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Venita Pereira is a Senior Game Designer for Full Fat with over 8 years’ experience in the games industry, and the author of Learning Unity 2D Game Development by Example. She has worked for several AAA developers and on a vast range of genres and platforms. Recently, she worked on the Agent Dash update in Unity and was the sole designer for SEGA on the highly successful Sonic Dash also using the Unity Engine. She tweets as @Atinev and you can also find her on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Over the past few weeks she has become involved with Packt’s Skill Up campaign. Skill Up is Packt Publishing’s latest initiative, aiming to give developers the skills they need to reach the next stage in their career. During the beginning of the campaign Packt talked to more than 20,000 people who work in IT globally to identify what skills are valued in technical roles and what trends are changing and emerging. Included with the survey were questions related to Unity and its now essential place in the world of game dev, as well as a closer look at the skills needed to gain a higher salary in the world of game development. 

From these surveys Venita expands on why Unity is such an integral part of a professional developer’s world, and how to really make it and progress further in game development.

The big question – Unreal Engine versus Unity

As the most widely used engine in the professional games industry, learning Unity is a great investment for a future career in games. Whilst some may argue that the Unreal Engine is the preferred choice (and I for one was previously an avid user of the Unreal Engine), Unity has caught up in leaps and bounds and many now consider it ahead of the curve.

Skill Up Says…: The Skill Up survey clearly shows that Unity is by far the stand-out technology for making professional-tier salaries in the game development industry. The highest paid game developers all know and regularly use the Unity engine. Many more games, especially indie and mobile games, use Unity; Unreal is better suited to AAA console games. That said, Unity has caught up – and even exceeded Unreal - with the introduction of physically based shaders. It is far more accessible and allows easy deployment on multiple platforms, so developers no longer need to work more to port their game.

               Venita Perreira Venita Perreira

The most essential skills for the modern game developer

Aside from technical knowledge, the essential skill of a games designer include an extensive understanding of game design principles, level design, and knowing how to design core game mechanics and features within a game design document. Communication and collaboration are also key, especially when you’re part of a professional team.

Game developers need to understand revision control systems, data analytics, agile methodology and bug tracking.

Knowledge of scripting and an understanding of the technical aspects of game development as well as the limitations are very beneficial. Thus, learning to use Unity, Word, Excel, Wiki, SVN or perforce and Confluence (or other tools with similar functions) are vital.

The biggest challenges currently facing game developers

The biggest challenge facing game developers today is retaining players in our games. This is nothing new! However, it is more challenging today due to the vast amount of games available. This makes user testing and marketing skills very valuable if you want to get ahead in the industry.

The next big thing in game development

The next big thing in game development will be smartwatches!

Skill Up Says…: One-in-two developers for mobile said on the Skill Up survey that they had plans to develop for the iWatch and other wearable devices. This is part of the continued moment for mobile gaming - the improvement in mobile hardware allows for more graphic and game play intensive games of console quality on mobile platforms. We’ll likely start to see a merging of consoles, PCs and mobiles.

In addition, the growth and spread of Internet of Things means that we’re going to see improvements in networking, servers, cloud computing, and reactive systems. Programming languages like Rust and Go that are responsive, scalable and reliable are also going to mean big things for programming in general – and game development is no exception.

My advice for anyone wanting to start out in game development or to take their career to the next level? Keep learning and improving your skills!



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