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If it's related to the games industry or education, it goes in here!

"Substantial" doubt over Atari's future

GameIndisutry.biz reports some worrying signs for Atari, and suggests the outlook is pretty grim for the US publisher. As we all know, French publishing giant, Infogrames, resurrected the Atari name back in 2001 and renamed its US subsidiary to Atari Inc (and the European operations to Atari Europe).
I didn't want to post this on the front page because it's all speculation as to what this means to Atari Melbourne House (if anything at all). I'm guessing Atari Melbourne House doesn't have anything to do with Atari other than sharing the Atari name and being a subsidiary of Infogrames.

http://gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=14656

Submitted by jimellis on Tue, 04/04/06 - 8:45 AM Permalink

Hi,

Does anyone have any further news regarding Melbourne House?

Submitted by Mario on Tue, 04/04/06 - 6:39 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by jimellis

Does anyone have any further news regarding Melbourne House?

Atari had listed Melbourne House as one of several studios they were interested in selling to cut costs and presumably recoup some cash.

Submitted by souri on Wed, 05/04/06 - 3:37 AM Permalink

There haven't been any more updates apart from the press releases and a CEO interview from two months ago which say that studios will be sold once they finish their projects. So we'll probably hear more when Melbourne House finish their port of Test Drive: Unlimited.

TQ Digital Entertainment seeking Biz partner

TQ Digital Entertainment seeking overseas partners -- 2006-01-12
TQ Digital Entertainment was founded in 1999 and headquartered in Fuzhou, China. Basing on its leading-edge technology and more than 500 top-notch developers, TQ Digital Entertainment has become one of the leading online game publishers in China, boasting 10 online games and more than 100 casual games as well as advanced 2D and 3D game engines with independent intellectual property rights. The online games developed and published by the company include Monster and Me, Conquer Online, Zero Online, Era of Faith, Realm of Chaos, Farm Online, all of which are characterized by lively, beautiful graphics, attractive storyline and reasonable prices. Meanwhile, the company also develops more than one hundred kinds of surprisingly excellent casual games. Most of TQ Digital Entertainment??s online games are multi-lingual and have been published globally. Those online games are very popular with the players in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South-east Asia, America, Japan and some European countries. In 2005, TQ Digital Entertainment was awarded "Ten Best Game Developers of 2004" and "Chinese Games Overseas Expansion Award of 2004" by the Chinese government.

With the rapid development of the company??s business, TQ Digital Entertainment is currently seeking business partners in
Australia and New Zealand to operate or co-operate the MMORPGs . More information about TQ Digital Entertainment and its in-house developed games is available at request. For business development or partnership opportunities, please don??t hesitate to contact us.

E-mail: cooperation@gamedp.com
MSN: gdpcoop@hotmail.com

Thanks, Educatational Award

Hi, Everyone,

Just thought I should put my hand up and say Thanks.
Thanks for all voting and placing us as number one, educator in Aus / NZ in the Game Development field.

As always we are putting in a serious effort to make our courses better, every year, through consultation with industry representatives and games development organisations throughout Australia.
Also I would like to congratulate all our graduating students on a job well done, and all the best in the industry.

0xBaaDf00d
----------
Adam Hay,
Head Of Programming,
Qantm College.

Submitted by souri on Fri, 17/02/06 - 1:29 AM Permalink

There was some pretty tough competition in that category with a fair few established places nominated like AIE Canberra, AIE Melbourne, and QUT.

Anyway, congratulations are in order for Qantm!

The biggest studio in Melbourne is?

I got a query via email on this. I know it used to be Atari Melbourne House, but they have shrunk a lot over the years.

So which studio is the largest in Melbourne now, and roughly how many employees do they have? (I'm guessing Blue Tongue or IR Gurus, but I'd like a more decisive answer before I pass along the info)

Submitted by Angel on Thu, 09/02/06 - 10:41 AM Permalink

I know we're likely not the largest, but we have almost 50 people here at Torus Games and we're growing larger (steadily, but surely).

Submitted by Howdy on Fri, 10/02/06 - 12:35 AM Permalink

I'm an IR Gurus guy and we're getting bigger everyday...I used to know everyone but it's starting to get out of hand! :-)

Submitted by souri on Fri, 10/02/06 - 12:43 AM Permalink

You got some rough numbers to throw at me? Last of what I heard, Blue Tongue were around 60-70 people, but I'm guessing IR Gurus (which is Thatgame as well) along with the recent planned hirings should be over that number?

Submitted by Howdy on Fri, 17/02/06 - 6:30 PM Permalink

Somewhere around 75 and growing daily...

Submitted by popawheelie on Wed, 22/02/06 - 3:15 AM Permalink

Currently IR is around 75, but I hear another 12 are joining soon..

pop

Tafe or Uni?

I have just recieved an offer to go to la trobe uni to do computer games technology, however I have already enrolled in Box Hill tafe. I had it higher on my VCE list but now my dad is skepticle about my job prospects after UNI instead of to going to tafe to do computer systems where i would get more industry based qualifications.

any comments would be helpful.

Submitted by MoonUnit on Sat, 04/02/06 - 11:10 PM Permalink

nobody goes after the games industry because itll be a guaranteed and easy job, we do it because we love it. If your serious about the games industry, its probably not even the qualification on your resume that will get you a job but rather the work and knowledge you can show (more so for a first job, without previous titles to point towards). That being said a better focused course can give you a better knowledge set to display. This is just my two cents and truth be told i dont have the greatest wealth of experience on it (im actually about to enter uni myself), this is just what i know from hearing similar quesions being asked before and such.

Submitted by lorien on Sun, 05/02/06 - 7:30 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by pikadude

I have just recieved an offer to go to la trobe uni

Congrats, last year I think we accepted 20 out of 300 applicants for the games course. Don't know numbers for this year.

I've been pretty vocal on the TAFE vs Uni topic recently [;)] so I'm staying out of this one (unless someone starts being really stupid).

If you have specific questions about La Trobe I'm the guy to ask (acting head of games technology) and there is a thread for it already- or send me a PM if you prefer.

Game Development : Salary Survey

For everyone who works in the Oz industry or for that matter NZ, Gamasutra are putting out there salary survey for 2005.

It finishes tommorrow so you'd want to complete it tonight to get your figures in.

A good way to see how your salary compares to that of your contemporaries from other countries. [?]

[url]http://inside.gamasutra.com/cgi-bin4/DM/y/et450FqTtX0KIp0ECXL0EN[/url]

Submitted by LiveWire on Fri, 03/02/06 - 9:13 PM Permalink

you can win a free subscription to game developer magazine too!

Submitted by souri on Tue, 07/02/06 - 11:42 AM Permalink

We need Ambit to get another local salary survey happening [:(] The guy who made the 2004 one doesn't seem to work there anymore, my email to him bounced.

Submitted by Mick1460 on Tue, 07/02/06 - 9:15 PM Permalink

Would Yug from Australian Gamer be interested in doing one? Or would you consider doing one yourself Souri?

Submitted by souri on Wed, 08/02/06 - 4:23 PM Permalink

Yeh, it looks like something Sumea would be suited for.

Submitted by Yug on Thu, 09/02/06 - 11:07 PM Permalink

Yeah, definately something more suited to Sumea I recon ... this site has much more recognition as an the australian game 'industry' website, where as AustralianGamer.com is a bit more targeted towards a general audience. I think you would get a much better response if Souri ran with it :D

That said, I'd be happy to help out or use what resources I have to get one going :)

Submitted by souri on Fri, 10/02/06 - 11:17 PM Permalink

Yeh, I'll see if I can get something up real soon.

Submitted by Jackydablunt on Sat, 25/02/06 - 10:15 AM Permalink

Maybe I shouldn't submit my salary, may somewhat bring down the curve a little...

Submitted by souri on Tue, 04/04/06 - 9:37 AM Permalink

Here are the results of a [url="http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2651&…"]recent developer salary survey[/url] by Game Developer magazine.

PROGRAMMING

Technical Director: $104,738
Lead Programmer: $81,591
Programmer / Engineer: $73, 618

ART and ANIMATION

Art Director: $65,313
Lead Artist: $68,112
Artist: $61,065

GAME DESIGN

Creative Director: $72,125
Writer: $61,000
Game Designer: $54,777

PRODUCTION

Producer: $66,375
Executive Producer (all with more than six years experience): $127, 375

QUALITY ASSURANCE

QA Lead: $43,125
Tester: $29,722

AUDIO

Audio Director: $62,206
Composer: $60,093

BUSINESS AND LEGAL

Marketing: $76,667
Admin: $81,765
Executive: $106,590

Submitted by Malus on Tue, 04/04/06 - 9:52 AM Permalink

Now convert from US dollars..... [:O]

Submitted by Mario on Tue, 04/04/06 - 6:35 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Malus

Now convert from US dollars..... [:O]

And then adjust for the much lower cost of living in Australasia.

Submitted by Malus on Tue, 04/04/06 - 7:32 PM Permalink

And a smaller industry. [:)]

Submitted by souri on Mon, 10/04/06 - 5:26 PM Permalink

I'll be putting up a Sumea Salary Survey (real soon now) based on the categories in that survey. In all categories, people will be able to choose their salary range (from $20,000 to say 120,000), and the number of years they've been in the industry. Anyone have any other suggestions?

PROGRAMMING
Technical Director:
Lead Programmer:
Programmer / Engineer:

ART and ANIMATION
Art Director:
Lead Artist:
Artist:

GAME DESIGN
Creative Director:
Writer:
Game Designer:

PRODUCTION
Producer:
Executive Producer (all with more than six years experience):

QUALITY ASSURANCE
QA Lead:
Tester:

AUDIO
Audio Director:
Composer:

BUSINESS AND LEGAL
Marketing:
Admin:
Executive:

Submitted by pb on Mon, 10/04/06 - 5:54 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Mario

quote:Originally posted by Malus

Now convert from US dollars..... [:O]

And then adjust for the much lower cost of living in Australasia.

...and then adjust again for the lower income taxes in the US... There's no doubt about it, if you want to make money but prefer to change countries rather than careers, the US is the way to go.

pb

Submitted by LiveWire on Mon, 10/04/06 - 7:07 PM Permalink

quote:Anyone have any other suggestions?
you could try interesting options like "what state do you work in?" to see how they compare, though that's probably not a good example since some states have very few companies.

Submitted by Mick1460 on Tue, 11/04/06 - 12:11 AM Permalink

Can you put Sound Designer in there under 'Audio' please Souri-dude?

Submitted by rgsymons on Tue, 11/04/06 - 3:14 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by pb

quote:Originally posted by Mario

quote:Originally posted by Malus

Now convert from US dollars..... [:O]

And then adjust for the much lower cost of living in Australasia.

...and then adjust again for the lower income taxes in the US... There's no doubt about it, if you want to make money but prefer to change countries rather than careers, the US is the way to go.

pb

I would debate on taxes, Australia has now got one of the lowest set of rates in the world, especially when you take healthcare into account. The US, for example, has taxes on multiple levels, federal income taxes, state income taxes, plus state taxes at the register (read GST), then there is the INS enforced "unemployment insurance", and so on....

Having lived OS extensively my experience is that it all balances out, the cost of living in total generally costs as much as people can bear in any given country. It seems that there is never too much excess cash to be had and saved regardless of your geographic location, this is simply the "free market" at work :)

Cheers,

Ross.

Submitted by nexx on Tue, 11/04/06 - 5:02 AM Permalink

I guess prop & environmental design/creation comes under art/animation?

Submitted by kalimah on Tue, 06/06/06 - 7:26 PM Permalink

can anyone give me a ball park figure for an artist with 8 years industry experience, both here and OS, specialising in animation and modelling? just returning to the aussie industry after my uk company ran out of work, and i have no clue as to what i should expect to receive or what i should be asking for. cheers! :)

Submitted by baboon on Wed, 07/06/06 - 11:54 PM Permalink

Hey man...did this ever happen?

Submitted by baboon on Wed, 07/06/06 - 11:55 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by baboon

Hey man...did this ever happen?

The salary survey for the Oz game development community I mean.

Submitted by souri on Thu, 12/10/06 - 3:04 PM Permalink

Ok, I haven't forgotten about this at all. I'll definately be making a Sumea salary survey sometime in November, roughly the same time the Sumea 2006 Awards will be prepared since they both will be running on the same vote system on Sumea.

Submitted by Malus on Thu, 02/11/06 - 7:03 PM Permalink

Looking forward to it Souri, I was meaning to ask you about this again.

Submitted by souri on Mon, 18/12/06 - 7:07 AM Permalink

It's coming real soon, I promise! Anyway, I found this article comparing the average game developer salaries of those in the US, UK, and Japan. It's quite interesting to see how much less Japanese developers are earning.

Submitted by laotan on Fri, 23/03/07 - 5:56 PM Permalink

Just wonder is the salary survey up somewhere?

Feedback from aie students 2005

I am interested to find out what grads are doing from AIE.

The website does not really show current work.

Cheers.

Submitted by KamoKid on Fri, 17/02/06 - 1:22 AM Permalink

hey hey,

yea, im AIE 2005, and im now at imaginary numbers in sydney working on tactica online. i actually picked up the position before i graduated. other grads are heading off to IRGurus, and are starting there within a week or two.

there are AIE grads at Blue tongue, Pandemic, Torus, IRGurus, Krome, ummm... here..., and thats just the start. MF and Irrational pick up AIE grads when they need them too.

... BUT .... AIE grads can also be found outside of the games industry, doing equally cool jobs at places like and many are at places like Simmersion, Dept of Defence, and some Architect places.

A few have gone onto uni.

... anyway, gotta go, and get back to it. games dont make themselves ya'know.

cheers,
KamoKid

Submitted by pb on Fri, 17/02/06 - 10:44 AM Permalink

What's with so many people from defence working in games and vice versa!? I've been noticing this so much lately... Anyone got any theories (besides "its all cool tech stuff")?

pb

Submitted by mattw on Mon, 20/02/06 - 9:28 PM Permalink

Some arts guys with Defence here in Canberra are working on Navy battle simulations and animating models made in CAD created by the engineers. Dep Defence also has a department working on their own in house training games, though I have only seen some fairly basic versions, which was quite a while ago too!

Submitted by BrotherEstapol on Wed, 22/02/06 - 1:30 PM Permalink

I did the screen course, but I still want to get into games.
At the moment I'm working on a Mod for Battlefield 2, changing the US Army into the Aussie Army, if you're interested at all check out this link:
http://games.internode.on.net/forums/viewforum.php?f=66

Job-wise I haven't really started looking yet, as I want to get more content done for this mod so I've got some decent stuff to put in my reel.

I know one of the guys(I won't name names) from the Max night course got a job at Bluetounge, one of my mates rom my class is now at IRGurus, and another of my mates got a job at Catalyst.(that's defence contractor I think)
Aside from them, I'm not sure if anyone else as been sucessfull at getting a job, though I'd put most of it down to lack to motivation on their behalf...

Submitted by Bob Lives Here on Wed, 08/03/06 - 12:13 AM Permalink

Hi Im from the AIE 2004 Games course I did start work late last year (2005) for Midway (Formally Ratbag Games) but we go shut down around Christmas time [:(!].

And now ealry this year i am Happily employed with Krome [:)]

Neale Murray

Submitted by Jim on Wed, 08/03/06 - 1:34 AM Permalink

Hi.

I did the programming course in 2005 and loved it. I got a job working at Firemint ( http://www.firemint.com ) making mobile phone games after working a few weeks on the final project last year. Haven't done snake yet though :D

Submitted by picpoc on Wed, 08/03/06 - 1:45 AM Permalink

I've been with SG3D in Canberra for over a year now, but want to move to Melbourne, so currently looking for a job over there

Submitted by Digital on Wed, 08/03/06 - 3:35 AM Permalink

I graduated from AIE Canberra last year and started working at IR Gurus Interactive this month =)

Submitted by generalmayhem on Wed, 08/03/06 - 8:18 PM Permalink

I graduated from AIE Canberra in 2003, as part of the "Frost" team. With a great reference from Ian Gibson, our headmaster, I was quickly snatched up by IR Gurus Interactive, and have been working there for two years now.

Submitted by roadrunner on Wed, 08/03/06 - 9:17 PM Permalink

I gradutaed from the AIE game development art Diploma in 2005 and I am currently working at Redtribe.

Submitted by popawheelie on Wed, 08/03/06 - 9:19 PM Permalink

I'm a graduate from AIE 2005, I am employed by IR gurus with 5 other 2005 graduates from AIE (MELB), and around 6 from the previous year of AIE Atari house graduates.

pop!

Submitted by geoffeep on Thu, 30/03/06 - 7:48 AM Permalink

Howdy! I'm a 2005 art grad (dip screen, 3dsmax), and am at IRGurus with a bunch of other grads! AIE kicks butt :)

Cheers,
Geoff Lester

Bullant Studios becomes Big Ant Studios

Bullant Studios has changed its name to Big Ant Studios.

With the advent of embedded wireless connectivity in next generation systems, particularly handheld devices, Bullant Studios has opted to change its name to Big Ant Studios to avoid any potential conflicts that may arise in the future due to trademark issues and the ownership of the name "Bullant" with regard to wireless.

This is purely a name change and there are no structural changes to the business, which remains strong and is indeed seeking employees for roles ranging from junior to senior artists and programmers.

Cheers,

Ross.

Ross Symons
CEO
Big Ant Studios
www.bigant.com

Submitted by souri on Tue, 31/01/06 - 5:49 AM Permalink

Thanks for the update, Ross. I will fix the info on Sumea once my internet connection goes back to normal in a few days.

Free Play 3 (IGDC)

Hi!

I have not been here for a while, even though I have been meaning to.

Just wondering if anyone knows when, and if there will be a free play 2006, and if so when?

I am about to get a new job, and it would be cool, to let them know when i'll need that 4 day break, so i can go down to melboune, and enjoy the confrence, and meet up with the people i have seen at the last 2 events.

Thanks!

Adam

Submitted by lorien on Sat, 14/01/06 - 3:13 AM Permalink

Sure is going to be one (or there will be serious flames) [:)], but it's too soon to know when yet I think.

For the record my involvement with freeplay has been as a presenter.

Submitted by amckern on Tue, 06/06/06 - 7:46 AM Permalink

BUMP - any update? The last one was almost 11 months ago

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 07/06/06 - 12:49 PM Permalink

I'll ask Fiona what's happening. Unfortunately Katharine Neil (former Atari audio architect and very radical lefty) is no longer with us in Australia- she was one of the (if not THE) main driving forces of Freeplay.

Whatever is happening is likely to be rather different as a result.

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 08/06/06 - 11:41 PM Permalink

Without posting Fiona's reply (had some info she likely wouldn't want up here), there was a very big nextwave this year, people are on holidays afterwards, and funding needs to be sorted out. It looks like it will be in early 07 I'm afraid.

Submitted by amckern on Sat, 10/06/06 - 11:44 AM Permalink

Thank you lorien - i might email the chapter house down there and see what they might be able to pull into place as alt if the old free play's ae no longer viable - or visable.

Submitted by lorien on Sat, 10/06/06 - 10:06 PM Permalink

I would say it's very viable and the last 2 years attendance shows that clearly. Freeplay however isn't Nextwave's primary responsibility, the youth arts festival is, and I personally am much happier with an indie games conference being managed by the youth arts crowd than the game-dev crowd (even the IGDA).

Rather than looking for alternatives it would be much better to work with Nextwave. They're a friendly bunch and welcome ideas and input.

I understand funding for freeplay should not present problems.

"Donation for ex-Ratbags" veracity?

A couple of people, including Emma have posted to verify this in the news comments, so I apologise from the bottom of my bitter, cynical heart for raising the doubt.

Good luck to Emma and Craig.

EDIT : redacted

Anyone confirm or deny the following message I received after donating to the [url="http://www.sumea.com.au/snews.asp?news=1849"]"Donation for ex-Ratbags"[/url] ebay plea?

The ebay account certainly shows none of the telltale signs of being scammy. However, any ex 'baggers who can verify the story would probably be nice.

Original message removed.

Submitted by Rahnem on Fri, 06/01/06 - 6:55 AM Permalink

Wow, I check Sumea after 4 months absents only find out that Midway closed down the Ratbag studio. Another blow for Australian game development. I hope all ex ratbag staff can find alternative employment and minimal family trouble because of it. Best Wishes.

I would suggest that these people get in contact with their countries consulate general as they can help out in cases like these.

Beam Software / Melbourne House

Hi Sumeans,

First time poster, long time reader, but don't worry I'm not about to request any songs.

What I am curious about, and I thought this would be the place to get a good response, is some information about the early years of Beam Software / Melbourne House.

I recently did a feature article listing the top 10 games ever developed in Australia, talking about the games themselves, awards they won, and information about the developer themselves (http://www.australiangamer.com/feature.php?id=91).

Through extensive research through company websites, gaming forums, the sumea website and lots of googling, I was able to compile all the information I needed. With one exception.

The relationship between Beam Software and Melbourne House. Initially, from what I can gather, Beam was the developer and Melbourne House was a subsidory of Beam setup to handle publishing. Were they two seperate companies, or one in the same? I read that after Melbourne House was aquired by Masteronic and then Virgin (and subsequently 'Virginised' to reflect the name), it was then relaunched under the Melbourne House name again by Beam Software. Then Atari came in. And Beam dissapeared.

Thats all I've got. The beam software site no longer exists, the melbourne house website just links to a Transformers ad, and I can't seem to find any more information.

Any help here would be much appreciated. Glad to finally be a part of this community, and all the best to everyone in the New Year!

Submitted by souri on Fri, 06/01/06 - 6:28 AM Permalink

My memory is a bit hazy, but I'm sure they started off as a publisher called Melbourne House, and the software arm of the company was Beam Software. I've put my bit of research into what happened to Melbourne House over the years in [url="http://www.sumea.com.au/sdevelopersprofile.asp?developer=9"]Sumea's developer profile[/url], so that covers all I know.

quote:Originally posted by Yug

Thats all I've got. The beam software site no longer exists, the melbourne house website just links to a Transformers ad, and I can't seem to find any more information.

Wouldn't it be great if someone managed to grab the Beam site before it disappeared about 7 years ago?

Hey, wait a minute! That's exactly what I did! [;)] The Way Back Machine doesn't even have it, but here's what I managed to salvage and store a long time ago of the site. Hope it helps!

http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/about.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/Beam_Directors.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/History.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/Key_Management.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/OurPeople.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/PressReleases1.htm
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/PressReleasessellin…
http://www.sumea.com.au/SumeaFlashback/Website_Beam/PressReleasessellin…

Submitted by Yug on Fri, 06/01/06 - 6:44 AM Permalink

Souri, you rock mate :)

So all the way up until 1997, Melbourne House was the publishing subsidiary of Beam Software ... interesting

Submitted by souri on Fri, 06/01/06 - 6:49 AM Permalink

Actually, it's more like Beam was the software subsidiary of Melbourne House.

Submitted by Yug on Fri, 06/01/06 - 11:41 AM Permalink

Yup, that makese sense ... cheers

While I'm on the subject, is there a contact email for the media or press relations person for Atari Melbourne House that you know of?

Submitted by Quatermass on Wed, 11/01/06 - 1:07 AM Permalink

I used to work there, and I beleive that Melbourne House was a book publisher of sorts.

Submitted by Gazunta on Thu, 12/01/06 - 4:25 AM Permalink

I was the guy that wrote 90% of all the content on Beam's hotgames.com site that they mention on some of their press releases...total freedom to trash whatever game I didn't like that day, as long as it wasn't a Beam game :)

Sigh, good times...

Management Software

Hi,

Could anyone recommend good management software?

In particular, I'm looking for an application that'll help me track 40+ staff members. Additionally, I'm also looking for any possible alternatives to MS Project as a scheduling tool.

What other programs are out there? What do you use? and what makes them stand out from other management software?

Thanks kindly,

~Romi Jade

P.S. I wasn't sure where to put this thread. If there's enough interest, perhaps we could start a Production/Business section?

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 05/01/06 - 11:48 PM Permalink

MS Project is by far the world's 800lb gorilla in management and scheduling - I assume there's a good reason (apart from pure dislike) to avoid it. If it's merely dislike I suggest doing a one or two-day quick course (or a "teach yourself in 24h" book) and things will start to fall into place.

Otherwise, AFAIK there is *no* magic bullet to track staff, I've seen good team leads work with nothing but a diary, whiteboard and wall calendar - and also people who use email to track everything.

One good thing that I have found useful (although this is my personal bias - YMMV) is to rely on the bug/defect/ticket database to track work. Every piece of work or bug gets a "ticket", and you make sure it's only ever assigned to one person. You take the role of "ticket manager" and every time a person finishes a piece of work they give the "ticket" back to you for you to reassign or close as "done". For art you might make a "ticket" for each character for modelling, then one for each animation, then one for each distinct 'set' of related assets (like all the spacesuits, or all the trees) or each asset if you want to get super-detailed. For code, each major sbsection of the design document gets a ticket (ie: AI pathfinding, AI targetting etc.) plus one per document for overall integration.

Knock up a couple of reports and you can see which tickets have not been worked on in a couple of weeks (probably either difficult jobs, or distasteful jobs, which are both red-flags from a production POV). Knock up another couple of reports and you can tell QA exactly which assets and chunks of work are in which build [:)]. If you see a person that has not updated any ticket in a couple of days, they're either busy on one job (are they too busy? need less work?) or they're slacking/procrastinating (or they're not using the system, which hurts you and thus the project)

It takes a strong hand with some respect from the team to force people to make notes and updates about what they're doing, and a wise head to remember that the reports are only one view of reality and not to overly rely on them. That said, it's the most useful thing I've ever used to actually make sure the team gets work done.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Fri, 06/01/06 - 6:24 PM Permalink

Interesting, I'm in the middle of switching from M$ Office to OpenOffice.org, which has inspired me to find more open source alternatives to M$ overpriced and buggy products - OpenOffice is great, and any little feature it lacks to M$ Office, it makes up for its $0 price-tag. One thing I am on the look out for is project management and scheduling tools. OpenOffice have plans in the works to initiate their own module for their office productivity suite, but who knows when that might get completed.

I did a quick Google search and came up with this site with its compiled list:

http://proj.chbs.dk/

I'd like to know if anyone has had any experience with open-source alternatives to M$ Project.

BTW: there are templates and stuff you can get for Excel that allow you to create basic Gantt charts if anyone is interested.

Finished school... Now what???

Hey all,

I've finished Year 12 and the HSC this year so now as a result I'm looking into what to do next.
I sought of have 2 available options:
1. Spend 3-4 hours a day travelling from Narwee to Hornsby TAFE for 2 years, and come out with a Diploma in Software Development (Games) then go to UTS for another 2 years and get a Bachelor of Science (Games)
2. Go to UTS or Sydney Uni and do a 'generic' computers course

The travelling is the big issue for the TAFE option BUT it'll allow me to do what I love rather than wasting 4 years doing a course I'll probably care very little about. Sure I'll probably go well and get high marks but I won't enjoy it. Business computing and programming just doesn't interest me, that's why I want to get into game development.
I have a good enough UAI to be able to do whatever UTS course I could want, including Computer Engineering or Software Engineering so an option like that is tempting, especially considering the transport issue is solved easily (There's trains straight from where I live to right outside UTS while Hornsby is a bus and a train, or 2 trains)

I guess the 3 big questions are:
1. What would employees prefer? A generic computers Bachelor or a games one?
2. Would Uni drive me nuts with their seemingly business and theoretical courses? Or is it not as bad as what I think? TAFE looks fun because it's hands on, which I have found is the best way to learn.
3. Could I skip both options entirely and go straight into a company? I already experiment with advanced techniques such as Neural Networks and Genetic Algorithms (My current AI project uses these to facilitate weapon choice, movement, and decision making), and I've worked on numerous projects ranging from mods up to entire games. The fact that I do know a reasonable amount already could make Uni or TAFE unnecessary BUT going to them I'd get 'the papers', which could be useful. The papers could also be good because unfortunately I have very little 'real' work experience.

I'm VERY passionate about my work - I've spent LOTS of time coding working on new AI techniques, games and other projects just because I like doing it. My dream is to allow developers to give people who play offline a gameplay experience comparable to what you'd experience online through the use of powerful AI technology. I'm also interested in coding new, fun and innovative games.

So... Where to next? Is there a company out there that needs some crazy AI coded up? Or should I go to TAFE or Uni and continue my education?

Submitted by Caroo on Tue, 03/01/06 - 4:00 AM Permalink

Might sound simple but I find this approach quite nifty. If your torn by two decisions and cant decide what you want. Then flip a coin. Heads one, tails the other. Whatever of the two you get say to yourself "Yes. I?ll do this." then let it ster for a while in your mind. If your having doubts go the other choice.

Both sound like good choices. Just go the one with less doubt to it.

Submitted by Jacana on Tue, 03/01/06 - 4:24 AM Permalink

1) As a whole I think the industry is still interested in what you would call generic degrees. If you find that you do a games specific course at a diploma level you may not get many credit transfers where if you were to get a bachlors and then do a game course you'd find you'd get more recognition. I am not saying do one over the other, I am suggesting if you can do both. Just be careful in which order you do them in.

2) Yes there are some boring parts to Uni, however it gives you a solid grounding as a "programmer", puts you around people of similar interests, and gives you time to work on games studies in areas such as graphics later on in the degree. TAFE is good for hands on, but the downside of doing things hands-on in TAFE is you have a learn/do time where as at Uni lectures are learning and tutorials are for doing. So over all, in Uni you will get more "learning time" and this will show. You will also receive a more rounded education at Uni.

3) You will learn very quickly that there are plenty of young people out there who know just as much as you. Junior positions can be quite hard to pick-up and there is generally a rather large application base for only one job. I am not saying do not look, but do not believe that your current skills make you employable. Decide right now to study, and if you apply for jobs and pick one up, great!

All in all, if you have to travel that much just to go to TAFE you could go to uni and use the 3/4 of the time you are not traveling to learn more about games related programming. If you really are keen on a games focused degree, do that after you pick up a Bachlors. But if you use your time wisely, study hard, get good grades, I think you'll find by the time you are done with Uni you will not need a games related degree. Also, if you end up not landing a games job early after graduation you do have a degree that is more recognised in general application development. You will find, too, that a degree will more than likely see you getting paid $10,000 more a year.

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 03/01/06 - 6:25 AM Permalink

For once Jacana we are in complete agreement [:)] I can't even remember the last time that happened... [;)]

Something that hasn't been pointed out is that a degree has 2 purposes.
1)To prepare you for postgraduate research if you wish to do it (and are smart enough)
2)To prepare you for a job.

Diplomas (and vocational training in general) have 1 purpose: to prepare you for a job.

Uni is about teaching you to think for yourself (imho) and coming up with new ideas and original work (I realise it may not seem like that while you're an undergrad, but it really is). Vocational training teaches you (some of) what you need to know for work in an industry.

You do have to do a lot more crap in a degree, but there are good reasons for it. A very senior staff member at La Trobe says that if students don't ask "why the hell am I learning this crap, I'll never use it" he isn't doing his job properly, and that it will be 5 or so years after they graduate that they appreciate it and say someting like "that's what the old fart was on about" [;)]

If you're that keen on AI you should be thinking about aiming to do postgrad research I think. It's a lot more study, but it doesn't have to all be done at once- I think it's smarter to work for a few years after a degree, then do postgrad.

Jacana: you went to TAFE before the AIE didn't you? I seem to remember something like that.

Jacana's comment about needing to be careful about the order you do them in is very true- I think you'll get far more from vocational training if you've covered the groundwork really well first. That's why Carnegie Melon University and others are running rather vocational coursework masters degrees in games.

Also a degree makes it much easier to work overseas.

All that said I personally would have found a normal CS degree far too boring to deal with. If you're thinking about one perhaps hunt for one where you can take games subjects as electives.

Submitted by Rohan on Tue, 03/01/06 - 12:13 PM Permalink

Thank you all for your replies.

Well... I did say that the 2 year Diploma leads on to a 2 year Bachelor at the University of Technology, Sydney. A Bachelor of Science (Games) no less... You two both seemed to miss that (No offence) The TAFE has especially setup this course connection with the Uni. I don't forsee any problems with getting the required grades.

I was going to say something about how you thought I wasn't employable... But then I decided it was better not to. But even so... I wonder what else I have to do to prove I can do this work, other than getting a 90+ in my HSC for both my computers subjects (IPT, SDD), getting 99% for my Year 12 major SDD project (OO, wxPython GUI, an entire game dev platform), building and working on computers since the Commodore 64, creating and working on multiple games plus numerous other awards including a 1st place (and perfect score) medal in a statewide competition. I don't consider myself the best and I really do try to avoid being arrogant, infact I'm very critical of my own work yet it frustrates me when people just dismiss what I can do.

Yes I do wonder if this whole job area is right for me - But what's the alternative? Business programming? Web design? Hardware maintenance? There's lots I suppose - problem is none of them really interest me. That flipping the coin idea sounds tempting...

Bah. I shouldn't be doing this stuff at 1am... But then again - I love my work and want to get this right so why not.

Back to coding I guess... My current AI has emotions, memory, senses and numerous other features. It 'feels'. It'll go on personal vendettas, investigate interesting sounds, follow paths while still laying down fire on opponents, fight realistically... The list is going on and on. Not to mention I'm going to scale it up to beyond RTS levels. ie. I aim for thousands of these guys on the battlefield. Impossible? I don't think so... Even if it is the AI will be quite spectacular regardless.

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 03/01/06 - 8:56 PM Permalink

No, we didn't miss it, we just don't think it's a great idea (sorry if I've put words in your mouth Jacana, just that's how I read your post).

Remember game AI is supposed to be fun to play against. It's not meant to decimate human players. Have a look at Thief 1 and 2 for some very cool AI.

You basically don't have a chance getting a job as a games programmer straight out of HS. You're competing with Diploma and Degree graduates from this year and previous years, as well as the juniors Midway just fired. Sorry. But is it games or AI that really interests you? If it's AI then aim for postgrad I suggest.

Even if you can do it well enough to get a job- and no offence, I'm not saying you can't- that diploma/degree says something about your commitment. A degree in particular tells an employer "this person can do the boring stuff without quitting, as well as the cool stuff".

There haven't been many games made in Aus with heavy AI have there? Anyone?

OS is probably your best bet, that's why I'm suggesting postgrad. A few more years as a poverty stricken student for much higher pay and easier employment for the rest of your life, as well as perhaps getting to put "Dr" in front of your name. You want to really like the subject area though.

Also I'm not a (games industry) employer.

Submitted by Jacana on Tue, 03/01/06 - 9:19 PM Permalink

It's ok Lorien :) I do agree with it not being the best idea. I think this may well make front page headlines on Sumea! Cheryl and Lorien agree! First sign that the world is ending ;)

My two basic reasons for ignoring TAFE are as follows
1) The travel time involved
2) If you really are as advanced as you are in programming TAFE would bore you

My impression of TAFE (yes, I did do TAFE before AIE) in terms of programming is it is there to teach people who have had little to no exposure with programming or languages the basics to understand how programming works. My first two weeks were just doing Hello World type pop-up boxes in VB.

What you will not get in TAFE is learning how to better structure your code, optomizing your code, deep level debugging, in-depth understanding of things like STL.

As I see it, if you go to "games" school you loose out on some of the core fundamentals of programming. If you do university you miss out on some of the games programming. Either way you miss out on something and have to make up for it. If you can gain back 3 hours a day by traveling to Uni instead of TAFE, that's 3 hours you can put back into life to learn about games programming. However, if you spend an extra 3 hours to travel to TAFE you can not make that time back learning the fundamentals.

Along with the education benefits, CS degrees are by far more "standard" through out different universities. When hiring people know what to expect of you from the word Go seeing that degree. However, games courses are not in anyway standard and they will not have a clue what you have studied and to what depth you have studied it.

As for saying how you thought I wasn't employable - I did not state you were not. What I stated was that you need to realise you are not the only graduate out there who posseses intelligence, skills, drive, passion, dedication. Plenty of graduates do. And many of them find themselves with out jobs. What I caution is not giving up the idea of study for the change of a job. Take on study, apply for jobs, and then if you find you do get a job, drop studies if you desire. Never put your "eggs all in one basket" as the saying goes.

Submitted by Rohan on Tue, 03/01/06 - 9:53 PM Permalink

I should be more specific with my AI description!
Just because my AI is advanced and stuff doesn't mean it'll rape players, get impossible shots, and use a simple vector subtract to work out the target's position perfectly [:P] I've seen the results of crap AI and good AI and what it does to the fun factor of a game, it's not nice at all. I value fun-factor over general 'AI coolness' quite high - I'm adding in those features to make the AI more human, not to give it an unassailable advantage [;)] Look at HALO 2 - By adding something as simple as memory to that AI it became trickable and more realistic. My AI factors in even more aspects such as emotions and a NN/GA based FSM. Anyhow... Enough about that. I'll post a video or something up here 'when it's done'. As for Thief and Thief 2, well, I haven't played em. I don't really play stealth games. But it could be an interesting challenge to work out a 'stealthy' AI [:P]

Hmm... you two are making very good points. After all, this is the first year this TAFE course has been run, and it'll be first year the Uni side of things has been run too. AND I have read that there's a postgrad thing to do with games at UTS! (I can't remember the exact link but this I believe has something to do with it: http://research.it.uts.edu.au/creative/ccrs/) So I could get a generic Bachelor but maybe a more specialised PhD.

Thanks for your suggestions - Sorry for being rather hostile...

Now the choice is an interesting one... I can pick any UTS computers course I want - So which one? I'm after one that's more programming, less business stuff. My bro does a course there that could be cool. He said you can make it as programming orientated as you like, then again, I can pick other courses he couldn't. (UAI is 92.15... Well, for UTS only *evil grin*)

Decisions, decisions... But I'm starting to think more away from the TAFE to Uni path. It seemed so good...

Edit: Yikes! UTS is offering games orientated subject choices! Hmm... Methinks I need to investigate more.

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 03/01/06 - 10:16 PM Permalink

You should get in touch with Yusuf Pisan (just google him). He's the guy to ask about games at UTS.

Don't forget you can move interstate to study. People do that a lot (and my first move to Melbourne- I grew up in hornsby and did electronics at hornsby tafe years ago- was to study). Go where the course you want is.

Submitted by Rohan on Tue, 03/01/06 - 11:42 PM Permalink

Yeah that's the dude [:D] Thanks for that info... I'll get in touch with him.

Interstate? Eck... I can't do that for various reasons. I highly doubt I'll be moving out of home any time soon either! I just wouldn't cope with something like that. That's why I really do want a course and job in Sydney so I don't have to move. Couldn't have picked a worse state/city I guess to want to get into the games industry [:P] Anyway... I've got a better idea now of what todo. I'll probably do this course: http://www.it.uts.edu.au/course/undergrad/local/bscitdipitpp.html and then aim for a PhD or something like that.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 04/01/06 - 2:10 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Rohan
Interstate? Eck... I can't do that for various reasons. I highly doubt I'll be moving out of home any time soon either! I just wouldn't cope with something like that.

That's why unis have on campus accommodation. It makes everything so much easier for people who've just moved out of home and/or interstate. I've lived on campus twice (each at a different uni).

It would be pretty full on straight out of HS- I was 21 when I moved out of home, and it was interstate, and it was a very big step at the time.

It's a good way to make sure you're not still living with your parents at 30- which too many people are doing these days it seems [:)]

Submitted by Rohan on Wed, 04/01/06 - 4:02 AM Permalink

On Campus accomodation doesn't sound like my sought of thing either... I value my privacy and the space I have at home. It's not worth the hassle. If I can't find work in Sydney in the games industry the option is simple - I'll find a different career path. But that is definately the last option.

As for living with my parents... Well I don't see any problems with that. I'm more than happy to pay board. I don't go out much (Nowhere to go), have big parties (Noone to invite) nor am I involved in any relationships (I don't want to be either) [:P] Hence there's no real reason to move. I'm rather happy with my current life, I just have to get a job I'll be happy doing and then I'll be set.

I really do wonder about game development as a career path. But what else is there todo? Business programming ain't creative like games programming is and I seriously can't think of what else I'd like to do for a job.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 04/01/06 - 7:32 AM Permalink

[:)]

On campus isn't so bad actually, and you do get privacy (in Aus it's 1 per room, and big locks on doors). It certainly wasn't as debaucherous as it's made out to be. [:)]

Even if Sydney gets much bigger game dev wise it's highly unlikely you could have a career in game dev without moving state or country at some stage. If you can't do that for whatever reason you're probably best off finding another career imho. The creative programming jobs are in R&D and are next to impossible to get without a phd or research masters. The CSIRO is a pretty cool place to work (so my dad told me), and Canon have an R&D lab in Sydney called CISRA.

You need to get out more, make some friends, and maybe half a relationship or two btw or you'll go crazy! No offence.

Submitted by Rohan on Wed, 04/01/06 - 5:54 PM Permalink

Friends and relationships? Nah... No need. I don't require company to be happy. Going out to parties or clubs or whatever and stuff just doesn't interest me, I see no point in doing it. As for relationships, no way. I also don't see the point in having a relationship with someone. Never say never but atm I couldn't care less. As I said, other than working out what todo with this and getting a job I'm happy with my life - I don't want to mess it up.

I've thought about doing academic work, probably at UTS. I wouldn't mind a PhD in something cool like AI and I don't see what could make it different to any other games job, other than your products won't appear on shelves [:P] Considering I do lots of research projects tho currently, it could be lots of fun. Maybe I could end up with a military contractor, that could be cool too.

Anyhow... I've swapped my preferences around so now that means I am going to UTS rather than TAFE and doing a BSc InfoTech, Dip IT ProfPrac [:)]

Edit: Is UTS the only Uni in Sydney offering games related subjects? I got the impression it was

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 04/01/06 - 9:03 PM Permalink

Afaik UTS is the only uni in NSW offerring games programming, but it is hard to find out for sure. The uni of Western Sydney sponsored IE2005 (which Yusuf organised), so it looks like they are interested at least. The Australian Film Television and Radio School are offerring degree and postgraduate courses for artists.

You should have a look at this too if owning your own work is important to you http://sumea.com.au/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3146

Submitted by Jacana on Wed, 04/01/06 - 9:54 PM Permalink

You really should work at developing relationships now. That is a very, very important part of work. When you are interviewed it is not just for your skill. They need to know that you will fit into the team, that you can work as a team, that you can work on a social level as well as professional level with the team, and that you can work with various personality types.

Submitted by Rohan on Thu, 05/01/06 - 6:27 AM Permalink

I did say I'm fine with business relationships. I'm also fine with social ones alot of the time too. How can I put this... School sucked for me. The effects that it had on me allowed me to apply for EAS (Which UTS thankfully accepted) I could have gone better than what I did... School has shown me that people frequently bring other people down for the sake of it and that a lot of the time they don't show remorse or mean that they're sorry even when they say it to your face. Trust me... I've had people say sorry and then do something pretty much the same a short while later (Sometimes even with teachers or other adults present) Now do you understand why I don't like relationships and why in alot of ways I consider myself unemployable, why I've already forgotten about all of my school years (thankfully), why I didn't go on schoolies, and why I hope to never see some people again?

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 05/01/06 - 7:13 AM Permalink

I had a similar time at high school... Don't worry, uni rocks by comparison. You'll even find people with at least half a brain there [;)]

My only issue with UTS is they pinched La Trobe's former professor of computer science in 2003. Yusuf's a really nice guy and from what I know of him is likely a very good teacher (though of course you will have other teachers). He's an AI specialist btw, so you're likely to be a student of his [:)]

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 05/01/06 - 7:24 AM Permalink

So now the thread's turned from "The Apprentice" to "Oprah".

I think a lot of people here know exactly where you're coming from with the social stuff - things do get better since at uni everybody doing the course at least has some similar interests (rather than being thrown together purely by geography). Those cuts do heal.

I also think, though, that a lot of people here know exactly where you're coming from with the career stuff too. I was a sh*t hot programmer when I left school too and had written things that I was sure were as good as what I was seeing on "Beyond 2000". I've heard may people say it and [url="http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/TestYourself.html"]the song's always the same[/url]. Would I employ my then-self now? Hell no. Uni and "generic" computing degrees or their domain specific supersets give you a bunch of suff you'll never know you need until you need it.

Perhaps an example will help. My resume says that my first ever project as tech lead was delivered on time and on budget. That's true, but mainly because I worked around 120hours a week for three weeks solid leading up to the deadline. This was the first time I had to design something for someone else to build. My design was actally solid, and the core of it was a distributed FSA using HTTP messaging between nodes.

Three months before deadline I handed my high level design to the other "programmer" I was working with, who was a business degree major with TAFE equivalent programming training. A month later, after being assured that he was on-track, he came and asked what an FSA was and what my state-transition table meant. He fundamentally did not understand what an FSA was, had never seen, built nor debugged one and could not grasp at all why you would write a loop where you couldn't tell before starting how many times the loop would execute. To add insult to injury, my design also used interpreted code which was driven from the state table itself - stored in an RDBMS, and that was just too complex to think about.

I tried to assist for the next couple of weeks, but I also had my own I/O messaging layer to write and so we decided in a pragmatic decision that the core would be a giant case: statement rather than my beautiful, maintainable, dynamic FSA. No need to guess where most of the bugs were (are - it's still in production today AFAIK). Net result - delivered on time and on budget but burnt myself to a crisp.

My rambling and slightly incoherent point is that self-taught gun programmers are fantastic until the day they're asked to do something they've never done before. Employers know this, and they also know that uni "generic" computing degrees at least give programmers exposure to a bunch of weird stuff. Net result - it makes you employable.

We're not dissing your skills, I'm sure they're fantastic (and you _do_ already know what an FSA is) but uni gives you stuff that you just coud not believe.

Submitted by MoonUnit on Thu, 05/01/06 - 7:56 AM Permalink

Im afraid i cant really contribute to the discussion of uni/tafe studies but i want to add im in the same boat as you right now (just finished final year) and mcdrewski's right, most of us here have lived similar experiences. I did wonder where the place was that the people like me came out on top and in i think about yr 10 i went to a uni open day and i remember seeing and meeting the people there... long story short, ive been painfully waiting for uni ever since :)

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 05/01/06 - 8:02 AM Permalink

Better be careful what you say to these impressionable young men Jacana [;)]

Mcdrewski has a very good point- I'm a partly self taught programmer, and in late 2003 was introduced to one of my supervisor's old friends as "the department's new whizz kid" (it had been a long time since I'd thought of myself as a kid at all- I was 30). I figured out what he meant later, and it's pretty much what mcdrewski described. There was a lot of stuff I simply hadn't come across because it had little relevance to my area, and I had to sort it out very quickly after being accepted into a research masters in comp-sci.

Incidentally it takes one hell of a programming portfolio to get accepted into comp-sci research after having studied music and music technology- which is also where the "whizz kid" came from [:)]

******

Why not go then Moon? Edit: oops, I misunderstood. Your Elite rating makes people think you're older than you are.

Submitted by Rohan on Thu, 05/01/06 - 8:04 AM Permalink

I suppose my point about not being employable has escalated. I held a slight hope I may be employable but not a definate one. Yes it'd be great but even so... I'd like to do things properly. I believe I've made the right choice with going to UTS.

I'm not saying Uni would be a bad thing either. It would give me the oppertunity to work as a team, something which never seemed to work at school as I seemed to do all the coding when doing group projects... Nor do I really want to go straight into a job now. I can see why I wouldn't be employed now and I do understand that. But the social stuff is something that I don't really see a solution to yet.

I also get what you mean about self-taught programmers. I know I can most likely do better with my designs and ideas - I have been corrected with much simple solutions before to my code and I *want* to learn how to code properly rather than just hack stuff so it works.

Submitted by spudbog on Tue, 10/01/06 - 9:36 PM Permalink

a comment by lorien, Vocational training teaches you (some of) what you need to know for work in an industry

I would have to disagree with this comment, being a teaching in Vocational education myself for 5 odd years, my students learnt all the that they needed to learn. Then again I can see why lorein and I would not see eye to eye on this, he works at La Trobe's.
Just because people go to uni does not always mean that they get the best training.
(by the way I am not bagging out La Trob, just saying nothing is wrong with Vocational training

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 11/01/06 - 6:18 AM Permalink

Nothing personal, but I strongly disagree, and I've been through TAFE, The Australian Institute of Music, The Canberra School of Music, La Trobe uni, and the AIE. I've been through both sorts of education is my point, and that comment is a personal opinion.

The name "vocational training" says what it's about imho: dictionary.com has the following on "vocation"
quote:
1. A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified.
2. An inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling.

Training for a particular vocation is training for a job, and there's a lot more to the world than work (though some game developers may disagree) [;)]

Submitted by Dragoon on Wed, 11/01/06 - 8:48 PM Permalink

From my point of view I see University and Vocational training as filling two different roles. University teaches a lot of raw theory with a bit of practicality, where Vocational training is about teaching you the basics of what you need to do for a job and the roles you will be filling, but only a bit of theory. The disparity is in that some jobs really don't have a lot of theory or technical knowledge required for them and others do.

A University games course will teach a lot of theory, but leaves out a lot of industry knowledge about the jobs and industry function meaning a University graduate should familiarise themselves with the culture and practical aspects of the industry in their spare time. On the flip side a Vocational course will tell you most of that, but is light on the theory, so a Vocational student should be broadening their technical skills and experience outside of class time.

A whole lot of the theory taught at University is not necessary for most research / jobs, but it will be relevant to some. Maybe courses targetted specifically to games narrow down and remove a lot of the useless theory? (I don't know).

In either case it is the student themselves that determines how good they end up. Neither a University course or a Vocational course is going to make a student better than their innate talent - but a disciplined student would reach their potential even if they didn't attend an educational course (but its a lot easier if they do). Both provide the student with learning resources and both leave a lot to the student to learn in their spare time.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 11/01/06 - 11:21 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Dragoon

From my point of view I see University and Vocational training as filling two different roles. University teaches a lot of raw theory with a bit of practicality, where Vocational training is about teaching you the basics of what you need to do for a job and the roles you will be filling, but only a bit of theory. The disparity is in that some jobs really don't have a lot of theory or technical knowledge required for them and others do.

Fair enough, but uni has more practical stuff than you may realise I think.

quote:
A University games course will teach a lot of theory, but leaves out a lot of industry knowledge about the jobs and industry function meaning a University graduate should familiarise themselves with the culture and practical aspects of the industry in their spare time. On the flip side a Vocational course will tell you most of that, but is light on the theory, so a Vocational student should be broadening their technical skills and experience outside of class time.

No argument there at all. I'm curious about what proof there is that "replicating industry conditions in the classroom" is a good thing for students though (of course I can see why industry likes the idea).

quote:
A whole lot of the theory taught at University is not necessary for most research / jobs, but it will be relevant to some. Maybe courses targetted specifically to games narrow down and remove a lot of the useless theory? (I don't know).

Things that seem useless in the present to students have a habit of becoming relevant later on. I've experienced it myself over and over. Also people change careers. Compare La Trobe's Bachelor of Computer Science in Games Technology http://www.latrobe.edu.au/handbook/scitech/sbcsgt.htm#P1872_49680 with the normal Bachelor of Computer Science http://www.latrobe.edu.au/handbook/scitech/sbcs.htm#P1629_42703

for an idea about some differences at my uni.

quote:
In either case it is the student themselves that determines how good they end up. Neither a University course or a Vocational course is going to make a student better than their innate talent - but a disciplined student would reach their potential even if they didn't attend an educational course (but its a lot easier if they do). Both provide the student with learning resources and both leave a lot to the student to learn in their spare time.

Of course. Also uni/college is a way to fast track that innate talent. A uni degree (no idea about QANTM) with honours can open the door to postgrad research i.e. a degree is more open-ended than a diploma.

Submitted by spudbog on Thu, 12/01/06 - 1:44 AM Permalink

fast track the innate talent, with a postgrad reasarch, come on if you have the tallent, go get a job, u learn a lot more when you are in the industry then staying in school.
I can only talk about the art side of things mind you, but at the moment an artist in australia just neededs to have a kick-ass demoreel, to get a job.

this is not having a go at anyone, but i know some people that only stay in study, they have this so called skill, but never get a job, they say things like, the more study the better I would be for it, but for me with art, you can only get so far with study, once you get into the industry the industry will teach you what is needed.

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 12/01/06 - 2:28 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by spudbog

fast track the innate talent, with a postgrad reasarch, come on if you have the tallent, go get a job, u learn a lot more when you are in the industry then staying in school.
I can only talk about the art side of things mind you, but at the moment an artist in australia just neededs to have a kick-ass demoreel, to get a job.

Hope that's not coming after me- I'll take it as though it isn't for now. Postgrad research is a choice, and it's one that few students are even offered. I said above that I think it's smarter to work for a few years before attempting it- it seems the older you are when you start the better the chance you have of finishing (massive generalisation which has plenty of exceptions).

This is getting to the heart of the training v/s education debate- you are talking only about getting a job now (suitable for the impatience of youth imho). I'm talking about long term personal benefits as well.
quote:
this is not having a go at anyone, but i know some people that only stay in study, they have this so called skill, but never get a job, they say things like, the more study the better I would be for it, but for me with art, you can only get so far with study, once you get into the industry the industry will teach you what is needed.

[;)] The industry will teach you what is needed for that industry. I agree with the repeated comments at freeplay about the apprenticeship model being most appropriate for that. It's tried and tested and doesn't seem to make many people angry.

I don't think it's so good for private college's income streams though...

People choose to do more study for all sorts of reasons. In my case several studios had told me "you're top of the list" and "we have tons of work for you" (and I saw my CV on the top of the pile at a surprise visit to one of them in 2003) were advertising for jobs with "contracts off in la-la land, waiting to be signed by the publisher fairy"- which was actually Kipper describing some of my games job hunting experiences (several studios apologised to me profusely long ago over it btw).

Not getting hired whilst having a really good demo reel was part of why I decided to do more study- and it took around 8 months for one of my programmer classmates with 1st class honours in software engineering and the AIE's dip comp game dev to get a games programming job.

Some companies took over 6 months just to reply to an email for jobs they'd advertised for. At least they replied, but really what's the point if you're going to take that long?

I'd been planning on doing research for years before that and I plan to do more- ideally I'd like to do a phd at the MIT Media Lab http://www.media.mit.edu/ working on Hyperinstrument systems http://www.media.mit.edu/hyperins/ some more (La Trobe's defunct music department had loads of hi-tech instrument design and construction going on). It's not going to be easy to get into MIT at all...

You do postgrad research because you love what you do, otherwise it's very hard to get finished.

Submitted by Rohan on Thu, 12/01/06 - 9:54 PM Permalink

Seen as this course leads onto Uni from TAFE (UTS no less, most likely being taught by Yusuf) and you come out with a Degree AND a Diploma, then surely I'd get the best of both worlds? eg. all the practical 'fun' and projects of TAFE and then the theoretical work in Uni. Not to mention it's 4 only a 4 year course and the TAFE has games industry connections.

quote:
This is getting to the heart of the training v/s education debate- you are talking only about getting a job now (suitable for the impatience of youth imho). I'm talking about long term personal benefits as well.

While I have applied for the UTS course, I'm just getting a bit confused by all these conflicting views. I'm a long term thinker so the UTS course appeals to that because it means I could for example work for the military (which would be a heck of alot of fun IMHO) either directly or through a contractor (fyi I'm kinda thinking more long term than my parents [:P] they say go to Uni or whatever then figure it out, I'd like to have a goal for motivational reasons however). The TAFE course though still holds some attractions - I've learnt alot from actually coding things and seeing what stuffs up and what works. And as for being impatient - yeah maybe but i'm getting better at not being that way [:P]

Now this decision may be made for me too, Uni results come back next week. I may not make it into the UTS course directly - which means the best alternative IMO is TAFE then Uni.

Submitted by Dragoon on Thu, 12/01/06 - 10:05 PM Permalink

If you can, choose the learning style that appeals to you the most. If your goal is more research than to be working in the industry then Uni is a must.

In either case if you want to succeed you must put in a lot of effort outside class time. After all if you know more that your classmates, you'll get picked for a job over them ;-)

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 12/01/06 - 10:36 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Rohan

Seen as this course leads onto Uni from TAFE (UTS no less, most likely being taught by Yusuf) and you come out with a Degree AND a Diploma, then surely I'd get the best of both worlds? eg. all the practical 'fun' and projects of TAFE and then the theoretical work in Uni. Not to mention it's 4 only a 4 year course and the TAFE has games industry connections.

It's the first time Hornsby TAFE are running it you said. That means there are going to be plenty of unforseen issues (it's unavoidable). Here is a little info on some 'fun' uni projects my students have done over the past 3 years http://vssec.org the students have made all the simulation software for fake "missions to mars", "missions to the ISS", and this year they've made galactic mapping/super light travel simulators. That's from a normal software engineering subject (not games tech), and the systems they've made will be in use by high school kids from all over Vic for years to come after the building opens. VSSEC have provided summer scholarships to the top students who then start from scratch (because VSSEC want to own the IP they have to pay the students).
quote:
quote:
This is getting to the heart of the training v/s education debate- you are talking only about getting a job now (suitable for the impatience of youth imho). I'm talking about long term personal benefits as well.

While I have applied for the UTS course, I'm just getting a bit confused by all these conflicting views. I'm a long term thinker so the UTS course appeals to that because it means I could for example work for the military (which would be a heck of alot of fun IMHO) either directly or through a contractor (fyi I'm kinda thinking more long term than my parents [:P] they say go to Uni or whatever then figure it out, I'd like to have a goal for motivational reasons however). The TAFE course though still holds some attractions - I've learnt alot from actually coding things and seeing what stuffs up and what works. And as for being impatient - yeah maybe but i'm getting better at not being that way [:P]

Two somewhat similar views are coming from programming graduates the AIE gave scholarships to (Jacana and myself), and neither of us are working in the games industry. I know the AIE were saying lots of nice things about Jacana, and she's presented at the AGDC. I somehow think she would have tried for games jobs.

Only one of the four classmates I'd actually call programmers (see mcdrewski's "pointers and references" thread in the programmers section) works in the games industry (Hi Paul!). We'd all been to uni first.

Times have changed though, and I hope it's for the better, but really I can only see things getting worse with next-gen (though we'll probably end up with lots more American owned companies here for a while until they set up shop somewhere cheap in Asia).

Getting a uni education (and particularly postgrad) is likely to insulate you from it somewhat I think.

quote:
Now this decision may be made for me too, Uni results come back next week. I may not make it into the UTS course directly - which means the best alternative IMO is TAFE then Uni.

With you being a programmer who's really interested in AI I personally think you'd be wasting your time starting at TAFE.

Questions about games tech at La Trobe Un

I'd originally posted this in another thread, but I realised it makes sense to have it in one of it's own...

I thought I should let sumea know I've been promoted- for the 1st half of 2006 I'm Acting Head of Games Technology at La Trobe University (a sort of sub dept of comp sci and a research lab). The normal head (Dr John Rankin) is on long service leave.

That makes me the major target for questions about games at La Trobe, and people asking on sumea is fine. I'm on holidays for another 10 days or so though, and have plenty to do other than sumea. Replies may not be a quick as usual.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Tue, 03/01/06 - 12:18 PM Permalink

Congrats! Do you offer external study, or only vic residents need apply?

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 03/01/06 - 8:41 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

Congrats! Do you offer external study, or only vic residents need apply?

Thanks [:)] It was a bit of a surprise- I was chosen over much more senior people who can put "Dr" in front of their name... It's quite an honour, it's unheard of for someone to become an acting head while in the hybrid postgrad student/staff limbo [:)]

Certainly postgrad research can be done externally, but it would depend on the candidate and supervisor. A good case would have to be made. It makes things more difficult, so all parties would have to be very certain indeed. A very famous game developer from the UK has been considering doing a phd at La Trobe while still living in the UK because of some of the maths and physics people we have on staff, so it is doable. Undergrad would be much more difficult.

Submitted by spudbog on Tue, 10/01/06 - 10:42 PM Permalink

do you answer any questions about the art side of things.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 11/01/06 - 6:10 AM Permalink

There pretty much isn't one. There are departments of cinema and media studies. There is no fine arts. La Trobe games tech has a focus on algorithms- as you would expect from a comp-sci department. Flashy artwork doesn't make a programmer learn any faster, although experience with artists would be a good thing.

I'm a useful person to ask if you're an artist looking for programmers to work with.

Submitted by BinhNguyen on Thu, 26/01/06 - 12:42 AM Permalink

Hi Lorien,

Congrats on your position, hope you have fun. I'm doing my honours in ganes tech this year, look forward to seeing you round,

Binh

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 26/01/06 - 1:17 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by BinhNguyen

Hi Lorien,

Congrats on your position, hope you have fun. I'm doing my honours in ganes tech this year, look forward to seeing you round,

Binh

Hi Binh, thanks [:)] if you're doing AGT you will be one of my students again.

Submitted by Youri G on Thu, 23/02/06 - 2:51 PM Permalink

What co's do your grads get work for?

I don't know what other courses are like but I know a lot of AIE melbourne grads are at ir gurus and big ant...

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 23/02/06 - 11:03 PM Permalink

Some are at Tantalus, Torus (I think), and Atari. There haven't been any grads from the games specific degree yet- it only started last year and it's a 4 year course. Previously it's been possible to do games electives and "major" in games tech.

We encourage the best undergrads to go on to postgrad, so you won't find too many yet.

I know some La Trobe grads who found out about games industry salaries and decided to work in a different industry and keep game dev as a personal thing.

edit:
Maybe ask Binh if you would like the perspective of a fairly well known current undergrad student- flame away if you like Binh [:)]

edit2: the are La Trobe comp-sci grads working all over the world, it's a huge department spread accross two campuses (games is only at Bundoora though), with around 1250 students and 130 staff currently.

Submitted by Youri G on Fri, 24/02/06 - 9:30 AM Permalink

Binh:- what made you do this course and not go to other unis or tafe? Also what are you doing in your honours?

lorien:- do you have contacts for your grads at co's to talk about their uni studys and salarys...?

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 24/02/06 - 9:51 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Youri G
lorien:- do you have contacts for your grads at co's to talk about their uni studys and salarys...?

I will ask about this for you next week- I will have to find out about university policy on such matters, and before I contact any graduates on your behalf I'm going to want to know more about you than is in your profile, along with why it is you are asking.

That sort of info is something I'm not going to post on sumea- if a graduate chooses to I have no problems of course, but I'm not going to do it.

No offence intended to you, I'm just wary of staff/former staff from another institution asking questions without making it clear where those questions are coming from.

I will add there was a La Trobe grad working at a big games company on the "Game Dev Grads Tell All" panel at Freeplay 04, and he publicly stated he was quite happy with the course he did. He also said he learnt a lot in the first six months of employment.

I personally haven't done a La Trobe comp-sci degree.

edit: you will probably have more luck getting a reply from Binh if you send an email via his sumea profile. I don't think he visits sumea that often.

Submitted by lorien on Tue, 28/02/06 - 1:36 AM Permalink

I've had a chat with management here about putting people in touch with graduates. We are happy to do it providing it is a genuine request from an industry rep or a prospective student (and this has to be verified), and providing it is OK with the graduate as well.

If you would like to talk with one and can fulfill those conditions send me an email or private message via my sumea profile.

Submitted by BinhNguyen on Thu, 02/03/06 - 7:26 AM Permalink

Hi Youri,

To answer your question about why Latrobe, I chose it because
1) I wanted a degree and
2) I wanted a degree where games are a focus of the degree

I dislike how Monash has a multimedia degree with elements of games tacked in. It makes me feel like Monash is not proud of having a games degree and has to call it a multimedia degree. (I was originally at Monash doing a commerce/science double degree.)

I chose to do a degree over a tafe course because and this may sound bad but a degree is usually more accepted than a diploma. I mean no disrespect to tafe courses.

When I finished my degree I knew I wanted to do research because of a visit that Dr John Rankin at Latrobe organised to a games company. I asked the people there if they had a chance or if they had plans to work on their dream game and they all said no sadly. I respected their honesty for giving us the truth with no bullshit. This made me want to spend more time on research and also give me time to work on my dream game.

My research topic is on artificial intelligence in games. More specifically developing a gui for designers to use fuzzy logic, neural networks and genetic programming in games. I am considering applying this gui to the situation of having a npc actually recognise what they see in a game world the same way a player would. Imagine a first person shooter where you see a crate and had to walk around it. The ai would see the same crate, recognise it and walk around it.

La Trobe's Vice Chancellor resigns

I'm putting this under general chat because games is only a tiny part of La Trobe.

The Vice Chancellor resigned over contrversy concerning his travel expenses. It's on the front page of Saturday's Age.

He's been none too popular within parts of the university (including with myself for reasons relating to the closure of the music dept) for quite a while, the student newspaper has flamed him repeatedly over the years, and the SRC has organised large protests over some of his decisions.

Really senior staff started asking questions and getting very critical, then some started talking to journalists and politicians. The former Dean of Health Sciences in particular was highly critical and resigned over it. The last Professor of Music resigned largely over issues with the Vice Chancellor in 1997.

Submitted by lorien on Mon, 19/12/05 - 9:09 PM Permalink

I should add that the deputy VC has taken over the duties until a replacement is found, and students are unlikely to notice anything other than a better uni as a result.

IGDA - GDC student scholarships

The IGDA will award 25 scholarships to send qualified students to the 2006 Game Developers Conference. GDC is where game development professionals gather to share ideas and build the skills that the industry needs. Located in San Jose, California, this year's GDC will be held from March 20th to March 24th, 2006.

"GDC was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It solidified the direction of my career and inspired me to succeed. I went to heaps of amazingly informative lectures by some outstanding people.? - Tim Nixon, University of Otago, New Zealand, 2002 Scholarship recipient

Details here: [url]http://www.igda.org/scholarships/[/url]

Ratbag/Midway Australia goes boom

Someone help me understand the logic here. You spend 6 million on a company and then shut it down before its had any chance to recoup any of that money back for you.

Maybe Midway just likes buying stuff, probably got a fine collection of solid gold umbrella holders at the head office.

http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/midway/midway-shuts-down-austrailan-studio…

Submitted by Daemin on Thu, 15/12/05 - 12:01 AM Permalink

This means that they probably bought Ratbag just so that there would be one less developer making racing games for the latest generations consoles. Either that or to pick talent from within the company, though that does not seem to be the case.

Submitted by Caroo on Thu, 15/12/05 - 12:16 AM Permalink

Ever heard of negative gearing? 6 million dollars can be rebated in tax against profits.. They wont lose any money at all. This shutdown is probably just a sneaky way to avoid ALOT of things.

In buying a company then shutting it down you can wound a growing industry. Get rid of competition. Get rid of tax, force previous employees to work for you as the tight industry leaves then little alternatives.

I remember listening to the founder of ratbag at the free play conference early this year. I wonder how he feels about all this. He was very proud of his achievement. Sad to think it can all disappear so very fast.

Submitted by Daemin on Thu, 15/12/05 - 1:19 AM Permalink

I think that the founders and owners of Ratbag would actually come out better from having their operation shut down, at least in the short term. They all got Midway shares as part of the deal, Midway closes a shop down and saves millions from its tax and personnel bills, Midway shares go up because of it, and the founders can sell their shares for more profit. But I don't know the exact circumstances so it might not even be a realistic scenario I described there.

The other thing is that there will be a whole bunch of experienced C and C++ software developers looking for work in the new year, so that probably doesn't bode well for University students trying to find employment. Although on the other hand the employees could just form their own company, seeing as they know each other and already have assigned roles and such.

I wonder what will happen.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Thu, 15/12/05 - 2:54 AM Permalink

Doesn?t surprise me at all, that is if it is true ? if it isn?t, then midway / Ratbag will probably release a statement.

I was kind of expecting this move by Midway after a year, when they could use an apparent lack of performance or quality in gaming experience in their defence ? whether true or not, though I think the lack of anything other than racing title design and development does hurt them as well.

I think the former employees starting their own studio is a great idea, but, being that most of their experience is in racing titles ? a competitive and perhaps not very large market in many ways ? they may be better off either joining or partnering with a startup studio that has the experience in other genres that they would most likely want and are hungry to get involved in ? as I am sure they are all sick and tired of racing titles. I suspect one studio is in dire need of experienced and professional programming talent in order to secure funding that is out there and just waiting for the right mix of development experience and the right project to come along and do so.

BTW: If this is all true, then it just goes to show and back-up my suspicions, that being a first-party developer will not be much of a reassurance for weathering the next-gen storm.

Submitted by souri on Thu, 15/12/05 - 7:29 AM Permalink

I'm getting reports that Ratbag weren't meeting milestones and that Midway weren't happy with the quality of the game they were making. It's a shame, I thought Scavenger was looking very nice ([url="http://www.ratbaggames.com/scavenger/"]from the screenshots[/url]).

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 15/12/05 - 7:50 AM Permalink

ergh. "not meeting milestones" is sometimes a reason, sometimes an excuse. Thoughts and best wishes for the future to the whole team.

Submitted by souri on Thu, 15/12/05 - 7:56 AM Permalink

Yeh, publishers do have a reputation for screwing developers over milestone agreements...

Submitted by pb on Thu, 15/12/05 - 8:41 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

ergh. "not meeting milestones" is sometimes a reason, sometimes an excuse. Thoughts and best wishes for the future to the whole team.

An excuse for what?

I know it might come as a shock to some people, but what publishers want is for developers to finish games, not to sack everyone at xmas. The former makes them money, the latter, at best, merely allows them to claim a portion of their losses in tax paid on profitable projects. Publishers don't knowingly kill off projects that they believe will make them money, that just doesn't make any sense.

pb

Submitted by CynicalFan on Thu, 15/12/05 - 9:17 AM Permalink

I have to agree with the people that have said something along the lines of: publishers aren?t in the business of killing of studios and projects that will make money, and, that publishers aren?t the sole reason to blame for these things happening. Developers have to take some of this blame instead of passing the buck onto publishers ? this is just idiotic guys, and shows your naivety.

That said, I have this nagging gut-feeling that perhaps this is all a result of Midway acquiring Ratbag, in that sure the founders were happy with the deal they got, but perhaps the employees were not happy at all in becoming a first-party developer ? not being an independent anymore ? and perhaps having to work on licensed titles rather than original IP ? I am sure that scavenger got canned for something less original, and the only outcome of it was that Ratbag was acquired by Midway.

This has resulted in the missed milestones and lack of quality in what has been delivered perhaps, in that these guys have just had enough and didn?t appreciate the change in environment, as it was not what they were perhaps lead to believe Ratbag was all about when they signed up and put in their hard effort and stuck in for the long-haul of game development and studio development. In other words it was a blow to their moral and studio culture ? as it is perhaps a betrayal in many ways.

Just a nagging gut-feeling though, had no direct contact with former staff there in years, so I can?t be certain on this.

Submitted by Shplorb on Thu, 15/12/05 - 11:24 AM Permalink

I've now been on a bender for at least 24 hours. Yeah, I'm that fucked up over it. Shit, I still live at home and dont' have a baby or mortgage... it's those guys that I can't stop thinking about. Man, it's fucking cold... they even cancelled the christmas party on friday. Fuck Midway. Fuck them slowly with a chainsaw. I still haven't been told by any official that I'm out of a job yet.... fucking weak gutless bastards. I got told about it by an ex-employee. I really don't give a shit anymore, fuck them if they don't like that I'm spouting shit publicly. I haven't been told to keep my mouth shut. Did I say FUCK MIDWAY? If I ever see anyone playing a Midway game I'll break their fucking fingers.

For fuck's sake, they didn't even look at the Vertical Slice we shipped them last week. That shit kicked arse. I'm glad to hear that one of the programmers stood up in front of the execs when they read the announcement and called them a bunch of cunts to their faces in front of everyone. For fucks sake, I had two days off and this shit happens!

Yeah, fuck Midway, bunch of scum sucking cunts. I don't care if you ban me for swearing my head off.

Also, if you're looking for a sound programmer with UI experience, I'm all ears. I've already been asked to apply for jobs in the US and Canada, but I'd prefer to stay in australia.

Submitted by grantregan on Thu, 15/12/05 - 3:47 PM Permalink

ouch, I feel for you man, and I thin you're well within in your rights to vent like that. It's a pretty disgusting thing to do right before Xmas.

Submitted by eightbitnasty on Thu, 15/12/05 - 3:55 PM Permalink

Thankyou to all the people I've worked with at Ratbag. We are a good bunch and can move on.

Submitted by grantregan on Thu, 15/12/05 - 4:08 PM Permalink

you know when you think about it 6million AUSD is not a lot to pay for a studio, particularly given IP's it holds and it's inhouse technology.

Perhaps MW simply wanted the technology and licenses? 6 million is pretty good value. I owuld say this has been planned for a while....

Submitted by LiveWire on Thu, 15/12/05 - 8:21 PM Permalink

[url="http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=7515"]Gamasutra:[/url]

According to independent sources close to the company, publisher Midway Entertainment has announced to its staff that it will be closing both its San Diego and Australian development offices, resulting in significant layoffs.

Midway's most recent financial results included a large quarterly loss of $29.1 million, and had predicted a financial year loss of $95 million, and the company is believed to be closing these studios in order to cut costs and better approach next-generation development. (emphasis added)

The San Diego office of the company had recently completed Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows for PlayStation 2 and Xbox to a mixed critical response, after losing co-leads John Romero and J.E. Sawyer from the project earlier this year. Reports indicate that Midway have chosen to give the employees 60 days notice, attempting to relocate some to open positions at other Midway offices, rather than start a new next-generation game project from scratch.

Midway Australia, which is based in Adelaide and was formerly Ratbag Games before being acquired by Midway only in August 2005, was working on undisclosed titles for Midway, believed to be in the racing genre that Ratbag (Dirt Track Racing) was noted for. According to a report in the Adelaide Advertiser, Midway senior vice president Matthew Booty delivered the news to the 70 Midway Australia staff on Tuesday.

Despite the apparent layoffs, the company still owns significant internal development resources in its Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle (Surreal Software), Austin, and Newcastle, UK (Pitbull Syndicate) operations.

Representatives from Midway had not returned Gamasutra's calls at press time, and the company has not yet made an official announcement on any development resource repositioning.

Submitted by eightbitnasty on Thu, 15/12/05 - 8:30 PM Permalink

chewed up and spat out. I bet pitbull will be using our tech.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 15/12/05 - 9:31 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by pb

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

ergh. "not meeting milestones" is sometimes a reason, sometimes an excuse. Thoughts and best wishes for the future to the whole team.

An excuse for what?
[snip]
Publishers don't knowingly kill off projects that they believe will make them money, that just doesn't make any sense.

You're not thinking like an accountant, and certainly not thinking like the board of a publically listed company.

Not "meeting milestones" is often an excuse to axe a project that they don't believe will make them money in sufficient time. It could be the best game ever due out in 2007 and the publisher will see the cash burn now that they need to report to their shareholders now. This means they can axe a good game or a good team even if it is going to make money.

Ever had to rush something out to meet an end-of-month or end-of-financial-year deadline set by those with the money? I have. Ever had new requirements or targets appear seven days before a milestone is due? I have. What a surprise when you don't meet those new requirements or ship buggy or unpolished code.

I'm not saying this is what happened, I know nothing at all about Midway/Ratbag's situation - just saying that in the corporate shareholder-driven world, decisions get made for other reasons than quality or potential.

Submitted by Jacana on Thu, 15/12/05 - 9:53 PM Permalink

quote:
Midway's most recent financial results included a large quarterly loss of $29.1 million, and had predicted a financial year loss of $95 million...

That is the main issue I have with the whole situation. You can not tell me that this much money was only lost in the past two months. I mean if they didn't know their financial situation when they bought Ratbag then they really are just stupid. Which I don't believe.

The other thing I have to question is how much this will hurt their stock prices. Buy out a company with "paper money" before you announce your loss for the year, your stocks take a dive from it, and suddenly the "real value" of what you paid for something drops.

So when facing a huge loss, as much as $95 million, you then have to question (as people have) the motives behind such a decision.

I am unsure as to where the Midway HQ is, but it is interesting to note that US runs a Jan to Dec tax year, unlike July to June in Australia. So I do find it interesting that these closures come up at what could be the end of a tax year.

Submitted by eightbitnasty on Thu, 15/12/05 - 10:12 PM Permalink

Chicago is where hq is.

From the Advertiser:

[url]http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,17573741%…]

"New York Stock Exchange-listed Midway Games, worth $US2 billion yesterday, bought Ratbag in August by handing over more than $7 million worth of shares to the founders and 10 senior staff.

Those shares had since increased by 64 per cent, putting their worth at more than $11 million yesterday.

"

Submitted by Mario on Thu, 15/12/05 - 10:36 PM Permalink

Sorry to hear when any Australasian studio closed down, whatever the reason. The timing certainly isn't the greatest in this case.

For those ex-Ratbag employees looking to get back into work quickly, Sidhe Interactive is currently hiring experienced people across the board for work on PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, and PC projects. Take a look at www.sidheinteractive.com or send a resume to jobs@sidheinteractive.com. No promises, but we do look at every CV we get (even if we suck at responding to people).

Otherwise, I know there is some great talent there and would encourage ex-employees to consider setting up a new studio or venture as it would be a shame for that talent to disperse back into the "real world". I'm happy to provide advice via email if anybody ends up considering it.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Thu, 15/12/05 - 10:58 PM Permalink

Well if not just the founders but 10 senior staff were offered shares in Midway ? from the what, 70 employees ? then that says to me that by closing the studio, they have pretty much kept the best talent for themselves, if, those shares were conditional ? meaning they had to stay employees.

Unless their shares were lost when they heard the news, or, they get to retain the shares yet are no longer employees of Midway?

Seems like to me to be something similar I heard years ago. When certain eastern European countries became newly ?democratic,? foreign investors bought up companies, and then sold off all the assets for far more than what they paid for the company to begin with ? making themselves a profit, and ruining a company in the process. Perhaps by doing this, they have benefited by not just having their shares increase in value, but have also kept the most experienced for themselves ? not to mention that they have acquired Ratbag?s technology and tools.

Maybe they were offered jobs in the UK for instance?

Just a thought, don?t know the whole story or spoken with anyone about the situation yet ? at least directly.

Submitted by Red 5 on Thu, 15/12/05 - 11:13 PM Permalink

Man this sucks! I feel for all of you :(

Submitted by souri on Thu, 15/12/05 - 11:14 PM Permalink

Vertical slice, that's a complete finished level, isn't it? Did Midway cancel Scavenger and made Ratbag work on something else when they bought out the studio?

I've read elsewhere that Ratbag cofounders Greg Siegele and Richard Harrison tried to convince Midway worldwide studio senior VP Matthew Booty to allow the studio to remain open. Someone wrote in the [url="http://www.sumea.com.au/snews.asp?news=1830"]news comments[/url] that the deadline for an answer on whether Ratbag has a chance was 2pm this afternoon.

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 16/12/05 - 2:24 PM Permalink

Why dont the ratbag seniors take all those millions they made from the sale and start up a new company and continue as they were only a few months ago :)

Submitted by sixzeros on Fri, 16/12/05 - 4:43 PM Permalink

I've got a friend over there who will be axed and I cant help but be concerned for him and family. Its very disturbing.

He tells me that he's constantly in awe of the calibre of minds that are over there at Rat Bag, even intimidated, and this amazes me because I know my friend to be an absolute King Kong genius!
He was programming the assembly language in the 3D graphics engine, and thats some hardcore stuff right there!

I know you guys are facing a lot of hard decisions right now.

I would sure appreciate genius's helping me out.

Send me a resume to support(at)comusthumbs.com

Submitted by Tron on Fri, 16/12/05 - 5:00 PM Permalink

Brett: Here's hoping.

I wouldn't be surprised if part of the original buyout agreement was that Greg couldn't start a new company which could compete with Midway, hopefully Midway isn't that evil though.

Starting a new dev house would be extremely tough in the current climate though, if they do manage it I doubt it will be here in little old Adelaide anymore. :(

Submitted by gamer23 on Fri, 16/12/05 - 10:54 PM Permalink

you think there could be something put in a contract to prevent this from happening this soon after selling? some sort of protection for the employees? in reality though what just happened is a classic example of corporate america, i can just visualize the board of directors sitting at the table saying, well we got to cut some studios, who do we cut, then one guy suggests australia, then its settled, so easy for things like this to happen.

What I wonder is how many employees who were issued midway shares actually held on to the shares or sold them as soon as they were issued them? this is important as you would see that Midways share price plummeted after the announcement, a 50% drop? so that 7 million share buyout of ratbag is only 3.5 million now? so hopefully greg and the employees sold there shares early. I feel sad for the employees, its a terrible thing to happen to anyone, but i feel it brings them back to earth a bit, for a while i thought ratbag in the adelaide media and such were a bit overrated, this thing about being one of the best developers in the world is a bit farfetched, in australia, maybe. anyways lets hope the employees find new jobs soon or alternatively setup a new company and develop new technology.

Submitted by JohnP on Sat, 17/12/05 - 12:18 AM Permalink

I just want to say that this is a sad thing that's happened but I'm positive that people will find a place in the Aussie industry.

If any ex-Ratbag people want to get back into games development then Pandemic Studios Australia is looking to hire experienced people. We're building a second team and with the recent merger with BioWare we have a lot of really exciting things in the pipeline. Check out our website at www.pandemicstudios.com or send a resume to jobs@pandemicstudios.com.au. If you're in a hurry then call Christie Cooper on 07-3252-3381 ext. 28

If we don't have a position to suit we can definitely put you in touch with other dev teams here in Australia or we can forward your details to the LA studio or Bioware in Canada.

Submitted by rgsymons on Sat, 17/12/05 - 1:49 AM Permalink

This is more than sad for our industry and all involved. Further, if Greg leaves our industry then we will indeed have lost a very good friend, ambassador and spokesperson.

I know that the team at Ratbag were very talented and will find other positions in short order as every studio in Australia is hiring at the moment. We at Bullant would certainly look forward to receiving resumes to programmer@bullantstudios.com or artist@bullantstudios.com

Cheers,

Ross.

Let's hear it for Mario!

Congratulations to you and all of your team, outstanding achievement to win those 4 awards!!

You've done yourselves and New Zealand proud... all the best for the future and no doubt there'll be many more :)

Cheers!

Chris
Virtual Mechanix

Submitted by souri on Tue, 13/12/05 - 2:52 PM Permalink

I have to say, I'm rather impressed with the quality of work that's coming out of Sidhe Interactive. Gripshift looks like an extremely fun game, and the aesthetic quality of Rugby League 2 and Melbourne Cup Challenge is *fantastic*. Kudos to the creative director (John Sheils), the art team, and everyone else at Sidhe on those titles [:)]
Most people don't hear much about Sidhe's contribution to the New Zealand industry, but I've read little things here and there about Sidhe behind the NZGDA, Fuse, their contributions to game education, and many other things, so it's easy to see how they won the Award for Outstanding Industry Contribution.

Submitted by Mario on Wed, 14/12/05 - 10:27 AM Permalink

Thanks guys. Big surprise to pick up the awards in the face of such strong competition. We appreciate the support.

Of course, this is probably a good time to mention that we are hiring... :)

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 14/12/05 - 11:20 AM Permalink

Maybe some people might be tempted to escape [;)] Sydney for the quieter pastures of NZ after what's been happening these last few days... [?][V]

Submitted by mcdrewski on Wed, 14/12/05 - 9:28 PM Permalink

Wellington's a fantastic city - very much like melbourne in the cafe culture/restaraunt thing.

Congrats to the team - I wish I had a PSP so I could try out gripshift :)

Submitted by Red 5 on Sun, 18/12/05 - 3:23 AM Permalink

I can't help but feel slightly disappointed in this thread, I thought there would have been a bit more support, especially considering Mario is one of the few game dev CEO's who actually takes the time to post here at Sumea.

Just a simple "good job mate" never hurt anybody...

Submitted by lorien on Sun, 18/12/05 - 5:51 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Red 5
Just a simple "good job mate" never hurt anybody...

Agreed. I may not think much of the AGDC (and hence the awards), but for posting on sumea Mario deserves a round of applause imho. Likewise Ross.

Old Event: Survive and Thrive on Sunday 11 Dec

Game developers! Don?t you agree that Greater Brisbane is the best place in the world to do the best job in the world? If so, don?t you want to keep a good thing going? Clouds are on our sunny horizon. Game development teams are getting much bigger; to be competitive we need to be able to assemble teams of hundreds. Right now, our entire pool of game professionals is just that: we can fit in a swimming pool. That sounds fun, but we need to grow our ranks or dry up. Let?s work together to make it happen!

===============================
Next event: What, who, when, where
===============================
WHAT: An event to make the Greater Brisbane game development community bigger and stronger, and have fun doing it. This includes a professional panel-and-audience discussion, a portfolio show and critique, and a change to eat, drink, and mingle with fellow game developers.

WHO: 1) Game developers who want to help grow the Greater Brisbane game development industry; 2) Anyone seriously dedicated to entering the industry; 3) and game company representatives seeking to hire new people.

WHEN: Sunday, 11 December, from 2 PM to 6 PM, followed by informal dinner/drinks at night.

WHERE: ?The Hall?, QUT Creative Industries Precinct, Musk Ave, Kelvin Grove.

FINDING US: There will be signs posted at the building entrances.

HELP: Superwoman truna?s number (SMS preferred) is 04 0488 4027. Backup number is Matthew?s: 04 2315 7363.

UPDATES: Before the event, check replies to this event thread to see if there have been any changes in plan.
[url="http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=bf77e8862dfa398eddcb58f5f99…"]IGDA Thread[/url]

===============================
Panel discussion
===============================
At 2 PM we start in the auditorium with a panel discussion among several local game industry leaders. The subject: How to assure that Greater Brisbane game dev will grow and thrive by attracting and keeping game professionals, gaining investment, and tapping into our resources.

We seek a lot of audience participation for this one? you are in the trenches; let?s hear your ideas!

===============================
Portfolio show
===============================
Those who are seeking a job in the local games industry and do not already have such a job here, this is your chance to show off your portfolio to those who can help you make it better.

Those who are in the industry, we need your help. Come view these portfolios and give all the brutally honest feedback you wish you would have gotten when you were just starting out.

Representatives from local game developers and recruiters are coming to give advice and look for potential hires.

To install your portfolio, come between 1 PM and 2:30 PM. Bring everything you need on a CD or USB drive. There will be no net access, so please don?t count on downloading anything.

To see the portfolios, come by after the panel is done. If you have to miss the panel, come by at 3:30 PM.

If you have questions about the facilities, please contact j.turner(AT)qut.edu.au.

===============================
Food, drink, play, and chat
===============================
As the portfolio reviews continue, everyone is invited to snack, drink, play games, and mingle. Get advice and support from other game developers. Where else can you get so much sympathy for your latest milestone crunch?

By 6 PM we will leave QUT for the Valley for a wandering dinner-and-drinks tour.

===============================
Map
===============================
[url]http://www.qut.edu.au/about/location/map_ciprecinct.pdf[/url]

===============================
Pass this on
===============================
Contagion power! Please forward this message to everyone you know in the game development industry here, or who hopes to join.

If you got this invitation second-hand, you should join the low-traffic email list so you get future invitations directly. Simply email [url]brisbaneIGDA-subscribe@yahoogroups.com[/url] and follow the directions that ensue.

===============================
See you there
===============================
Please come, and please pass this on to other game developers!

======================
Previous Post:
=======================
Please keep the 11th free from the afternoon to early evening for an IGDA event, and keep the evening free if you want to come out for a Valley eat/drink/carousing crawl afterward.

The event will be an opportunity for those who want to break into the business to show off their portfolios to those in the industry, and opportunity for those in the industry to help these hopefuls, and perhaps even hire them!

There also will be a panel discussion among industry professionals to talk about how we can make Brisbane a bigger, better, stronger hub of game development.

More details soon... but keep the date free and (if you do not already have a Brisbane game job) start to think about portfolio material to show.

Motion Capture Studios Brisbane

Hi guys.. just wanted to find out about motion capture studios based in Brisbane.. I'm having some trouble tracking them down.. any help / info would be great!

Thanks!

Submitted by spudbog on Wed, 23/11/05 - 4:42 AM Permalink

I know that there is one in canberra

Atari Melbourne House

Does any body know the address and email of Atari Melbourne House? I'm having trouble finding it. [:)]

Submitted by mcdrewski on Wed, 23/11/05 - 2:53 AM Permalink

Try whitepages.com.au or the melbourne phonebook.

quote:
ATARI MELBOURNE HOUSE PTY LTD
Lvl 11/ 14 Queens Rd Melbourne 3000
(03) 9867 0700
Fax
(03) 9867 0800
Internet www.melbournehouse.com

Old Event: Developers, come to an IGDA meeting No

This has already been posted on the from page, but I might aswell make use of this somewhat redundant forum section:

Next event: What, who, when, where
WHAT: A casual pub meeting for developers to relax, meet each other, and share advice and stories. You can come and leave anytime. You can have a bite to eat or a drink there.

WHO: Anyone active, once-active, or actively pursuing a career in the game development industry. Those not in the industry and not yet fully dedicated to breaking in, please stay tuned for future events that reach out to the wider community.

WHEN: Sunday, 20 November, @ 3:00 PM. At least some of us will stay till 5:00 or later.

WHERE: The Ice Bar, 3/110 Macquarie Street, Teneriffe. Call (07) 3257 2228 if needed. Easy parking on streets nearby.

FINDING US: Look for computer game boxes on the tables, surrounded by a crowd of rapidly chattering people with nimble and well-developed fingers.

HELP: Superwoman truna?s number (SMS preferred) is 04 0488 4027. Backup number is Matthew?s: 04 2315 7363.

UPDATES: Before the event, check replies to this event thread (see link) to see if there have been any changes in plan!

More info [url="http://www.igda.org/Forums/showthread.php?s=f694fa99cbd56ac67911dd6e0b2…"] here[/url]

Local studios having problems....

Mentioned in the discussion here (http://www.sumea.com.au/svotes.asp?id=47) that quote:Perception are heading south, and starting to hemorrhage staff I knew a couple of people left but didn't know there were any real problems. A little birdy also told me that Torus was experiencing difficulties. Any truth to these rumours?

Submitted by mcdrewski on Wed, 16/11/05 - 8:04 AM Permalink

Good luck getting any "secret studios business" there sleepy, most people seem far too professional to give facts that they know, and those who mention rumors and hearsay are mostly just reading between the lines.

Of course, I'd love to hear this sort of discussion. What dangers is the industry facing? Is it outsourcing, next-gen ramp-up? licensing? I'd love to think that some high-up industry people here would do a [url="http://crystaltips.typepad.com/wonderland/2005/03/burn_the_house_.html"]burn the house down[/url] style session at AGDC or whatever GDAA conference we end up with next year. Don't think it's in their studio's interests to do so though, more's the pity.

Submitted by lorien on Wed, 16/11/05 - 9:16 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski
I'd love to think that some high-up industry people here would do a [url="http://crystaltips.typepad.com/wonderland/2005/03/burn_the_house_.html"]burn the house down[/url] style session at AGDC or whatever GDAA conference we end up with next year. Don't think it's in their studio's interests to do so though, more's the pity.

Had a "Burning down the shed" at freeplay. One speaker started with
quote:
Over the years I've said a lot of different things under a lot of different names. Now I'm using my own name. Fire me if you want"

and that's all I'm going to say about it on sumea.

Submitted by pb on Wed, 16/11/05 - 8:05 PM Permalink

Its no secret that Perception had a falling out with their publisher and that lots of staff left. Its been talked about extensively on the forums here.

The nature of the business is such that most studios work on one major project for one publisher at a time. Its easy to have a "near death experience" between projects or when things aren't working out with the one single project supporting the entire studio. Numerous studios have been very close to the brink only to eventually recover. But its a risky business because you have to put all your eggs in one basket.

pb

Submitted by mattw on Wed, 16/11/05 - 8:21 PM Permalink

Torus are advertising for programmers on the Sumea frontpage, whether they are replacing staff who have left/are leaving or are expanding I don't know though. I find it interesting that the closing date for applications is in January given it's only November.

Submitted by Caroo on Wed, 16/11/05 - 11:05 PM Permalink

"Over the years I've said a lot of different things under a lot of different names. Now I'm using my own name. Fire me if you want" - quote

Question: How mature are we?

This man has all the right to speak up about anything that he thinks is troubling the industry. I think we all get the right wether inside it or not because its our matter of opinion.... Improving is only done by seeking out and exposing our own flaws and if we put these exposes into the category of 'Hated and not gonna hire" then were just really afraid of constructive criticism..

Put this into example... Ty the Tasmanian tiger. great game. lots and lots of hard work put into it BUT it..has...flaws!

Now. If i say such a thing. Will Krome Studios bar me form ever being employed? Hopefully not. Hopefully them seeing the fact that im not so up myself to believe my work is Jesus gives me a more user-friendly and modest aspect. As said in one of the game art books I have. "You are never better then your next finished product." [Apoliges to krome for using them as the example XD]

There is whinging and extreme pessimism..Granted on that is more harm then good.. But most of the things these guys have to say are far above totally negative comments.

So use your real name. Say what you like and how you feel, and if someone is so immature to fire or not hire you on that basis... then maybe that studio is below your maturity standards XD.

Submitted by Kalescent on Thu, 17/11/05 - 12:08 AM Permalink

Great Topic ! My name is plain as day for people to see, and I'll start the burn down the house session right now.

I can tell you apart from Perception and 1 or 2 other studios in AU, nobody local wants to know us or anything about what we want to do. 90% of our clients, current work and work backed up for next year is offshore - yet we are critisised ( some are the very same people that dont want anything to do with us ) for taking our work offshore.

After working on Stargate SG1 I wrote some 30 odd personal emails to a majority of the studios based in AU and let them know who we were, as I thought that might be nicer than a cut and paste job and simply changing the title between studios. Only 3 replied at all, not even a 'thanks but no thanks' from 90%. Some are yet to reply after 2 - 3 emails. Maybe my email adresses are marked as spam.... hmmmm [:)]

As a fellow developer - I would love to think there would be more comraderie between each other in making AU stronger as a force to be reckoned with - but it seems a mere pipedream.

Honestly, I have yet to take things to the point where im in AU studios organising meetings, showing up with a studio showreel an giving presentations on why its cost effective to outsource instead of the age old " throw more people at the problem and it will eventually go away " So thats my next step with AU - to start doing this.

Whether or not it will effect / change the nature of our client base only time will tell.

Finally I'm curious - whats your goal in knowing any of this info sleepyhead [:)] ?

Submitted by lorien on Thu, 17/11/05 - 4:33 AM Permalink

quote:
Question: How mature are we?

Good point, because that speaker left Australia, planning never to return (though without getting fired, and afaik freeplay had nothing to do with leaving).

Submitted by Simon on Sun, 20/11/05 - 12:13 AM Permalink

My experience is similar to HazarD's. With two exceptions, I have had no response from any local developers to my business enquiries since leaving MF and going freelance in February. I have worked ONE local contract since then.

Admittedly, I have probably severely limited my prospects by focussing on concept art and 2D stuff and not providing modelling and texturing services, but I figured Kalescent had more than adequately filled that domestic market need.

One the positive effects I have noted when doing contract work is that managers get a hell of a lot more specific about their needs when you are charging them by the hour[:)].

quote:" throw more people at the problem and it will eventually go away "

Yep, been there, done that. What yanks my chain is the producer who sees this as prefereable to 'plan well, track the project, do it well and on time'. I think we've all worked with a producer who used to be a gung ho programmer who thought nothing of 20 hour days and thinks that thats how you manage a project.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 24/11/05 - 7:36 AM Permalink

So apart from two of the (no offense) smaller game-industry business owners getting a unanimous cold shoulder from the rest, are there any other studio high-ups that read here? I'm guessing based on Haz's experience that it's pretty hard getting *any* response from most studios in Australia, let alone anything honest and deep about the problems they might be experiencing, even anonymised as "industry trends".

What about the student IGDA/GDAA movers-and-shakers? Anyone at QANTM/AIE/uni involved in their student industry body got any success talking to studio high-ups? I remember being part of the QUT Electrical Engineering club, *and* the student IEAust chapter where we had wine-and-cheese industry nights for students to meet and chat with industry people.

Submitted by Mario on Thu, 24/11/05 - 8:26 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

So apart from two of the (no offense) smaller game-industry business owners getting a unanimous cold shoulder from the rest, are there any other studio high-ups that read here?

Well, I'm not from Australia, but perhaps NZ is close enough?

What would you like to know?

Submitted by LiveWire on Thu, 24/11/05 - 8:32 PM Permalink

Mario: yeah, go ahead.

quote:What about the student IGDA/GDAA movers-and-shakers? Anyone at QANTM/AIE/uni involved in their student industry body got any success talking to studio high-ups? I remember being part of the QUT Electrical Engineering club, *and* the student IEAust chapter where we had wine-and-cheese industry nights for students to meet and chat with industry people.
when the IGDA did their master classes earlier this year it was very successful - it was mostly attended by students, but there was a number of people from the industry there aswell, so i wouldnt say that studios are completly closed off. Still you get a lot from networking at AGDC, and it would be good to get that kind of thing i brisbane aswell. Also, tat reminds me, i've got to post someting in the IGDA forum...

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 24/11/05 - 11:45 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Mario


What would you like to know?

Choice*! Thanks!

Simple question - What do you see as the local industry's biggest problem or risk? What can we do to avoid it or turn it to our advantage?

And feel free to rant - we probably really need to hear honest (and possibly scary) words. After all - most of us are grownups here [:)]

*no offense meant - only intended as good natured trans-tasman ribbing...

Submitted by Mario on Fri, 25/11/05 - 6:53 AM Permalink

Okay, well, how about I start with Sidhe Interactive, just so I'm not slinging mud at others exclusively :)

What We Do Well At Sidhe

* Good team and workplace environment
* Capability and projects across multiple platforms/genres
* Never, ever had to let anyone go because of a project cancellation or running out money etc

What We Don't Do Well At Sidhe

* We suck at responding to job applicants in a timely manner (sorry to any here reading this)
* We haven't eliminated unpaid overtime
* We are limited to a couple of key clients currently

The main challenge I think the Australasian industry faces is the apparent infighting. Lots of badmouthing companies and products, backstabbing, and poaching. And that creates people who aren't very happy. And thats a bigger problem than any technical or business challenges.

However, I don't think its just limited to the commercial studios themselves. Many aspirational developers such as those found on these forums are just as guilty of spreading rumour, over the top complaints, and generally creating a cynical environment.

Game development is hard to get into, and its hard when you get there. Every studio in every country has their share of problems. Australasia is not especially dysfunctional in this regard.

The reason it is such an issue is that its so hard to get ahead in this industry, especially with the challenges of next gen and the need for scale and shared resources, and pulling in different directions as a community just isn't very productive.

Its great to see companies come together for events like E3 where the Australian stand for example presents a strong, unified front with great capability (the GDAA does a great job with this each year). Turn that camaraderie and collaboration into a 24/7 year round affair and the Australasian region will become a sum which is greater than its parts and a force to be reckoned with.

Something like that anyway :)

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 25/11/05 - 8:07 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Mario
However, I don't think its just limited to the commercial studios themselves. Many aspirational developers such as those found on these forums are just as guilty of spreading rumour, over the top complaints, and generally creating a cynical environment.

[:)] Staying well away from what companies say about each other I'd suggest having a try at what some have been through (not talking about myself btw) before making that call.

Conference sessions with the topic "angry game developers vent their spleen" don't materialise out of nothing. Nor do Game Dev Grads Tell All panels and wonderful quotes like that one of Kipper's I quoted in the political games thread.

I'm going to quote Cynical Fan's list of hobbies from his profile
quote:
Slandering local industry studios for their mediocre second-rate efforts and illogical game development views effectively undermining their inflated sense of self importance, by revealing not-so-well-known industry "gossip" whilst utilising the super-hero identity of "Cynical Fan" so as to protect my true identity from death-threats and character assassinations.

Cynical is actually quite a friendly guy.

Might as well point it out seeing as mcdrewski posted the link to the program. The "Over the years I've said..." quote was Katharine Neil, who I've known for almost 8 years, studied music with, and have one hell of a lot of respect for.

Thanks though Mario. I don't agree with some points but I do with others.

Submitted by Mario on Fri, 25/11/05 - 8:57 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by lorien

Conference sessions with the topic "angry game developers vent their spleen" don't materialise out of nothing. Nor do Game Dev Grads Tell All panels and wonderful quotes like that one of Kipper's I quoted in the political games thread.

Negativity breeds negativity, regardless of whether someone has actually been hard done by or not.

To reiterate, there may be many shortcomings of many individuals, studios, and training institutions in Australasia, but these are issues faced by the industry the world over. The industry overseas is not a utopia where these problems don't exist.

We need less whinging, pointing the finger, and kicking people when they are down, and more proactive action and constructive thinking.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Fri, 25/11/05 - 9:26 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by lorien

[:)] Staying well away from what companies say about each other I'd suggest having a try at what some have been through (not talking about myself btw) before making that call.

I know many feel they've been especially hard-done by in the industry, but I can't help but agree with Mario. As they say "worse things happen at sea", and many [url="http://www.sumea.com.au/sprofilepic.asp?p=A&news=1515"]as-bad or worse things happen in other industries[/url]. We learn, try to be constructive if possible and otherwise move on, 'cos after all life is too short.

Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments Mario - although I sense that there's an unvoiced wish that the GDAA here on the West Island could do more to include NZ. I for one think that Shed 5 is a good enough reason to include all of Wellington, but Auckland's another story [:)]

Submitted by Mario on Fri, 25/11/05 - 10:05 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

although I sense that there's an unvoiced wish that the GDAA here on the West Island could do more to include NZ.

Not at all. The GDAA has been very welcoming and accomodating of NZ developers with NZ being included in AGDC events and awards, GDAA GDC events, and have allowed us to join as a member if we wish etc. Couldn't ask for more really.

We have our own association to take care of the fundamentals in any case - www.nzgda.com

Submitted by Simon on Fri, 25/11/05 - 7:59 PM Permalink

Mario makes good points, especially on negativity breeding negativity. You only have to see the annual spleen-off that takes place in the AGDC poll to see some evidence of this.

It is important to discuss negative industry trends or practices, but (as with most things)it's only really constructive if hyperbole and unsubstantiated rumour is avoided.

I'd like to propose something. Mario has set an excellent example with his pros & cons of working at Sidhe. I propose that anyone who wants to raise some issues in this thread does so in the same format and limits it to his/her own first hand working experience. That seems to me to be the best way of getting some meaningful data.

Whatcha think?

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 25/11/05 - 9:40 PM Permalink

Speaking from my own experience it really takes some determination and guts to say things publicly that may not be popular with powerful people.

I think when people do it it means there are things that need sorting out. Particularly when students and graduates do it. Some of my students gave me a good flaming a while ago (they put it up on a very visible noticeboard too). I refused to take it down, and told them that if they were upset enough to do that then issues obviously needed sorting out- I also pointed out that it would have been smarter to wait until after marking was finished, but that it wasn't going to cost them. They took it down themselves.

As for the AGDC thing- I've said all I'm going to on that. If people want to keep their heads buried in the sand that's their own business. The AGDC is dead anyway imho- though this year it is undead... [:)]

I note Cynical's reference to "character assassination attempts". Those have been tried on me plenty of times. Does nothng at all to improve matters- doesn't work too well either when other areas (and countries) are in many ways more attractive than making fee for service games in aus for me.

I agree that negativity is not a great thing, it's quite a problem. But just asking it to go away isn't going to do much. There have been some very pissed off people coming to freeplay. Maybe the core of the problems needs to be solved?

Submitted by CynicalFan on Fri, 25/11/05 - 10:22 PM Permalink

Good to see the blind taking the initiative to lead the blind. I mean, if you guys didn’t stick together, and cling to what you know to be safe and well in your comfort zone, who knows where the hell you might end up!?

Perhaps somewhere new and maybe even better come to think of it ;).

As for negativity breeds negativity, I agree with Lorien. Sure negativity used wrongly will only breed more negativity, but not facing reality, but buying into something false, a pipedream of a façade, doesn’t help either. Only by having the courage to face these issues, will they be resolved, and the longevity, sustainability and growth of the local industry be assured.

BTW Mario, I think facing such issues is being “proactive” and “constructive.” I also think that so far you guys really didn’t understand what Sh*tHead’s intentions of this thread was, or what intentions others have in using it ;).

Submitted by Simon on Fri, 25/11/05 - 11:32 PM Permalink

quote:cling to what you know to be safe and well in your comfort zone

Cynical Fan, if I'd done this, then I'd still be AP at MF, earning a regular salary. I wouldn't be running my own business. I definitely wouldn't have made a stand about the issues that were bothering me and resigned as a result.

I'm in absolute agreement with both you and lorien about the need to courageously and resolutely address negative industry trends and issues, such as quality of life, career development, industry development and fair pay. I just don't think that emotional hyperbole and anonymous flaming is the way to do it.

quote:Conference sessions with the topic "angry game developers vent their spleen" don't materialise out of nothing. Nor do Game Dev Grads Tell All panels and wonderful quotes like that one of Kipper's I quoted in the political games thread.
Well, if you remember the story of the Orson Welles radio broadcast of 'War of the Worlds' in the late thirties, a significant proportion of the listening public were apparently convinced an alien invasion was actually under way and reacted accordingly (hiding, looting and mass suicide). There was something behind this conviction and it was a fiction. Game developers are not immune to group hysteria, spin doctoring, blowing things out of proportion or just plain fibbing.

Yes, there are issues that need to be resolved. Blog and forum rants ain't gonna do it.

Submitted by Kalescent on Sat, 26/11/05 - 12:13 AM Permalink

I'd just like to butt in and say that this is the reason I answered my thread in a 'action - reaction' type style, I think more of that is needed here.

We are barely getting responses by calling, or emailing, sending a digital 'portfolio & showreel' to potential AU based clients. My reaction to that is to up the anti and start turning up on doorsteps, presentations, conferences, pretty much everything and anything to get the name of our studio out there and in circulation.

What I was hoping for was studio's with a deeper and more gnarly set of roots to perhaps offer advice - Is there anything else you think that Kalescent Studios could do aside from the current action plan above that could bring on board alot more respect, anchor our name firmly in the minds of au developers - or just generally increase exposure.

Submitted by lorien on Sat, 26/11/05 - 12:14 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Simon
Game developers are not immune to group hysteria, spin doctoring, blowing things out of proportion or just plain fibbing.

Everyone has a different sense of proportion. Mine is different to studio employees and management- I work with students every day and I am one. And after getting completely ripped off and burnt myself I'm rather protective of students in general. Particularly where the games industry is concerened:

How many people does the aus industry actually employ?
How many games courses are there?
How many games-specific graduates are there each year?
How many are there from past years that are still wanting to get into the industry?
How many of those that get a games job have been laid off within a year and haven't worked in another studio since?
What happens to all the students who go deep into debt because they really want to make games, only to find the chances of that are so astronomically low it is really quite a joke?
Is it ethical to use the same marketing techniques that sell games for ~$100, to sell training/education for often 200 times or more that amount?

If I've told any untruths I'm unaware of how they are untrue. Kipper doesn't lie much either btw. When I want to read a pack of lies I just have to visit a few websites that are quite well known here.

Simon, to me that seems like yet another character assassination attempt.

End of thread for me I think.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Sat, 26/11/05 - 12:27 AM Permalink

Let me first off say Simon, congratulations for taking it upon yourself to take the big leap and strive to make things better for yourself, by leaving MF and starting your own business – good luck with all that, honestly :).

Now, I don’t know where you get off on accusing those of us that have spoken out against the status-quo as being: hysterical, spin doctoring, blowing things out of proportion fibbers. I mean, who really started that cluster-fuck of a pole comment thread, which side of the “flame-war” started the flame war. I know that I didn’t initiate an attack to silence individuals from speaking out, of talking about their experiences of working in the industry.

You say that blog and forum rants aren’t the way to do this, but is most certainly is a good starting point, to get your message out there so that others can know that they are not alone in their experiences and in their thoughts about the industry. I mean really, why is it that you think we are getting a new conference next year other than the AGDC? Does it have anything to do with individuals speaking out, perhaps “ranting” as you put it?

As for anonymous, well, not everyone posts on these threads with the aim to promote and / or to recruit. So they see no need to show who they are, and to make contrived statements about themselves, especially since I wasn’t joking about the “death-threats” and “character-assassinations.” I’ve had my share of both, and while neither one daunts me as I find them pathetic, they are an irritation and waste of my time. Anyway, anyone with half a brain can figure out who I am, and I do not feel the need to reveal myself as I find it far more amusing not to ;).

BTW: I don’t know where you get emotional hyperbole from, I have been quite calm in all my posts to date :).

Submitted by Simon on Sat, 26/11/05 - 12:46 AM Permalink

Sorry Lorien, it wasn't meant to be a character assassination and I certainly wasn't accusing you of lying. Hell, I don't even know you. I was merely pointing out that what large numbers of people believe to be true is not necessarily the truth (witness the interest rates scare during the last federal election), which is why quantifiable evidence is so important in building a case for change.

Once again, I'm very sorry if you felt I was making a personal attack upon you. I wasn't.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Sat, 26/11/05 - 1:08 AM Permalink

I don’t think Lorien really took offense if it was or wasn’t meant, rather, he is just a little tired of this routine and has more important ways at the moment to use his time - I'm sure he would say the same if he hadn't decided to leave this thread.

Anyway, post-ya-later folks, I’m off to a meeting!

Submitted by lorien on Sat, 26/11/05 - 1:20 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Simon
Once again, I'm very sorry if you felt I was making a personal attack upon you. I wasn't.

Apology accepted, and I didn't take offence. Cynical is right.

Submitted by Simon on Sat, 26/11/05 - 1:31 AM Permalink

I wasn't actually calling anyone hysterical or a liar, just pointing out (not terribly well as it turns out)that unsubstantiated hearsay is not as useful as substantiated evidence.

Yep, blogs and forums (fora?) are a good place to start, but not a good place to finish if you see what I mean.

quote:As for anonymous, well, not everyone posts on these threads with the aim to promote and / or to recruit. So they see no need to show who they are
Fair enough. I prefer to let people know who I am and have done so since I signed up here (pre-self promotion phase). Mind you, I haven't suffered any death threats.

Submitted by David Giles on Sat, 26/11/05 - 3:46 AM Permalink

I very rarely write to the forum for fear of becoming involved in a flame war as I know I'm a fairly good target. But I needed to answer the claim that a number of schools are churning out game graduates without caring whether they get jobs or not. I can only speak for AIE Melb but last year over 70% of our students found jobs in the industry with 4 in the U.S and U.K. This year over 50% of our students have been offered game industry work prior to graduation.

I just wanted to set the record straight on that point.

Thanks

Young'n lookin' for suggestion

Hi all, first post here [8D]

I'm 14 and I'm really interested in computers, more specifically, writing games to work on them. I was wondering what kind of things I should be looking at now to ensure that once I'm old enough to be considering full time work, I've got the (excuse me, but I can't resist) sk1llz and t3knk33kz to get employed in a good job. As previously mentioned, game programming is what I'm interested in, programming as a whole I really enjoy, but writing a good game is kind of a goal in my life that I'd like to try and turn into some form of sustainable employment.

All suggestions appreciated.[8]

If you would like to e-mail me with anything (I've got no idea why you would, but anyways) zoolig_3001@hotmail.com should get a response from me pretty quick.

Thanks in advance [B)] (coolest emoticons)

Submitted by Chaos on Sat, 12/11/05 - 11:02 PM Permalink

Lose the dude speak for starters, its a barrier to someone reading your post to begin with. Next you should start modding, pick an engine,and then play around with it. When you have mastered that, then join a mod group and start producing good mods.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Sun, 13/11/05 - 12:15 AM Permalink

Welcome!

If you want to be a good programmer, then you're going to need some formal training, whether that's uni/tafe or somewhere else, there are things that you just can't learn on your own. Above and beyond that though, the ability to complete a project is huge. Lots of people (myself included) start projects that fall by the wayside. Having even a single game or mod complete and finished will look really good.

Focus on maths for skills, focus on english for stories and art, focus on the subjects you enjoy. What you learn in History might make a great RTS game. In Geography a great Sims game. In home economics the greatest cooking game never yet written. Oh, and the next time you learn something in Maths that you think is too hard and you'll never use again - the answer to "where will we use this" is "in writing computer games" [:)]

Otherwise, start to think about why you play the games you play. Try a new one you've heard about but wouldn't think about buying norally. Odds are you'll work on at least one game in your career that you'd never buy as a gamer. Maybe you're into FPS - try a turn-based masterpiece like Civ4. Maybe you're into MMOs, try console party games, sports sims, DS platformers etc. The more you think about why a game works and why it doesn't the more you'll be able to understand how games are made and make your own.

And good luck! Remember that making games is actually hard work - but most of us wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

Submitted by LiveWire on Sun, 13/11/05 - 5:15 AM Permalink

i'm not a programer so i cant offer any advice other than:

never say "sk1llz and t3knk33kz" again

...i dont even know what that says! l33t speak is something 14 year olds do to annoy people on the internet and when playing couter-strike, but since you're 14 you're forgiven. when you're older you'll realise know one likes it[:D]

Submitted by Zoolig on Sun, 13/11/05 - 11:54 AM Permalink

The 1337 is just a joke to kinda poke fun at people who think by slaughtering the english language it shows they have some kind of mastery of cracking or whatnot (go figure). Getting caught up because I use one or two words makes you look single minded (not trying to be offensive, but that's like not listening to someone because thay have an accent) but anyways, thanks for the suggestions.

As for maths, some of that stuff my teacher says is applied only in architechture, but hey, I'm still getting like 90%+ so it's all good (I've always found maths easy) english makes me feel stupid, but such is life.

So yeh, thanks for the suggestions, keep 'em coming and try to get over the 1337 (101 0011 1001 for the binary number and 0011 0001 0011 0011 0011 0011 0011 0111 for the ascii code, don't ask why I bothered to find that out, but you're now enlightened a little more)

That the t3kn33kz thing was directly from a bsb thing on asm and among friends of mine has become a kind of in-joke, so now you know a little bit more of why we 14 year olds speak like some kind of monkey dancing on the keyboard.

I was also wondering if my continuation of learning the C++ programming language is a good idea, or if I should swap to c, asm or that kinda thing. . .

Submitted by mcdrewski on Sun, 13/11/05 - 9:51 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Zoolig

Getting caught up because I use one or two words makes you look single minded (not trying to be offensive, but that's like not listening to someone because thay have an accent)[/br]

You're right of course, but if you're a tourist in Guatamala trying to buy a kilo of plantain, it's up to the tourist to make as much effort as possible to be understood. That said, I think you were fine in the first place since you did very politely excuse yourself [:)]. You will find that people don't really read posts though, so if they see 1337speek they'll immediately make an assumption about you, valid or otherwise.

So, obOnTopic - stick to C++ as your prime focus, but build up a wide understanding of other languages. A lot of games use lua, or python, or various other scripting languages on top of C++. For example, anything on the Unreal3 engine (next gen sweetiness) will use unrealscript.

[edit - typos]

Submitted by Zoolig on Mon, 14/11/05 - 6:43 AM Permalink

I have been doing some work with python because I'm doing that next year with school and the bigger heads up means I can use the resources (teacher) for more then asking how to print 'Hello, World!'.

I'm also learning perl and a bit of asm, perl because I've had it suggested alot and asm for incase I decide to write a really speed-needing game.

Thanks for all your help once again and the more suggestions the better.

Edit: Just thought about this, what areas of C++ should I try to focus my main attention on and would anyone be willing to be my 'mentor' (sorry for use of such an over-used buzzword) I think question-bitch would be more appropriate, hehe. I just often find books don't know enough of the answers. heh. Thanks again for your help but don't stop yet (I'm sorry if I say thank you alot, I believe due respect is necassery and teaching is probably one of the most self-less acts)

Submitted by pb on Mon, 14/11/05 - 9:09 AM Permalink

Hey good on ya for having a go at asm...

You'll almost certainly encounter people who will tell you that it takes too long, is too hard to debug, processors these days are so complex, compilers produce better code than you ever could, software is too large and complex to code in asm, blah blah...

So let me just say that those people are full of crap. Most of what they say is just dogma that they picked up during formal training. Sometimes its just the conclusion they reach because they're not very good coders and find that compilers produce better code than they do.

Even if you end up coding mostly in C++ you're still basically producing asm by instructing a compiler what code you want generated. C++ can produce masses of very slow code from a single line of source. If you want to code well you need to understand what you're asking the compiler to do and the first step is learning asm. In other words, learning asm will make you a much better C/C++ programmer.

Now you certainly don't need to learn it, in fact very few coders in the games industry have much experience in asm, many have none - probably one of the reasons so many of them complained about coding the PS2 vector units. But that just makes the skill all the more valuable.

I'll go as far as to say that in my opinion you simply cannot write fast arse kicking code without knowing asm. In some cases you can beat compiler generated code (even when the source uses intrinsics) by as much as 4x. In other cases you'll simple write better C++. Either way, I highly recommend it.

pb

Submitted by Daemin on Tue, 15/11/05 - 3:59 AM Permalink

My advice is learn and absorb anything and everything that you can get your hands on, it will all give you experience and knowledge of one form or another.
* Learn assembly, the 80x86 instruction set is a dog's breakfast but you'll be better off knowing it (ARM is also nice if you're doing embedded development).
* Learn C and C++, they are different langauges each with their subtleties, but they share a lot of common structure and heritage.
* Learn a scripting language such as Lua, or Ruby, or Python even since you'll want to do some form of rapid prototyping or shell-like scripting with it.
* Learn something that uses a runtime like Java or C#, so you can use it to build any editor-like applications rapidly, or use that knowledge to modify existing development tools.
* Also learn languages such as Lisp/Scheme, Prolog and others just to see that there are different programming paradigms and different ways of solving complex problems. (Avoid COBOL like the plague though!)

Then don't forget to learn all of the algorithms and techniques of development, such as learning regular expressions, lexing and parsing which are handy for more than compiler development, sorting, search algorithms etc. Mathematics is worthy of a special mention too, and just because you don't see an immediate application to the advanced maths that you're learning (or will learn) that doesn't meant that there won't be one in the near future.

The point I'm trying to get across is that just learn and absorb everything that you can that is even remotely close to programming and development. If it isn't of any use now it probably will be at some point in time.

Good Luck! :-)

Submitted by pb on Tue, 15/11/05 - 4:11 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Daemin

* Learn assembly, the 80x86 instruction set is a dog's breakfast but you'll be better off knowing it (ARM is also nice if you're doing embedded development).
* Learn C and C++, they are different langauges each with their subtleties, but they share a lot of common structure and heritage.

PowerPC is now totally dominating the consoles so its worth learning too. IBM have released a lot of info on their Cell processor and more will almost certainly be forthcoming.

And I very much agree that learning C in addition to C++ is worth doing, especially now that C has been able to evolve in its own direction. New features such as restricted pointers let you produce much faster code in C than you could ever produce in C++ (although GCC supports restricted pointers/references in C++ as an extention).

pb

Submitted by Zoolig on Tue, 15/11/05 - 7:32 AM Permalink

Ok, thanks for all your suggestions.

In relevance to the "absorb all the information you can" I've gone from trying to learn how to succesfully install RAM into my computer to these forums asking these questions, trust me, I'm trying to be the ultimate sponge (I'm 14, I'm allowed to be a socio-economic sponge aswell).

Thanks for all the help, don't stop yet though:P

Edit: Decided to put it here. Anyways, with asm, I'm currently going around in circles, I'm just having too much trouble trying to make sense of it, but I'm re-reading the tutorials a billion and one times with a different approach everytime till it makes sense. I need things logically explained to me, like I didn't understand abstraction till a friend described it was "What Can It Do" not "How Can It Do It" so if anyone can offer that kind of help (the kind of mentoring I need normally) it would be beyond words the appreciation I would feel.

Oh and that "how to ask questions the smart way" page, I've already read it several times in my online-adventures:P but may aswell go over it once more.

I'd still like to find someone who I can kinda have as a mentor, prefferably with similair tastes in games ect. . . I'm the kinda person who works at their peak with partner and a team behind and infront of them. Thanks once again for all your help and keep it coming.

Submitted by CynicalFan on Tue, 15/11/05 - 8:35 AM Permalink

Sounds to me like you just need to join a good mod or indie project ? like-minded people, the chance of a mentor, team-environment, etc, etc.

BTW: you have well developed writing skills for someone your age, not to mention maturity.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Tue, 15/11/05 - 9:49 AM Permalink

Mate, you're at a heck of a place in the middle of high school since you're already programming, don't stress yourself about what you need to know (you've got a couple of years yet of formal training before landing any sort of decent games job). Try asking your favourite teacher about the annual programming competitions held 'round the world for high school students. They're like the maths comps and science comps. [url="http://www.acm.inf.ethz.ch/ProblemSetArchive.html"]here's a link to heaps of examples[/url].

I really suggest you don't think of a 'mentor' per-se unless you can find someone you can talk to face-to-face. A forum or group of people is a much better option since people's schedules (especially in this industry) do change.

So, anyway, assembly language only makes sense if you understand that it's just an easier-to-read-and-write version of machine code***, the sequence of numbers that control the CPU. Therefore assembly only makes sense if you understand [url="http://www.howstuffworks.com/microprocessor.htm"]how a CPU works[/url] (I mean *really* works)[url="http://www.herts.ac.uk/ltdu/projects/mm5/index.html"]Try the "little man computer"[/url] for a nice animated intro to [url="http://www.herts.ac.uk/ltdu/projects/mm5/instructions/components.html"]how a CPU works[/url]. Don't be put off, this is a useful and accurate way to learn it.

Everyon'e right, learning assembly may not be easy or something you use every day, but I learnt assembly on a nice, simple CPU called the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6502"]6502[/url] which ran at a princely 1.024MHz (not GHz) and had a grand total of three (useful) registers (A,X,Y) plus the Address pointer (AP) and the status (S) register. I used 8086 assembly at uni, and I don't even know how many the 80286, 80386, P4 etc have. However, the concepts are exactly the same and I last used my assembler knowledge to track down a very complex synchronisation bug which was occurring on a Sun UltraSparc-IV unix server with 24 CPUs. I know next to nothing about the Ultrasparc-IV, but since the concepts are the same I could understand what the chunk of code was trying to do.

If you want some insight into how deep the rabbit hole goes (not to scare you, but to whet your appetite!), take a look (but not too deeply) at the [url="http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Electrical-Engineering-and-Computer-Science/i…"]MIT Open Courseware[/url] section. These are true MIT undergrad lecture notes. This stuff is not easy but by gum it's fun.

***yes, this is a lie, but a special kind of true-enough-designed-not-to-confuse-the-issue lie

Submitted by Daemin on Tue, 15/11/05 - 9:12 PM Permalink

Mcdrewski is right, to learn assembly you have to know what the computer is doing, and how it is doing it, which most likely means grabbing a book on Computer Architecture (see if you can get some university-level adult, preferably a student there) to get you such a book.
You have to know basically these things:
- How a CPU works (Instruction stages, pipelining, registers etc)
- How the memory system works (caches, main memory, buses, and most importantly addressing)
- Little & Big Endian
- And then the instruction set that the particular architecture uses.

Submitted by pb on Tue, 15/11/05 - 11:05 PM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Daemin

Mcdrewski is right, to learn assembly you have to know what the computer is doing, and how it is doing it, which most likely means grabbing a book on Computer Architecture (see if you can get some university-level adult, preferably a student there) to get you such a book.
You have to know basically these things:
- How a CPU works (Instruction stages, pipelining, registers etc)
- How the memory system works (caches, main memory, buses, and most importantly addressing)
- Little & Big Endian
- And then the instruction set that the particular architecture uses.

I disagree - you don't *have* to learn in any particular prescribed way.

Different people learn things differently its entirely possible that you'll find it easier the other way around - learn how the processor works by learning asm first.

For example, you first think of loads and stores in a naive way - they just move between registers and memory. Then when you understand this its much easier to learn how a data cache works.

Similarly, its much easier to understand pipelining once you have an intuitive grasp of opcodes.

The point is, the words "have to" and "only" are almost always untrue. If learning something one way doesn't work, try another. Its OK to be "put off" by explanations that don't work for you.

pb

Submitted by Daemin on Wed, 16/11/05 - 12:17 AM Permalink

I think I may have come across as saying that you have to learn those things first, however that's not the case. I would like to clarify by saying that you should learn those things in parallel to learning assembly. Learn load/store and memory architecture, jumping/adressing and pipelining, etc at about the same time.

I would however encourage to learn the low level architecture and assembly programming before going to the higher level languages. I think its a mistake trying to teach Java as an introductory language no matter how nice it makes programming seem to be. I believe Joel Spolsky says something along those lines in his "Law of Leaky Abstractions" article.

Submitted by Zoolig on Thu, 17/11/05 - 5:38 AM Permalink

Once again, thanks for your help. Out of all the resources I've been looking through and forums, this has been the most helpfull in choosing a direction. I've not yet done much with java, nor do I really plan to, I know it's a disgusting bias, but when I think java, I think runescape, when I think C++ I think World of Warcraft, so yeh, it automatically makes me go back to mr. borland.

As for the asm, I'm trying to learn it as much as I can, but man it's complex stuff! I kinda understand how machine code works, but I make a point of always trying to understand things further and further.

I've got nothing else I can really ask at the moment, everything I wanted to know has been answered, but if you feel there's more that needs to be added, by golly gosh, add it! (I don't get to say by golly gosh often and my teacher said today, so I decided I would aswell)

I checked and I believe my school teaches VC++ in their programming classes, so I'm going to be doing that, but hopefully a bit ahead of everyone.

And with ASM, I'm having trouble finding a tutorial that assumes null prior knowledge of a computer system and that seems to be slowing the process, all help welcome.

I really must say, this site has a fantastic community, I've never found anywhere where people are so willing to help, share an opinion ect... and be civil at the same time, must say something about game developers I guess :P.

Someone also said something about how I'm worrying about getting a job ect... Reason being, I don't want to waste time pretty much, life's such a short thing, wasting it should be a crime punishable by death (I'm aware of the irony, but if you don't use it, do you deserve it?)

Kinda harsh, maybe, but I seriously find how people can waste their lives to be the most annoying thing, therefore, I try my hardest to not do that.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Thu, 17/11/05 - 8:11 AM Permalink

quote:Originally posted by Zoolig

I checked and I believe my school teaches VC++ in their programming classes, so I'm going to be doing that, but hopefully a bit ahead of everyone.

Lucky you - you can download a legal and free version of Visual Studio 2005 'Express' edition now from Microsoft [:)]

Submitted by Zoolig on Thu, 17/11/05 - 8:57 AM Permalink

I kinda wish we did asm or something that's really tricky, C++ I find I just have to keep kinda hacking through the dense vines in the jungle of problems, even though I'm still on the basics. asm on the other hand, i find myself feeling like some kind of idiot, so yeh :P

Still, it's probably alot better then what most other people get at 15, so I can't complain ey?