A View on Career in Game Development

by Noc Team on March 16, 2011

Muhammad Ishaq Malik, CEO Kahaf

Muhammad Ishaq Malik, CEO Kahaf, is one of the prominent speaker who decided to become an integral part of CodeWeek’s upcoming seminar. At the end of this week, he will be presenting at CodeWeek’s Seminar 2011. A graduate of UET, Ishaq has five years of experience in the IT industry. In our conversation with him, he revealed his enthusiasm of game development.

CodeWeekTell us about yourself and your personal experience in this field

Ishaq: Gaming has always been my passion. I decided to become a game developer when I was playing Sky-Roads on my 286 back in the mid-90s; guess you can tell the nerds early. Currently, I am working as an Engineering Consultant and developing my own games as well.

Game development is still in its infancy in Pakistan, thus, not many get a chance of working on AAA titles, but it is fun nevertheless. It has been a great learning experience so far.

However, the fun part includes a lot of hair pulling and sleepless nights, due to which one ends up searching for bugs that test team reports, and which frankly do not really exist.

CodeWeekIs there any scope of Game development in Pakistan?

Ishaq: It depends on what you are looking for.

Like I said, the local game development industry is still in its infancy. Despite some ambitious attempts to jump start hardcore game development, almost all of the games being developed locally are casual web/mobile games or essentially applications with a lot of eye candy to make them look like games.

The good thing, however, is the emergence of online stores like AppStore and Google Apps Marketplace through which it has become much easier for individuals to sell their products. So, I would say that it is only a matter of time before we start seeing serious game development from the local industry.

So, if you want to get a AAA title on your resume, right after you join the industry, there isn’t much in it for you. But, if you are passionate and patient about game development, then, you have to wait for the right time. And trust me, casual games are not so bad either, they have a much wider target audience and hence a lot more fan base.

CodeWeek: As an undergraduate where should I start from? What educational path should I take?

Ishaq:

Short Answer: be good at programming

Long Answer: If you are a good programmer, you can learn other stuff as it comes along. If you are not, you probably do not want to go for game development or any kind of development for that matter.

You should start by learning one of the main stream programming languages. Any language of your choice should be good enough; usually people tend to choose C++, Java or C#. For starters, try developing small games, especially clones of classic games e.g. Tetris. These will also help you understand various problems that one encounters during game development and thereby, appreciate the solutions better.

Additionally, you should have a good grasp of design patterns, basics of AI and know-how of game physics. Knowing a 3D graphics API (OpenGL/DirectX) is an added advantage but not necessary. Clearly, you must be strong at mathematics as well. If you plan to develop multiplayer games, get your hands dirty with some client/server programming as well.

CodeWeekWhat educational background or professional experience do game development companies look for in a candidate?

Ishaq:

He/she should be a good programmer and have a passion for games.

CodeWeekWhat is the likelihood of getting a relevant job in this field?

Ishaq: It is not as hard as it used to be. Many companies have ventured into game development in recent years.  I would want to clarify though, that game development is not just being the pixel Gods and doing the graphics, there is a lot more to it. You may be a server developer, you may be a tools programmer, or you may be working on AI or Physics. All these roles are important, and all these components are vital in making a game successful. So, do not consider any of them inferior or boring.

Also, I am positive that this career will offer more options in the future; especially once we start developing hardcore games.

CodeWeek: What misconceptions do people have about this arena?

Ishaq: Well, internationally, universities have started offering programs focused on game development. However, our academia unfortunately, still treats them as a play thing. Games and gaming technology related projects are highly under-rated by both faculty and students. This mindset needs to be changed.

One possible solution is to organize game development specific competitions and workshops. In fact, such gatherings are required in the industry too. IGDA used to have a Karachi chapter, but that has been dormant for a few years. We need to increase the amount of collaboration among academia and industry. I am sure technology magazine can help a lot in this regard.

CodeWeekWhat is the most challenging aspect about game development?

Ishaq: Staying focused; games require more concentration than most software projects and can be extremely demanding. Whether you are developing or testing, you might get frustrated with a boring routine task or a bug which is impossible to fix/reproduce, or a new concept which is difficult to grasp. That is when passion and perseverance come in. These should be your motivation and should drive you towards the finish line.

 

 


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Love Poems March 16, 2011 at 6:06 AM

I think in Pakistan there are few software houses providing the facility of Games Development (I think, and i dont know the names even). Ishaq bhai is requested to please mention the names and adresses of few top level software houses where game development is being carried on.

This topic should be done in details as it will be benificial for visitors as well as for CODEWEEK.

Best Regards
Muddasar Khan

Malik March 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

@Muddasar, there are several good names, some are:

– Tintash
– Geni Team
– Gameview Studios
– Mindstorm Studio

– Malik

Tahir March 19, 2011 at 3:33 AM

Assallam o Alie kum,

I feel this such a site very good in respect of IT field to get awareness about the updates in the respective profession.

regards,
tahir jafri

Satti March 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Very informative…

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