Becoming a Game Developer - Intro
Date: 8/15/2005
By: Kurt Knudsen


Programming is my passion and developing a 3D game is my dream. For anyone with aspirations to be a game developer, the previous statement probably rings true. If you want to work in the game industry most companies require that you hold a degree in Computer Science—or something similar. Unfortunately, most schools that offer Computer Science don’t cover a great deal of game related topics, if any at all. And when you graduate you’re left on your own with little more than a piece of qualifying paper and no experience. The advice given by most people is to study programming and API development under your own motivation during your school years. To help foster that notion, there are literally hundreds of books on programming, game development, and API specifics. If you’re like me, then you probably own a fair selection of programming books and, if you’re still like me, then those books have rarely been opened.

Books can’t answer questions, and the same applies to online tutorials. There are news groups and listservs that offer help, but getting the attention some of us crave is hard to come by. And it’s endlessly difficult to pick up a thick reference book and go through its chapters while struggling to understand what the author is trying to convey. Again, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to take some specific courses on programming and game development. There are schools like Full Sail and FIEA, but those demand travel and are rather expensive; not to mention FIEA requires a degree in Computer Science.

This is where www.GameInstitute.com comes in to play. They offer courses taught and developed by industry professionals, not some grad student with a heavy accent that no one can understand. The Game Institute has Andre LaMothe as an advisor—if you own a book on DirectX then chances are it’s penned by him, or he directly influenced it in some way. This isn’t to say that Andre LaMothe is the best thing they have going for them. They also have Frank Luna, author of one of the best intro DirectX books, and many other industry professionals. The Game Institute offers a selection of courses on C++ programming as an intro, and several classes on DirectX programming. The courses come with a downloadable textbook, lesson plan, workbook, and lesson content. With the Game Institute website you can schedule time blocks that suit your personal needs. These cover a full week and with these time blocks you can participate in live chats, forum discussion, and private classrooms. These allow unprecedented access with which to talk with the instructors and other students who are taking the same course. Think of it as reading a book and having the author physically beside you, ready to answer any question you might have concerning the content.

The following series of editorials will be an online journal depicting my experiences while taking the Game Institute’s course. Its entries will be solely my responsibility, the GI itself having absolutely no influence or input concerning what I say—aside from the correction of any factual errors, though I will of course strive to avoid them. Hopefully the journal will stand as the informative recollections of a would-be game developer for the sake of all would-be game developers. The reason I’m doing this is because I have yet to see any solid ‘review’ of what the Game Institute has to offer. It might well be what we’ve all been waiting for, but only time will tell.

Here’s a little info about myself. My name is Kurt Knudsen and I have been working with GamersHell.com for a few years now; first producing game and hardware reviews, before moving to the PR department, where I now dwell. I’ve been doing C/C++ programming in my spare time for a few years now, though I still consider myself to be occupying an intermediate level of programming, as I have yet to scratch the surface of C++. However, I taught myself C/C++ and also the Win32 API. I have also created a Tic-Tac-Toe game in DOS, which, some years later, I ported to Windows. Since then I have produced a Hangman game and a Connect Four clone without A.I.

Since 2001 I have been looking with interest at the world of DirectX—without ever having really done anything further. It’s always the same story; you know how it is. I’ll pick up a reference book, go over it, start coding, and then get lost. And since I have no tangible reason to sit and code, and no substantially helpful guidance, I always end up quitting. I’ve tried to mentally rouse myself by saying that I want to create a 3D Tic-Tac-Toe game, but that idea always seems to fall flat. My goal after college is to go to a school like FIEA (www.fiea.ucf.edu), which offers a Masters in game design. It’s like Full Sail, but demands a degree in Computer Science and also requires official acceptance. In order to increase my chances I have been studying DirectX like a madman and I’m now finally beginning to understand it. I hope that the courses offered by the Game Institute can help me to create some code that will subsequently catch FIEA’s eye and give my application a better chance. Since I cannot rely on my college grades, and because I suck at taking tests, I need to make myself stand out through excellent code examples.

This is the beginning of my journey to becoming a games developer. I invite you to come along and enjoy the ride.

For the next section of the journal please click here.


Questions can be sent to Kurt (dot) K [at] GamersHell (dot) com.



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