Being a gaming programmer is hard work for sure. It is one of the most demanding jobs in the video game industry. But fret not as we've got you covered. We have compiled a list of essential tips and insights on how to improve as a programmer.
Yeah, it sounds weird. But it's essential to spend time looking into the way computers compute code. You have to be aware of what a computer's memory actually does during coding or what the computer does when you complete a certain function. The whole point is changing your way of thinking about a problem and subconsciously turning into a human-computer. By doing so, you actually create optimized ways of doing the same thing while coding. You improve your coding speed and productivity. Also, to create complex things that require the implementation of features not commonly done, you need to have a real deep understanding of computers. And remember that during your programming career, you cannot always open a web browser and look for guides online.
So, learn the way your machine works.
As a gaming programmer, you need to get used to documentation. You have to feel comfortable in digging through endless documents, manuals, and guides to understand relevant terminology. The quicker you get at learning a new language or program, the easier your life will be.
You need also to get used to reading and debugging code and understanding what a specific package or module is doing and how. Mostly the code that you're reading and are called to fix is not yours. Therefore, you need to have a solid knowledge of languages and coding techniques to skim quickly through different codes. It is tough but doable.
You're going to sit in front of the computer for hours on end, so do get comfortable. A decent ergonomic chair is your best bet and helps you avoid back pain that hinders your productivity.
A good programmer knows how to code splendidly. But a great programmer is always on the lookout to improve their coding skills. Thankfully, there are many resources online that can help programmers grasp even the most challenging languages or engines. With a quick search on YouTube or even Twitch, you can find ample videos or live streams of code marathons. In the rare case that the located resource is not exactly what you desire, you should still give it a go. You can always pick something up that in turn, could be invaluable to your career. By watching online videos, it helps to understand algorithms and data structures too. For instance, knowing how to sort algorithms is crucial, as you can set up data in the most efficient and effective way. Likewise, knowing more about data structures expands your ways of storing data. To sum it up, knowledge makes you powerful options, as your options are not limited anymore.
Try every now and then to improve your knowledge about programming. By educating yourself about your coding—your passion, you improve your professional outcome. Furthermore, don’t have unrealistic expectations, at least at the beginning of your career. Have patience. You may not code perfectly, or you may be a bit slow, but nevertheless, at least you’re making progress.
This is becoming a common theme in all of our articles. Branching outside the means of "normal" employment and working on your own projects can only help. On one hand, you're getting more experience in programming. On the other hand you're learning valuable skills like project management, following a budget (if you set one) and possible managing a team if you hire other programmers to help. These are skills that game studios look for when hiring managerial-type roles/
Diversify. As you're working on projects you're familiar with, try to diversify and expand your work options. Be open with your code and try to accept every programming opportunity. To put it in another away, you need to become versatile.
One of the greatest pieces of advice for any job position is that you need to be open to criticism. Don't be too attached or even defensive about your code. Look at everything as an opportunity to learn, and as such, be ready to accept and embrace advice. People aren't looking to hurt you but to improve your toolset. For every remark be thankful and try to implement it into your next coding adventure.
Finally, above all, enjoy your work. If you love what you're doing, you are always going to have success. And in this case, if you're passionate about your code and spend time outside of work hours studying it, be certain that it will pay off.