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Author Topic: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?  (Read 1364 times)

m4rsm4rsh

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What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« on: January 13, 2021, 09:32:35 AM »

I was having an interest in the early development days of Starsector, reading through old blog posts, and read that Alex quit his day job to develop Starsector full-time (June 2011 if you want to check it out). I think that's pretty amazing. The developer of another game, Cogmind, wrote about his journey from part-time dev to full-time and I find these stories fascinating (lots of his posts on r/roguelikedev). It's pretty interesting to read how this game has progressed since the initial release.

I'd like to ask what experiences people in this forum have had in developing games or other software; like how you started, what big decisions you felt pressed to make, and what guidance you would give yourself if you could travel back in time. If Alex himself reads this, how have things changed since that 2011 decision?

I'm just starting out in IT and programming, so these questions for are nigh impossible for me to conceptualize. The broad skillset a person needs to make development happen (in a "you're your own boss" kind of way) is intimidating, and honestly, it's information overload for someone who'd like to transition into the field.
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Dread Lord Murubarda

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Re: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 10:46:19 AM »

*edited for content* please see the forum rules - Alex


I would look for a job like a night shift security guard so u could work on your stuff on a laptop and get paid for it, not much, but enough to survive "until it's ready".

stress management is prolly the #1 thing, live cheap and simple so u can focus on what really matters.no matter what, don't accumulate any debt.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 01:06:53 PM by Dread Lord Murubarda »
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Alex

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Re: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 11:53:11 AM »

I'm just starting out in IT and programming, so these questions for are nigh impossible for me to conceptualize. The broad skillset a person needs to make development happen (in a "you're your own boss" kind of way) is intimidating, and honestly, it's information overload for someone who'd like to transition into the field.

I'll just say, I think you're likely to be far better off getting a more "normal" job in the field rather than trying to make something happen on your own. Once you're more comfortable, have more confidence in your skillset, and (hopefully) have some money put away, that would be the time to maybe consider doing something on your own - probably on evenings and weekends at first. Whatever one might try to do, it's still a gamble even with all the advantages in the world, though, so make sure it's something where you'll be fine if it doesn't pan out. (See:  Dread Lord Murubarda's point about debt, etc.)
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fededevi

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Re: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2021, 08:42:07 AM »

I am a developer myself (employee) and although I don't have direct experience in professional game development I used to work (and teach) in the computer graphics field.

One of the biggest obstacles for me in completing personal projects has always been.. well... completing them.. After the initial exciting design and prototyping phase then comes the part where you actually have to build working, polished stuff, and keep working on it when you already work 9+h/day can became really hard, at least for me.

This reminds me of a game I started working on many many years ago, I think it was 2012, at the time I did not know SS, this is a screenshot of the ( obviously abandoned after a couple of week ) prototype


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Harmful Mechanic

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Re: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2021, 02:04:19 PM »

Seconding all the other people saying 'learn stuff on someone else's dime.' Never, ever go freelance right out of the gate because you're piling management tasks on top of job skills in the giant laundry list of stuff you have to learn. Learn to live cheaply and do everything you can yourself.

My experience as a freelance artist has been this; most people who work as contractors and succeed have had regular jobs in their field for some of the time they've been working. It's a good way to make contacts, gain experience and confidence, learn what you'll need to strike out on your own without immediately having to scare up work and manage your time from home or a coffee shop. I've also done some real crap I hated to pay the bills and worked on my own projects in my free time.

Right now you have a golden opportunity to start some personal projects and just keep them personal projects that you hack on in your evenings and weekends. You can buy some royalty-free sound and graphics packages to toy around with, you can start learning about game design as a craft and discipline. Your games don't have to be finished, polished, or compete with other games in a marketplace; you can just make them for fun or do game jams and see what you learn. Finishing things is also a skill, and a hard one to learn when you're trying to learn all the other relevant skills at the same time.
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blazeroth

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Re: What was it like transitioning to full-time developer?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2021, 08:24:28 AM »

My field isn't software development, strictly speaking, but it is tech heavy. I've worked with a number of people who started out freelance and then got a salaried position, or were salary and went freelance. My experience has been that the people who had more salaried work experience under their bent tended to do better once freelance, while the people who were freelance had some catching up to do once they joined a company. Tackling one aspect at a time definitely seems to be the path that more often leads to success.
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