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Question

When you have a current stable job as a developer in another field, what is the best course of action to enter the game industry?

  • Wait (indefinitely?) for an opportunity to sell your skills to an already established game studio (aiming at the ones with a wide employee base).
  • Go indie and start making games with a few artist friends, living on your savings.
  • The middle road: try to find a company that will hire you in your current sector part-time, and use the rest of the week to start an indie game project.

Some extra background information

I am currently employed as a software developer, working on banking-related systems. While this pays decently, it's not a very glamorous occupation, and I often wish I would be working on more creative projects. Sadly, my limited free time leaves me with little opportunities to take side projects.

I'm now at a turning point of my career, as I'm about to switch companies. I'm wondering if I shouldn't use this opportunity to start my own (indie game) thing.

Being hired by an established game studio is difficult, as I'm a good software developer in my current field, with some experience in management, but my experience does not translate well to the gaming industry (little knowledge of the tools specific to that sector). I would have to go back in terms of salary and responsibilities, and this would both mean not keeping my current lifestyle, and give up on the team management side for a while. Both things I'd rather not do.

If you happen to be working in the game development field (big studios, editors, or indie), and started as a software developer in another sector, I would very much like to know about your experience.

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closed as not constructive by bummzack, Byte56, Maik Semder, Sean Middleditch, Josh Petrie Mar 6 '13 at 16:14

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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The "best course of action" is unique for each individual. I don't think this question is a good fit for the Q\A format and I'm voting to close for that reason. It would be a good fit for a more discussion oriented site, a few of which can be found in the FAQ. –  Byte56 Mar 5 '13 at 14:10
    
Also near duplicate: gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/9002/… –  Byte56 Mar 5 '13 at 14:15
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This question gets asked a bit too much and there is no real answer, but in my opinion: keep your current job, make some simple and quick indie games in your free time, and send out resumes. If you get an interview, take it, but don't quit your current job until you have another one lined up. –  Benjamin Danger Johnson Mar 5 '13 at 18:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Quitting your job and starting to develop your own game while living on your savings is a big financial risk. You never know if your game will sell (especially when it's your first), and when it doesn't, the move could ruin you.

It's also easy to underestimate the time you will need to finish your game. Your savings might run out before you have a marketable product. You will need to take a real job again to survive, your product will be delayed for years, and when you ever complete it, the market will have moved on and nobody will care about your game anymore.

I would recommend you to keep your job so you keep your stable income and develop your game idea in your spare time. Maybe arrange a part-time agreement with your employer so you have more time, provided that you still make enough money to come by.

When you are sure you have a product which would sell (active community, hundreds of thousands of downloads of the alpha version, people you never had contact with already blogging about your game), you can still decide to quit your job and work on your game full-time.

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I have been doing precisely this for the last 3 years, the last year of which I finally have a project that I am happy with. If your company is ok with you doing development on the side I would recommend it at least until you get your feet wet. Game development requires many skills that you likely dont have from writing financial software and it will take some time to become aware/proficient in those areas. –  RobCurr Mar 5 '13 at 14:23

there is certainly a change in thought process when working with game development. so some practice there would be a requirement

but ultimately like any form of creative work a portfolio would be your strongest asset

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It depends on what you want from it. If you're in gamedev for fun, go ahead and build your own team. If it's both money and fun you're equally interested in, you may want to join an existing team.

I'm in this for fun, and I know for a fact that most teams exist for profit, or don't meet my personal requirements (they make boring stuff), so I'm alone on this for now, but I may start working together with some people, if they share my enthusiasm.


On a side note, if you're wondering what kind of game you should make first, remember that the greatest games in history were those which took quite some time to make. That probably includes previous experience in gamedev, but not necessarily. Take Minecraft for instance. There are different ways to create games, some don't assume to release a fully working version. Valve updates TF2 constantly. So if you have a great idea for a game, take all the time you need to understand how it should work, find out which tools to use, but don't forget to pay your rent and eat sometimes ;)

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While definitely being in it for fun (or to express some artistic vision), I can't deny that fun only feeds you (and your family?) for a short time... So I can sympathize with those who need to looks at things from a profit perspective. –  Silver Quettier Mar 5 '13 at 12:35
    
If there are some media companies in your area, you could look there. Maybe they're looking for testers. I bet they'll pay well. –  user1306322 Mar 5 '13 at 12:36
    
I've read that Minecraft was completed in two months. (Not all that hard to believe -awesome concept, pretty straightforward implementation). –  David Lively Mar 5 '13 at 20:43

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