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Do engineers make video games? why or why not?

LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member

I was just having a good old chat with Quizzical in another thread and he got me thinking, are engineers good for video games? 

I know that there is the term computer engineer, but at the college I attend that tends to be less about mechanics and more about optics, electricity and software. These guys, from what they tell me, are here to make new computer hardware because they know how the hardware works and how the software works so they can combine their knowledge to make components.

Back on topic, I was reading about some game with physics that was processed "on the fly" or something like that and at one point I believe they talked about struts, 3 and 4 point bending and torsion being equated "on the fly" when creating buildings in the world, which is totally what mechanical engineers do. This was some space shooter game, I wish I could remember the title (SORRY image

Well after Quizzical started talking about some math and problem solving and linear algebra I thought, "Wow, he is talking about engineers" This then brought up the question are engineers common in the video game industry? More to the point are mechanical or biomedical engineers common in the video game industry? It would seem to me that they could be an asset to a team that is trying to figure out complex new systems, especially physics based, and how to implement them in a game as optimized as possible.

If engineers are not used in gaming companies, do you think that there will come a time when they will be? Or is there a good reason that engineers are not asked to work on video games? 

Alot of these questions are asked because I have a friend who is about to graduate with a biomedical engineering bachelors and he really likes video games. I think it would blow his mind if he found out video game companies hired biomedical engineers or mechanical engineers.

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Comments

  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei
    I was just having a good old chat with Quizzical in another thread and he got me thinking, are engineers good for video games? I know that there is the term computer engineer, but at the college I attend that tends to be less about mechanics and more about optics, electricity and software. These guys, from what they tell me, are here to make new computer hardware because they know how the hardware works and how the software works so they can combine their knowledge to make components.Back on topic, I was reading about some game with physics that was processed "on the fly" or something like that and at one point I believe they talked about struts, 3 and 4 point bending and torsion being equated "on the fly" when creating buildings in the world, which is totally what mechanical engineers do. This was some space shooter game, I wish I could remember the title (SORRY ) Well after Quizzical started talking about some math and problem solving and linear algebra I thought, "Wow, he is talking about engineers" This then brought up the question are engineers common in the video game industry? More to the point are mechanical or biomedical engineers common in the video game industry? It would seem to me that they could be an asset to a team that is trying to figure out complex new systems, especially physics based, and how to implement them in a game as optimized as possible.If engineers are not used in gaming companies, do you think that there will come a time when they will be? Or is there a good reason that engineers are not asked to work on video games? Alot of these questions are asked because I have a friend who is about to graduate with a biomedical engineering bachelors and he really likes video games. I think it would blow his mind if he found out video game companies hired biomedical engineers or mechanical engineers.

    Software engineers learn the same mathematics...

    image
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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,656Member Uncommon

    EVE Online was created by a bunch of crazy Icelandic engineers. Game developers either consult with or bring onto the team people that have expertise in the feilds related to the game. At CCP, we've had engineers, an economist, fashion designers and all manners of scientific folk on our teams. Our Engineering Director worked for the Department of Defense and NASA prior to working at CCP.

    You could go through each major studio and find lots of examples team members with expertise in various sciences and arts related to the project at hand.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
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  • NevulusNevulus Miami Beach, FLPosts: 1,288Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

     

    Alot of these questions are asked because I have a friend who is about to graduate with a biomedical engineering bachelors and he really likes video games. 

    Because there is little money in video games, and a lot more in engineering positions in practical fields. Hopes & dreams do not pay the rent. Hence why the brilliant minds are headhunted by Wall street and not EA.

  • MaelwyddMaelwydd CrawleyPosts: 1,123Member
    If my memory is correct a game called Red Opera was designed using correct structural engineering so that when bruildings, bridges etc where destroyed they fell and broke apart correctly. I seem to remember a video showing how the people making the items for the game had to learn all about structural engineering for it. Any knowledge you can bring into game development will improve it's quality.
  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei
    Stuff I wrote


     

    Software engineers learn the same mathematics...

    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?

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  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei Stuff I wrote
      Software engineers learn the same mathematics...
    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?

    Maths is maths. what you learn can be applied to any field.

    Thats subtracting from my point tho, Software engineers | Programmers are equipped with an engineering level of mathematics same as any other engineer.

    image
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  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    EVE Online was created by a bunch of crazy Icelandic engineers. Game developers either consult with or bring onto the team people that have expertise in the feilds related to the game. At CCP, we've had engineers, an economist, fashion designers and all manners of scientific folk on our teams. Our Engineering Director worked for the Department of Defense and NASA prior to working at CCP.

    You could go through each major studio and find lots of examples team members with expertise in various sciences and arts related to the project at hand.

    That is fascinating! Very appropriate to have a person that has worked with the space program. You also make a good point about consulting, I really did not think about that. Probably would not be worth bringing on a perminant engineer for everything and just better to higher a expert for short amounts of time.

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  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei Stuff I wrote
      Software engineers learn the same mathematics...
    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?

     

    Maths is maths.

    I feel like you dodged my question there and I would beg to differ. Math is math but knowing how to find the displacement in a cantilever rod and calculating the voltage needed to turn on an LED are very different maths (and yes I know capacitors are dashpots and the mechanical can be mapped out in electrical, I know someone was going to make that point) The point of the ninja-chef comment was you are not going to have a computer engineer work on making you a bridge and you are not going to hire a mechanical engineer to make you a computer, because they both learn to use their tools (math) in different ways. If math was always the same then we would have engineers not tons of different engineering degrees.

    image

  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei Stuff I wrote
      Software engineers learn the same mathematics...
    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?
      Maths is maths.
    I feel like you dodged my question there and I would beg to differ. Math is math but knowing how to find the displacement in a cantilever rod and calculating the voltage needed to turn on an LED are very different maths (and yes I know capacitors are dashpots and the mechanical can be mapped out in electrical, I know someone was going to make that point) The point of the ninja-chef comment was you are not going to have a computer engineer work on making you a bridge and you are not going to hire a mechanical engineer to make you a computer, because they both learn to use their tools (math) in different ways. If math was always the same then we would have engineers not tons of different engineering degrees.

    The difference is they are shown how to apply it differently. the maths doesnt change, only the application.

    image
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  • NevulusNevulus Miami Beach, FLPosts: 1,288Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by LadyEuphei
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei Stuff I wrote
      Software engineers learn the same mathematics...
    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?

     

    Maths is maths.

    I feel like you dodged my question there and I would beg to differ. Math is math but knowing how to find the displacement in a cantilever rod and calculating the voltage needed to turn on an LED are very different maths (and yes I know capacitors are dashpots and the mechanical can be mapped out in electrical, I know someone was going to make that point) The point of the ninja-chef comment was you are not going to have a computer engineer work on making you a bridge and you are not going to hire a mechanical engineer to make you a computer, because they both learn to use their tools (math) in different ways. If math was always the same then we would have engineers not tons of different engineering degrees.

    I think what he meant was one gifted in mathematical computations may excel both as an engineer and a software engineer, the latter most likely to get into video game production. Regardless, variables such as financial situation, as well as personal interest will be the final determination on career choice.

     

    Yes engineers would make great programmers, some have established a great understanding of matrix calculations and critical thinking skills which excel in the programming field, but very few would show interest when taking into account possible monetary gains from a strictly engineering position. Most of the great video games have came from esoteric individuals who have shown an interest in programming as an afterthought from another professional field.

     

    A more interesting situation to discuss is just how many great musicians have also made great programmers, and have gone to make successful video games as well as business applications. The commonality shared between a great musicians and programmer is interesting indeed.

  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by Nevulus
    Originally posted by LadyEuphei
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by LadyEuphei

    Originally posted by Nitth  

    Originally posted by LadyEuphei Stuff I wrote
      Software engineers learn the same mathematics...
    So, they both learn how to use high levels of math, but for different purposes. I mean a chef knows how to use a knife and a ninja knows how to use a knife, would you use them for the same exact jobs?

     

    Maths is maths.

    I feel like you dodged my question there and I would beg to differ. Math is math but knowing how to find the displacement in a cantilever rod and calculating the voltage needed to turn on an LED are very different maths (and yes I know capacitors are dashpots and the mechanical can be mapped out in electrical, I know someone was going to make that point) The point of the ninja-chef comment was you are not going to have a computer engineer work on making you a bridge and you are not going to hire a mechanical engineer to make you a computer, because they both learn to use their tools (math) in different ways. If math was always the same then we would have engineers not tons of different engineering degrees.

    I think what he meant was one gifted in mathematical computations may excel both as an engineer and a software engineer, the latter most likely to get into video game production. Regardless, variables such as financial situation, as well as personal interest will be the final determination on career choice.

     

    Yes engineers would make great programmers, some have established a great understanding of matrix calculations and critical thinking skills which excel in the programming field, but very few would show interest when taking into account possible monetary gains from a strictly engineering position. Most of the great video games have came from esoteric individuals who have shown an interest in programming as an afterthought from another professional field.

     

    A more interesting situation to discuss is just how many great musicians have also made great programmers, and have gone to make successful video games as well as business applications. The commonality shared between a great musicians and programmer is interesting indeed.

    So, are you going to elaborate? You hooked me with the story and technically we can call it musical engineering so it is on topic. Are there any good references of musical engineers being programmers?

    Also regardless of exceling in math and learning engineering math, I would bet you a banana that if you threw a computer engineer into a mechanical engineer class he would not know what is going on. Now his learning curve as compared to a novice would be far less since he does know the fundementals, but just relating the concepts to the math is alot of work. 

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  • bishboshbishbosh SydneyPosts: 388Member

    i am pretty sure engineers are common in the computer games industry. they tend to be the people who write all the software and select the hardware etc etc.

    i dont think mechanical and biomedical engineers are very common but any engineer with a strong knowledge of software could be accepted. for example riot games hires graduates/interns with any engineering degree + portfolio of their game related work.  I would suggest your biomedical friend starts getting his feet wet in programming and making video games. He should make some simple games, engines, shaders, something and keep them on a website and show them when applying for jobs.

    As for hiring mechanical engineers for their mechanical engineering abilities? I dont think that happens unless the company is building a hyper realistic simulation game. Most game physics are governed by very simple equations which are modified to taste - dont really need a mechanical engineer for that. Game designers generally go by feel rather than realistic accuracy when it comes to games design. 

  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by bishbosh

    i am pretty sure engineers are common in the computer games industry. they tend to be the people who write all the software and select the hardware etc etc.

    i dont think mechanical and biomedical engineers are very common but any engineer with a strong knowledge of software could be accepted. for example I would hire a mechanical engineer who has worked with a software company for 3 years and has something to show for it over a graduate software engineer.  I would suggest your biomedical friend starts getting his feet wet in programming and making video games. 

    As for hiring mechanical engineers for their mechanical engineering abilities? I dont think that happens unless the company is building a hyper realistic simulation game. Most game physics are governed by very simple equations which are modified to taste - dont really need a mechanical engineer for that. Game designers generally go by feel rather than realistic accuracy when it comes to games design. 

    But the future is coming my friend :P do you think it would be viable in the future for companies to hire mechanical engineers to manage their hyper realistic games that future processors (hopefully) can handle?

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  • LupitaLupita austin, TXPosts: 6Member

    I would actually disagree that engineers would make good programers. I recently recieved my Masters in Applied mathematics and have worked at a few engineering firms but have generally stayed away from the programming aspects of it all. Alot of engineers can do calulations. However, it takes a special type of person to look at a mathematical system of equations that would pinpoint the bifurication of that entire system and convert it over to a some sort of discrete function. 

    I do agree that all math is the same just the application and the way that one approaches a problem would vary quite alot depending on what you have learned. 

  • bishboshbishbosh SydneyPosts: 388Member
    Originally posted by LadyEuphei
    Originally posted by bishbosh

    i am pretty sure engineers are common in the computer games industry. they tend to be the people who write all the software and select the hardware etc etc.

    i dont think mechanical and biomedical engineers are very common but any engineer with a strong knowledge of software could be accepted. for example I would hire a mechanical engineer who has worked with a software company for 3 years and has something to show for it over a graduate software engineer.  I would suggest your biomedical friend starts getting his feet wet in programming and making video games. 

    As for hiring mechanical engineers for their mechanical engineering abilities? I dont think that happens unless the company is building a hyper realistic simulation game. Most game physics are governed by very simple equations which are modified to taste - dont really need a mechanical engineer for that. Game designers generally go by feel rather than realistic accuracy when it comes to games design. 

    But the future is coming my friend :P do you think it would be viable in the future for companies to hire mechanical engineers to manage their hyper realistic games that future processors (hopefully) can handle?

    i dont think it is a matter of what processors can or cannot handle. i think most game designers choose not to use realistic physics simply because it is not requirement for the game to be fun.

    hyper realistic games exist now and they will exist in the future eg. gran turismo and it might be likely that these companies hire mechanical engineers to develop accurate physics. they also hire racing drivers to test their cars to see if they drive like their real life counterparts.

    I am fairly sure mechanical engineers/physicists are hired to produce software such as solidworks and other softwares that contain engineering related simulation. Whether or not games will use this level of realism and physical depth/accuracy in the near future, i really dont know.

  • LadyEupheiLadyEuphei Indianapolis, INPosts: 223Member
    Originally posted by Lupita

    I would actually disagree that engineers would make good programers. I recently recieved my Masters in Applied mathematics and have worked at a few engineering firms but have generally stayed away from the programming aspects of it all. Alot of engineers can do calulations. However, it takes a special type of person to look at a mathematical system of equations that would pinpoint the bifurication of that entire system and convert it over to a some sort of discrete function. 

    I do agree that all math is the same just the application and the way that one approaches a problem would vary quite alot depending on what you have learned. 

    Now correct me if I am wrong, but I also believe that alot of engineers do learn programming in some way. My friend tells me in his biomedical program that it is pretty weak. They use MATLAB. I am pretty sure most companies would program in C++ ,but still there might be some slight programming understanding in engineers. Now my understanding of bifurication is fuzzy (or non existent) but sounds like a rough math thing. Now can you clarify if you are saying you can do this math, which I am sure you can, or if you are saying this is something a programmer can do that an engineer could not hope to do?

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  • bishboshbishbosh SydneyPosts: 388Member
    Originally posted by Lupita

    I would actually disagree that engineers would make good programers. I recently recieved my Masters in Applied mathematics and have worked at a few engineering firms but have generally stayed away from the programming aspects of it all. Alot of engineers can do calulations. However, it takes a special type of person to look at a mathematical system of equations that would pinpoint the bifurication of that entire system and convert it over to a some sort of discrete function. 

    I do agree that all math is the same just the application and the way that one approaches a problem would vary quite alot depending on what you have learned. 

    what about software engineers?

     

    i am pretty sure engineers are the most suitable people when it comes to programming given that they actually learn to do it university.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Yes many people with engineering degrees work in games (and computer programming in general)
  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    In fact where I work there are more people with math, physics and engineering degrees than there are those with comp-sci degrees.
  • SinellaSinella BudapestPosts: 340Member Uncommon

    I think there is a misconception about programming. It's not based on math. It's much more based on logical and ordered thinking. I have university degree of software developing ( programmer mathematician to be correct) and I've worked 15+ years as a software developer.  Not as a game developer though, I mostly worked with databases. I've learnt a huge amount of maths at the uni...and after finishing it I've never ever needed what I learnt there about maths. Seriously, not even once. 

     

    There may be projects where you need to write programs to solve math problems, but that's another question.  If you get a proper description of the task you can write the program without even understanding the math behind it.

    An engineer can make a good programmer if he is willing to learn it...but he will have to learn it just as anyone else. Being an engineer he probably has that ordered and logical thinking which is needed. Otherwise his former experiences won't help him much, it's 2 different professions. 

  • KiljaedenasKiljaedenas New Westminster, BCPosts: 468Member
    I'm curious if manufacturing engineers get involved in it too. Manufacturing engineers are effectively process designers, which usually involves a CRAPLOAD of logic. I myself am one. I could see that systematic approach to process design and evaluation could be useful in designing the various processes that happen in videogames.

    Where's the any key?

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXPosts: 1,414Member Uncommon
    Just don't let the engineers design the user interface.   At least, not without a ton of naive subject testing.....

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Sinella
    I think there is a misconception about programming. It's not based on math. It's much more based on logical and ordered thinking. I have university degree of software developing ( programmer mathematician to be correct) and I've worked 15+ years as a software developer.  Not as a game developer though, I mostly worked with databases. I've learnt a huge amount of maths at the uni...and after finishing it I've never ever needed what I learnt there about maths. Seriously, not even once. 

    I'm only a student so your 15+ years trumps mine, However it really does depend on the task.

    From my limited experience working with game code, There is a fair bit of mathematics in regards to the the computer geometry involved with making 3D games. Diffrent matrices like the pitch yar and rol for different objects and gamespace, and LA when those objects move does requires some thinking..(atleast for me)

    The Software degree i'm undertaking is supposed to prepare me for tasks in the medical and industrial fields. So i'm assuming if i went that route there would be a lot of engineering maths to be had there.


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  • NevulusNevulus Miami Beach, FLPosts: 1,288Member Uncommon

    kudos, best topic to pop up in these forums in a long time.

     

    On the subject of musicians & programmers, some interesting links:

    http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9807/31/musicians.idg/

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2006/08/do-musicians-make-good-programmers/

     

    As for engineers, I think it is a logcal progression and sub-path for studies to dabble in programming. Another poster stated it well: Great programmers, more importantly game programmers, excel in logic and not just math, but I do not agree in ignoring the imperative nature of a sharp mathematical prowess. It is what differentiates those who CREATE versus those who just IMITATE. 

     

    Gary Gygax would've made an excellent game programmer, instead he brought us the genius that is Dungeons & Dragons, along with Dave Arnerson. Would he have made a great engineer? Not sure. What I can deduce from all the excellent statements and questions so far is that in order to be a great video game programmer one must possess an assortment of talents, jack of all trades, master of none it seems, and one of those facets they share in common with engineers.

  • LienhartLienhart Markham, ONPosts: 635Member
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by Sinella
    I think there is a misconception about programming. It's not based on math. It's much more based on logical and ordered thinking. I have university degree of software developing ( programmer mathematician to be correct) and I've worked 15+ years as a software developer.  Not as a game developer though, I mostly worked with databases. I've learnt a huge amount of maths at the uni...and after finishing it I've never ever needed what I learnt there about maths. Seriously, not even once. 

     

    I'm only a student so your 15+ years trumps mine, However it really does depend on the task.

    From my limited experience working with game code, There is a fair bit of mathematics in regards to the the computer geometry involved with making 3D games. Diffident matrices like the pitch yar and rol for different objects, and LA when those objects move does requires some thinking..(atleast for me)

    Software degree i'm undertaking is supposed to prepare me for tasks in the medical and industrial field so im assuming if i went that route there would be alot of engineering maths to be had there also.

     

    Anything graphical or physics related (ie. GAMES) has a shit ton of math.

    I'm a programmer myself and am working on some NDA 3D stuff annd the math is heavy. I'm moving over to Bluetooth drivers soon, for another NDAed project, and there isn't any math involved, just memory management etc.

    It really depends what you're trying to do. I'd imagine if you go into chemistry (medical stuff) it would also be semi math related (at least linear algebra).

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