Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a compilation of the most common questions that we get asked. We have done our best to answer them as completely and honestly as possible. If you have a question that is not covered below, or need further clarification, please feel free to contact us.

What is it like to work in the video games industry?

Working in the games industry can be rewarding and fun. However, it is not like a traditional industry with a constant flow. The gaming industry is a hit based industry, so the highs can be very high, and the lows can be very low. It is like playing Texas Hold ’em; meaning that you can have a good streak or a bad streak. Just like in poker, the type of streak you are on will depend on your skills. The hours are also very long and many times we work through the weekends, especially when it is close to release time. Also, we are working with the cutting edge of technology. Therefore, not only do we have to do our jobs as game developers, we also must keep up with latest technologies and tools as they come out. All of this can be very taxing. It takes an incredible amount of discipline to do it.

How long does it take to create a video game?

This all depends on the type of game. The smallest most casual of games can take as little as a month to build while other more involved games like first person shooters (FPS) take several years. On average it takes about two and a half years to build a moderately sized game with a small team. Some games are so large however that thousands of people are employed in the development, and the game still take several years such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

What does it cost to create a video game?

This again depends on the size of the game. A very small casual game can be developed for as low as $50K with professional artwork and sound while a AAA type game like Halo will cost 10's of millions of dollars. As an example, Bungie's Destiny is reported to have cost $140 Million to develop.

How do I get a job in the video games industry?

That all depends on what your skill set is, and what you want to do. If you don't have a formal education in software engineering, art, or sound design, the best you can hope for is to get a job as a game tester and work your way up the corporate ladder as you go. This is not the path we recommend and have only heard of someone moving from a test position all the way to development without a formal education one time.

We would recommend acquiring a formal education in a field of your choosing. If you want to be a developer, then get a degree in computer science and mathematics. If you want to do art, get a degree in art and so on.

What kind of education do I need to work in the games industry?

If you plan on having a job that is directly involved with game development and / or toolset development, it is our opinion that you should get a computer science degree. We would encourage you to favor a computer science degree over an information systems or information technology degree. This is because a computer science degree will be much more rigid and beneficial to you as a game developer. A good way to tell if you are getting the degree you need for development is if the degree you seeking is a science based degree. For example, a bachelor in computer science is a BS degree. If you want the best degree possible, it would be best to avoid degrees that are 'applied science' in favor of ‘science’ degrees. For example, a bachelors in IS/IT is usually a BAS degree as opposed to a computer science degree which is a BS.

If you plan to be a developer, a strong emphasis in mathematics is a must. For example most of the math needed in the creation of a first person shooter is Calculus I or higher as well as Calculus based Physics. If you go for a science degree you will be sure to get enough mathematics to work in a game development capacity.

If you want to be an artist or even a game designer, an art degree would be more in line with your needs. In the role of an artist or designer, companies will hire you based on two criteria. The first will be your body of work or portfolio, and the second on the tools you know how to use, i.e. 3DS Max, Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox etc.

Should I get a "Games Designer" degree?

The short answer is No.

If you have your heart set on being a game designer and nothing else, this wouldn't be a bad degree to pursue. Please keep in mind however, that game designer positions are not common, and the most sought position in the games industry. These positions usually go to in-house veterans with seniority.

In our humble opinion, your chances at success in the games industry, and the rest of the jobs market for that matter, will be significantly increased by NOT pursuing a games related degree but to pursue a degree in computer science, mathematics, and engineering. Yes, you will get a gaming degree in a significantly shorter period of time, but the answer to that is very simple...they don't cover anything remotely close to a four year degree. What they do cover is very niche and specific to the industry.

We also get asked a lot, "Well if the gaming degrees aren't that great, then why do they offer them?" This also has a simple answer. Colleges are businesses too. They are in the business of making money and they know that the gaming industry is big and that a lot of people want in. So they make it look very fun and very easy on TV to get kids to sign up. They would offer degrees in stamp collecting if they thought they could get people enrolled. Furthermore, it is difficult to find stats on job placements for these degrees.

Traditional computer science degrees do not emphasize game development; instead they teach software development and engineering across the board. So you will not only be able to develop video games but .NET apps, websites and so on like the one you are looking at right now. Neuron Games is a game company, and yet someone had to build this website; think about it.

The awesome thing about a traditional computer science degree is that even if you cannot find a position in the games industry right away, you can still get a job as a software developer at $70K+ a year until you find one; life would be so horrible.

What tools do you use to make your games?

The tools that we use change with technology and from project to project. Below is a list of our most commonly used development tools.

Game Code Development
  • Microsoft Visual Studio - C++, C# / .NET / Mono / XNA / DirectX
  • Cortex Engine
  • TomatoMonkey (Time Manager)
  • Perforce (Source Version Control)
Internet Development
  • Microsoft Visual Studio - C# with ASP.NET
  • MySQL
  • HTML5
  • JavaScript

What game engine do you use to create your games?

Cortex, our own game engine. Cortex is cross platform system that can target Windows, Xbox, iOS, Linux and Android simultaneously.

What art tools do you use to create your games?

The tools that we use change with the technology as well as from project to project. Below is a list of the most common tools that we use for development.

Game Artwork
  • Autodesk 3DS Max
  • Pixologic ZBrush
  • Autodesk MudBox
  • Autodesk MatchMover
  • Autodesk Composite
  • Autodesk 123D Catch
  • LightWorks
  • Adobe PhotoShop
  • ArtRage

What audio tools do you use to create your games?

The tools that we use change with the technology as well as from project to project. Below is a list of the most common tools that we use for development.

Game Audio Engineering
  • MixCraft
  • Adobe Audition
  • Audacity
  • Microsoft XACT

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