在本系列文章中，我们摘录了Destin Bales（游戏邦注：Destin Bales投身游戏产业已经11年，现在作为Paragon Studios的产品开发部总监正致力于开发大型多人在线游戏《英雄 城市》以及其它两款未公开名字的游戏）在博文“I Need To Make Games”中的一些内容。Bales在此与我们分享了他的相关经验，并给予那些刚刚起步的游戏产业新手一些重要建 议。
——Bethesda Game Studios设计师Matt Daniels
——BioWare Mythic开发总监Maurice Nelson
如果你拥有Xbox360或PlayStation 3，你便能够基于Xbox Live或PSN界面访问免费游戏样本内容。除此之外，Gamefly（游戏邦注：像Netflix的一种游戏组了服务）也允许玩家付 钱玩更多不同的游戏。
——Paragon Studios首席设计师Joe Morrissey
——Paragon Studios QA人员Jared Aizawa
作为QA人员最让人欣喜的一点是他们将扮演着开发团队与用户之间的最终防线。如果能在游戏发行之前找到关键性漏洞，可以给整个团队创造极大贡献。除此之外，也有很多人将 QA人员作为他们晋升至游戏开发领域其它岗位的跳板。但是这一工作也存在许多潜在的负面元素。一方面就测试过程本身来说，这是一种非常乏味的工作，特别当你需要反复测试 同一个内容上百次时。另一方面，很多时候为了赶上发行进度，QA人员总是需要长时间投入工作，并影响他们自己的正常生活。
——Paragon Studios 首席QA人员 Daryl Hall
——Paragon Studios技术总监Neal Kettler
作为程序员最让人欣慰的一点便是你可以直接从电脑中获得反馈而不需要牵扯到其他外部人员。就像设计师和美工人员需要依赖于其他人去评价自己的工作，程序员则可以独立完 成这种评价。除此之外，从最近一些大获成功的独立游戏来看，程序员也能够独当一面地创造出自己的手机游戏或网页游戏。最典型的例子便是《Minercraft》，这便是由一名程 序员独立创造的作品。
——Hypnos Entertainment创始人兼软件工程师Fred Ehnow
——Bethesda Game Studios美术人员Lucas Hardi
作为美术人员最让人兴奋的一点是你可以很容易地向好友和用户炫耀你的作品，通过屏幕截图或视频就能够做到。与技术人员一样，有时候美工也会因为不能参与整个游戏设计过 程而沮丧。尽管一个优秀的团队将合理分配每个学科人员所扮演的角色，但是这却不是整个游戏产业所遵循的标准。此外，对于美工作品的评价更是一种主观过程，使得这种交流 工作变得更加困难。
——Paragon Studios美术总监Arron Simpson
——Paragon Studios制作人Mark Davis
——Paragon Studios制作人Melissa Bianco
作为音频设计师最让人兴奋的一点便是能够通过创造声音和音乐而独立地完善整款游戏。在很多开发流程中，音频设计师都会发现自己必须不停地经历各种等待（等待美工，程序 员以及设计师完成自己的工作）。如此便导致音频设计师常常需要面临各种延工状况，而让他们感到沮丧。但是优秀的音频设计师总是具有预见性，能够事先设计一些符合概念艺 术和设计文件的音频内容。
——Paragon Studios音频设计师Adam Kay
——Paragon Studios社区管理员Andy Belford
——BioWare产品开发主管Ken Shuck, Sr.
——Paragon Studios制作人Nate Birkholz
在本系列的所有文章内容和建议中，“积累实际经验”是目前为止最重要的一点。遵循此路线，你将实现自己涉足游戏领域的目标。若你跳过这一步骤，你会发现自己更难涉足开 发领域，机会将不会垂青于你。是的，这需要花时间——可能是相当多的时间。但最终这将是你获得的最宝贵的经验，这将成为你简历的主要亮点，是你向潜在雇主推销自己的筹 码。
——Paragon Studios技术总监Neal Kettler
只要你熟悉引擎，独立制作内容，现在就是时候涉足普通的内容修改社区。诸如《军团要塞2》和《无冬之夜2》之类的众多零售游戏都允许游戏爱好者对其内容进行修改，在其中 融入调整过的玩法或新内容，供他人进行体验。虽然从头创建目标内容是项艰巨的任务，但我们完全可以基于既有作品在相当短的时间内创建引人注目的内容。通过修改内容，你 甚至能够同他人合作，获得宝贵的跨学科经验。最后，成功修改内容受玩家追捧通常能够让你获得第一手用户反馈信息。这是制作杰出简历，获得第一份正式开发工作的筹码。
——Paragon Studios制作人Ellisa Barr
此外，如果有兴趣，Ross Borden之类的大学会集中培训学生，帮助他们入行。虽然我们无法证实相比更传统的大学，就读这类型的学校能够提高你在行业内找到工作的机会，但显 而易见的是，专注于这一过程能够协助你提高自己的开发技能。
“若你有制作样品录像带，要将时间控制在1分钟以内，大小要在10mbs以内。保持简历的简单性、易读性，只融入重要信息。将Google Analytics同网站绑定，方便查看谁何时阅 读过你的资料夹，这样你就能够获悉是否有公司阅读你的信息。仔细填写自己的LinkedIn资料，因为公司通常会在阅读简历前查看这一信息。”
——Paragon Studios高级动画师Colin Brown
网络上每年都会收集和分享平均薪酬信息，你可以从中找到每个岗位的大致薪酬范围。在查阅这些数字的时候你必须记住两点。第一，作为缺乏工作经验的求职者，你很可能只能 获得范围内较低的薪酬。第二，许多游戏工作室位于生活成本很高的地区。对你目前居住地和工作室所处地区的差异进行大致评估，了解生活成本的提升幅度。对于在美国地区工 作的人，可以用生活成本计算器来进行评估。
“工作室的核心和灵魂存在于他们制作出的游戏中。玩家花数百个小时的时间玩这些游戏。玩游戏是你理解工作室及其玩家的最佳方法。你会在不熟悉产品的情况下前往谷歌或 Facebook参加面试吗？”——Riot Games运营开发总监Manu Diwakar
“我是《英雄之城》的狂热玩家，每周都通过游戏中的CoH任务构建系统制作各种各样的故事。开发团队看到了这些成果，这最终成为我投身行业的敲门砖。我的作品让开发团队看 到了我对游戏的激情、在故事讲述方面的经验和持续稳定制作出产品的能力。你或许也拥有激情，也能够成为优秀的设计师，但是如果你不能集中精力来完成自己的作品，别人就 不会注意到你的能力。”——Paragon Studios设计师Sean McCann
“一直以来，我的目标都是成为程序员，但是直到我在大学求职的最后时刻才考虑到游戏行业。我有软件公司的实习经验，我觉得那样的工作过于枯燥。很幸运，当时我看到了一 个游戏编程工作，它看上去很吸引人。在面试时，我完全被工作室的环境所吸引，包括墙上挂满的美术作品和正在制作游戏的员工。从某种程度上来说，我此前从没有见过这么棒 的场景，那种感觉至今仍然记忆犹新。”——PDI/Dreamworks软件工程师Luke Halliwell
“在游戏行业中取得持续性的成功并非易事。每个工作室的成功都来源于团队成员对项目的激情，无论产品状况如何都能够保持协作和积极的态度，还有解决问题以及对团队、工 作室和用户负责的动力。通过研究、联系和发展新技能提升自己，努力提升自己在团队中的影响力。从世界上各行业最成功的公司中借鉴优秀的做法，根据团队的需要来运用。这 就是我们游戏能够年复一年获得成功的指导性原则。”Paragon Studios总经理兼执行制作人Brian Clayton
How To Break Into The Industry, Part 1
In this new series for aspiring developers, Destin Bales shares his experience and offers advice on starting a career in the game industry. Bales has been working in the industry for 11 years, and now serves as the director of product evelopment at Paragon Studios, which manages the superhero MMO City of Heroes and is working on two unannounced titles. The following are excerpts from his blog, “I Need To Make Games.”
Step 1: Understand the Market
Students are often introduced to the concept of working in the industry simply by enjoying the games that they love and daydreaming about being a part of the process. Being a gamer is a great start, but there is much more that can be done right now to understand the market.
You may already be familiar with a number of web sites that target consumers by showing news, reviews and gameplay footage. Most game developers are gamers first and frequently visit these sites on a daily basis. Some of our favorites include:
Visiting these sites each day can give you a great overall view of what games are popular today. It’s an investment that takes time however, but understanding which games are successful, niche, critically acclaimed and unique is an important knowledge base for any game developer to have.
“If you want to get into the games industry, then get into it. Play all kinds of games, read the news on web sites, stay up to date on the latest changes, learn it inside and out. In the eyes of a prospective employer your knowledge will help prove your passion.”
- Matt Daniels, Designer | Bethesda Game Studios
Where the sites above show the perspective from the outside looking in, listed below you can find resources that show the viewpoint from within the industry looking out. Many developers view these sites on a weekly basis to learn more about their craft and the market around them. The most popular pages tend tobe:
Gamasutra (For industry news)
VGChartz (For sales data)
For more concentrated and direct exposure to the industry there are a number of conferences and events that take place each year in which you can learn quite a bit about game development, gaming culture and the hottest products of today. Attending these events is not necessary to achieve your goal, but if you find that you have the means to do so you will likely learn quite a bit from the experience.
Game Developers Conference
The Independent Games Festival at the 2012 Game Developers Conference
Last but not least, the most important thing you can do starting today and forever more is to play games. Play a lot of games. Play as many games as you possibly can.
“To make games you must know games. It isn’t enough to play the best or the worst game that everyone is currently talking about. You must experience everything that the industry has to offer.
It may be difficult to play through the last ten levels of some poorly reviewed game, but you never know what you may learn from that very last level. That painful experience could teach a lesson that saves you when you need it most in your career!”
- Maurice Nelson, Director of Development | BioWare Mythic
There is something to learn from each and every game out there. Whether the game is good or bad, big budget or indie, on console, PC, mobile or tablet, there are valuable lessons in each title.
It is easier than ever to play games today, even for free! Do you have a Steam account? In addition to the ease of use and the ability to buy games instantly from your PC, Steam offers a simple way to download and play free game demos of all kinds.
If you own a console like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 you can access free game demos weekly via Xbox Live or the PSN interface on your system. Also, consider trying out Gamefly — a game rental service that works much like Netflix, allowing you to play many more games for your money.
Understanding the market is the very first step towards achieving your goal. It serves as the foundation for all future steps and is a process that takes time. Many developers have spent years accumulating a wealth of knowledge thanks to utilizing these types of resources. No matter your age, amount of disposable income, or working experience it is easily possible to dive in head first right now!
It’s time to take your first step.
Step 2: Recognize the Opportunities
The process of creating games often requires a significant amount of people from varying disciplines to contribute to the success of the product. Here we outline the many different jobs that are a part of the business, share insight into what it’s like working in these roles today, and offer origin stories from accomplished developers.
Over the years the complexity of creating (most) games has increased dramatically. That fact, combined with the recent rise of new platforms (iOS, Facebook) and distribution methods (Steam, direct to consumer), means that there are more roles than ever involved in bringing a game to life. Below we do our best to capture a high-level snapshot of each of those roles to help you recognize the sheer amount of job opportunities that exist today.
Many people who think about making games picture the role of the game designer in their heads. There are many different types of design positions but in general the designer establishes and communicates the key concepts of how the game should play to the rest of the development team. What systems will the game have, what the levels or areas of the game should look like, and how challenging the overall experience will be are all typical questions that designers
are tasked with answering.
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of game designer entails:
So You Want to be a Game Designer
So You Wanna Be a Game Designer
Game Design, An Introduction
One of the most rewarding elements of being a designer is having the opportunity to help steer the overall direction of a given feature or game towards your desired vision. Alternatively, many designers may be frustrated to find that they are beholden to the work of artists, engineers, and even other designers to actually see their concepts come to life on screen.
Key skills that a designer must possess include the ability to effectively communicate with others, a collaborative spirit, and an unrelenting passion for understanding the fundamental building blocks of what makes games enjoyable to play.
“Ever since I was a kid I loved telling stories to my friends. I’d run pen and paper RPG’s with them and I learned quickly what kept their interest and what did not. The art of listening to the player was the greatest skill I learned before working in the industry.
When given the opportunity to write stories for games, I used that skill to deliver experiences to the player that they wanted to play.”
- Joe Morrissey, Lead Designer | Paragon Studios
Quality Assurance Tester
The QA tester position represents one of your best chances at obtaining an entry level role in game development. A critical part of the process, testing games as they are created is instrumental in ensuring a quality title and when done properly can be the difference between a hit game and a poorly reviewed disappointment. Working as a team, your main responsibility is to evaluate the game as it is being created and provide feedback to the development team regarding what is working properly versus what is not.
“I was able to get into the industry by networking. I graduated from college with a BFA in digital media art, and my brother was testing for a big game producer and publisher. He put in a good word for me, and soon after I started my first testing job.”
- Jared Aizawa, QA Tester | Paragon Studios
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of QA tester entails:
Testers – The Unsung Heroes of Games
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a QA Tester is knowing that you are the final line of defense between the development team and the consumers of your product. Saving a particularly nasty bug from finding its way into the final build helps the team tremendously. Additionally, many people use the role of QA Tester as a springboard towards other jobs in the game development pipeline. There are a number of potentially frustrating elements to the job however.
The process of testing itself can be quite dull, especially if you are required to test the same part of the game hundreds of times in a row. Also QA Testers are frequently asked to work long hours towards the release of a project and in some cases this can impact their personal lives in a negative way.
Key skills that a game tester must possess include effective verbal and written communication, a superb attention to detail, and the ability to maintain focus while completing a potentially repetitive task.
“The hardest part about getting your first QA job is overcoming your lack of testing experience. I focused on my gaming history and how my previous job- related skills could apply to game testing, convinced them that I was passionate and had potential, and they gave me a shot.”
- Daryl Hall, Lead QA | Paragon Studios
Programmer / Engineer
Programmers or Engineers are the backbone of the development process, writing the code that brings games to life. Though some are self-taught most engineers learn the trade in college and obtain a degree in Computer Science.
“Programmers work with other departments to get a high-level understanding of how the game should play. Their task is then to figure out every last little detail of how the game world should work and then translate that into code that computers can understand. Much of your time is spent building or learning re-useable libraries of code that provide common game features like physics or rendering.”
- Neal Kettler, Technical Director | Paragon Studios
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of programmer entails:
So You Want to be a Developer
So You Want to be a Game Programmer
One of the most rewarding elements of being a programmer is that you often get direct and immediate feedback of your work on screen without the reliance of any outside parties. While designers and artists are reliant upon others to see their work in game, programmers are capable of making it happen on their own.
Furthermore, as the recent success of some indie hit games have shown, programmers are occasionally able to make compelling games entirely by themselves for mobile phones or on the web. The most successful example of this is the game Minecraft which was originally created by just one programmer.
Minecraft, the hit indie game originally created by Markus “Notch” Persson
While engineers hold the ability to most directly affect the game, they can sometimes be frustrated by their lack of involvement with regards to the overall design of the game. Good teams ensure that all disciplines are properly represented as concepts are approved, however this may not yet be the norm in the industry.
Skills required to be a valuable programmer include the ability to efficiently solve problems, a strong understanding of software architecture, the ability to work collaboratively with others (often in the same code), and a self motivated approach towards completing your tasks.
“Like many in the games industry, I started in a completely different field – I began my career as a Chemical Engineer in the Pharmaceutical industry. I really enjoyed creating computer simulations, which led me to games – where simulations don’t have to obey the laws of mother nature!”
- Fred Ehnow, Co-Founder and Software Engineer | Hypnos Entertainment
Of all of the different disciplines involved in game creation today, the artist is arguably the most varied of the bunch. Aspects of the art discipline in development include Concept Artist, 2D Artist, UI Artist, FX Artist, Environment Artist, Character Artist, Animator and even Technical Artist. Traditionally artists create the environments, characters and effects that you see in the games that you play.
“The advice I give now to folks looking for a job is so much simpler than it used to be: Make stuff and put it on the internet. No matter your discipline(s) or interest, there are options. From iOS to Unity to UDK there are fantastic tools out there. From Minecraft to Skyrim, there are moddable games. The key is to find an online community (like TIGSource or Polycount) where you can feel at home and just keep making stuff.”
- Lucas Hardi, Artist | Bethesda Game Studios
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of artist entails:
Game Art Design
Artists in Demand
One of the most rewarding elements of being an artist is how easy it is to show off your work to friends and customers alike. Through the use of screen shots or video you can display your artwork for all to see. Like engineers, artists can sometimes be frustrated by their lack of involvement with regards to the overall design of the game. Good teams ensure that all disciplines are properly represented as concepts are approved, however this may not yet be the norm in
the industry. Furthermore, evaluating art is a subjective process making the communication element of the job all the more challenging.
Skills required to be a game artist include superb digital and traditional artistic skills and experience in with the necessary authoring tools of your chosen profession.
“As a kid, I was always drawing. I got into the games industry after studying degrees in both fine art, and computer art – though I would personally hire an artist who didn’t have a degree if the work was stellar.
The key for me has always been to focus on the area you are most passionate about. Find the most inspiring examples of the artistic discipline you want to work in – study it, learn the techniques, and compare your work to it. Then try and make something better. Five great pieces of work would be enough to show me that someone has talent.”
- Arron Simpson, Art Director | Paragon Studios
The role of the producer can vary from company to company, but typically they are responsible for ensuring that the entire team and project are working efficiently and towards the desired end result. In some cases the producer also establishes the vision for the overall project and supports the team to achieve that goal. Most producers are hired from within the industry, making it one of the most challenging jobs to jump directly into without prior development experience.
“I’ve always imagined a video game and Hollywood producer to have very similar jobs. We both have the goal of completing our projects on time and within budget. We both must manage wildly different groups of talented people to collaborate and communicate effectively. We both need to have a strong vision for what our project should look like when it is complete. We both must adapt to unplanned changes, cut some of the features we cherish most for the sake of the schedule, and work long hours.
All in the hopes that our teams produce something that makes a large group of people smile and happily part with their hard earned money to be entertained.”
- Mark Davis, Producer | Paragon Studios
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of producer entails:
So You Want to be a Producer
Video Game Producer
Game Production – An Introduction
As the producer you are ultimately held accountable for the success or failure of your project. As such, the most rewarding aspect of the role (responsibility) can also be the most frustrating as well.
“Good Producers make games. Great Producers build amazing teams whose talents go on to create moments for players that will never be forgotten. Champion your people and dare to believe.”
- Jeff Skalski, Producer | BioWare
The key elements required to be a producer include extensive game development experience, the ability to communicate effectively both up and down the chain of command as well as across all disciplines, and a sense of urgency that can be applied to the task at a measured pace.
“The opportunity to become a Producer came after years of discipline and hard work. My first job in the industry was as an Office Manager!
Over time I learned many skill-sets: communication and respect; decision-making and organization; leadership and multitasking; and a knack for making myself an invaluable part of the company culture and workflow. There is an art to making yourself visible without being pushy which is important to grasp as you’ll never get an opportunity to show what amazing things you can do if no one knows what an asset you are.”
- Melissa Bianco, Producer | Paragon Studios
Audio designers create the sound effects and music that play during gameplay. They often work alone and must be capable of managing their own time wisely.
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of audio designer entails:
Game Sound Design
Game Audio Resource Guide
One of the most rewarding elements of being an audio designer is the ability to independently improve entire games through the creation of sound and music.
In many development pipelines the audio designer may find himself waiting for work (art, code, design) to be completed by others before he can begin. In some cases this leads to a large amount of work being dropped on the audio designer towards the end of a milestone or project, which can be a source of frustration in this role. I good audio designer will constantly be looking ahead, designing assets that he knows he will need by working from concept art and design documents to get ahead of the end-of-project crunch.
The key elements required to be an audio designer include a working knowledge of recording studio equipment, experience with sound design, music, and dialogue implementation into games, and a self-motivated mentality to independently drive towards deadlines with limited oversight.
“Download the Fmod Designer tool or Wwise and learn what you can about implementing with them. Any demonstrable skills you obtain with either of these tools will serve as a real win for an entry-level candidate interviewing.
If you don’t have a demo reel, make one. Take a scene from a movie, some gameplay footage, or even an existing game trailer and remove the original sound building it back up from scratch. If you can show attention to detail and an ability to make a scene come to life, you’ll have a real shot at landing that first job.”
- Adam Kay, Audio Designer | Paragon Studios
The role of the community manager is to directly interface with the target audience for your games and create an avenue of two-way communication between the users and the developers. This not only involves the creation and management of forums, but with the rise of social media community managers now lead initiatives on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, UStream, Youtube and more.
“A great Community Manager has a thorough understanding of both the players they represent and the business needs of their studio. You’re empathetic, understanding and diplomatic, all while remaining conscious of how your actions and words have a direct effect on the business of your game.”
- Andy Belford, Community Manager | Paragon Studios
Here are a list of key resources you can follow to learn more about what the role of community management entails:
Online Community Management
How to Become a Community Manager
Great Community Management
As the community manager you serve as the liaison between what the audience desires and what the development team delivers. The direct connection with users via the web and face to face at community events can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Players can be quite cynical however and it takes quite the thick skin to stay positive amidst an unending onslaught of forum negativity that strikes even the most popular games.
The key elements required to be a community manager include the ability to build solid relationships, an incredibly deep understanding of the products you represent from the players perspective, and the ability to understand content that will attract the player in a positive manner.
Step 3: Study the Trade
Armed with a growing understanding of the market and insight into the various positions that work together to create games, now you can turn your attention towards learning and obtaining the tools you need for your desired discipline.
Each discipline has a number of unique resources available to help you learn more about the job at hand. These range from articles, books and videos to previous GDC courses recorded and viewable online.
“Game development disciplines are like positions on a football team. Having some understanding of all of the roles and how they work together is important, but pursuing a mastery of one is how you help your team win. Your skill at your chosen discipline is also the first thing your future employer will want to know about you.”
- Bruce Maclean, Senior Producer | BioWare
To help you get started, here are a few examples that you may find useful:
GDC Vault – Online Free Sessions
The Game Design of Starcraft II
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
Game Development Essentials
Game QA & Testing
Creating the Art of the Game
Game Art Complete
Free Stanford Online Course – Programming Methodology
The Game Producer’s Handbook
The Game Production Handbook
The Game Audio Tutorial
Game Audio Development
Online Community Management for Dummies
The Art of Community
“One of the worst things you can do when applying or interviewing for a job in game development is lead people to believe that you just want a foot in the door or will take literally any job. We work in a dynamic and passionate industry and want to work with others who are committed to their trade, whatever it may be.
As a hiring manager, I am looking for that complementary puzzle piece that interlocks with the rest of the team and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table (or an aptitude and strong desire to succeed) in a particular role.”
- Ken Shuck, Sr. Director of Product Development | BioWare
Your goal should not be to attempt to thoroughly understand each and every one of these disciplines. Instead try and focus in on a specific one, and begin absorbing as much information about it as you possibly can. What matters here is not that you learn how to make art or create code overnight, but that you get a good sense for what the experience might be like working in this field.
“By maintaining focus and dedication for a particular discipline you become an expert in your field and inspire those around you. Your passion is contagious and makes the rest of the team better in the process.”
- Nate Birkholz, Producer | Paragon Studios
Take your time, explore the information that is out there and share your findings with others.
How To Break Into The Industry, Part 2
By Destin Bales
In part two of this introductory series for aspiring developers, Destin Bales discusses some of the best ways to develop real experience and prepare a solid portfolio for a future job. The following text comes from Bales’ blog, “I Need To Make Games.”
Part one of this series is available here.
Step 4: Build Hands-On Experience
Now it is time to get your hands dirty and begin building applicable experience that you can use as a stepping stone to secure your first development job.
Of all of the articles and bits of advice in this series, “Build Hands-On Experience” is by far the most important one of the bunch. Follow this path and you will reach your goal of working in the games industry. If however you skip this step you will find it significantly more difficult to break into development and the odds may not be in your favor. Yes it takes time — possibly a considerable amount of time. In the end, however, it is the most valuable experience you can gain and it is this work that you will ultimately feature on your resume and use to sell yourself to prospective employers.
Regardless of your desired discipline the most important thing that you need to do is prove your worth on screen by showing your art, design sense, or engineering skillset in a game engine by sharing a functional demo, prototype, mod or newly created game. While there are a number of different ways to achieve this goal we suggest getting started by learning a powerful and free game development engine named the Unity engine. Used to make many commercially
“The Unity engine has a great mix of powerful features and ease of use. There are other free engines out there, but none give you the creative freedom that Unity has to offer.”
- Neal Kettler, Technical Director | Paragon Studios
Take it slow, and follow these steps towards achieving your goal:
* Download and install the Unity engine
* Familiarize yourself with the interface by completing some basic tutorials
* Read up on the more advanced features of the engine through advanced tutorials, books or articles online
* Begin creating content of your own using the engine
This process can be used regardless of your discipline to showcase your talent. The Unity engine allows for exporting of projects to a web player which may allow you to demonstrate your work online via the online portfolio we help you create in Step 6.
Once you are familiar with the engine and creating content on your own, it’s time to enter the general mod (modification) community. Many retail games like Team Fortress 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 can be modified by enthusiasts to include revised gameplay or new content for others to enjoy. While creating desirable content from scratch can be a monumental task (as you’ve no doubt learned from your time with Unity) it is possible to build off of established
works to create something compelling in a relatively short amount of time. Through modding you even have the opportunity to work with others and gain valuable cross-disciplinary experience. Last but not least, successful mods are enjoyed by players allowing you to experience the feedback cycle from customers first hand. This is all gold for creating a stand-out resume and landing your first official development job.
Today two of the hottest mod-able games available include Minecraft and Skyrim. Make a compelling mod for either of these two products and you will have a fantastic wealth of experience to leverage on your application.
“When I’m looking through resumes, I tend to pay more attention to candidates that have already built a mod or who have a demo. They are more likely to learn our tools quickly, and it shows how passionate they are about making games.
There are people who want to make great games, and there are people who need to make great games. It’s a no-brainer who I’d rather hire.”
- Ellisa Barr, Producer | Paragon Studios
Step 5: Education
Here we share our advice on education as it relates to game development. Whether you are a grade school student preparing for college, or a working adult who lacks the time to earn a degree, we discuss a variety of options available to you.
The most common question with regards to education and game development is whether or not a college degree is required to get a job in the industry. The answer to that question is no, you do not have to earn a degree to make games.
But you should.
While a college degree is not an absolute requirement to professionally develop games, having one can only help increase your chances of both landing that first job and ultimately reaching your full potential. Reasons that a college degree is valuable for entering game development include:
* In such a competitive landscape you should obtain every modifier in your favor possible
* Not having a degree could limit your long-term potential, capping your upward mobility in the industry
* Having a degree may help you think more critically, widen your interests, and give you solid work skills which may help you in the future* Should you decide that ultimately game development is not for you, a degree adds value in other careers you may pursue
“I feel fortunate to work in an industry as fun, creative, and relevant as video games, and my education has been an important part of my success.”
- Ross Borden, Sr. Vice President, Brand and Business Strategy |NCSoft
There are a variety of options available when considering what type of degree to obtain or which school to attend. Many traditional colleges offer degrees in Computer Science and recently some have even begun to offer curriculums in game development.
Furthermore, for those who are interested there are even universities like Full Sail dedicated entirely to training students to enter the industry. While we ’ve seen no evidence that attending such a school over a more traditional university will increase your chances of finding a job in the industry, it stands to reason that being immersed in the process will help you improve as a developer at some point in the future.
What if I am unable to go to college you ask? Perhaps you are an adult with other responsibilities and you lack the time or finances to do so. Don’t fret.
By following all of the steps that are outlined on this site you are still more than capable of achieving your goal. Many of this young industry’s best and brightest found success through self-directed learning and determination. What you lack in educational experience you can make up for with hands-on experience through the creation of mods or other displays of your work.
Step 6: Resume and Online Portfolio
It’s almost time to go after your dream. Be prepared by creating an appropriate resume and online portfolio. Let’s discuss how.
When the time comes to begin applying for jobs in the games industry, your resume and online portfolio will become critical in effectively communicating your value to a prospective employer. In today’s digitally driven world we do recommend creating both a resume and an online portfolio to ensure the maximum level of exposure and ease of use for your target organizations.
Tips for Creating a Compelling Resume
* Feature your hands-on experience, as a candidate with no prior dev history it’s critical that you highlight the work you’ve done modding existing titles or working in Unity
* Limit your information to two pages or less
* Thoroughly proofread your resume and have friends review it as well
* Do not settle for traditional templates, search the web for attractive examples that you can build upon for your work
* Create a cover letter that emphasizes both your passion for development and your self-directed accomplishments to date
* Customize both your cover letter and resume to each job that you apply for, using familiar terminology found in the associated posting
Tips for Creating a Compelling Online Portfolio
* There are many free hosting and design sites available online
* Include a company-agnostic version of your resume in your portfolio
* Feature examples of your work with a clear and concise summary of what role you played and which elements you personally affected
* Show only the best of what you have accomplished as quality is far more valuable here than quantity
“If you have a demo reel, keep it to one minute or less in length and under 10mbs in size. Ensure your resume is simple, easy to read, and contains only the most important information. Attach Google Analytics to your website to track who looks at your portfolio and when, allowing you to see when a company views your information. And thoroughly fill out your LinkedIn profile, as people these days often look at that before reviewing a resume.”
- Colin Brown, Sr. Animator | Paragon Studios
Today many developers use LinkedIn as a means of sharing their work history with one another and we encourage you to do the same. This free service allows you to link your resume and online portfolio to it as well, providing an accessible one-stop-shop for all prospective employers to view your information.
Game studios receive thousands of applications each year so it is critical that you take your time, create a polished resume and portfolio, share only your most promising work, and perhaps most importantly be as brief as possible.
If you would like feedback on your resume and portfolio feel free to link them in the comments below or in our discussion section. Consider removing personal information such as your home address prior to posting.
How To Break Into The Industry, Part 3
Step 7: Finding Your First GameDev Job
The time has come to achieve your goal! This article discusses both traditional and non-traditional ways to be noticed and get your foot in the door.
Before you jump straight to sending off your resume though a last bit of research is in order. It is important that you set your expectations appropriately regarding potential salary, viable job duties, and physical location, before beginning your search in earnest.
Let’s start with location. Are you aware of the key hubs of game development today? Gamedevmap is an outstanding resource for finding active game companies, and it is frequently updated to reflect the latest in the industry. If you have any illusions about being able to work from home you should promptly eliminate those from your thoughts. It is a requirement that you relocate to the area of your new job, most likely even at your own expense for your first
position. Therefore consider your options carefully.
Average salary information is gathered and shared online each year, providing you with a rough idea of the traditional ranges for each role. There are two things that you must keep in mind when reviewing these numbers. First, as an inexperienced candidate you will most likely fall at the low end of the pay scale. Second, many game studios are located in areas that inherently have a high cost of living. Be sure to thoroughly evaluate the differences between where you currently live and where the studio is located to understand how far each dollar will take you. For those in the states, this cost of living calculator will come in handy for this evaluation.
Now that you have some desired studios in mind it is time to dig deeper on them specifically and take note of the following information:
How long have they been in business?
If they are not independent, who owns them?
Which games have they released to date?
Who published them?
What games are currently in development, if announced?
Who are the executive members of the team? (use LinkedIn to find out)
Where did they work previously?
What is the community like for the game(s) they have released?
Are they publicly traded companies?
Finally, the most important part of your research is to play their games. Do not expect to be hired by any established game company if you have not played the games that they have created.
“A studio’s heart and soul goes into the games they create. Players spend hundreds of hours with these games. Playing the game, I mean really playing the game is the best way for you to connect with the studio and understand their players. Would you walk into an interview with Google or Facebook and be unfamiliar with their products?” – Manu Diwakar, Business Development Manager | Riot Games
“As an avid player of City of Heroes I created weekly story arcs through the CoH Mission Architect system in game. These arcs were recognized by the developers and ultimately served as my way to break into the industry. My work showed the team that I had a passion for the game, experience in storytelling, and the ability to ship a product on a reliable and consistent schedule. You can have passion and be a good designer, but it won’t matter if you can’t
focus yourself and get your work finished.” – Sean McCann, Designer | Paragon Studios
Next, create a spreadsheet that includes all of the game companies that you would be willing to work at and track columns for location, released products,
contact information and currently posted positions. Additionally, use a column to track when you submitted your resume and to whom. Lastly, evaluate the
minimum amount of money it will take to support yourself or your family for each specific location and track that information as well for future reference.
This collection of information will prove instrumental in the process of juggling your submissions and keeping each company straight in your mind.
At long last it is finally time to submit your resume. Regardless of whether or not a company that you have interest in is openly hiring submit your cover letter, resume and portfolio to the contact listed on their website. Staffing in game studios is an ongoing process and many times positions are indeed available even if they are not posted as such online.
Remember to tailor your cover letter and resume to the company in which you are applying. If they have job postings online use similar terminology found in those postings on your cover letter and resume to reflect your capability to fill the position. The premier resource for finding game development job postings is Gamasutra.com. Make sure that you triple check your submission before hitting send! Every year people errantly submit resumes to companies filled
with information on how much they desire to work for a direct competitor.
After sending off your submissions there is still much that can be done to improve the odds of landing your job. Don’t just sit back and wait passively for a reply. Here are some suggestions to keep things moving and help you create opportunities:
Track your submission dates on your spreadsheet and follow up once via email if you receive no response after 5 business days
Use LinkedIn and attempt to track down the hiring manager for each company and invite them to join your network
If they accept, introduce yourself and submit your resume directly to them
Join various game development groups on LinkedIn and post links to your resume and portfolio while sharing your interest to find work
Utilize social media by professionally sharing your interest in finding a job in the industry through sites like Facebook and Twitter
If a company that you are interested in happens to be in driving distance, deliver your resume in person (dress nicely and do not expect to talk to anyone but be prepared in case you luck out)
“I was set on being a programmer for a long time but didn’t even consider games until the last minute of my job search in college. I’d had some internships at other software companies and there was something ever so slightly dull about them. It was pure luck that I saw a game programming job advert and it sounded intriguing. I was totally hooked from the studio tour at the interview, seeing all of the artwork up on the walls and people in the process of making games. For some reason I’d never thought about how cool that would be before then… and that feeling never really went away.” – Luke Halliwell, Software Engineer | PDI/Dreamworks
If you have followed each step above and are still unable to land a job, do not give up! Volunteer, apply for an internship, beta test products and provide well-written feedback, and/or continue modding and creating games with others online. Re-apply to your desired companies of choice every 60 days, continue to gain hands-on experience in game development, and grow your personal network through continued collaboration and communication with others online and you will eventually get the opportunity that you have been working so hard for.
Step 8: Keys to Continued Success
Congratulations, you are now working in the games industry! However, now is not the time to be complacent. Behind you are hundreds of thousands more with similar aspirations, some of whom would gladly do your job for free. If you’re just getting started, you likely have far-reaching aspirations that you’ve only just begun to achieve. Outlined below are the keys to being successful over the life of your career.
Stay relevant by continuing to maintain a current knowledge of the market and study newfound discipline and development practices vigorouslyMaintain friendly relationships with your co-workers as the industry is very small and you will most likely see them again at a new company in the futureDon’t ever let your passion for creating games wane, as it is the fuel that keeps you going through the rough timesPractice humility and take time to watch and learn from those around you
Recognize the somewhat transient nature of the games industry and think long and hard about where to put down roots for your family
The unfortunate reality of developing games today is that positions are often added and just as frequently dropped at a moment’s notice due to the volatility and relative youth of the overall industry. Though getting your foot in the door is cause for celebration, it is likely that you will once again be looking for employment in the future.
“As a kid, I was always reading programming books or making simple games on the computer. I got into the industry after studying Computer Science in college and having a job outside of the gaming industry for a couple of years to build up base skills. Having a solid C/C++ background helped a lot. Later on I left the normal sector to become an independent iOS developer, since I wanted the fun and challenge of running everything on my own. It’s been a blast, and I’d say the most important thing is to do what you love, and put high quality into everything you do. If you can choose a niche and own it, money and success is sure to follow.” – Ray Wenderlich, Founder | Razeware
Thank you for taking the time to read through the information presented on this site. We appreciate any feedback that you may have, and are always striving to improve the presentation and substance of this information.
In conclusion we will leave you with this one last thought. When hiring developers of all disciplines we look long and hard for three key characteristics: Passion. Attitude. Drive.
“Continued success is never easily achieved in the games industry. A strong foundation for repeatable success begins with each team member having an unwavering passion for their craft, a collaborative and positive attitude regardless of the state of play, and a drive that leads to creative problem-solving and total accountability to your team, studio and ultimately the customer. Always strive to expand your sphere of influence within a team by bettering yourself through researching, networking, and developing new skills. Borrow best practices from the most successful companies in the world (regardless of industry) and adapt them to your team’s needs. These are the guiding principles we’ve used to achieve continued success with our games year after year.” – Brian Clayton, General Manager and Executive Producer | Paragon Studios
Continue to grow your wealth of experience play nice with others, and hang on tight to that desire that brought you here in the first place and you will have a long and rewarding career in game development.