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Needing to implement programming skills in other careers

I recently came into a bit on an issue in my life: I have no job, and I have no idea how to make money in my current state. I've been looking for a game programmer job -hell, any job- for about half a year after graduating, with no-one accepting my applications for an interview. I almost came close to getting a job that could pay me some cash. However, that fell through after a misunderstanding on how the payment would be acquired.

Throughout the past few weeks, I've been working on small prototypes in Unity, hoping to somehow finish a game within months or even weeks. As of now, I have very little to show for it other than a few things I call "complete" games (i.e. they include a main menu, a game loop, and a game over screen). I can't sell any of them, as their visuals are not much to look at and gameplay is very simple.

I would also be working for the first time (i.e. paying income taxes) if I were to get hired by anyone. I've had a fear of working retail, as it seems to be the worst way to get money (tons of work with little pay). I have a sister working retail, and she seems miserable there working from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening.

To be honest, I just want to work in front of a computer. It's where I feel most comfortable working, and it's where I do my best work. But, I know there are other jobs out there away from computers that pay well. I just don't know what they are.

I'm mostly writing now to find out how to break out of solely looking for programmer jobs and applying my programming skills into different jobs. I primarily work with Unity in C#, but I'm not sure where to place these skills in the state where I live. If anyone has any ideas for alternate jobs or careers for using programming skills, I would much appreciate it.

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I feel like an idiot

Every time it listen to a podcast about people making games in 2 seconds, it makes my efforts to make a simple game in Unity feel like I've been running in circles. Whether it's Idle Thumbs or Sup, Holmes?, the people talking sound like they could literally make Skyrim in 2 days; I, however, can't even make a proper main menu. I've been messing around with PyxelEdit with little success; I've been using GiMP to try and make number textures with little success; I've tried to make a main menu in Unity where the GUI slowly moves left to right when a person presses a button with little to no success.

The worst part of this is that everyone keeps telling me to talk to people about what I should do; yet when I do, the people (who are usually programmers by trade) just assume you're such a dumbass they're surprised you could even figure out how to turn on a computer and use it, let alone talk about what you want to do in a game engine. Whether it's on Unity Answers or StackOverflow, the commenters seem to just not want to help you out. The worst part of this is that it took another person in a separate project I'm working on to help me out, making the previous venues of Q&A relatively obsolete for me; neither of them are (or have been) useful to me in a high percentage of the time.


Response to: Designing a loot system

I've always been against the loot systems in most games.  As for the current loot systems in games, I think it's downright broken. It's boring and monotonous, and its only use is to elongate the game's playthrough time for more than it needs to.  I mean, every sword is the same sword, but with different stats involved.  Even after all of that, the games usually have modifying items (e.g. gems in Diablo series) that augment a weapon that much more.  Which is unfortunate, as you never know when you'll get a better weapon that outweighs the one you already have, which, I may add, has the best gem you have equipped.  This makes any investment into a single weapon much less worthwhile than just waiting for a better drop at the end of the game and dumping your gems into that weapon.  Just give me one of each item that I will keep for the entire game that I can equip mods on whenever I see fit (e.g. Ratchet:Deadlocked).   

I actually thought Fable III would do this perfectly with the Hero Sword and Hero Hammer you got at the beginning of the game.  The initial premise of these weapons was they would increase in strength and overall usefulness as you went through the game (which DID happen).  However, I thought these weapons would be the only weapons you got through the entire game, and you would be able to modify them with the Augmentations (I'll call them 'Augs' for short) that have been prominent through the series.  For example, you could add a Fire Aug and Piecing Aug to your sword when faced against an undead enemy and be able to switch them out for two Lightning Augs when faced with a Balverine, or something.  Throughout the game, I assumed you could choose between permanently placing your currently placed Augs or adding more space on your weapon for more Augs.  Unfortunately, what the game actually offered was pretty bad: for each weapon you could unlock better modifiers after performing certain tasks (e.g. kill 200 Balverines with a gun to unlock a 10% Piecing bonus).  However, by the time you've come across this weapon, you've killed your fair share of Balverines with other weapons that did not ask for these actions to be performed to earn a modifier.   I haven't actually played Fable III, but I have seen enough of the game to know about the modifiers are handled.  That said, please alleviate on any details I may have forgotten along the way.
They way I would tackle the loot system has already been stated in the first paragraph to a smaller degree (i.e. have only one of each weapon that can be modified as the player see fit).  I'll expand on this idea by stating these modifiers (e.g. Fire damage increase) are the more significant of the two items in this discussion.  The mods make the weapon, not vice versa.  This, however, means you can't give out all the weapons out at once, else the player will feel less invested in the game.

  Randomize the mods the same way you would weapons in any other loot-based game made so far (e.g. Borderlands, Diablo series, Baulder's Gate series, Tourchlight, etc.).  These mods will have stats that are standard to most of these games (e.g. +10% Fire Damage/Resistance), but as these modifiers are what make the weapon what it truly is, the modifiers (shortened to 'mods' for convenience's sake) will also alter the overall function of the weapon through Modifier Combos, which will change the weapons overall appearance and function. 
  For example, if you put three different types of mods onto a sword, it will change into a claymore (which grants greater damage but is slower than the initial sword), whereas another combination of mods will grant the player with a chain-sword, similar to what Ivy from the SoulCalibur series wields.  Putting the same 'chain-sword' mod combo onto a pair of knives gets something similar to the Blades of Chaos from God of War.  Meanwhile, the weapons will upgrade on their own, granting more space for mods.  So, the player can increase the reach the chain-sword combo or add Poison Damage to it to increase it's effectiveness.

  As for other items, such as armor or shields, these modifiers will (for now) act as they have in other games (e.g. increase Dark Defense by +20%, provide Drain Health).  However, the player can wear whatever they want (similar to Fable II) and still have these mods equipped to modify overall defensive performance.  I'll have to think more about how they will effectively add to the effectiveness of armor and other forms of defensive protection.
This system may all seem a little confusing, so let me know if there's anything you want clarification on. 


Some Game Ideas I Wanted to Share

Just wanted to finally contribute to this site after about 2 years of bumming off of it. 
Here are some video game ideas I has rattling in my head for a bit: 

Unclear (Working title) 

  • revolves around a detective who, as a result to bad short-term memory, is slowly losing touch with reality, of which the cause is unclear.  The overall story has not been ironed out yet.  
  • Memory will progressively worsen or improve as the game goes on based on the player's performance through the game
  • The main goal of the game is to solve the case while dealing with the main character's chronic memory loss.
Game Mechanics:
  • One major game mechanic would involve the progressive loss of the detective's memory.   
  • For example, the character will slowly forget the objectives of any missions he/she is assigned.  I order to remedy this, the character would have to write down notes or remind his/herself frequently about what he/she is currently supposed to be doing.   
    • This also factors into the save system: game saves will automatically be deleted if the player is away from the game after a set amount of time (e.g. an early game save will be deleted after about a week away from the game).  This will encourage players to complete the game faster in order to prevent their saves from being deleted.  
    • Any event within the save will be forgotten by the character only; other characters from the game will retain all memory of events that transpired involving the protagonist and said NPC.            

  • not set in stone but may involve either a point-and-click adventure style, in which the player will explore different environments looking for clues, suspects, ant witnesses that may lead him/her to the true perpetrator of the crime.  
  • After every major section of the game, the detective will quiz him/herself in order to retain memories of the clues gathered during the investigation.  Choices selected during the sequence will drastically alter the events played throughout the rest of the game.  For example, if the player chooses a clue that is ultimately useless during the investigation out of a handful of clues (only one of which is beneficial to the case), the detective will permanently write off all other evidence out of that handful and move on with the case. 
  • Saving the game will involves calling the police 
Potential passively learned life lessons learned through the game may include the proper retention of information and properly discerning the truth from a lie or a beneficial item from a less beneficial one. 

I'll add more ideas in the future.  Until then, I hope you have any improvements to the idea I have created.