For Mentor of Game Programming Michelle Osborne, making video games initially started out as a way for her to couple her art skills and her practical skills together to build the little worlds she had in her head.
“Programming started out as a means for expression. Throughout school, I always loved painting, sculpture, and art. I also adored practical skills like metalwork and learning how things work. Programming is where these two opposing ideals meet perfectly.”
Typically answering to the creative director of a game, the role of a game programmer is to build the code that runs the game. That code (combined with the models, animation, and VFX) brings the concept of the game to life.
Working code is crucial in a variety of different areas in game development including audio, VFX, artificial intelligence, physics and general game-play.
Like a lot of creative industries, game programming and development is entirely project based. So the day-to-day in a studio can look very different depending on what stage of development the current project is currently at.
Some days you’ll be creating new tools and writing lines of code that bring your ideas to life before your very eyes. Other times you might be spending the day going through a checklist of bugs that need fixing. And other times you and your team will be crunching to get your product up to scratch to meet a deadline.
it’s the power to make anything you want exist where previously there was nothing and it feels incredible to be so unrestrained.”
“The beginning of a project is like new love; fast and exciting. And it feels great! But after a few months, things can settle down and you realize that this might actually take a lot of effort. So many projects falling to development hell at this time because the fun fades away, rather than finish it and feel the enjoyment of release, it’s more fun to start something new.”
Michelle believes that the best way ensure you get the most out of yourself and finish what you started is coming up with a set routine, being self-disciplined and (most importantly) surrounding yourself with a supportive network of people who can inspire and encourage.
“I’ve personally found that having friends or a community to encourage you is the best fuel. People’s excitement makes you excited in turn, and that game you’ve been working on for months gains a new breath of life.”
There are some common misconceptions made about about video game programmers and the worlds they live in. Antisocial troglodytes working 60-hour weeks surviving off an endless supply of energy drinks and instant noodles. White collar workaholics spending the majority of their day playing table tennis and crunching for deadlines.
But the truth is the people in the industry, especially here in Australia, couldn’t be more different.
“There’s always this misconception that programming is a dull, repetitive drawl that is enjoyed exclusively by dull people. But it’s the power to make anything you want exist where previously there was nothing and it feels incredible to be so unrestrained.”
Making and sharing her love for video games has taken Michelle all over the world. From Perth to Nepal. New York City to Norway. And to her current home in Sydney, Michelle knows what the industry looks like in several different countries. She has made friends from all different cultures, backgrounds, and social standings. The games she has created have allowed her to not only entertain but to help and support thousands of fans across the world.
People’s excitement makes you excited in turn, and that game you’ve been working on for months gains a new breath of life.”
But it’s the close-knit community and willingness to help one another to succeed that keeps Michelle coming back to Australia to ply her trade.
“I traveled around quite a bit looking for the place I liked most to work and Australia, in my opinion, had the best community for games,” Michelle admitted. “The community we have here is golden. We’re surrounded by people who are always happy to help and collaborate.