If I’m looking to hire a gameplay programmer, there are a lot of useful qualities in a good candidate. Obviously, programming skills are necessary at the baseline. The ideal candidate will have a good understanding of performant code, algorithms, and data structures. Having design chops is helpful, but so is being able to work with a team and take direction from team leadership.
Consider what it is you’re showing to a hiring manager like me and ask yourself how it serves to persuade me that I should hire you. What are the qualities of gameplay programmer that you want your project to demonstrate to me? What kind of skills are you showing that you have by telling me about your project? You should know ahead of time what I am looking for - it’s there in the job description. Show me you’ve done it through your project work.
If I were hiring for a game design position, I would care a lot more about the design decisions a candidate made and their thought process behind making those decisions. I would want to know the factors they considered and the potential tradeoffs they weighed. For a gameplay programmer, it is helpful but less important because the gameplay programmer will primarily be writing the code that turns the paper design into reality. If I were you and my goal was to get a gameplay programming job, I would focus on building projects that showcase your programming skills more than I would worry about showcasing design skills.
PS. [Click here] for some common examples of the kind of (math) problems that a gameplay programmer might be tasked with solving.
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