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Getting into the games industry at 30+


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Hey guys,


I’m sorry for writing another of these threads but I’m not sure how much  of the usual advice would still be relevant to me. I’m 33, my background is in hospitality but I hate it, there’s no future in it for me and I want to do something else. Videogames have been my main hobby all of my life but I’m not a programmer, web designer, artist ect but I have a little bit of knowledge of how things work under the hood and in the industry.  I’d like to get into the games industry, I know it’s very long hours, can often be boring, hard, stressful but games are my lifelong passion, I think it would be an industry where I could fit in, I think the high moments of seeing a game come together and getting to collaborate with coworkers on how to get things to work from combat to story to art ect would be something fulfilling and work that I would enjoy. I’m already used to working incredibly long hours and in a stressful environment.
I’ve bought a couple of Udemy courses on game development in Unity & Unreal Engine, programming, web design, 3d art and animation in Blender.
I can’t really do a course at a college or uni, it’s something I’ll need to learn in my free time.
I’m thinking about making a module for NWN2 (or maybe NWN1 since the HD version was recently released but NWN2’s toolset is more advanced right?) as an easy way to start practicing area and level design, programming, writing plot structure, dialogues, balancing ect.
I’m also planning to make a portfolio website
I’m very aware that this is a long term thing and not something that will happen overnight, that it will take a lot of work and effort.
Based on all of this, do you guys think I have any chance of actually making it into the industry or am I likely too old now? Do you think I’d have a realistic chance of getting hired by a UK game developer some day or are there too few with too high standards these days in this country? I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to making something myself of finding a small likeminded team of new starts. Would you guys suggest trying for a QA tester position at some point or studying, making a bunch of things and trying for an artist or programmer position? I need a lot more knowledge than I currently have so any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome.

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Making mods is where a lot of people start, and it's also a good way to find out if it's something for you, and if it is then what parts are. A lot of people move on quickly - being passionate about games does not always translate to being passionate about making games as I learned the hard way myself. Self-taught people generally make it further than people who did college courses because to get that far requires passion.


Cool mod projects are a good way to fill up a portfolio with both proven projects from a usability standpoint as well as a way to show what you're passionate about. Of course, not everyone likes making mods and would prefer to work on their own projects - for inspiration, look at people like Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, who with the exception of some backend network code for the multiplayer version, made "Stardew Valley" all by himself: music, art, code, design, everything.


And a bit of personal experience: If you end up trying to get work experience with internships and you end up with a company with more interns than employees, run for the hills and find a different place.


I don't know about QA testing as an entry level position, the couple of places I worked at outsourced their QA.

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If you don't have an engine preference, but want to mod—for modding [demo/portfolio] sake, try modding 'Legend of Grimrock' 1 or 2.  It is very possible to make a functional map with encounters, in a matter of minutes to hours with the built in dungeon editors.  Rapid (playable) results are good for building one's confidence. It also serves as a foundation to later modify with user scripts. You don't need to know any scripting to start with; it has a visual behavior interface for basic tasks.  

With a bit of experience, it is possible to customize the default game assets, and make new ones; even new monsters, and to affect (and in LoG2 even rewrite) the game AI.  They have a persistent modder's community forum where you can ask any question that come to mind—a receive technical answers. ;)

Edited by Gizmo
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  • 4 weeks later...

Your options are limited if you're not a programmer or artist. You have to start as QA tester and work your way up. You're unlikely to get a job with an actual game developer without any experience, but look around if there are any companies that offer outsorced QA services - those tend to recruit pretty much anyone.

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