In part two of this introductory series for aspiring developers, Destin Bales discusses some of the best ways to develop real experience and prepare a solid portfolio for a future job. The following text comes from Bales' blog, "I Need To Make Games."
Now it is time to get your hands dirty and begin building applicable experience that you can use as a stepping stone to secure your first development job.
Of all of the articles and bits of advice in this series, "Build Hands-On Experience" is by far the most important one of the bunch. Follow this path and you will reach your goal of working in the games industry. If however you skip this step you will find it significantly more difficult to break into development and the odds may not be in your favor. Yes it takes time -- possibly a considerable amount of time. In the end, however, it is the most valuable experience you can gain and it is this work that you will ultimately feature on your resume and use to sell yourself to prospective employers.
"The Unity engine has a great mix of powerful features and ease of use. There are other free engines out there, but none give you the creative freedom that Unity has to offer."
- Neal Kettler, Technical Director | Paragon Studios
Take it slow, and follow these steps towards achieving your goal:
Download and install the Unity engine
Familiarize yourself with the interface by completing some basic tutorials
Read up on the more advanced features of the engine through advanced tutorials, books or articles online
Begin creating content of your own using the engine
This process can be used regardless of your discipline to showcase your talent. The Unity engine allows for exporting of projects to a web player which may allow you to demonstrate your work online via the online portfolio we help you create in Step 6.
Once you are familiar with the engine and creating content on your own, it's time to enter the general mod (modification) community. Many retail games like Team Fortress 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 can be modified by enthusiasts to include revised gameplay or new content for others to enjoy. While creating desirable content from scratch can be a monumental task (as you've no doubt learned from your time with Unity) it is possible to build off of established works to create something compelling in a relatively short amount of time. Through modding you even have the opportunity to work with others and gain valuable cross-disciplinary experience. Last but not least, successful mods are enjoyed by players allowing you to experience the feedback cycle from customers first hand. This is all gold for creating a stand-out resume and landing your first official development job.
Today two of the hottest mod-able games available include Minecraft and Skyrim. Make a compelling mod for either of these two products and you will have a fantastic wealth of experience to leverage on your application.
"When I'm looking through resumes, I tend to pay more attention to candidates that have already built a mod or who have a demo. They are more likely to learn our tools quickly, and it shows how passionate they are about making games.
There are people who want to make great games, and there are people who need to make great games. It's a no-brainer who I'd rather hire."