Interests: Music Production, Game Dev, Programming, and UI Design, any career suggestions?

Hi guys, I am a musician but went to college 3 yrs for computer engineering and dropped out but have recently returned from music dreams back to tech and am currently focusing on front-end web development and game development. I probably should focus on game development because I enjoy programming with Unity as I enjoy how it allows you to both drag things into a UI and do programming on them and add components and scripts and the like.

I really enjoy making music and would even enjoy making music tools like new DAWs or plug-ins for DAWs, or just music tools, but I also very much enjoy Game Development, I like to draw the characters and get the art started and create the animations, I like to make design documents and mock-ups then go ahead in deciding how to implement them.

I feel like I am only focusing on front-end because I heard that game development was too hard to get a good job in, although I do enjoy it also because I like good design. I’m wondering some career advice, where would someone go with this set of interests and skills.

I was thinking of just starting a blog to begin with and building a community as I have albums that I have created and am going to make games to go along with the music. I live in Atlanta currently but plan to move to Los Angeles very soon as I think I may fit in there better, especially once my skillset is very strong that I could land a decent job there.

I appreciate you reading this and would appreciate any advice.

Like anything else in programming, I think it’s about making yourself needed. Web development is in much higher demand, and if all you know about game development is how to throw together some GameObjects in Unity, then you’ll get a low paying job doing just that. It’s even harder to get a good paying job in game audio, whether that’s music or sound design. From experience, I can tell you that there is a demand for competent audio programmers. If you can learn the ins-and-outs of digital signal processing as it applies to game engines, then I’d say you’re looking at a fun and lucrative career. When doing professional sound design, I had frequent requests for some sort of generative music system. I’ve had to work with developers to implement sound effects that change dynamically with hardware inputs. In short, if you just chose web development, you’d have a great, stable, and (probably) enjoyable career. But I think you have an opportunity to merge all of your passions, if you’re willing to put a lot of effort into it.

I was vaguely in your position at (probably) your age, and I followed my dream. At least, what I thought was my dream. I became a professional sound designer/composer and did some cool, fun stuff. Unfortunately, I’m poor and I hate my job now. As soon as you do something for money, the love of it leaves. That’s not just me, either, it’s a well documented effect. Because of this and how little I actually know about you, I’m hesitant to give you advice, so I’ll give you the advice I wish I had 10 years ago.

  • Continue with web development. It’s not a waste of time, I promise. It’s easier to reach your own goals if you have a decent, not-horribly-depressing job than if you’re stuck in some bland office job with beige walls and no windows for 8 years. It’s really, really important to play the odds.

  • Continue playing with Unity, but it shouldn’t be a really high priority. The deeper you go into both of these topics, the more they will converge. Focus on the audio aspects. Learn about routing and how to use the mixer in scripts. Get incredibly good at manipulating audio programmatically.

  • Start learning Digital Signal Processing. This could be as simple as digging through Max (4Live) or Reaktor, but also consider CSound and PureData. You want a keystone project? Aim to build a multi-effect guitar pedal (or rack mounted synth module) powered by Arduino.

  • You’ve got albums, which is great. Start hanging around students in gamedev and art classes. I’m sure there’s at least 1 such school in Atlanta. Even if they have an audio program, focus on the art and development students. Get yourself known by them, because they’ll have your name when their own internship is looking for audio-related work. The audio programs at those same schools suck muffins, so you’ll have virtually no competition. 100% of my clients came from connections I made at a school that I never once attended. 100 percent.

As far as building a community, that’s a lot of work. The people with the most successful online following have hired people to do the grunt work for them, and if you lose that following or slack on the updates, it could look worse than having no following at all. I’m not saying don’t do it, but waiting until you’ve got the other stuff figured out makes more sense to me. Then again, I don’t have many friends, so what do I know?

Lastly, consider cost of living when you’re deciding where to move. Atlanta has a pretty good COL, so LA may be a shock. There are a good amount of webdev jobs in Atlanta, too. Then again, don’t stick around if that’s where you grew up. That’s just torture. The Denver/Boulder area has a lot of work, too. There are some game studios here and plenty of startups. Rent is expensive, but other costs of living are good. Feel around and do some research - a person doesn’t need to be in LA to make it in entertainment anymore.

I’m about ready to send a tip to your PayPal for this great well thought out advice wow dude you’re the man.

Thank you for the advice to perhaps keep my enjoyment and income separated I think that is solid advice.

Ooooo… you’re not going to be able to find my PayPal. Don’t worry about that. Just focus on doing what you need to do.