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Games Industry Future - Involves Tasmania?

Posted by ShinDig on Fri, 15/08/08 - 6:23 PM

I know this might sound VERY stupid to a lot of you devs on the mainland but I am very keen on getting into the Australian games industry and my only real concern is this:

-Will there be any sort of Video Game Industry in Tasmania within the next decade?

I'm only sixteen but I have absolutely no idea what else I want to do apart from make games.
I am very good at science and quite good at maths, I also have artistic ability and I am planning to go to uni. I live in Hobart and would like to stay here because I like the lifestyle. I know there are people who live here with an interest in the industry but the hard part is getting a company together that is actually capable of developing a game. I am mostly interested in developing PC games.

If you have heard anything about Tassie or have any suggestions for me, could you please reply.

Submitted by StephenWade on Fri, 15/08/08 - 8:11 PM Permalink

Just having a quick look on this website (you could try google as well)

Two Headed Software


Sidereal entertainment

seems like slim pickings really as far as tassie goes. However consider that it's the same in any smaller town/city. Adelaide has only limited options (in my view) and most of the bigger business is in the eastern states.


\as with anything, it's more likely that what you are personally willing to put in that will limit your options and your future, rather than your location or the abundance of 'options'. In some ways, you are at an advantage because you don't have 3-4 million people around, of which some percent will be in direct competition with you for work!

Submitted by souri on Mon, 18/08/08 - 3:57 PM Permalink

Two Headed Software have been around for ages - I remember entering them in our developers list when Sumea first started. Sadly, I don't think their website has been updated since 2002 or so, and I'm not sure if they're been active for a long time. I've tried emailing them about various things over the years and have not received any response.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/08/08 - 8:09 PM Permalink

It appears that Tas Uni are opening up two Computer Science degrees majoring in Games Design and Games Programming for next year. That looks like the way to go. After uni I might even start my own company with other developers doing those degrees, I'll see what comes along. I tried emailing two headed software but it bounced, I think the email address is inactive. If you guys have some advice for getting into the industry it would be great, also, what sort of courses to take at College, Uni or even stuff at home. Thanks.

Submitted by StephenWade on Tue, 19/08/08 - 8:01 PM Permalink

Definitely head to university if you can! Getting a qualification that is recognised is important and you can learn a lot. However in the first couple of years, don't expect to be overwhelmed by knowledge so much as what seems like a 'boring' workload. It is a bit of a slog.

Having a game programming degree is awesome, by comparison the university of adelaide only just recently added a computer graphics degree this year ( i think ). I think the word 'games' makes some academics start to feel light headed, it's not yet established as a serious enough 'science' to register on their radars sometimes. Shame

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/08/08 - 9:39 PM Permalink

I have a lot of hands-on experience with recruitment for games and I would strongly advise you to do a "hard" degree such as Engineering, or at least ensure that the course you are considering includes a lot of high level 3D maths etc rather than broadly covering a range of subjecs without much depth in any of them. I'm not familiar with the Tas Uni degrees but a lot of the "games flavoured" courses just aren't cutting it. People are sold on spending a lot of time and money on these courses and aren't leaving with the skills they need to get a job, let alone start a company on their own. Also, if you are passionate about making games then spend every moment you can working on your individual demos (not shared Uni ones - it's hard for a potential employer to judge your contribution to a group project). If you do end up looking for a job, and you have top uni results and an impressive demo, you'll get snapped up even with no commercial experience. Finally, seek out people who will give you constructive criticism - with students becoming paying consumers, this is the most valuable thing you can do. The sad reality is that many students are continuously told how awesome they are by their parents, teachers and peers, regardless of their actual performance. Praise is good for your ego, criticism is good for your career ;)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/08/08 - 7:14 PM Permalink

Yeah, thanks. I am definitely heading to Uni and am planning on doing some sort of computer science. I am fairly good at maths, in the top class at high school and doing maths extended. Next year doing pre-tertiary maths and Game design/programming. I think if I stick with maths, physics, programming, etc I should be right for Uni. The good thing about the new UTas courses is that it is still computer science course, but majoring in either Games Programming or Game Design. That means I can choose more design sort of stuff or more hardcore programming, which is probably more useful anyway. Even if I can't get into the industry straight away, I can sit on that knowledge for a bit until something comes up, the course outline said that there is still enough non-game related stuff to do any IT related career. I can understand your logic in saying that doing my own personal demos will help get into the industry. Thanks again for your help :D

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/08/08 - 10:17 AM Permalink

Just be warned a lot of the major uni's are tacking on a few "game" courses just to get the students in. Games is a bit of a guaranteed way of getting students in through the door at the moment. A lot of them are doing what the previous poster mentioned, just tacking on a couple game subjects on the existing computer science degree.

Only disadvantage is I doubt the lecturers have any real games experience but like you said its computer science which counts more than the "games" part to games companies.

Submitted by StephenWade on Fri, 22/08/08 - 5:21 PM Permalink

yep - i agree. programs/courses at uni that are in their infancy always have teething problems. That doesn't mean they should be avoided though! It's an awesome step forward that these majors/programs are now being included ... why ...? It means that there will be more research going in to the games industry, more papers, more knowledge.

Any industry will benefit from academic involvement (regardless of the perception that academics exist in something other than the 'real world') because of the ability of researchers to look in areas of a subject that the industry side won't look over. These are often the areas that don't fit the current market.

Anyway - i digress - back to work for me !

Submitted by Johnn on Fri, 22/08/08 - 7:37 PM Permalink

interesting comments by 'anonymous' (Tue, 19/08/2008 - 10:09pm.) regarding types of courses to go for. The games (& visual effects) industry has such highly skilled specialist areas I guess I shouldn't be surprised to read that they look for hard-core 'niche specialists' when recruiting.

regarding your initial post Shindig, I think there are some animation studio(s) down there doing 3D stuff that might be worth researching - not games but lots of overlap with technical roles/knowledge.

Submitted by StephenWade on Sat, 23/08/08 - 12:36 AM Permalink

I disagree somewhat,

a) most university degrees aren't going to give you the skills to go out and start a company on your own. Any engineer, lawyer, scientist, economist and accountant has to start in a junior position somewhere. Why should there be any expectation a computing degree will provide this (for games or otherwise)?

b) doing a 'hard' degree is a good idea, but doing a 'relevant' degree is even better. This is not always going to be the 'hardest' degree. I don't think the perceived difficulty of a degree is a good measure of value (most good employers know this).

... double degrees are a minefield, there are plenty of engineering students doing a double degree with computer science who have such a limited ability in the programming field (and/or mathematics) simply because the computer science component of their degree is then considered 'secondary' (when it is should NEVER be treated so trivially!).

c) (quick check of the program details) allows for non-computing electives inside the bachelor of computing, so that would mean the option of studying maths. Almost every computing degree allows this. Choosing subjects that lack depth is the student prerogative.

d) University isn't all about getting skills to do *a* job. University goes some of the way to doing this, but a large portion of it is about realising how little you know about some subjects, and developing the ability to learn the material quickly and start mastering it.

... after three or so years of university, the change in the way students operate is significant from first year - this is obviously partly because of the age. It's also due to the development of independent learning ability.

... most lecturers are not universal praise-givers. I know this from experience. If anyoneis looking for constructive criticism, most University's will supply this in spades.

I do agree with you, though, about working hard! Genius is 99% hard work, and I guess that's a synonym for 'success'.

Submitted by compactjerry on Sat, 23/08/08 - 10:21 AM Permalink

Couldn't agree more

It is definitely good to see these courses popping up. They are getting better by the year too, so if you can find one that has been around for a few years it should be worth a real look in.

Having said that though the course I did was in its first year when I started it and the company I work at at the moment has 4 other students from my degree working there also.

Submitted by StephenWade on Mon, 25/08/08 - 9:24 PM Permalink

There's some potential games application in what I'm researching - I'll probably be able to showcase a bit more next year, but I don't want to speak too soon. It's a long slog, and I'm burning myself out as it is !

Mathematics is awesome if you can get your head around it, but I am not a brilliant programmer. Two slightly different disciplines .... and I guess there's only so much room in one brain.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 31/08/08 - 6:20 PM Permalink

Some ideas for ShinDig (I personally know him, but seek peer review on these ideas):

I believe he is more interested in an algebra stream than a calculus stream into games development (I am aware he plans to do Maths Applied 5C (pre-tertiary) at College). Here are a few courses I note at UTAS that would suit this stream:

Discrete Mathematics with Applications 1 (first-year)
Algebra and Applications 2 (second-year)
Algebra and Applications 3 (third-year)
Topics in Advanced Mathematics (third-year)

Discrete Mathematics is able to be studied with the successful completion of pre-tertiary Maths Applied, and so this path can be accomplished without the requirement of studying tertiary-level calculus.

There are also courses based on Linear Algebra, however with the requirement of studying the Calculus courses in first-year:

Differential Equations, Linear Algebra and Applications 2 (second-year)

For any of you interested in looking at the University courses, head over to
For the College courses, head to and head to the TCE section.

My suggestion to ShinDig would have been to study the straight Computer Science degree (Batchelor of Computing at UTAS) and incorporate all the mathematics he can into his degree. This would allow for him, based on his academic achievement, to head into an Honours/Masters course if he is willing, where I suggested he specialise in Game Development at this level (if this is possible at UTAS). Perhaps he could develop a portfolio in his own time to seek employment in the games industry after a few years or more in a general programming role.

An interesting third-year unit (might be applicable as I am not sure about pre-requisites) is the Physics Simulation unit. This would allow ShinDig to utilise the mathematics he has learnt through his degree with some physics concepts and advanced programming.

It is possible ShinDig could study the calculus at UTAS if he chooses to enrol in the Mathematics Foundation Program, a short course to give you the equivalent of Maths Methods 5C (the second-highest mathematics course at college, focused on pure mathematics) - however this is open to comment. What benefit would he have studying calculus over abstract algebra (as outlined on the UTAS website)? He has aptitude in problem solving, but does not enjoy dealing with formulae as much, as far as I know.

It is important, I realise, that Linear Algebra be studied for Computer Science, but would the UTAS courses in abstract algebra be appropriate for ShinDig to teach himself Linear Algebra, if he doesn't go down the Calculus route?

ShinDig will be studying Physical Sciences 5C at College which, unfortunately does not meet the requirement for first-year Physics. I am a budding physicist myself, but for Computer Science, how important is the Physics? If it comes to Maths vs Physics, which should he take? I would be more inclined to say Maths, as good skills in Mathematics are required in Computer Science related jobs. However, I am willing for this to be challenged.

I am sorry for the list of questions, but I value your time in reading my post. Any answers would be appreciated.

Davin (Ulagatin)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/08 - 12:50 AM Permalink

No one has realy answered the question if he wants to be a programmer or not. I am currently a computer game programmer working in engine development (so low level technical stuff) so I am going to presume he wants to get into programming at this stage.

In terms of the course. I would suggest the computer science direction sounds reasonable. In terms of the mathematics, its good to have a mathematical standing, but in some ways your over complicating things. At the moment most companies want you to have a understanding of basic 3d mathematics, matrix math, vector math mostly linear algebra. Most of the mathematics we use in computer games you can pick up in the high school level.

If ShinDig enjoys mathematics though, I would suggest that route you suggesting and packing in quite a few extra math units.

Physics can be important, you have physics programmers typically who understand the art of physics and how to apply it in terms of computer science. You tend to cheat a lot, since a lot of "proper" physics models tend to make your pc crawl.

Biggest advice I can give, is make games in your spare time. Have fun doing it. Buid up a portfolio. Uni is only part of the answer, having enough interest in your own spare time to make fun and appealing games is the big part of the equation. That is what most games companies are looking for, example of full functioning games. Look into XNA and technologies like that. Get involved in competitions. That is going to priceless when it comes to getting your foot in the door.

Submitted by Lantree on Mon, 01/09/08 - 1:10 AM Permalink

BTW I think Tassie is out for games development. At least professional studio.

Problem is getting staff, most Australian studios are struggling for experienced staff. They are often trying to get people from overseas. You can promote Brisbane and Melbourne pretty easily. Tasmania would be hard to get people from overseas into as much as I love tassie.

A few of my mates in the industry are from tassie originally and came to Melbourne to get into the industry etc.

BTW ShinDig if you want any advice from someone working in the industry, I've left you contact details in a Private Message.

Submitted by Ulagatin on Mon, 01/09/08 - 1:49 PM Permalink

You say that most of the mathematics can be picked up at high school level - does this mean that it is comprehensible for someone in Year 11/12 or that it is generally studied at this level? I think going down that route at Uni with maths would be a significant advantage for computer science, wouldn't it? Shows employers he is good at problem solving and can think both laterally and logically. Yes, I think his initial direction is the programming side, and then he can move into game design (as he later plans to, as far as I know).

Unfortunately matrices and linear algebra are only covered in the Maths Specialised 5C course at College, which I personally intend on taking, however ShinDig does not. So this would mean studying Mathematics at University, which would also assist with his Computer Science study.

You suggest my route if ShinDig enjoys mathematics - the algebra stream or the calculus stream?

I agree that a portfolio is essential for him, which he could certainly work on once he gets employment out of Uni as a programmer (most likely a general programmer initially). Thanks for your advice to ShinDig.

Budding Physicist and Passionate about Computer Science!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/08 - 3:51 PM Permalink

I'd say computer science is essentially to secure a job in the games industry. I know when I'm looking at candidates I tend to look at their portfolio combined with the computer science degree. I generally won't let anyone in the door without a portfolio though to show their passion.

Portfolio is essential.

Bit odd that they don't teach linear algebra in a computer science degree. Used throughout computer science. He can look at, they offer a engineering mathematics unit which he can then apply for credit for. It includes linear/calculus mathematics, so good broad set of knowledge. Discrete mathematics as well would be useful, teaches the mathematics used from a computing perspective.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/08 - 3:53 PM Permalink

BTW just for clarification, open uni is just a group of uni's offering degrees through one name.

Monash Uni provide the Engineering Mathematics (big name in IT) and RMIT offer Discrete Mathematics.

Generally you can use these units that you study with open uni as direct credit in your university degree. Almost all universities in Australia will accept them for credit. Check with your uni though.

Submitted by Ulagatin on Mon, 01/09/08 - 6:38 PM Permalink

Yes, UTAS doesn't teach Linear Algebra in the Computer Science degree, however there is a mathematics unit entitled "Differential Equations, Linear Algebra and Applications" that they provide, obviously requiring some experience with calculus.

For ShinDig to engage in a calculus-orientated stream, he would need to do the Mathematics Foundation Unit that UTAS provide,as the Maths Applied 5C course he is doing at College does not give the pre-requisites for the study of calculus at university.

He could study Maths Methods 5C instead, to allow him to study the calculus, however I don't believe he is interested in doing this. If I am wrong, I will let ShinDig correct me. Any comments are welcome.

Budding Physicist and Passionate about Computer Science!

Submitted by mcdrewski on Tue, 02/09/08 - 9:21 AM Permalink

Good comments, although I think the term "hard" degree was not about difficulty, but about formal theoretical training versus vocational experience. Formal maths training gives you skills you never really acknowledge until the day someone asks you to do something tricky.

In my personal experience doing a double degree (BE - Electronic and Eletrical Systems / BInfTech - Software Engineering), the IT component was absolutely the 'secondary' part of the course, even though we were doing the same subjects as straight IT students.

I recall spending around 20 hours on a 3% course component for engineering in the same week we had a 5-min 10% course component multiple choice quiz for IT. Oh, and that was 10% of 12 credit points vs 3% of 8 credit points.

Engineering was just that much more difficult.

So, glasses of 20/20 aside, something formal and/or traditional which lets you elect, or research, or expand into the specifics of game/graphics/interactive programming would be my advice.

Submitted by StephenWade on Wed, 03/09/08 - 2:39 PM Permalink

It would be advantageous to study mathematics at as high-a-level as possible whilst still being able to maintain the rest of the workload at high school/university. Looking for the 'bare minimum' mathematics is not necessarily a good idea, I think it's better to think about learning as much as you can whilst you are at university etc - because you really will have limited time to catch up this knowledge once you are 'outside' !

Submitted by Lantree on Wed, 03/09/08 - 3:44 PM Permalink

Potentially true.

I know a few employers give math coaching though just to help out staff.

For myself, I'm working on a engine team and my math skills aren't to the level I'd want them to be at. I'm taking the open uni course just to booster them a little, both the discrete and engineering mathematics.

That being said, I still say people here are over complicating the mathematics elements. From a game development company point of view they'll check the boxes:
* Computer Science Degree
* Knows how to program, programming test.
* Samples in own time
* Easy going personality
* Loves games

Submitted by Ulagatin on Thu, 04/09/08 - 4:42 PM Permalink

Hi Stephen,

I think I agree with you - high level mathematics (at least applied or applicable mathematics) is important. I note on your profile, you are studying for an honours degree in applied mathematics. Congratulations! I certainly respect mathematics graduates, as I believe it to be of 'intellectual nobility' to study mathematics at a high level. Slightly offtopic, but may I ask what drew you to studying honours level maths? I'm very interested in theoretical physics, and find that I hear more people pursuing applied maths than theoretical physics, despite the fields being quite linked. There will be bias no doubt - I prefer physics concepts by quite a long shot, whereas you probably enjoy the maths much more. I need to work on my mathematics considerably, as I am studying the pre-tertiary Maths Methods course next year, and potentially Maths Specialised (pre-tertiary) the following year.

May I ask your suggestions for mathematics for ShinDig, provided he wants to keep his options open... for example, postgraduate study, research/development in AI, 3D Graphics and Animation, Modelling and Games Programming etc. My idea was to start with discrete mathematics and proceed with abstract algebra, until the 3rd year and then commence study in the "topics in advanced mathematics" course provided by UTAS - this involves study in algebraic/differential geometry (dependant on previous study of course - and in this case, it would be algebraic), topology and some other interesting bits and pieces such as combinatorics and cryptography, even the history of mathematics.

For those of you saying that this a large amount of maths for ShinDig to do in the degree, it is only 12.5% of 100% maths in the first year, and the same in the second year, and 25% in third year, and so in total, this translates to 16.67% of the entire degree (3yrs, exc. honours) being maths courses - not a significant amount. This would also support him in the Physics Simulation course offered in 3rd year, based upon the Games Technology major, however I agree with most people in regards to doing a straight computer science degree rather than specialising, until later on.

Budding Physicist and Passionate about Computer Science!

Submitted by Lantree on Thu, 04/09/08 - 10:48 PM Permalink

Reason why I say this, I have seen many people who go into the mathematical field of study but are hopeless programmers. Mathematics is important and not saying not do any, but computer science isn't exclusively about mathematics but giving you a broad base of knowledge in all areas of computing and thats what desirable in the IT field and in the games industry.

Submitted by StephenWade on Thu, 04/09/08 - 11:21 PM Permalink

Mmm - I should have stated clearly that I meant double degrees can go either way. It varies SO much from university to university, from degree to degree, even student to student, it's impossible to tell if you will get the training you want in both disciplines. To obfuscate the matter further, IT/Software Engineering/Computer Science can all be HUGELY different within one university. Gah !

Submitted by StephenWade on Thu, 04/09/08 - 11:31 PM Permalink

Aside : pm sent to ulagatin

Yep, a lot of people not in a programming field are hopeless programmers :P Your point is very valid though. In spite of what I am about to say - games programming means you have to be a programmer (not necessarily a mathematician).


I *honestly, truly, believe* that the games industry is sorely LACKING in people with really strong mathematical background in order to push technology forward.


Problem is that is hard though to find people who have studied and/or worked as a programmer who also have a high (i.e. postgraduate) level of mathematical knowledge. And if these ppl do exist - they end up in other industries that pay better :S

Submitted by Lantree on Fri, 05/09/08 - 12:25 AM Permalink

Yep, this thread is about a guy wanting to get into games programming not games mathematics, which is why i mentioned that there are quite a few matheticians that are bad programmers. I can imagine quite a few programmers are bad matheticians as well but it was in the context of the discussion.

The games field does take note of academics though generally.

Have you heard of siggraph btw. Similar sort of thing, people come up with academic papers on how to achieve something. A lot of it far out there that can't work. Then 5 years later the hardware catches up and looking through the old siggraph papers you find gems.

BTW if ShinDig makes sure he does discrete mathematics and linear algebra in a computer science course, that is basically what the games industry needs at the end of the day btw.

BTW we need computer science academics as well in the games industry. A example, we are suddenly probably going to be having something around 80 cpu cores on our hardware soon in the future. No-one is quite sure ow to scale our applications to use these cores, we know our current methodoligies don't work very well. How do you write scalable programs. These sort of things we'd love academics to solve (and btw Microsoft Research have some very nice projects in this regard, looked at the Parallel FX library lately :) Muhaha, for C# sure but some nice ideas there :)

I believe mathematics is part of a broad set of skills.

Reason is if you take a traditional physics model and put it into a game the game won't work very well.

Modelling a true vehicle physics, with every variable, in a dynamic real time updated environment it just won't work fast. You need to know how to simulate a lot of values and what feels right.

Simple examples, did you know the square root operation in hardware is quite slow. Did you know you tend to wait until you done other operations and apply that operation last. Did you know multiplication is faster than division in hardware. Do you know how to reduce the instructions taken on the cpu of a mathematical operation. These things I've mentioned are less of a issue with modern hardware but its still important to note.

Submitted by StephenWade on Fri, 05/09/08 - 1:50 AM Permalink

Oh god this thread is ballooning ! Yes, there are people in other professions who are required to program who are not good at programming. Singling out mathematics might be an attempt to dissuade study of mathematics, or it might not be.

Originally I said study as high-a-level mathematics as you can whilst maintaining the rest of the workload (i.e. computer science subjects). It's always a compromise, you have limited time at uni, you can't always take the time to learn both. I think I'll stand by this, with acknowledgement that - yes - the bare minimum is probably some discrete maths and linear algebra.

Here's some food for thought, though !

Looking from a computer science point of view. As you state, at the end of the day it'd be great if programmers had an understanding the basic concept of pipelining instructions, using the memory heirarchy efficiently (cache-ing), coping with modern data size (lowest possible order algorithms), the emerging issue of programming with data parallelism and multi-threading. Add to the mix you have project management issues, platform dependency and countless knows what software engineering issues that I simply am *not* yet aware of.

Worse still we are getting faster and faster CPUs (and more of em) and slower and slower software, and data that expands to the space available.

Consider the mathematical side - there are considerations of floating point round-off i.e. subtractive cancellation (or additive cancellation), stability of numerical methods, order of accuracy of approximations, discretisation error, aliasing/filtering issues in ALL sampling (stored textures, MIPMAPs, screen output).

It's scaring me to list some of these considerations !

Teaching both mathematical and computer science oriented considerations successfully isn't easy. I think it's mostly up to the student to push themselves to achieve a good broad understanding of both fields.

Learning how to cope with the different styles the fields are taught in is something I did *not* master either, as I switched from initially studying a computer science course to an applied mathematics major.

Anyway - enough from me ... I have to be up in 5 hours to do more research. Ahh the student life !