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AAA graphics vs Voxel/Retro graphics

I am having a little discussion right now so I thought I would ask the community, seeking for the opinion of seasoned game-developers (who are maybe already employed in bigger studios).

Let’s say you want to be hired at a big name as a programmer and you are working towards improving to that goal, building a portfolio etc…
What type would the prefer for employment for games you made in a team?

Game that have great graphics, AAA meshes (that you did not create yourself but the 3D-modeler did) or a game that features procedural voxel worlds or generally more “simple” graphics?
Or is it even the reverse, that a simpler looking game that implements procedural mechanics well is prefered over a simply stunning looking one that has mediocre AI?

The question is specifically about if you need to be able to show that you worked on games with great graphics to be prefered over a developer who worked on games with “■■■■” graphics but that have a well-working procedural mechanic.

I am not a professional or big name in any sense, but hope this helps some.

Make a list of all the big name companies or companies in general you want to be hired to. See what the overall type of games they make are, generally big names have a major demographics and a minor demographic targets. Sometimes the big names also have smaller teams that work on niche games. Make sure the company is working on game types you are looking to work on. Build games/prototypes similar to that.

Using 3d assets that other people made to demo your programming skills is perfectly fine IMO. Mainly because that’s what big companies do, nearly all of the big names buy assets made by other companies that specialize in 3d materials, models, animations, and etc, to combine with the assets they made internally.They re-use their old code as well(Assassin’s creed 1-X/Far Cry 1-X/DarkSouls1-X), similar to the templates we find on the UE4 marketplace.

Start communicating with these companies, the big names have tons of staff and can be quite helpful with aspiring candidates looking for work. Sometimes a quick call to their hiring department to look into what job types are heavily in demand before taking classes is useful. Even asking if you can send in a prototype you have to a hiring manager for evaluation on whether or not you should apply for a programming job and learn more. If you are polite, kind, courteous, and determined, they will remember your name as well when it comes time to look at applications.

Anecdotal Experience: A few friends of mine did the above paragraph in different industries, they contacted the company, Asked them about all the job types in demand, told them they would be trying to work there because they did research and found out it was the place they wanted to be. Every month they contacted them again and told them of how they updated their skills that month to be more inline with the job type. They got the job in roughly 3 months per person, to be fair they already qualified and were only adding on extra qualifications each month. Also this can probably be annoying, so take it with a grain of salt, but showing dedication, effort and consistency with results is a big win in business.

If you’re trying to get a job as a programmer then make something that highlights your programming. The graphics wouldn’t matter unless you’re a graphics programmer

Thank you all for your input, it is really appreciated (actually your advice, NoSpaceGameDev, was a really interesting read, I have not thought of that at all until now but I definitely agree. I am not personally seeking employment in an AAA company though) but that is way more than I asked for. I also personally agree with you, darthviper107 that graphics does not matter.

This is really just about this single comparison, I know it sounds stupid, it IS stupid, but it is purely for the sake of a discussion I am having right now.

For an AAA studio that actually focuses on making those typical stunning games, what impresses them more in your portfolio, “normal” games made with outsourced but stunning assets or (often more complex) procedural games that look actually very retro, or “like garbage” like some people say?

It really won’t matter, if you are a programmer whatever you show them that shows off your skills is what matters, not your graphics.