# Game Programming and Mathematics

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by futuresgreen, Sep 25, 2012.

1. ### futuresgreen Member

Nov 21, 2010
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#1
Hey all - I'm starting a degree in Computer Games Programming but avoiding the Mathematics route about vectors, calculus and differential equations.
How much will Mathematics hold me back later on when looking for a job? Eventually I want to work for myself and hire out for gaps in knowledge to develop and publish games.

Darren

2. ### DemonJim Well-Known Member

Nov 19, 2010
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App Developer
UK
#2
You will need to understand the fundamentals of things like vectors and quaternions, that is vital, but that doesn't mean you necessarily have to understand the actual maths if you use things like Unity3D (or outsource the lower level stuff as you plan on doing).

What I mean is you need to know basics, like how a 3D positions is (x,y,z) but a direction is not just a 3D vector but needs a scalar too (to say what 'up' is), and how objects have world space and local space etc. etc. You can know all that sort of stuff without having a clue how a 4x4 perspective-projection transformation matrix actually multiplies these vectors to go from world space to screen space (etc. etc.). But it would help ;-)

3. ### chenpo Active Member

#3
Knowledge of mathematics definitely helps, computer science and mathematics are intimately related, a lot of universities have them under the same faculty. (Two of the programmers we hired at my previous job had Mathematics degrees)

Don't actively avoid mathematics, being a student is a great opportunity to get good at things you aren't good at. Learn as much as you can while it is offered to you, knowledge is good.

4. ### MarkFromBitmenStudios Well-Known Member

Apr 4, 2011
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IT Architecture, Development Project Manager
Austria, Europe
#4
Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
Vectors, calculus and differential equations are not the same thing. I'd daresay your chances of needing differential equations are pretty slim, esp. nonlinear ones of higher degrees. This is a really difficult subject.

You must not avoid vectors, matrices or algebra though. These are fairly easy concepts that can be easily mastered with a bit of effort. If you feel that you can't cope with these areas in math, then the whole software development may be questionable as a lot in IT is about learning new things for your whole life with most of them being more difficult than some, say, vector arithmetics.

5. ### TheBunny Well-Known Member

Nov 8, 2008
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Baltimore
#5
Where?
And is it at least 4 years?

Most of those programs around the US are awful and you really should be getting a computer science degree if you hope to a programmer or be competitive in the job market.

I constantly see kids with game design degrees not getting jobs.

You need to at least learn how to use vectors and algebra.

Calculus etc you will probably never use.

The exception is that if you were a full time high end graphics coder you might actually make use of math skills.

BTW Im a senior / lead programmer on a MMO, I have an art degree, my math skills are ok, I barely ever use them when doing engine programming. Most vector / matrix math functions are wrapped up in nice libraries these days and you will need to know how to apply them more then implement them.

Theres are many different routes to getting into the "Industry"

Getting in is hard.

I see very few people with game school degrees getting hired and the ones that are worked their butts off making contacts after school and looking for jobs.

Oddly we have a few people here from full Sail, 1 coder and some sound folks.

For a lot of jobs who you know could be the key to getting in the door.

This industry is incredibly incestous.

Companies fold all the time and new ones start up hiring people they know again and again.

6. ### futuresgreen Member

Nov 21, 2010
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#6
Im in the UK and starting a 4 year degree including a placement year which will def help employment prospects or at least get lots of experience.
Here's the link to the course but ignore year 0 as this is for next year intake of students and not this year.
http://www.tees.ac.uk/docs/DocRepo/Courses/Computer%20games%20programming%20theme.doc

I know it's going to be tough. Reason I asked for advice is that I'm 37 after being in retail for 20 years and made redundant 5 times and just had a severe back injury so I've got to change career. I've been him estudying on web design and reading how to code on Xcode and c++ the last year and a half plus I really love games. It's a big gamble and I've moved to the other side of the country to do this but I also know that I don't want to stress myself out too much.
Like some people said most of the packages do most of the stuff but intake our point on vectors and matrices. Im going to a maths lecture today to see what it'll be like. Any other feedback gratefully appreciated and I will let you know how it goes.

Cheers all - hope you have a good rest of the week.

Darren

7. ### Synaptic Wave Well-Known Member

Mar 14, 2012
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PR manager at Synaptic Wave
Odessa, Ukraine
#7
Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
Hey futuresgreen, I wish you all the best. I suppose it was a hard decision, and I really hope that you will make it.
It seems that the UK dev community is overall very friendly, so try to contact them if you have some spare time and means to go to meetings or conventions or something. Personal connections sure mean a lot, so you could start building them right away.
Edit: Sorry I didn't answer your question at all, but I have no idea so once again, good luck on your quest =p

8. ### Simengie Well-Known Member

May 14, 2012
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#8
I have been the lead programmer/system engineer for a company doing military training systems. And now I run my own software company. In all that time I can say that having math skills is a requirement. In design phases there is a lot of times that people refer to how they want it work via math and yes later use pre-packaged libraries. But if you are in a job like I was then that company designed its own equations of motion from the ground up so that they owned the IP. Skipping math would have led me out the door there. Don't cut yourself short.

You have to be able to understand what the data represents and how it is used. If you don't know that then many meetings will be over your head. You may never actually use the math yourself but do you really want to be seen as the guy that can't do the math?

9. ### TheBunny Well-Known Member

Nov 8, 2008
205
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16
Baltimore
#9
GOOD that sounds much better. In the US we have a lot of 2-3 game dev degrees.
Anyhow yes internships are the are a great way to get a real job in this industry. We ( ZOS ) have hired a number of interns in the 2 years I have been here.

> Im 37

Congrads on going back to school

And I apologize for assuming you are 18 year old kid, as that is normally where these kind of questions come from.

As for math being hard.
Have you had a basic algebra class in years?

The vector and matrix math is actually not all that hard.
I learned it in high school math for example, after a few years of algebra.
As part of a college prep course.

10. ### AlienSpace Well-Known Member

May 28, 2010
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Independent developer
#10
The first thing I'll say is that gaining a solid level of understanding of the 3D math in games is not that hard. Just take some classes on it, read some books, look online... whatever it takes. Just start getting familiar with it early and keep plugging at it.

The second thing is that you will need to master at least some level of 3D math to do games. The less you know about math, the worse your chances of getting a good job and keeping it. I know some people say that you dont need a lot and that most of what you need is taken care of under the hood of some libraries, but eventually you'll need to know how that stuff works, or you'll need to write your own math library or your own movement code, or whatever. If you wait until then to try to learn then you'll be in big trouble.

I'd say learn all the vector/matrix/linear math you can, but also trig and some calculus, classical physics, and anything else that sounds interesting. You'll probably use some of it one day, and knowing more will help impress employers when you interview. Trust me, I've interviewed many people for programming positions, and the better their math knowledge, the better the chance I'd give them a thumbs up.

11. ### futuresgreen Member

Nov 21, 2010
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#11
Thanks to everyone for answers and advice. Have taken the plunge for the Maths, I'm two weeks in and am finding in tough but with hard work ill get there I'm sure.

Will keep you posted and when I make it, I'll know who to dish out credit to.