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  • Crossing Ships

    [12.31.09]
    - Alan Abram
  •  Introduction

    I am currently studying a course in Computer Games Programming at Staffordshire University. I have recently just finished a placement year at Weaseltron Entertainment where I worked primarily on "Jelly Belly: Ballistic Beans" and various other projects. I generally performed well in University and thought that making the change to a 9-5 games industry job would be fairly simple and straight forward. I was wrong.

    Crossing Over

    When working at university I would generally sit down and work for many hours straight to work on an assignment, and get it to work and then spend a few days fixing up little bugs and minor issues in the game to squeeze out the best mark possible from what I had written. This is a totally different mentality to what was required from me when I was working on the job. The day would start at 9am and end at 5pm and unless there was an impending milestone or anything urgent to be finished, that is where the day would end.

    For me this was quite difficult to adjust to as when I worked at university I generally started work around 6pm in the afternoon and worked until the very early hours of the morning, for some reason I seemed to get my best work done during the caffeine laced hours of the day. I suppose another reason for this would be the fact I never had to consult with anyone about the work being done and during the early hours of the day there are very few distractions.

    When working for a company this however is not an option, as you always need to consult with various other people in the development team, who would also consult with other people in the team. For example I consulted with the Lead Programmer quite frequently about the best ways of creating classes to integrate with other classes, and how certain things for the game would need to be. He in turn would consult with the Producers and Designers for answers to some of my questions.

    This was another thing which was a major difference from working in teams at university. When you work at university in a group, you speak to everyone in the group, you know everyone in the group and you probably are quite close friends with these people and generally nobody is more important that anyone else.

    When you work in industry there is a clear hierarchical structure in which everything is coordinated. The programming teams generally work on one side, and the design teams work on another and they are all coordinated via the producer. The producer has a major influence on what happens in the final product and then the Publisher then has the final say on what is to happen in the final product.

    If you were working on your own project, and you saw something you wished to change, you would simply change it and see how it goes. In a company you simply cannot just do that. Changing something requires being authorised by the people higher in the chain than you. The people above you are always open to suggestions, and you never know, it might make its way into the final product.

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