Friday, December 10, 2004

Beating the Catch-22

Everyone knows, "you can't get a job without experience, and you can't get experience without a job." The first thing most game companies want to know is, "How many games have you shipped?" and when you say "none," you've almost lost them. But that doesn't mean you can't have experience.

Thanks to the awesome power of the internet, you can make a game right from home. There are all kinds of free editors, compilers, linkers, and everything else you need to write your own program. Don't know how to write applications in Windows? There's a ton of sample code out there to learn from. Don't worry if you have no artistic skills. Gameplay is gameplay, whether it's with pyramids and spheres, or people and guns. If you want to really be impressive, get some of your more artistic friends to help out with the models and artwork. Of course, it doesn't have to be fancy, or 3D, or even original. Make the game you want to make, or at least one you know you can make well.

If you don't want to get bogged down in the OS calls (for example, if you know you want to make PS2 games and don't want to learn Windows rendering), grab your favorite game that has editing tools, and make some mods. Stretch the capabilities of the game to their fullest. If you can take a first person shooter and turn it into a puzzle game, that's pretty impressive. Mods are also a great way to show talent if you're an artist, or looking to become a level designer.

When you're all done, the best way to present it is often a web site. Not every company will be willing to accept an executable or video you send, but almost anyone will go to a website and look at screenshots.

In short, be creative! The important traits you're trying to show are: enthusiasm, talent, and your ability to follow things through to the end (but a work-in-progress can still be very impressive).

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