being perfectly correct, and more focus on them being fun or being mostly correct and fast. Code bases in games also tend to be pretty huge. OMDU has over 8,000 files in our solution, with some of those files being 10-15k lines of code. I don't happen to have a line counter handy, but I wouldn't be surprised if we had somewhere north of 500k lines of code, and that's actually probably shrunk from the peak on this project.

Different types of games also bring their own sets of challenges as well. An RTS for example, normally uses a distributed deterministic simulation (ie, everyone runs the entire game in lock step with each other), so you need to make sure that when you're writing code for it, that your code will behave the same on all of the clients, otherwise you end up with the game state desynchronizing, and the dreaded "desync, game over". If you're building an FPS/TPS, you generally have dedicated servers, which means separating the logic between client logic and server logic, and ensuring that everything works correctly in both local/singleplayer, and in dedicated server multiplayer (and also potentially "listen" server, or having one of the clients act as a server).

I feel like this is the sort of topic that I could probably spend hours thinking of additional differences to talk about, so I'm going to leave it here for now.

As for being self taught, I'm pretty heavily self taught as well. The main things that are probably relatively uncommon to learn that are helpful for game dev would be trig and vector math in general (both 2-D and 3-D are relevant). Algorithms wise, I haven't seen too many problems where I've been wishing I had taken an algorithms class, although brushing up on that is on my to-do list. I will say, the Fisher-Yates shuffle is a really handy algorithm for games, which was something I picked up off of a co-worker.

mastermind2004
Sep 14, 2007



Their sample size for that survey is pretty useless. I remember the game developer mag surveys seeming a lot more reasonable, and the salaries in that were generally significantly higher than that link for the US. Everything I've heard about the UK is that programmers in games there make a lot less in comparison to programmers in games in the US/Canada, which probably pretty significantly skews their results. Really, a global average for salaries doesn't seem like it's going to be very informative, given the wide range of salaries across different countries. Even within the US, there's a pretty huge range of salaries based on location.

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