How to get a job as a game programmer/developer in AAA studios?

I have looked up and down on the internet and haven’t really found the solution, or maybe I am just too confused to know the answer.

I love games and wanted to get into making them from a long time. I first started working with Unity and then realized that I could not see how this could help me in getting into AAA studios as all there job requirements had stuff that I didn’t learn in the process. Then it felt like making a game engine would help me learn better what those studios want. But then that stuff was too overwhelmingly tough for me to actually get something competitive done. I did learn some things, but it was not a one man job.
I then again decided to go into making games on a pre-existing engine, this time I took up Unreal Engine 4. But this time I have a better idea of what I want to do. I am interested in making game play logic, AI system, and on a side have fair bit of interest in modelling (not texturing) and animation. I may not be good at all this right now, but I have figured out what I have to do exactly, and on the side.
Now again I did end up one some companies job page(Naughty Dog, Santa Monica and Sucker Punch) and I found myself in the sea of confusion and hopelessness, half of the time I couldn’t figure out what the requirements.

So my question is, is learning how to get complex AI running in UE4, setting up some nice game play mechanics in UE4, and setting up a nice UI in UE4 and creating some models and animating them in Maya will be enough to get me a job at some of the AAA studios I mentioned?

I know I haven’t done all the stuff I mentioned in depth, but I can’t proceed without having a proper aim and path, the path can change in between but should lead me somewhere at least.

I will be thankful for any good advice.

Edit. I am not good at art, just in case.

You need to decide which aspect of development you want to go into, look at job specifications for junior roles of that position, and make sure you can do the things described to a high level of ability. This means you need to spend time working on things (if it’s AI, then work on an AI project, polish it, then build a better one etc) - it will take a long time to build up the expertise to go AAA. I’d expect most people who make it will have been making things in one form or another for years.

  • Get a loan, move to a AAA hotbed area.
  • Be very good at something those companies need.
  • Be a math expert.
  • Learn and understand well Unreal’s source, and CryEngine’s core.
  • Stay away from Unity.
  • Aim at specialization, such as AI programmer or Animation programmer, Graphics engineer, etc.

Still, you’ll only be able to land a good AAA job if you can prove you don’t need a game engine to have your job done and could make it all by yourself from raw C++. Game engines cut ~90% of the work effort, if you can do it all yourself without engines holding your hand, every single AAA company will want to at least have a talk with you.

If you plan to be an artist instead… Good luck with that; there’s millions of pros who will always be better than you :slight_smile:

If that’s not what you expect, just do your own stuff just like all the unity users and forget about AAA companies…

Don’t do this - if you’re good, AAA companies will relocate you at their own expense.

You need to specialize in one area, like C++ programming. It’s difficult to be good at separate things like programming vs. 3D art since they both require a lot of time to develop skills, so you need to look at the job positions and see what specifically they are looking for. Big studios usually have more specialization so a programmer might only work on one type of thing like multiplayer.
Ultimately to get a job you need to have a portfolio that demonstrates your skill for the job position.

Get a B.S. in Computer Science from a state school (Not one of the private game making schools), you can do your first 2 years at a community college. Make sure the school does it’s CS classes in C++ and not in Java, schools tend to be one or the other and it’s easy to find out which.

To add to what others have said… In general its the same for any tech area that’s highly sought after:

  1. Be employed already. Preferably related, but if not, general past form / employment track record still counts for a lot.
  2. Be articulate. Talent is obviously important, but good communication skills are still key for most jobs at mega-corps.
  3. Try and make the entire world your job market. Organize your own visas if you can to give you the greatest scope.
  4. Befriend recruiters. Not wannabe outsiders but respected head-hunters. Corporations like to outsource initial filtering.
  5. For a dream job, throw out expectations about money / position / location. Just get in the door (play the long game).

But in such a case he must be at senior level already… or be very very very lucky.

That’s not true at all, you just have to be valuable enough to be worth hiring in the longer term.

Know the right person at the right time when you have the right skills.

Otherwise, no clue :slight_smile:


Its good knowing persons like @kris told.
So get in touch with everyone you can!
Make yourself a thing, people need to recognize you.
Dont stay away from unity. Take what you can and evolve.

The most important part?
Do stuff, alot of it, you need to prove yourself.
A big portfolio is a giant step and contacts are the last.

Irf you have these 2 at least you will get a chance. The third part is your personality in terms of teamwork and longtime business.

Networking can definitely help - this is a small industry, and when vacancies pop-up, you may find that someone already has you in mind. Attending local events, participating in game jams, and working with online small mods / indie games is a good way to get established within the community.

Depends on what area you want to apply for. Always put out pieces of your work so it can catch others attention, also see if you can apply for internship. I do believe some of these companies offer internship.

Not really, it depends on what you are good at what you do, the size of the company, and how far it is you are moving. The farther you are moving the more likely it is that the company will at least help you move. Also it is beyond stupid to start out with no job and a sizable amount of debt, even more so when you consider that someone who is just starting out normally has at least some Student Loan Debt as well.