3D Games Developer/Programmer

3D Games Developer/Programmer

Steven

San Francisco, CA

Male, 30

I'm a self-taught 3D Game Developer and Programmer of 15 years. I have freelanced on game projects as a 3D artist and programmer for about 8 years, I've worked some 6-figure salary jobs in San Francisco on Social Games, and have been independent for the past 3 years developing Unity 3D Multiplayer Games for my own game portal MartianGames.com.
If my career path interests you, send me some questions! :D

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Last Answer on February 03, 2016

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Have you tried the new Oculus Rift thing, and is it as cool as everyone says?

Asked by dan79 over 3 years ago

I think VR will be really fun.  Since Oculus originally was crowd funded and then sold to facebook without first checking in on the opinion of its 'funders', it's unfortunately got an ugly stigma right now, and it may yet be a competitor who earns the favor of majority.  But VR certainly has come a long way since "Virtual Boy", and while VR will always make a large % of people dizzy, nauseous, and vomiting, I can't wait to see it becoming more mainstream over the next 5 years.  That said, while I work in the free-to-play browser world right now, I haven't excerted much energy into developing for VR yet as only a very small number of people have gotten their hands on the hardware, and most of those wealthy people are not casual enough to be looking for games played in browsers.  I do hope this will change overtime, however, because games distributed through personal websites enables developers to be truly independant of any publishers, who may refuse our content for any number of reasons.  Browser gaming is truly democratising, and a perfect space for real innovation.  I will definitely tap into VR once at least 20% of my fans have the hardware.  ;)

Which is a more important skill for someone wanting to get into your field: artistic abilities or quantitative? In other words, is 3D programming more of a mathematical exercise or an aesthetic one?

Asked by Crak over 3 years ago

I see Video Game development as one of the most technical artforms and the most artistic of technologies.  I think the most appropriate question is what interests you most?  If you have a stronger passion for making awesome art than crunching numbers to simulate physics for example, then I would recommend focusing on art skills, particularly 3D modeling.  

Also consider that if you were to focus more energy on specific aspects of the field, this can get you that much more of a shine in the crowd, a greater potential to score a high paid career with large studios.  However, if you prefer to work alone or with a small studio, then having broader expertise becomes much more relevant.  I find myself to prefer the latter.   ;)

How does 3D work exactly? Are you "fooling" the human brain to see a dimension that doesn't actually exist?

Asked by soc over 3 years ago

Yep!  As when you draw a Cube on a piece of paper with a pencil, instead of a flat box, you are suggesting that there are 6 sides, and the object has depth, even though the page upon which it is drawn is flat.  You could further this illusion by suggesting a light source by drawing a shadow extending out from the bottom of your Cube.  Of course now we can use computers to calculate such effects of shadow, lighting, and moving objects appearing larger when closer, smaller when distant, etc .. which is all handled mathematically in real-time in computer games.  This to me is the most fascinating ability of computers as a tool, so much so it has consumed my whole life!  ;)

Do you develop your indie games completely by yourself? If not, did you fund the other aspects yourself or is it done by volunteers?

Asked by Tim Ridley over 3 years ago

I handle the whole process from idea to engineering to testing, production, marketing, distribution, and LOTS of coffee!  About 50% of the art I purchase licenses or outsource so I end up focusing on the stuff it's harder to find people willing to do.  ;)

My whole life I have never had 'good' credit.  So, the development of my games is entirely funded by the games themselves.  I iterate them through several stages, and strategically earn revenue from each significant feature milestone by releasing first a couple free small games on online game sites (ad-revenue share), then a bigger game (might have small in-game purchases), then a final product (sold on Steam as downloadable).  Of course nothing is ever 'Final', but you get the idea...

I went to a 3D movie that still gave out those old-school red and blue glasses. How come with all the tech advances in the last couple decades we're still using those cheap-o glasses to render 3D?

Asked by Erik over 3 years ago

Since I work in 3D Games, not movies .. I can just make a guess.  And it's a rough one.  It sounds like you were maybe watching an 'OLD' movie that used that really 'OLD' tech?  And they were too lazy to attempt upgrading that old film to more recent techniology?  In my own experience, I haven't seen a movie using that old technique in at least a decade.  Curious indeed!  ;)

Do you think 3D will be the future of gaming or will console/desktop continue to be more popular?

Asked by Curious over 3 years ago

I'm afraid there might be some misinterpretation of my job description.  I'm using the term 3D to to mean I use a 'Z' coordinate in my games.  This is to give the illusion there is depth when rendering onto an otherwise 'flat' screen.  In contrast, 2D games such as "Super Mario", "Donkey Kong", or "Angry Birds" render strictly X and Y coordinates.  (You can move your character up,down,left,right.)  For example majority Flash games and Mobile games are '2D' games, while majority AAA Console games are '3D' games.  Lately there has been a lot of media about VR (Virtual-Reality)  games which use hardware like the Oculus to suggest a more 'realistic' depth on the 'Z' coordinate by forcing your eyes to 'bring-into-focus' nearer or further objects on your retina.  

Now to answer your question:

I believe you are asking me about 'Virtual-Reality' 3D such as in 3D movies or Oculus games, and if these experiences will nearly replace the standard tech.  My personal view is I would be very surprised to see VR goggles dominating the traditional (goggle-free) tech, anymore than we've already seen in movies or home TVs.  I've seen 3D movies and TVs grab some initial excitement at first and then fade into a niche 'secondary' trend.  Nintendo's Virtual Boy was the first real attempt at popularizing VR tech and it was such a complete disaster it has taken now 2 decades for a new generation to grow up and give this another shot.  The tech is WAY better now, of course.  Still, there remains the ongoing problem of headaches, disorientated nausea, existential panic attacks, and the general discomfort of having to wear heavy gear in order to partake.  ;)

Disclaimer:  As I explained above, I am not a VR-tech expert.  I have not nor plan on making any VR games, mostly for reasons I just mentioned.  In my humble opinion I don't think VR is going to be a 'game-changer' until we have something more like a Star Trek Holodeck in which we can truly use our whole body to move around and interact.  Until then, I am most happy not having to dart my head around, and just sit back, neck relaxed, head-ache free, with my hand-held game controller.  ;)

 

What's the "next frontier" in 3D gaming technology? If you had to guess, will games 10 years from now make today's games look as antiquated as games from 10 years ago look to us right now?

Asked by Rob Ford over 3 years ago

The evolution of 3D game tech has tended to be exponential since its inception, and I would expect this trend to continue, such that in 10 years games of today will seem 100 times more primitive than games 10 years ago seem to us today. I'm betting that Voxel (volumetric) game engines will become the next big revolution. Voxels being the equivalent of atoms in simulated realism, we will likely see concepts like chemical reactions, virtual laboratories, bio-engineering, advanced fluid/aerodynamics in future games. ;)