I'm an average physics student. Where to go from here?

  • #26
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What, exactly, is an average physics student with introductory level programming knowledge going to offer to the video game industry? You know that there are many commercial physics engines that you can just buy, right? (some are even free).

I got into VG industry straight after graduating with MS in Physics (experimental HEP). I wrote the car physics for a racing game series. Specifically, I wrote the whole car dynamics including engine torque, gearbox, suspension, wind resistance, collisions, force feedback and the most important tire model.

These things, I'd say you still need to write in-house even if you can buy commercial engines. Even for those physics implemented in commercial engines, you need someone knowledgeable enough to use.

I was lucky that my excellent domain knowledge (about cars) was a perfect match to the opportunity. My programming knowledge was barely enough for the job, though, with only one course in C and some amateurish programming in HEP. Again, I was lucky, and that is just one data point.
 
  • #27
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What, exactly, is an average physics student with introductory level programming knowledge going to offer to the video game industry? You know that there are many commercial physics engines that you can just buy, right? (some are even free).

You know game/physics engines don't just appear our of nowhere, right? Someone has got to program them.
 
  • #28
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Video game programming jobs tend to be highly competitive, low paying, and have low job security. Some people have decided that they want to claw their way into a crappy video game job, be treated poorly and then gripe about it later. Others work reasonable hours and then enjoy the fruits of VG programmer's labor in their leisure time (and at very little expense, compared to their income).

My advice is to join me in that second group.
 
  • #29
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I've actually posed this question several times, but find myself feeling super confused about the possible answers: With just my BS and experience in programming, are there entry level jobs in programming I have a (good) shot at obtaining? Whether in VG or something else I'm not super picky provided it's at least slightly interesting.

As for video games, I think that could be a fun field to enter. Does anybody know about the expertise required for a start up in that industry? What are the odds that a physics major might be able to actually create an indie game? It hasn't been a passion of mine in years but I could dust off some old games from my high school years.
 
  • #30
chiro
Science Advisor
4,790
132
My advice to you is that if it is not a passion, forget doing it.

It is a job full of long hours and little to no pay and people do it because quite frankly, they wouldn't do anything else.

If this is just some kind of fad to you I strongly recommend you look elsewhere. (Note: I used to do this myself so I'm not giving advice on something I am speculating on or have no experience with).
 
  • #31
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Hm, can the same be said for physics? That's my passion. I recall being obsessed with making a strategy game once but that passion seems to have faded.

I would do physics because I don't want to do anything else. Or maybe I'm just young and stupid and think I'd do physics because I wouldn't do anything else.
 
  • #32
9,749
2,848
Then stick with physics.

The action really is in graduate school anyway and physics will prepare you for many graduate options from IT to Statistics to Engineering - the usual bugbear is the math prerequisites and physics is pretty good for that - nearly as good as a math degree - in fact doing both math and physics is usually dead simple. The difference is math degrees usually require you to do your epsilonics - I say usually - my math degree required it - as IMHO it should - but checked it out recently and they removed the requirement as well as a communication requirement and a second minor or major (I did a second major in CS - but physics was popular also) - you could do nothing but math if you wanted. I thought the professional communication was a crock when I did it but 30 years of work changed my mind - it's critical.

Thanks
Bill
 
  • #33
222
0
Hm, can the same be said for physics? That's my passion. I recall being obsessed with making a strategy game once but that passion seems to have faded.

I would do physics because I don't want to do anything else. Or maybe I'm just young and stupid and think I'd do physics because I wouldn't do anything else.

If you want to do physics then do physics but I would highly recommend a backup plan. I've posted my story several times on these forums so you can read more about it if you want. Essentially, I did physics/math but was constantly learning programming on the side and it helped me immensely when I was looking for a job. I mostly modeled physical systems in my spare time but I also learned about data structures and OOP either in a class or wrapped into my self-learning. If you know those two things reasonably well then you can get a job in software. Data structures is mostly for the interviews if you know what I mean, lol.
 
  • #34
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Can one avoid OOP? I'm not at all fond of it.

It sounds like I'm on the right track then, I'm learning various programming skills and doing decently in my coursework. It's hard for me to see why switching to a different major would have a positive effect on my job outlook. I suppose specializing in electrical engineering might open up certain jobs but it seems like with physics + EEE masters or Phd or physics Phd in solid state I'm in good shape.
 

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