Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Am I too old to be a video game programmer ?

I was reading this thread  :

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=134347&ixReplies=29

I'm 35, for the last past 10 years I was working on ERPs,
doing customizations and developing add-on modules.

I would like to work in the video game industry as a developer.

Do you think it's too late for me ? due to my (advanced) age, inexperience in developing video games.

After browsing the Net a lot of peole still stays that the video game industry is full of people with big egos and still very immature, this scare me a little bit to make the jump ...

Juergen Zeinier
Sunday, August 22, 2004



Ho yes, one last question :

If you're writting video games could you give somes hints & advices on the skillset I should learn (AI, 3D, maths)

Juergen Zeinier
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Your age has nothing to do with it. These days there are many different types of programmers working on video games. Not all of them need 3D and maths expertise. You would definitely need to know C though.

.
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Are you prepared to potentially work 80-hour weeks? 

Sassy
Sunday, August 22, 2004

What kind of game programming do you want to do?  I dont know much about the high end FPS and graphics but if you want to work on some independent game projects take a look at this link below.

http://www.dexterity.com/articles/

AnonX
Sunday, August 22, 2004

http://www.igf.com/

look at these games. Not everything is Doom or Tomb Raider.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, August 22, 2004

At one of the programming contests I was in they had a guy from 3DO explaining how working in the game industry was. He showed us pictures of himself sleeping on the couch in his office, and basically said that he didn't have much of a life outside of work, and that few people did. Regarding salaries, he said that a _senior_ developer could hope to make maybe $100k or thereabouts. In California. For spending all your time at work.

SCREW THAT!

sid
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Didn't the guys who made "Neverwinter Nights" do so in their spare time and then sold it to some game company?

-
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Isn't NeverWinter Nights basically an MMORPG kind of thing? I don't know how flashy the graphics where "back in the day" but it probably could've been hobby thing.

This is probably one of the most involved video games out there, but it has zero graphics:

http://www.adom.de/

It's a rogue-like game that's been developed by one guy pretty constantly for over a decade. Though some poor choices it seems he was never really able to make it profitable for himself. This kind of game has pretty much fallen out of favor and I doubt he'll be able to sell it or make any money on it now.

For a programmer I suspect graphics would be the hardest part of a game to work on, and any 3-dimensional mechanics. And once you get into that area, you have to think about building the world, which becomes pretty involved.

So I guess the answer is: What kind of video game programmer do you want to be? It's probably not as glamorous as you think, you're still working for someone else on somene else's projects and fighting tight deadlines.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Neverwinter Nights has an online multiplayer mode, but it's not a MMORPG.  It allows for a maximum of only 64 players and doesn't take place in a persistent world.

anon
Sunday, August 22, 2004

It wasn't made by a bunch of people in their spare time either. The developers behind this game are every bit as professionals as you are.

anon
Sunday, August 22, 2004

The problem is that every aspiring programmer wants to work on games, and not on database related monkey work. As a result, there's lots and lots of game programmers to choose from, which means they can be abused and underpaid because there will never be a shortage on the market.

TJ Haeser
Sunday, August 22, 2004

No, you are not too old.  But you have a hell of a lot of catching up to do...

Bilge Rat
Sunday, August 22, 2004

Too old? I'd say too young more likely.
Isn't midlife crisis supposed to kick in aound 40?

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, August 23, 2004

I still think it's a pipe dream. The OP probably thinks he's going to get a lot more creative control than he really will. A job making video games will be just as dull or exciting as any other.

Though I hear Rockstar Games has a pretty good basketball team, one of my friends plays against them sometimes.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, August 23, 2004

I used to write games, back around 1990 when C was too high level and slow :-)  (68000 assembler and until .net I missed it often..)

Now I have more of a life instead, writing call centre software, which can have surprisingly similar internal architectures (modelling a virtual world, finite state machines, multiple players, just the agents don't get to shoot at each other..).  Don't want high pressure anymore,  I want more free time!

As for age, well companies are only really interested in what you can do to make them money, aren't they?

David
Monday, August 23, 2004

No one's too old to do anything, but others your age in the industry are better and better the older you get, so you'd better have something pretty impressive if you're entering at 50+, or be ready for some fast catching-up if you want to be viewed as "worth your age".  To pitch the most remote analogy possible, Johnny cash was ~73 when he shot the video for "Hurt", which was a smash hit, largely because in the video it shows footage of his lengthy career as almost a final farewell (he died not too long after that).  You really couldn't do that unless you'd had a career like his, but still, a 73-year old getting a video on regular MTV rotation is impressive!

devinmoore.com
Monday, August 23, 2004

Juergen why are you planning to change? why games? are you looking to any other alternative?

JustCurious
Monday, August 23, 2004

I was in the game industry for eight years before getting out last year, and 35 isn't too old. But, without game industry experience you'd be considered more "entry level" and would probably be looking at a 50-60K salary to start.

Hours aren't always insane, it's mostly just after the middle of the project when teams typically decide to add new features (or realize the original design's not going to work), or they need to outdo the competition like after seeing what's at E3.

It is mostly a younger group (20's), and it is a peculiar culture (blacklights and action figurines are common office decor). But there are some studios with  later-industry burnouts who would probably prefer a jr programmer who's older and more mature, instead of another 23-year-old punk throwing temper tantrums at why he can't be project lead.

It's just a matter of finding those studios, and standing out from all the riff-raff that gloms onto the industry. But go through a recruiter, because at least they'll get your resume seen.

John
Monday, August 23, 2004

You'll probably have to develop some kind of mini-game to use as a demo before they'll hire you.  Game programming has many complexities that average programmers can't or won't grasp, so without prior experience you'll need something to show that you're capable of it.

NoName
Monday, August 23, 2004

Age is a factor, but not necessarily on a technical level.  It's a social bias, meaning that many hiring people won't believe that someone your age would be willing to work the insane hours.  It's not a high paying job either unless you're really good.

I have friends who have left the game industry and find more satisfaction in writing games now as a hobby than they did in the industry.

That much said, when I hire, I look for self starters, and people who really have a passion.  Skills are important, but they seem to be a dime a dozen.  Don't get discouraged though, and just keep plugging away.

;
Monday, August 23, 2004

The other thing is that MMORPG games require good server and enterprise skills.  You may want to approach it from that angle.

;
Monday, August 23, 2004

That's a good point. Massively multiplayer online games also need, funnily enough, good database skills. Lots of 3D programmers have never done database stuff.

.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

"Game programming has many complexities that average programmers can't or won't grasp"

I find this pretty hard to believe.  Unless by "average" you mean "sucky."

profound insights galore
Tuesday, August 24, 2004

You are an old fart to be a video game programmer.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I'm 45 and I want to get into programming after decades (literally) in the operational quagmire having started off in programming before PCs arrived in the 80s.
Life's too short not to try.

jedford
Saturday, August 28, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home