Games Programming and Mathematics

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by Futuresgreen, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Futuresgreen macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2009
    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.

    Thanks in advance

  2. Duncan C macrumors 6502a

    Duncan C

    Jan 21, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    It depends on what you want to do. For most computer graphics you need a solid grounding in algebra and trig. You should know high school level algebra and trig well and be able to use it without having to look stuff up.

    For animation and 3D graphics, you should have an understanding of matrix math. Knowing linear algebra and why matrix math works for transformations helps a great deal with your understanding, but it isn't totally necessary.

    Make sure you understand matrix math well. It well help you a great deal.

    Vector math does tend to be important - at least some limited application of vector math. You'll regret avoiding it.

    Calculus is not so important, except in fairly specialized applications. Differential equations IS calculus.
  3. TheWatchfulOne macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2009
    Generally speaking, the more knowledge you have, the more hire-able you will be.

    Also the more knowledge you have, the better you will be at hiring somebody. Because you'll be able to tell if they know what they are talking about.

    I suggest learning as much as possible while earning your degree.
  4. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    You absolutely need vectors, they're used for EVERYTHING. Vectors and a solid trig background are a must.

    In the real world you'll likely use a game engine but at entry level, you'll likely be a tools programmer.

    I'd really really suggest getting the best math background possible while in school.
  5. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    What are you looking to get out of a degree at school? Programming is something you should already know how to do. You're connected to the internet through a computer right now, which means you have all the tools you need to do learn it already.

    Don't skip the hard stuff in school. You're wasting time and money if you're only taking classes in stuff you could easily teach yourself.

    When you go into your first job interview and they're looking at your job interview, they're going to ask "Where's the math?" What are you going to say? "It was hard, so I skipped it." Yeah, every employer loves to hire people who skip the hard stuff.

    Anyways, Algebra and trig are essential. Calculus, Diff Eq, and Probability honestly haven't proved useful in programming, yet, but I expect they will as I start working my way into lower level topics, like a/v processing...
  6. samdev macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2011
    A degree in games? Never heard that before. I don't understand how you can avoid math.

    Many colleges have prerequisites that you must take, or you can't advance in your degree.
    Calculus is one of them.
  7. iHutch105 macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2011
    The one games development job I applied for (and was interviewed for) had both maths and programming tests.

    If you want a programming job in the games industry it's a dead cert you'll need maths.
  8. Futuresgreen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2009
    Hey all I really appreciate all your answers.
    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. games programming theme.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 studying 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.

  9. Vishwas Gagrani macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2012
    It's not necessary you need complex math in all the games. You can find tonnes of well known addictive games, that are kind of very simple, but hardly need any complex math. High end games of course need a good math knowledge. But good simple games don't necessarily mean "math". They are many a times just a combination of a nice idea + simple/complex graphics .
  10. Futuresgreen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2009
    Thanks all for the advice and answers. Decided on doing the Math and am 2 weeks in. It's hard but will get there, I'm 37 so trying not to be too hard on myself. Let you know when I make it !
  11. Duncan C macrumors 6502a

    Duncan C

    Jan 21, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Animation requires a solid understanding of trig, vectors, and matrix math. Without those skills you will be extremely limited. You won't be able to do rotation, scaling, or other transformations. You won't be able to use modern graphics hardware.

    Since this is an iOS forum, we can be more specific. You won't be able to use affine transforms for view animation or core animation, and you won't be able to make any sense of OpenGL at all.
  12. iHutch105 macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2011

    I did a similar thing. I was an IT Technician until I decided upon a Games Software Engineering degree just up the road from you in Newcastle.

    I was 24 when I started to study. Got a placement in my third year as a (non-games related) programmer. I'm in my final year right now but I'm still employed as a part-time programmer with my placement company.

    My point is this; your degree is what you make of it. I get the impression that you feel your late entry will somewhat hinder you throughout your degree. However, you'll probably find that your mature status will drive you to work harder on what you're doing and said drive will be absent from a fair few of your younger peers on the course.

    My advice would be don't shy away from the things you don't understand. Your maths may not be as strong as other members but that in no way means that you can't be as proficient after applying yourself and working hard. Maths is a part of games and getting over that hurdle and accepting it is half the battle.

    Furthermore, you'll probably find that maths and programming go handy in hand; as you get better at one, the other becomes easier. That's my experience, at least.

    All speaking from my own experience, of course. Yours may differ. In any case, good luck with your degree and, most importantly, make sure you enjoy it.

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