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Experience going from self-taught to paid?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by GeorgeCH, Nov 10, 2018 at 9:33 AM.

  1. GeorgeCH

    GeorgeCH

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2016
    Posts:
    175
    Fellow developers –

    I’m wondering if anyone here would care to share their experiences, if any, of transitioning from a self-taught Unity dev to a “paid” one, either as a freelancer or through finding a job?

    For a bit of context, game development is something I started pursuing in my mid-30s as both a career change and a passion project. After plugging away at it for 2-3 years, I’ve released several mobile games – but the market being as competitive as it is, it’s hard to make something that would be financially feasible on its own.

    Has anyone succeeded leveraging their self-taught origins into something that actually pays? If so, how did you deal with not having the benefit of working with more experienced developers on bugger projects (as you would in a corporate setting) where you could learn industry-standard ways of doing things?
     
  2. Antypodish

    Antypodish

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2014
    Posts:
    1,940
    I suggest you to read
    Could I make a living being an Indie Game Dev?
    https://forum.unity.com/threads/could-i-make-a-living-being-an-indie-game-dev.562096/
    Specially first few pages.
    You may get something relevant from it.

    From what I gathered, for me, if anyone wanting making decent money on mobile market, either is lucky, or has long experience in game dev, or has big / decent portfolio of made games, or is a studio. Or any of these combinations. Not to miss out financing ads.

    Hence, I completely avoid mobile market. For me it is near dead = over saturated.
    + you probably will relay on on some app store, which happens recently (google store), they are not reliable anyhow.
    https://forum.unity.com/threads/sudden-drop-in-number-of-daily-installs-on-google-play-store.537467/

    So in my opinion, to have any chance, need to make somehow decent own backyard.
     
  3. TonyLi

    TonyLi

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Posts:
    8,459
    I come from a more formal background (CS degrees, professional experience), but I've watched several people in my local gamedev groups successfully transition from self-taught to paid jobs.

    Don't freelance until you first have some real experience working for a company, studio, or high-level modding team. It may seem like freelance has fewer stakes, but to do it right it's actually harder, not easier. Don't build bad blood that will haunt your career later. Also, the stability of a studio job might be more appealing than to a 20-year-old.

    It's all about portfolio and connections.

    Hone a single specialty, such as shader programming or hard-surface sci-fi modeling, while also developing your skills as a generalist. The specialty will give you a hook and a competitive edge, while general skills will prevent you from being discounted from other opportunities. (Smaller studios need generalists.)

    Do game jams and join short-term modding teams to build your portfolio and meet people. Put open source code contributions on github, and put jam games and other projects on your own portfolio site, along with links to your earlier mobile games if they meet your quality bar. Potential employers want to see what you're capable of finishing. (Finishing is a key word, btw.)

    But employers also want to know who are as a person. Some studios occasionally host game jams, either their own or as host sites for bigger jams such as Global Game Jam. This is an opportunity to see what their work culture is like and get to know employees who can advocate for you to be hired. If you can't find any jams, check meetup.com for gamedev meetups. People already in the industry as a day job sometimes go to meetups to work on their off-hours personal projects. It's a good opportunity to meet them.
     
    Kiwasi, VergilUa, GeorgeCH and 2 others like this.