Need some suggestions on what degree to go for for game programming

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    Need some suggestions on what degree to go for for game programming

    Hello. I was thinking of becoming a video game programmer. And i was wondering if it would be a wiser choice to get a BA in computer engineering instead of a BA in Game and simulation programming. I looked at the classes of the Game and simulation programming and I didnt see any C++ programming classes. I only saw C#.net programming classes. Is that language highly used in games? There is alot of hands on experience in the program and there are two big game projects along the way of the degree where you create a game.

    But if i go with the computer engineering degree instead will i still have the kind of knowledge to program video games? I honestly have no idea on how the porcess of programming/making a video game works. What kind of jobs can i get with a computer engineer degree at video game companies? Hopefully by getting input from you guys it will make it easier for me to decide what to do. Oh and I have heard of C, and C++ but i have never heard of C#. can someone also explain to me what language C# is? is it another upgraded version of C?

    Thanks

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    Usually, game programming is superior to computer engineering. Any game programmer can easily move into computer engineering.

    As for C#, it's Microsoft's proprietary language that's based on C++. I wouldn't recommend you use it, because it doesn't run on any platforms or compilers other than MS Visual Studio, so it will limit your flexibility. And because of this, you will get less support on forums like this, because more people know C or C++.

  3. #3
    n3v
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    because I too am also going soon to university, I've done a little research on the subject, and talked to college professors and stuff. I might be able to help:

    this is to my knowledge, as far as i know, about computer degrees in the united states:

    computer science gives a very solid understanding in programming, and although all of it can be very useful, it doesn't solely focus on things that are nessecary in game programming. it also goes into other concepts in number manipulation and low-level programming. good-to-know stuff though.

    computer engineering, as far as i know, is pretty similar to computer science, except i think it delves a bit deeper into hardware aspects as well, probably a few electronics classes in there. most colleges only offer computer science or computer engineering, cause they're so similar.

    software engineering is very similar to computer science, but it places it's focus into making and packaging practical applications. it doesn't put as much focus into abstract programming like in computer science, it's more of a preperation for working at a software company and helping to make practical software with a business demand.

    this most certainly varies from university to university, but that's a very general overview. also, there are more rare degrees from very tech-forward universities like "game programming" or "ai programming", but you should read the information from that particular university in any case.

    also, i've also heard from a computer science professor that the job demand for people with these degrees is on the rise, and the demand will probably be double for them in 5 years.

    edit: making sucessful games is also a really hard job, and most independent efforts have a high tendancy to fail. in the case you're aspiring to do that, you're going to need some real job experience in any case. big companies that make video games usually like computer science degrees when they're hiring people. hope that helps answer your question further.
    Last edited by n3v; 05-21-2006 at 07:27 AM.
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    Thanks for everyones input so far. I have the standard class outline for the game and simulation BA degree. Does this outline look well rounded to you guys?

    First semester
    -critical thinking and problem solving
    -college alegebra and triganometry
    -intro to game and simulation development
    -Computer applications for business
    - CIS Logic and design

    Second semester
    -English composition
    -Physics
    - System architecture and assembler
    - CIS Program logic and design

    Third semester
    -Math for game programming 1 (which is an introduction to linear algebra, graphing 3d points for colision detection, planar geometry for mapping and some more things)
    -CIS Connectivity
    -CIS oop 1 W/lab
    -Practical game design with lab

    Fourth semester
    -Psychology
    -Visual and Audio design
    - Simulation design
    -Data Structure & A.I.

    Fifth semester
    -Advanced Composition
    -Culture and Society
    -Math for game programming II (Which anaylitical geometry techniques for graphing and manipulating 2d and 3d objects. 3d velocity and some more things)
    -Modification and level design w/Lab
    -Mid-Term project (A creation of your own game)

    Sixth Semester
    -Professional Writing
    -Contemporary History
    -Principles of Economics
    -Discrete Mathematics
    -Multi-media Programming w/Lab

    Seventh Semester
    -Public Speaking
    -Contemporary literature
    -Career development
    -Software engineering for Game programmers
    -Game engineering design and integration

    Eigth and final Semester
    -Technology, Society and culture
    -Project management
    -Programming MMOG
    -Senior project (Another Game creation)

    Then agian if I take this educational route i will learn how to make games because i am required to make two of them along the way. I know that it is a must to have some of your sample games with your portfolio while trying to get a game programming job. What do you guys think?

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    n3v
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    english compisition? pfft. waste of time. programmers need no know to write! we can grammarticly perfect in correctly write anyhow? :P

    Edit: but seriously, that schedule has a lot of unrelated stuff in it, at least it seems that way to me. the computer science curriculums i've looked up have math, math, math, math, physics, math, spam, programming, sausage, and spam.

    ...

    or uh.. maybe not sausage, it might have been programming.

    most universities usually don't require anything for computer science other than lots of math, physics, and programming classes. some require maybe one semester of something silly like "english," "psychology," or "personal higene for linux users" *duck*

    just kidding :P well, only about the personal higene part. you usually shouldn't have to take so many silly classes, unless of course, you want to.
    Last edited by n3v; 05-22-2006 at 12:41 AM.
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    You could try looking on the websites of programming recruitment agencies and see what qualifications job descriptions ask for. Generally, they don't specify a degree - it just has to be numerical, technical and at least a 2:1.

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    Dae
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    Culture? Psychology? English? History? Business? Literature? Like said: don't waste your time. I took Psychology and History and it was a complete and utter waste of time. Unless you're looking for something off-topic, because those won't help you at all. The list looks like 4 years well-wasted. I'd be surprised you could create a two games with such little education. I think you'd want to say your dog ate your portfolio.

    The only English resources you would want to read are the ones describing how to apply to a company, a game programmers resume, etc. Which can be found at http://gamedev.net/

    I would take every course in this list if I could: http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/current/c..._descriptions/

    If you want a more game related course list, you could check out http://fullsail.com/

    That's why I'm going Honors if I can. Even so, I'll read them on my own time.
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    Thanks for all your replies! I think i will take the computer engineering route. All those useless courses are there for General ED that is required for this degree. What really gave me the red flag with the game and simulation programming outline was the absence of C++ classes. Thus that is why i posted my post in the first place to nab some input. Instead it was C# programming classes. In the engineering Course there are C++ classes. Maybe the game degree is geared more towards game "simulation" programming rather than actual Video game programming.

    So here what I was thinking.... Is it possible to learn video game programming and learn how to create a video game with Computer engineering knowledge under your belt? Do game companies hire computer engineers to work for them doing non-game programming duties like network repair, computer testing, computer repair, Software creation?
    Last edited by Rumproast23; 05-22-2006 at 01:25 PM.

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    Dae
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    It's possible to learn game programming without any degree under your belt. If you really want to get into the game industry with a degree that doesn't apply as much as others do, then you should study it on your own time. The game development career is hard enough to get into you'd probably have to study on your own time anyway. So essentially: no, not with just computer engineering knowledge. You might learn enough programming to put something together, but I you wouldn't be using the languages/libraries used for real games.

    Of course companies have network engineers and such. I don't think that job is a standard position in creating games, so it's not like you'd be around all the game creation for long. Maybe if you went all engineering and found a game company they'd have you there to setup computers or whatnot, but I think you'd be doing other things after that. It'd be hard to find a game company specificially.

    At least if you're an engineer you don't have to learn THAT much programming. Maybe take as much programming/computer science related courses at that school, study game programming on your own time, and eventually get a masters in computer science?

    I don't really know any of this for sure.

    Wouldn't it be fun though to be a game development groupy?
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    n3v
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    to clarify, games require two things, and only the former of them you'll get out of college studies:

    1. solid programming skills
    2. experience with a graphics library

    as it seems you have no experience at the moment, i'll clarify. a graphics library is something that has already been made to make game making much easier. it's no easy task to program 3d onto the screen, so it's a good thing someone has already done it for you. so when it comes to making a game, you don't have to worry about the tiny low-level details of the advanced graphics, you just reference to a file that makes 3d possible for you. keep in mind, this doesn't make programming games a walk in the park. it's still extremely challenging.

    In the pursuit of a computer degree you'll learn lots of programming, but it'll probably be for business applications or some number-throwing-around applications. however, DO NOT sit there and say "ah, this isn't a game, so it's a waste of time." applications you make in college and video games are both products of programming. they contain a multitude of the exact same concepts.

    after you have a solid understanding of programming, using the graphics library will be relatively understandable and familiar to you. in college, it's almost a certainty that you'll be required to use other libraries for other applications, as it's a rather important part of programming.

    by the way, regardless of what i've said before, you need to check the curriculums of the degrees you're aiming for. according to my research on the colleges i aim to go to, computer science has the most programming.
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    I'm on a similar boat, though I've been struggling with the question, "Do I want to make good games for a living, or do I want to play great games for a living".

    It's hard to answer, I want to have a programming career and am learning C++ on my own and Java at Uni. (I think we only delve a bit into C++, i may have to take more classes for the more advanced stuff). I just don't know whether I want to try and be some great programmer which I have little confidence in becoming, or just get the same jobs that the majority of students who graduate with a Comp. Sci. degree would get.

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    Hmmm...Well just as long as I can contribute to video game companies in other ways I will be very happy. In other words if I can design and create the hardware for a new video game system that would be just as fullfilling to me as programming a video game. So when I am playing a video game I can say....I contributed to the construction of this game system. I mean game consoles are computers aren't they? So as a computer engineer I can constuct, repair, and design them. Or I can also passively contrubute to game companies by creating more powerful computers that will prove beneficial to any other company. That will also make me feel really happy.


    Again thanks for all your input.

    dae said,
    Wouldn't it be fun though to be a game development groupy?

    It sure would . behind all of the hard work deep down it would be incredibly fun to be part of a game development group.
    Last edited by Rumproast23; 05-23-2006 at 08:30 PM.

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    n3v
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    *cough* uh.. hate to burst your bubble, but it seems that your passion would be for electrical engineering. making computer hardware is 100% electrical engineering. my brother has a degree in it, so i can speak with definite certainty that computer engineering isn't going to have enough electronics concepts for that kind of thing.

    electrical engineering covers lots of computer system concepts, and even programming, but the majority is math and electronics.

    you could definitely still go from there to do more programming though, if that's also something you want to do. but the worlds of computer hardware and programming are so incredibly complex that you shouldn't logically hope to master them both.

    also, as a side note, if you're still uncertain about your decision, maybe you should email a computer science professor or a college counsellor, and not listen to a bunch of random strangers on the internet.
    Last edited by n3v; 05-23-2006 at 11:53 PM.
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    If you set a man on fire,
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