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Switching from Gamedev to Webdev

So you want to broaden your skillset? Amazing. Learning is a beautiful thing.

Maybe you’re used to working in Unity, or Unreal, or even a Javascript game-making technology like, but now you want to learn how to make websites and native mobile apps that aren’t especially “game-like”. Well, friend, you’re in the right place because a few short months ago, I was in that very place.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or just want to start a more “native” project, I’ll document what I’m learning along the way in the hopes it helps your learning as well. You definitely don’t need a games background to find these articles helpful, but some prior experience with programming is probably useful to get the full benefit. If you have any questions though, feel free to email me and I’ll try and get back to you ASAP :-)

Now, let’s start at the beginning… Step 1: The humbling

When I decided to make the switch to web development, I thought it would be no big deal. I thought, “I’ve got a damn good CS education. I’ve shipped software! I know how to structure code, write tests, and work on a team. I’ll just apply for a few jobs, and it’ll be a piece of cake. No problem.”

It turns out (esp. w/r/t applying for web-specific jobs) this is not entirely the case.

To use a games metaphor, this is like playing a boss in Breath of the Wild that needs bomb arrows, and you don’t have any. You’re really good at solving puzzles, and you have the bow, and you’re a master with your sword, but damn, if you don’t have those specific arrows… you’re pretty much out of luck. Buy some bomb arrows, Link!

Link at a shop in Breath of the Wild

If you wanna beat that boss, you pretty much need the arrows. Just like if you want to get the new job or build the new app idea, you need to learn some new skills.

So just recognize that. Maybe some employer will say, “OK, we see how skilled you are with your bow, and we’ve got some bomb arrows right here. Come here and join our team!” But you make life easier for them if you can show that you’ve already got the arrows in your quiver.

So just accept it. Start heading back to town to get the arrows and try and have fun along the way.

These articles are a guide from my personal experience over the last few months of doing just that. I’ll explain as I go on where to find useful resources for learning React and modern web development techniques, how they differ from gamedev practices you might’ve picked up, and strategies you might find helpful in applying your new skills.