Study video game development while creating one: the busiest journey
My name is Toni Domínguez and in 2015 I studied an advanced degree in 3D animation, games and interactive environments. I was in my second and final year. There was one thought that just kept getting bigger and scarier: get ready or you won’t find a job in the video game industry.
You might not think about that at the beginning of your studies. This is an appeal to anyone preparing for college or a career who thinks differently. If you think that if you pass all the subjects you will eventually find a job, the reality is most likely not so.
Obviously there are areas that have it easier than others, especially programmers as you can transfer the knowledge to many other areas of programming like websites, apps etc. But today, it’s almost impossible to jump into a business without prior experience, resulting in a job stopper that you can only uncork if you know through first-hand experience. Unfortunately, the current job market situation is a suffocating jungle when you’ve just graduated, even if you have a decent portfolio.
Although the project has not started yet, the simple fact of everything I’ve learned, the contacts made, the events I’ve attended… it’s been an experience so far that has given me much more than I expected
Just because things were going, I decided to pursue the most absurd idea I’ve ever had: make my own video game. Doesn’t sound so far-fetched now, but back then I was just good at modeling, I didn’t know how to texture, my ideas about programming were zero and everything pointed to failure. For some reason a deity took pity on me, and despite the fact that this project has not started yet, the simple fact of everything I’ve learned has been the contacts made, the events I’ve attended, so far , an experience that gave me much more than I expected.
I started developing a game that I didn’t even like and had to change it twice and today a title called About Elise is about to be released on Steam. I was planning at the time to release it for free for everyone because it wouldn’t have enough quality, but I saw very clearly that I couldn’t present myself to any company who said I had done that and it was rubbish. I started it again and now the quality is that of a product that can be price tagged. And yet I have decided not to do it. It’s the last promise I can keep that it’s free, and this time I’ve chosen to be stubborn rather than have a commercial vision. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen again.
As a bachelor student, you are obliged to do an internship in companies where, after more than 350 hours in a company, in most cases you basically do not pay a cent. As this is my third advanced degree, I can promise that this will be the last time I will work for anyone for free, no matter how good I am in my current position, which I am and love. But you already sense that it’s time to make money, whether it’s programming, modeling, texturing, or frying hamburgers.
I am very clear that as a teacher the first thing I would say to students is that it is difficult, if not impossible, but if they think this is where you graduate and leave with a job, they are very wrong. Even more because I’m a 3D student like I was. There are artists to kick ass, good and bad. You need to know which cards to use, not only to be the best, but also to make others see or believe that you are.
Now I’m studying video game programming and design, in another major that takes the base of an existing multiplatform application development and adapts it to the sector. Coding is much more than any other discipline and yes it’s hard but it gives me security and stability because learning programming languages means being able to use them in many areas beyond video games.
We are not superheroes
There are subjects that are in panties that drive our students crazy. The current hot topic is that small studios (which many of those pursuing these careers or degrees aspire to) don’t know how to run themselves well or have the right commercial vision. In other words, they don’t know how to run a business or run good marketing campaigns. There is a very simple explanation for this: we are not superheroes. You can’t try to make us a master of programming, some 3D disciplines, marketing and a good entrepreneur with a 2 or 4 year degree. It’s crazy. Anyone with half a brain and experience will tell you that you can have a good base in certain disciplines by the time you graduate, but filming in the industry is essential to really growing as a professional. A shoot that, as we said, is difficult since most job offers require a few years of experience in the sector.
As everywhere, you have to make a living, be curious, look at websites, be informed. A fantastic tool for this is Twitter. You can turn your account into a hub for national and international news and articles, centralized based on who you follow. Having a professional account just for that is possible as the app supports linking more than one on the same device. Follow national and international media, incubators, companies that have accounts where they need manpower, graphics engine profiles like Unity, Unreal Engine, Gamemaker… everything counts, everything. Maybe at a certain moment you will find out through a tweet about a plugin that could be useful for you, about a job offer that will enable you to emancipate yourself, or about the desired reduction of an asset. Everything counts.