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Old 17th Nov 2011, 10:54 AM   #1
larafan25
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blah blah blah... Politics of Recruitment

I know the title is odd, but this thread is odd.

It's less of a recruitment thread and more of...a question about recruitment. Although, if you happen to be a programmer, skilled or wanting to learn more, and also happen to be...just sitting around not using your skills at the moment and want to work on an interesting game, feel free to PM me.

But that's not what this thread is about. Am I the only person who feels slightly awkward when recruiting for programmers? I feel like programmers are rare, and that we essentially tell them "This is the vision, do it for me so I can have some design fun".

What I want to know- What attracts someone (a coder) to a project and what doesn't attract them?

Does it really matter how ambitious the rest of the team is, or the one person? Does it matter how serious the project is, or does it just come down to whether you think what you have to offer is good enough?

I don't know if it's a self confidence thing, being timid about asking for the help of an almighty programmer, or what it is.

Would it be fair to say that programming skills are the most essential skills when it comes to video game development? I've tried coding before, been successful with different scripting languages, haven't been successful, find it tremendously hard. I would love to learn and know UDK programming, or any programming language off the top of my head, pop into the scripting environment and start building the features of my game, but that looks impossible right now.

There are tons of things I've never done before with regards to making games, relating to rigging character models (recently new at), modeling natural items and characters, but all of that seems like a hill I can hike up. Whereas learning to code seems impossible.

I want to go to school for video games, in fact it's not a want, I've essentially made it so my life is not imaginable, my existence is not plausible without me being a video game developer and having been schooled in the subject. However that post-secondary schooling is still 2 or 3 years away.

This is turning into a life story/ diary entry, I apologize. I've had lots of great ideas pass me by, some of them get turned into simple drawings and paintings, others become short stories or comics, and the rest become elaborate game designs. However I've never actually decided until now, to step out of what I'm comfortable with, to try and achieve limitless possibilities, and actually craft these game ideas.

I recently began reading a really cheesy self-help type of book, and in the beginning it essentially pampered me and praised the fact that I do have good ideas, they don't stop, and it helped me realize that for the past 5 or so years of my life, I have lived with these ideas passing me by like one-night lovers and always failing to succeed at constructing them. Yet, I kept coming back with new ideas trying to use different game engines because I had to get these concepts out of my head and into the hands of other people to experience, it was God's will. Finally, now that I understand I have to be persistent and can control how hard I go at things, it seems like everywhere I turn when trying to learn Unreal script, there's no base. There's a base to start a game from scratch, great, I've done that well-written tutorial multiple times. Where do I go from there? It sounds like I'm expecting a step by step guide on how to create the game that is in my mind, and I kind of am. But at the same time I'm willing to let my mind sweat, and I'm willing to learn the bare bones of Unreal Scripting and watch what I learn tie in together and actually help me form a game.

Okay wow, lucid moment, people are going to read 1/10 of this and think I'm on crack, or worse.

In retrospect it sounds like I'm writing a letter for someone to pity me and become my programmer, and if that works then great. But in case it doesn't work like that, I am essentially extremely frustrated with the lack of footing for getting into scripting with the UDK and I wonder, do we all have to be coders? Is a coder's job more difficult than any other game-related job? Do coders have an artistic vision that they want to add to the game? Is it advised to sit back and let another person do the "dirty work"? At least until I have the knowledge required to code for myself?

Lastly, can someone point me in the direction of a good tutorial,book, something that will teach me the ins and outs of scripting in UDK? Maybe it is to much to ask, but right now I'll stick with asking for the most descriptive and vast UDK encyclopedia there is.

The other option would be for me to visit this forum every hour or so and ask a coding question, however you guys aren't the quickest to reply some times, no most of the time.
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 12:10 PM   #2
MrMaddog
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As someone who joined a mod team once, I can tell you some experiences that'll help. If you want to recruit anyone for your team you need to have a fleshed out idea for a mod and say, "This is what it will be...". Too many times someone will say, "I have an idea for a mod and want someone else to do it all for me" but only have a vague description of what they want. And then just forget about it and move on. This is not what programmers or anyone wants to sign up for. I say just make an outline of what your mod is and try to describe it in a paragraph or two in your recruiting post. If you have any concept art then that's a bonus.

Of course, programmers will only want to work on a mod that they would want to do themselves. Me, I like Team Fortress type stuff so I worked on a class mod...certainly wouldn't do a CS clone. Also be aware that not all programers will be coding vets so you may get someone who wants to join for coding experience like I did. As long as they have access to online tutorials they should be good but never take on anyone who's clearly clueless. And don't be afraid to take on more than one programmer because you never know when the first one will decide to just leave...

You don't have to be a programmer to be a dev leader, although it helps to have some basic knowledge of it...so you understand why your coder can't create that cool but impossible feature you like to have. There's been leaders who only design maps or even just do art, and those things are just as important as the code itself.

If you do want to try your hand at programming, there are websites like UnrealWiki and even a book on UnrealScript in UDK. You can buy all the books you want but the hardest part is to actually sit down and write a "Hello World" program. Once you get into the groove of doing that, then it gets easier as you develop the discipline for coding. And always feel free to play around and experiment once you get the know-how. If you can devote the time to learn programming on your own, you won't have to go to school to learn video game programming (unless you need professional job placement).

That's all I can offer, hope it helps. Good luck with your project...
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Old 31st Dec 2011, 01:26 PM   #3
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Not sure I have much more to add to what MrMaddog already mentioned, but here goes...

As someone who was in a similar position to you about 10 years ago, I understand where you are coming from. It was (and still is) often frustrating to have all of these wonderful ideas in your head, but not be able to turn them into a (virtual) reality. Ten years later, the limitation is not so much the skills & tools per se (though my skills as far as actual art/content creation are still limited) but time.

As MrMaddog said, if a coder (or anyone else) is not interested in the overall mod idea they will probably not be willing to work on it, or may lose interest fast if they do, so the only chance if not learning to code yourself is to find a coder looking to do the type of mod you're interested in. I've done a little bit or work for a few mods that weren't my own and the biggest incentive to help was that the team had clearly described what they were trying to accomplish as both the overall "big picture" and the very specific task they had asked for my help on. Since they had clearly described what they were trying to accomplish (giving examples from other games when appropriate) I was able to provide some specific test code samples from my own mod and another example from the UT2k4 source fairly easily with very little time commitment on my part.

As for learning to code, in 2001 when I began modding for the original UT with the help of Postal here on the forums, I realized that taking a course in basic programming would also be helpful (not for everybody, but I like the structure of a classroom course with assignments etc.). I took an intro C++ course at the local Community College which introduced me to Object Oriented Programming. Since UScript syntax is a lot like C++ (and Java) I was able to begin digging into the UScript source and actually begin understanding how the code 'flowed'. Contrary to what a lot of the new folks over on the UDK forums may say, the publicly available documentation for this engine is awesome! Between the UT and AgentX source code, the coding tutorials over on Chimeric, and the forums (which were more active at that time) I was able to begin working on some reasonably interesting (at least to me) weapon sets and mutators.

I have to admit that the source code base alone for UDK and UT3 is significantly larger than for UT2k4 (the core classes did not appear to change that much, but still a lot more to sift through) and especially UT, but there is at least a semi-applicable example for almost anything you want to do (mantling? look at the CheckWaterJump function in the pawn class for collision detection; CODMW style predator drone? Combine the Ion Cannon with the redeemer, and translocator camera to cobble together some code; Radar? look at the Invasion HUD code; AI? All of the UT bot code and sentinel controller code; Isometric camera? Look at the camera code in the controller/playercontroller and vehicle classes etc.)

I second what MrMaddog said about the "HelloWorld" program. Once you can write the base framework for testing your ideas (i.e. setting your default pawn and playercontroller class in your custom gametype to your custom versions, or use mutators to automatically replace map placed weapons with your own and give additional starting weapons), then digging into creating gameplay content (code/art/models) becomes much faster and iterative.

As a side note, I'll reiterate what everyone else says about game schools, go get a degree in something else useful first (computer science, engineering, some art degree for which there is an actual demand for the skills), build a portfolio of mod (or UDK) work showing what you want to do (whether that be coding, 2D/3D art, animation, level creation) then start looking for jobs. Have a useful fallback plan in case you end up hating that actual business of game development. I personally love modding UT2k4 as a hobby, but I can tell you right now that I would absolutely hate to do it all day as a "job"
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Old 21st Jan 2012, 04:29 PM   #4
larafan25
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^^Both very VERY helpful posts. Thanks so much, everything is ten-times clearly now.

Off to work.

edit: Do you guys think people would be more compelled to a game idea not relating to an already existing franchise, or an equally as interesting and "new" idea, but involving a specific character from an already existing series?

Do people tend to show more interest in what looks like a mature game, or a more light-hearted endeavor?
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