One of the most important jobs in game development is that of a game programmer. Without this role, any story concepts, designs and gameplay mechanics would not be able to make it into the final product. It is the role of the programmer to use their knowledge of software and technical skills to help translate ideas into a fully playable game. But, what sort of tasks does a game programmer usually perform? What does an average day look like for this role, and how can you become a programmer yourself?
Duties of a Game Programmer
The tasks for this role can vary between projects and studios, but the most common responsibilities are:
- Turning ideas and designs into code that can be used to make a playable game.
- Building a unique engine for the game, which can be built on by future titles.
- Creating scripted events and interactions within the game.
- Setting the physics, such as gravity, within the game world.
- Rendering 3D graphics, such as models and environments.
- Simulating the AI in opponents and non-player characters.
- Putting in music, sound effects and voice acting.
- Implementing game mechanics and logic.
- Designing the game’s user interface.
- Writing code for input control schemes (keyboards, mice, controllers, etc).
- Designing online and multiplayer game modes.
- Making custom tools.
- Porting code to other platforms.
- Fixing issues with memory.
- Finding and removing bugs.
A Typical Day of a Game Programmer
The role of a programmer is to implement different design features so they can make a fully playable game. During their day, they will most likely liaise with other departments on how best to apply the various designs. In a big AAA studio, you may find that some programmers will specialise in a certain field: for example, audio programmers will make sure that certain actions or events will generate an appropriate sound. Smaller studios may require their game programmers to be involved in a greater range of tasks.
During their day, programmers will also work together to implement mechanics such as running speeds, how often enemies appear, how characters respond to certain actions, and so forth. Ultimately, this role involves collaborating with a lot of departments to help realise the best game possible.
Requirements for a Game Programmer Role
These are the most common qualifications needed in order to become a programmer:
- Excellent knowledge of at least one programming language. The more languages you know, the better chance you have of earning this role.
- Experience with game engines such as Unity, CryEngine, Unreal Engine and more.
- Superior communication skills in order to work with a range of departments.
- Solid maths skills, as well as problem-solving and analytical skills.
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