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So You Want To Be A Physics Game Programmer ?

  1. Apr 5, 2005 #1
    Lots of students are wondering about the possibilities of being a physicist in professional life. I have posted an entry on this in my journal ('what is a physicist').

    On the following page : https://www.physicsforums.com/journal.php?s=&journalid=13790&action=view

    I have written a little intro on "the physics game programmer". The entry has various links to pages on what this is, what are the earnings , where can you do this kind of work and do on...

    So, if you are interested in combining programming and physics and you want to create computer games, this might just be it for you... Who ever said that physics is boring ?

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2005 #2


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    Great little journal entry you put together marlon. You included some great information as well as great links. To add a little more to the topic of this thread, I'd like to point out these books to all those interested:

    Mathematics For Game Developers
    Physics For Game Developers
    Game Physics

    Now, I only own the Mathematics For Game Developers book and it is a very good reference material. I haven't had a chance to read the other two books yet, but I've been hearing wonderful things about both of them (from friends, reviewers, etc.).
  4. Apr 5, 2005 #3
    I didn't have a chance to look through Marlon's stuff yet, so he may have mentioned it already, but they are going to be offering chips and cards that are dedicated to physics processing. Expect to see games that take advantage of this near the end of this year or early next. I don't know what kind of physics knowledge it takes to code for something like this, but it could easily increase the demand for programmers with a strong background in physics, if companies plan to take advantage of this new technology.

    I'm starting to wonder if future computers will have a CPU at all. Maybe just a set of 6 or 7 chips that are specialized to handle all the required tasks of running the os, graphics, physics, AI, data IO, sound, ect..
  5. Apr 5, 2005 #4
    Cod, Kdinser,

    thanks for the replies...i will put the sites in my entry.
    as for the programming language, i have read that C++ and Visual C++ are the most common languages that are used

  6. Apr 5, 2005 #5


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    As far as console and computer games are concerned, yes; however, I've been reading a lot of articles about how the game industry is doing their programming with Java for mobile gaming (phones, PSP, etc.). I'm not sure the entire gaming industry is doing this, but I know of a few that are. I'll see if I can find any more information about this subject later tonight.
  7. Apr 5, 2005 #6
    I have always thought this might be an interesting career to pursue, in my highschool i have been diligently studying computer sciences and physics so this might be the perfect fit for me. Thanks for the information. As for how the programming languages go, in my opinion Java is the way to go and I hope to see more games being developed with it, but it also need some improvements to be able to compete with C++
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2005
  8. Apr 5, 2005 #7
    I think java, or languages like it, are the future of programming, due largely to their ability to run on many operating systems with little to no modification. Of course, there will always be a need for programmers who know how to use c and c++'s low level capabilities.

    20 years from now, I picture a world where kids start learning how to program with a high level language when they are 6 or 7 and almost everyone knows how to program at least a little. At the same time, the old programmers who know the low level languages walk around in robs are considered almost like a monk class. Hey, you never know :smile: .
  9. Apr 5, 2005 #8
    Isn't that already happening right now ???

    marlon :rofl:
  10. Apr 5, 2005 #9

    Actually, yes it is. A good friend of mine has been an oracle developer for 10 years, he works for one of the big 3 auto makers in the states. Just the other day, he was telling me how much things have changed since he started. Coders are now referred to as code monkeys and are looked down upon by management. The feeling is, there are so many people out there with CS degrees (not the same as computer engineers), they are easy to replace. It's only the people who know assembly or other old, rarely used languages that management is afraid to lose. At least that's what's going on at his company.

    At the same time, one of my little cousins is learning visual basic in 5th grade, she's 10 years old.

    I wouldn't be suprised to see a programming or IT union form in the next 5 years. A lot of programmers are really being driven hard, paid low salaries with ungodly amounts of unpaid over-time.
  11. Apr 5, 2005 #10
    As an unemployed CS major, I can support those observations. Software seems like its dying industry. Most of the infrastructure has been built and things that were once pretty complicated are now trivial to do. And alot of general purpose software (operating systems, word processors, databases) are now free! Even at the the theory level, it seems like all the important work was done in the 70s and 80s and we are doing more advanced stuff because we have faster hardware, which is primarily because advances in solid state physics (chip design also hasn't really changed much since the mid 80s - and no, increasing the word size is NOT big change, and pipelining has been done since the 60s)

    My advice to CS majors is: get out. Maybe not completely out, but combine CS with something more usable like physics or biology. There's really not much need for more than a minor anymore. But as with any field, there will always be room for the exceptional people, so if you want to due pure CS plan on going to grad school because the job market is tough fight nowadays.

    BTW CE is not that much harder than CS. Its just more work, and gets more respect from the engineer types. Alot of programs now are switching to having CS and CE as the same major, as is already the case with universities like MIT (they call it EECS). And on another note, programming digital logic or assembly language is really not that much different than programming in a high level language, the principles are generally the same. Those people you mentioned are so 'valuable' probably because they know some archaic architechture really well, and its easier and safer to just higher a person that already knows it than to hire someone who will have to learn fresh.
  12. Apr 6, 2005 #11
    I don't know why or how CS became closer to CE and EE. CS began as a subtopic of math and logic, and it should have stayed that way. Now-a-days, it seems like more emphasis is placed on learning the language and dealing with the bs that software has become, rather than learning the math. It's rather worrisome.

    In any case, I've been doing some programming in both Java and C++, and I can safely say that any serious physics based game programming is going to stick with C++. Java is just too slow and unweildy.
  13. Apr 6, 2005 #12

    Hey guys, remember this is about a PHYSICS game programmer. the language is no problem but how about the physics. Why aren't we discussing the prerequisites for that?

  14. Apr 7, 2005 #13


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    Last edited: Apr 7, 2005
  15. Apr 7, 2005 #14
    If the player shots a bad guy with an exploding arrow, what level of physics knowlege would the programmer need to accuatly model the resulting explosion?
  16. Apr 7, 2005 #15
    that is what i am trying to find out.

  17. Apr 7, 2005 #16
    I think there is deffinately Physics knowledge required in game programming, but also, there is a freedom depeding on how accuratly a representaion of an exploding arrow has to be espicially depending on the type of game its being used in. For instance where there may be little actual physics put into the explosion of the arrow, there will be Physics in how the arrow is shot. But more over, I think in other sorts of games such as simulations of sports or driving/flying there is a growing interest and need for people to code the games to be more realistic
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