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So You Want to be a Game Programmer?

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So You Want to be a Game Programmer? So, you're interested in becoming a computer game programmer? Congratulations! Game programming is one of the most difficult, challenging, and cool forms of programming. If you have a genuine talent for it, you have excellent career prospects. Imagine getting paid an entry-level salary of $40,000 for something you actually enjoy doing. When you were a kid did your parents tell you that you'll never amount to anything if you waste your time on computer games? Well, here's your chance to show them that you were right and they were wrong. There is currently only one way of getting a job as a games programmer, and that is to write a game - or more properly, write what is known in the industry as a game demo. These days, a typical commercial game might take 100,000 lines of C++ code written by a team of 3 programmers over a period of 18 months with a budget of a million dollars. As a novice game programmer, you are obviously not going to be able to compete in that arena. But you can and should write a fully functional game of about 10,000 lines of C++ code that shows off what you do best. ...read more.


There are exceptions to this rule, that is, excellent professors at non-research schools, but they are rare. What Courses to Take When you get to college, you're not going to find many courses on computer games. But you're going to need the following courses: * Programming: For portability your games should be programmed in a high-level language. C and C++ are the most popular. Most importantly, learn how to learn new programming languages - you'll be doing it for the rest of your life. * Assembly Level Programming: Device drivers and core code may have to be programmed in assembly code. So look for basic and advanced courses on assembly level programming. * Computer Architecture: For speed you will have to take advantage of advanced hardware features. You need to know about peripherals, clocking, cache design, DMA, interrupts, bus architecture, RISC and superscalar design, just to name a few things. * Software Engineering: This course teaches you how to work on big software projects. Make sure you get some hands-on experience maintaining or expanding old code, and working in a group of programmers. * Computer Graphics: Look for a syllabus containing elementary 2d material plus advanced 3d material including polygon mesh, shading, and texture mapping. * Data Structures: In this class you will learn a lot of standard data structures and their implementation - this will save you from having to constantly reinvent the wheel. ...read more.


A Computer Science degree is a good place to start. Beyond College In addition to background computer knowledge gained from a degree in Computer Science, you will need more specialized knowledge about the tools used in game programming. For example, if you are aiming for the PC market, you will need: * Experience with various C++ compilers, including Visual C++, Code Warrior, and Watcom. * Windows API programming. * Microsoft directX programming, including direct3D and directPlay. You will probably have to pick up most of this knowledge after graduation, particularly if your college does not a game programming course. But, if your college educaton was a sound one, you should have little difficulty picking up this knowledge from books and online documentation. UNT The University of North Texas, located in Denton, Texas, has an accredited program in Computer Science and one feature that make it unique in the United States. It is home to the Laboratory for Recreational Computing, which provides an environment in which undergraduate students can learn and explore the realm of game programming. Students can earn college credit for writing games, and can participate in an introductory class in game programming currently offered in the Fall of each year. For more information, contact the author of this article. Created by Ian Parberry, November 10, 1997. Last updated Fri May 12 21:55:34 CDT 2000 http://www.bringyou.to/games/ ...read more.

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