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TheSpoonDog
28th Apr 2008, 09:08 AM
So... many of the CBP team members have been involved in the industry in some way or another. Some people like to know how, and I rekon this is a good place to just give a brief explanation of how you got your foot in the door :)

****************************************

My story is pretty simple really and probably not the most inspiring :). I just made UT maps really.

I studied "Resource & Environmental Planning" at University for about a year and a half of the four years I was meant to (the half year was spent more making UT levels on my flatmate's PC :lol: probably why I left). Then I worked at a chicken farm for half a year, bought my own PC, and made more levels... then thought I had better do something a bit more civilized, and went to study again - this time "Information & Communication Technology" (just IT, really)... again, for a year and a half of the 3-4 years I was meant to, learnt max during this time so I could make custom 2k4 stuff... before deciding I should do something a bit more related to what I did in my spare time.

So I started a course in Multimedia (modeling, animation, film...). Less than two months into this course, I got rang up by the boss at Perception (http://www.perception.com.au/) in Sydney (thanks Plutonic!), who asked if I wanted to go and work for them. Even though the course I was on cost a bit - it was a chance to work with Unreal engine and the starting salary they offered me was insane (in a good way) by New Zealand standards, so I didn't have to think about it really, and went over there.

I spent two years working on Stargate, one year as "console lead", just because of my editor knowledge really and I was one of the original two level designers there, until it got canned and everyone got sacked :rolleyes: Then went back to New Zealand quite homesick and got a job almost immediately at Sidhe Interactive (http://www.sidheinteractive.com/), thanks to the recommendation of a game designer who previously worked at Perception. Sidhe didn't really have the money to blow on Unreal, and were using Renderware, Gamebryo. No editor that was really useful, so I mainly used Maya.

I worked there for two years, completing Jackass (PSP, PS2), Gripshift (XB360Live), Speed Racer (Wii, PS2). These games actually didn't involve a hell of a lot of "level design" per se, so I assisted with a lot of game design, made collision for the environments, wrote some MEL scripts...

I've just recently left Sidhe as I write this, and am currently taking a break from the commercial game industry, doing a website for my brother's sports store, and just generally relaxing for a while as long as my money lasts, doing a whole heap of stuff that I've been meaning to do for a while. Sidhe was actually a good, realistic, well-managed company - just not great for a level designer who really doesn't want to step deeper into game design. Also, I felt I'd lost touch with the stuff I actually like doing best - modeling etc, creating levels from the ground up with a bit of art involved.

So for now, it's back to a hobby for me, and I sense some fun times ahead :)

****************************************

...OK, so that was a bit more than brief! Would be great to hear some of the other guys' stories (*looks at Rob*).

Mozi
28th Apr 2008, 10:15 AM
I like telling this story... gather 'round children...


I got in by spamming every single gaming company I could before I got out of college. Unfortunately, I always got hit by the famous catch 22 of, you don't have industry experience but the only way I can get industry experience is if I get in right, but if I can't get in then I won't have industry experience.

I got turned down a lot for that and some places felt my levels are not suited for their needs etc....

So I stopped looking for a gaming job and tried to find a real one. Got some good interviews and offers from IT firms in the area. One place I was keen on going to was in Boston for junior database admin.

Then out of the blue there was a voicemail from a company in Albany called Vicarious Visions. The job was for intern designer a six month job. I called back talked to some folks then when I told them I am graduating they told me I can't do the internship. Bummer.

However the next day I get a call back from Vicarious and they asked me if I would be interested in a full time game designer gig. I said yeah, sent them my levels and some other stuff for review.

Next day had a phone interview and passed it, got flown up to Albany had the on-site interview, passed it and got hired!

I still work at Vicarious Visions been here for three years now. Granted the company does no Unreal Engine (hence the unreal level design at home) work, I have had the opportunity to work on some really cool games so far, such as Spider-Man 3, Transformers, and the last Tony Hawk game. One thing is that my 3ds Max skills though not awesome, have improved as all the level design was done in Max.

But now I am coming to a point where I may want to find a studio that uses Unreal tech now that I have broken the catch 22 of industry experience.

evilmrfrank
28th Apr 2008, 01:33 PM
I started out making Unreal levels when I was about 12 years old, about the year UT came out. I didn't have the internet so I was stuck teaching myself how to do everything. I started applying to game companies when I was about 15 and got my first interview when I was about 16-17 with Nintendo(even though I wasn't so experienced at the time) I soon gave up trying to apply to game companies till I had some more decent maps under my belt. I went to Devry University for Game Design and didn't learn squat and soon found out I knew more than my own professor did so I dropped out of college. A month after I dropped out I got a phone call from Gearbox Software saying they were interested in me. After 2 phone interviews they snatched me up and I moved down to Plano Texas where I am to this day :) I definetly faced the same issues as Mozi where game companies aren't willing to give people a chance when they have no actual experience in the gaming industry.

Angel_Mapper
28th Apr 2008, 06:16 PM
I had received a job offer from the company that made America's Army, but I was in the Navy at the time and couldn't take the job. I really, really ****ing hated being in the Navy after that.

But CliffyB actually got me my start. I had submitted a map to his 0wnage site, it didn't get it but he asked why I wasn't already working for a game company. I told him I was trying, and he said he'd refer me to a company in the bay area. A few days later I got an email from Robert Daly at Secret Level, and a few weeks later started doing contract work for them. They liked me enough to hire me on full time a few months later, and I moved down to San Francisco to work for them. Ironically, a few months after I got there we started working on the XBox port of America's Army.

Interestingly enough at the company I'm with now, Pipeworks Software, Robert is the studio head. We'd kept in touch since he left Secret Level, and the contract I'd been working at the time was ending around December 06, so he offered me a job here.

The circle is complete.

Hourences
29th Apr 2008, 11:30 AM
I dropped out of school when I was 18 as I found it really boring and inefficient, and started focusing on level design for UT1 full time. Got into ONP and Xidia, and modded my portfolio together. I applied to a number of studios but I was always out of luck. Either the studio was really interested but in the USA, or it was some really small time studio, or they didn’t offer me a job. In the end I managed to get hold of a simple freelance job at Streamline Studios for like 3 months modeling very low poly buildings for a race game. Things got interesting after that. Streamline got in touch with Psyonix who got in touch with Epic. They showcased ONS to Epic, and Epic wanted to see a demo, so they asked Streamline to create the demo level. Streamline in turn asked me to create the level as I was just done modeling the houses. The whole thing got rolling pretty quickly after that and I ended up working for Epic on an individual basis after that first level. Entirely unrelated, at the same time Tonnberry, an old mapping colleague from UT1 and ONP, got in touch with Epic and asked if they weren’t interested in an official 1on1 map pack for UT2003 and they said yes. So we teamed up with a few long time mapping friends and made a number of levels for that pack. Epic liked it and figured they wanted to add those levels to upcoming UT2004 instead. Rankin was one of those levels.
Once the UT2004 contract was over, it landed me a job at Sony’s Guerrilla Games studio, my first onsite job. Stuff really kicked off at that point and I never had to struggle for a job anymore since. Getting hold of your very first job is definitely one of the most difficult steps, and the sheer luck you sometimes need can be extraordinary frustrating.

Now working at Starbreeze on some big unannounced EA game. Fifth or sixth year in the industry.

Sjosz
30th Apr 2008, 01:04 PM
Started doing spare time level design after a classmate in secondary school showed me that there was a level editor for the original UT. I didn't know of any community at the time, so I just learned things by myself mostly when I wasn't doing any schoolwork. After secondary school I never really knew what to do next, so in an attempt to go with what I'm good at I signed up at university to do English language & culture. In the first year of that course I found that doing 2 literary essays a week and reading poetry and learning old English was really boring, at which point I realised that all I did to get away from that world was build another level in unrealed. I dropped out of university after I realized that I was doing the wrong thing, and took a sabbatical year from all worries, living home and doing a side job while delving even further into level design.

I'd started applying at companies at some point including the company Hourences worked for at the time and I'd scored an onsite position there if I hadn't asked questions about the contract's contents. About a month before I'd enroll in a private course for game design in Amsterdam one of the companies I'd sent out an application to got in touch. The week after I was on a train to Germany to speak with them face to face, and I signed the contract while I was there.

Since then I've only switched companies once and I'm now working at Chemistry in Sheffield, UK. I'm just a few weeks away from starting my 3rd year in the industry.

Anuban
28th May 2008, 05:19 PM
You are all really lucky (of course your preparation had a great part in this I know but still ...) and I am so jealous of you I hate you all. :lol: But seriously that is so awesome and it is really inspirational. It looks like LD work is the way to go currently if you want to break in the industry. I just wish I would have finished the first level ever I tried to make way back when UT03 first came out ... maybe by now I would be part of this group. Oh well no point in looking back. But really what I want to do is write the plots for the games ... or voice over work. Now if someone could help me get into the industry to do this stuff that would be great. Especially the writing part.

Oh yeah btw Mozi are you going to get the 360 version of UT3 as well? Just curious since I see you are proudly displaying your Gamercard.

Mozi
28th May 2008, 05:25 PM
Oh yeah btw Mozi are you going to get the 360 version of UT3 as well? Just curious since I see you are proudly displaying your Gamercard.

Probably not.

Anuban
28th May 2008, 05:29 PM
But you are definitely getting Gears 2 I would bet. :) Heck I am getting the 360 version so I can play split screen with my roomie and also for the new content and plus I know it is going to be a much more solid product than the current UT3 (PC or PS3). But cool ... I know for you it is more about making levels than playing and it still looks like there will be no modding (as we know it) for the 360 version. Anyway back on topic ... I was just curious. Also these are great stories and I would love to hear more.

virgo47
29th May 2008, 01:45 AM
Hehe, I'm not in the industry. I'd love to, but I'm sort of old to risk my Java experiences and go for job that's hard to find in Slovakia. I'm starting my second family ;-) so I don't want to leave Bratislava and so I don't invest too much time into level creation anymore. So gaming industry will be my unreal dream.

Hyrage
29th May 2008, 10:58 PM
I dropped out of school when I was 18 as I found it really boring and inefficient, and started focusing on level design for UT1 full time. Got into ONP and Xidia, and modded my portfolio together. I applied to a number of studios but I was always out of luck. Either the studio was really interested but in the USA, or it was some really small time studio, or they didnít offer me a job. In the end I managed to get hold of a simple freelance job at Streamline Studios for like 3 months modeling very low poly buildings for a race game. Things got interesting after that. Streamline got in touch with Psyonix who got in touch with Epic. They showcased ONS to Epic, and Epic wanted to see a demo, so they asked Streamline to create the demo level. Streamline in turn asked me to create the level as I was just done modeling the houses. The whole thing got rolling pretty quickly after that and I ended up working for Epic on an individual basis after that first level. Entirely unrelated, at the same time Tonnberry, an old mapping colleague from UT1 and ONP, got in touch with Epic and asked if they werenít interested in an official 1on1 map pack for UT2003 and they said yes. So we teamed up with a few long time mapping friends and made a number of levels for that pack. Epic liked it and figured they wanted to add those levels to upcoming UT2004 instead. Rankin was one of those levels.
Once the UT2004 contract was over, it landed me a job at Sonyís Guerrilla Games studio, my first onsite job. Stuff really kicked off at that point and I never had to struggle for a job anymore since. Getting hold of your very first job is definitely one of the most difficult steps, and the sheer luck you sometimes need can be extraordinary frustrating.

Now working at Starbreeze on some big unannounced EA game. Fifth or sixth year in the industry.

Starbreeze? O_o, awesome Hourences! Great Dev Team <<<

To anyone,
However, if you are around Montreal, the Campus Ubisoft is probably what you need to get in.

Kantham
29th May 2008, 11:13 PM
I went to Devry University for Game Design and didn't learn squat and soon found out I knew more than my own professor did so I dropped out of college.

I hate that ****. How much you paid for them courses?

Hyrage
30th May 2008, 02:20 AM
I hate that ****. How much you paid for them courses?

I can't wait to get his answer, but I can give the Information for the Campus Ubisoft, Montreal: it's 85 canadian $ by session (total of 3 sessions). It's a joke, but the difficult thing is to get selected. The Campus offers 3D animation, 3D modeling and Game Level Design.

Better have a great Portfolio, great interview, speak french (:mad:) and your most beautiful smile.
Their Final Project is often interesting and I can tell you that they lastly used Hammer (Half-Life 2) to make the 3 last Final Projects I know from them (2007-2008). All the formations are working together to make a mod what simulate the Game Industry, many teachers come directly from Ubisoft.

Kantham
30th May 2008, 02:39 AM
Lol a neibor.
Yeah I heard a lot about UBI montreal - I even thought about trying it. Level design is a hobby for me.

Axeman
1st Jun 2008, 01:08 PM
Very cool of you folks to share your stories. I would really enjoy a job in the gaming industry, but my inability to relocate (having two children I don't want to keep moving around) has hindered my ability to get a job when I've been contacted.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoy everyone's work that has posted here. I look forward to the great levels that CBP3 will offer.

Keep up the stellar work.

-Axe

Hyrage
1st Jun 2008, 04:46 PM
Very cool of you folks to share your stories. I would really enjoy a job in the gaming industry, but my inability to relocate (having two children I don't want to keep moving around) has hindered my ability to get a job when I've been contacted.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoy everyone's work that has posted here. I look forward to the great levels that CBP3 will offer.

Keep up the stellar work.

-Axe
So true, having a family gives sometimes a few trouble. I hope the best for you ^^. On my side, I do not have a family yet, but I do not have and want any car LOLLL (near Montreal, you don't need it anyway), so I'm also limited to relocate myself around the world lol. Metro and bus for the win ^^.

cooloola
6th Jun 2008, 03:10 PM
Well it's quite nice to read all of the stories.
Anyway I've got a question. What's the difference between level designer and level artist? And what do companies require from both of them? Thanks in advance.

Sjosz
6th Jun 2008, 05:34 PM
Well it's quite nice to read all of the stories.
Anyway I've got a question. What's the difference between level designer and level artist? And what do companies require from both of them? Thanks in advance.

Level artists generally are only concerned with the art direction, creation and implementation of art in levels, the layout of which is mostly only the concern of the level designer. Does that answer your question?

However, the term level designer is loosely used and has different meanings throughout the industry. At one place, as a level designer, you'd be expected to make and implement the art as well as the layout and scripting, whereas in other places you are meant to solely keep track of the layout, optimization and scripting....

Angel_Mapper
6th Jun 2008, 05:49 PM
Design in general means so many different things to so many different companies, it's really hard to tell exactly what you'll be doing from company to company. Here, I'm more of a hybrid (dual classed: level 10 Designer / level 6 Programmer with a +3 to Artistic Talent), the actual level layouts are a small part of what I do.

cooloola
7th Jun 2008, 09:44 AM
So the LD does the layout, the scripted events, and the item placement, and the level artists' do the rest (architecture, lighting, etc...)?

Sjosz
7th Jun 2008, 09:53 AM
Again, depends on the company.

Hyrage
7th Jun 2008, 12:37 PM
Again, depends on the company.He is right and it also depends of the game you are working on.

By example, if you are working on an old Splinter Cell, the lights are part of the gameplay, so it means = LD job.

In some companies, the Level Designer do pretty much everything [modelling, lighting, layouts, etc].

In some companies, the Level Designer exclusively make the rough layout of the map, balance the gameplays, make a soft lighting, place the 3D meshes, place the cameras, etc. The Environmental Artist comes later and work with the LD to properly give an outstanding visual and improve the lighting for visual art.

In some other companies the LD is doing the layout, the weapon balance, the scripting behind the gaemplays (no deep trigger interface like Hammer or Kismet in UE3), etc.

The Level Designer job is always a mystery nowadays, it's a very challenging and highly polyvalent job.:rolleyes:

The name also change sometimes, Level Artist to Environmental Artist and Multiplayer Level Designer to Multiplayer Designer directly.

Hourences
7th Jun 2008, 01:12 PM
So the LD does the layout, the scripted events, and the item placement, and the level artists' do the rest (architecture, lighting, etc...)?

As said, it depends on the studio but if you know for certain that a certain company has BOTH a level designer position, and a level artist position, then your defintion is likely to be true for that certain company.

If they only have a level designer position, there is no way to find out what the hell they expect from a "level designer" without asking them or reading over a job ad.

Not all companies have a level artist, some just have an environment artist, which is basically the same...

Angel_Mapper
7th Jun 2008, 01:16 PM
So the LD does the layout, the scripted events, and the item placement, and the level artists' do the rest (architecture, lighting, etc...)?Here, designers make the layouts, but the gameplay programmers place items and do scripted events. Weird huh?

evilmrfrank
8th Jun 2008, 02:39 PM
At gearbox the level designers are required to do pretty much everything. The job of a level artist, level scripting, layouts, and everything else related to level design.

cooloola
8th Jun 2008, 03:11 PM
Thanks all for the replies, they were enlightening. It seems to me that the level artist position is more interesting, since i suck at making maps that play well, I guess I'd better start learning some 2d apps and work on my modeling skills (not the ones' where i parade around in tight underwear, I'm already perfect at that). I still have 5 years before I hit the job market, so I'll have plenty of time to do that. Hopefully uni won't get in the way too much :p
@evilmrfrank
Did you used to use the nickname Burkart or something like that? If so, long time no see, it's good to hear you got a job, I wondered what happened to you after you disappeared from Team USP. BTW I'm Wael.

Slainchild
8th Jun 2008, 04:05 PM
I was on a nasty acid trip during most of 2006, came out of it in Germany at Acony Games. Was really confused, dunno how I got there. :confused:

Now working at Chemistry with Sjosz.

evilmrfrank
8th Jun 2008, 07:40 PM
Thanks all for the replies, they were enlightening. It seems to me that the level artist position is more interesting, since i suck at making maps that play well, I guess I'd better start learning some 2d apps and work on my modeling skills (not the ones' where i parade around in tight underwear, I'm already perfect at that). I still have 5 years before I hit the job market, so I'll have plenty of time to do that. Hopefully uni won't get in the way too much :p
@evilmrfrank
Did you used to use the nickname Burkart or something like that? If so, long time no see, it's good to hear you got a job, I wondered what happened to you after you disappeared from Team USP. BTW I'm Wael.

Ya, I used the name BBurkart for a while. :) Never realized that you and Wael were the same person. I was only in the USP for a short while and had to quit because college was keeping me a bit too busy :)

Hyrage
10th Jun 2008, 03:56 AM
Ya, I used the name BBurkart for a while. :) Never realized that you and Wael were the same person. I was only in the USP for a short while and had to quit because college was keeping me a bit too busy :)If the Level Designers are doing pretty much everything, how much time do you need to make one map, approximatively? It must be very long, but this is just what I think, at least if you meant that you were also building all your 3D meshes.

modif: the hyperlink in your signature seems to be broken?

evilmrfrank
11th Jun 2008, 10:22 PM
When I said Level Designers are doing pretty much everything I didn't mean on all fronts :P I meant just in terms of Level Design. We are Level Artists, enviromental artists, Level Scripters, Gameplay Designers, and whatever else you wanna throw on the pile. A lot of the LD's on Brothers in Arms have done a decent ammount of mesh making though.

And thanks for the heads up on the web link being broke :D

Sjosz
13th Jun 2008, 10:52 AM
When I said Level Designers are doing pretty much everything I didn't mean on all fronts :P I meant just in terms of Level Design. We are Level Artists, enviromental artists, Level Scripters, Gameplay Designers, and whatever else you wanna throw on the pile. A lot of the LD's on Brothers in Arms have done a decent ammount of mesh making though.

Environmental artists and level artists are generally people who make models/objects and textures/materials to decorate a designed level... I doubt that you mean just what you said.

evilmrfrank
13th Jun 2008, 01:21 PM
Yea I guess it could have different meaning than what I meant :P I meant the people who are responsible for the visuals of the map and all :D

Lord_Porksword
12th Feb 2009, 12:41 AM
Very interesting to hear how some of the best community mappers got into the industry. From a gamer perspective it's good to see you still make maps for us gamers in ya spare time! :)

My hat off to you!! :D

Angel_Mapper
12th Feb 2009, 03:43 AM
Really I'm just doing it to further my career.

Plus I love doing it. :D

Hourences
12th Feb 2009, 04:30 AM
Same.

And you need to understand a production environment is very restrictive, large teams, long project times, and so on. It is fun to just be able to make your own thing without people interfering

Lord_Porksword
12th Feb 2009, 09:23 AM
Good to hear you do it because you have fun doing it. Having fun means you put more into it which will produce better maps for us other gaming freaks to enjoy I reckon! :D

I'm not suprised about the restrictions with working on a professional game project. However you need them restrictions in place otherwise the project would blow way out of scope (and budget) due to a constant flow of new ideas ending up with nothing ever getting completed.

Question though, do you ever get bored of working on something that long, constrained within a set scope? Or does the fact that you can work within said bounds, then go home and work on whatever you want balance it all out eleminating any 'tedious' times'?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

My spil below for those interested my personal gaming history(not industry related at all though)...

I've been gaming since I was 5 on my colecovision and spent many years gaming on my commodore 64 before I managed to con my parents into getting me a PC for my studies.
Studies was the official excuse. The real excuse was that I wanted to play games on it. ;)
Even taught myself basic DOS commands so I could play games on my mates PC's before I got my own. Doing that got me a career in IT. :D

I dabbled in the past with some mapping and found it quite enjoyable. It's a whole new side of gaming which I find was just as rewarding, if not more, as playing the game normally. I could create anything I wanted which attracted me to mapping. Plus I was playing something that I made myself which was the icing on the cake.

Starting off in Doom2 then onto very brief stints in Quake and HalfLife2 ending up into the FarCry Sandbox editor due to the attraction of the lush tropical environments and the "simple'ish" outdoor editor. Never touched indoors though....
None were ever released publicly in any form. All were SinglePlayer/coop maps. Only kept them to myself and a mate or two for our own amusement.

I got heavily into mapping after playing UT3 then watching the editor vids and realizing that it was a lot less difficult to make a map than what I originally thought. Plus the gfx in UT3 were killer!!

Originally I wasn't going to publicly release my 1st map Orbital Deconstruction due to the fact I'd never released anything previously and that peeps would think it's crap. Glad I did release it though. Good feedback and help from other modders kept the inspiration up for me to eagerly start a second map and soforth making me think that I should stick with it.

I got so enthuastic while working on OrbDecon that I even read the 'extract' from Hourences level design book to help me out with some base theory on mapping. (huge thanx for that)
Admittidly I didn't follow it to a tee but it showed my what to avoid and what works well. :)
I've even been tempted to buy the full book on an occasion or two so if I stick with mapping expect me to purchase a copy!

I make maps to get the type of action and visuals that I want in the game. Unfortunately this overrides proper map theory but I enjoy it anyway. I'm thinking of keeping at it and see if I can learn the proper skills, make better maps and eventually look into getting into the industry down the track if I can get it right.
A mates mum has been telling me for two years to get into the industry seeing I'm addicted to games so much. After seeing my work in the editor she's given me a business card of a good friend of hers, who happens to be the executive producer of Krome studios in Adelaide here.
It's her way of helping me out if I ever want to get a foot in the door to the industry.
I only hope I can grasp the concepts and produce some good work to show that maybe I can actually do this sucessfully as a job.
..time will tell...

Hourences
12th Feb 2009, 10:20 AM
Incompetence leads to blowing projects out of proportion and budget, not insufficient planning or restrictions. Some of the greatest games ever were made with minimal planning and with few real restrictions, some companies plan so much they effectively stand still. Of course you always need to have some organization going, but there is a nuance of how much really. It is very much like a huge cooperate company vs a small garage studio, which one is more flexible?
Companies usually start overplanning things because it is "not working", so they start organizing everything even more in the hope that a bunch of excel files are the magic key to success... Overplanning is usually an indication of greater problems.

I wouldn't survive a 2 year cycle easily. Not because I would get bored with the theme, but because you are just waiting and redoing things all the time and because you are at the mercy of some other guy who doesn't really know what to do either... And so you remake some more stuff....And more...And more...

Games could be 10 times cheaper to develop really, if you'd how incredibly much money is wasted on either stuff that is irrelevant, or things that are thrown away later because someone somewhere didn't do his job well...

Then again, I have been doing this for 10 years now, I am not looking at it from an average dev's pov.

TheSpoonDog
12th Feb 2009, 07:19 PM
Games could be 10 times cheaper to develop really, if you'd how incredibly much money is wasted on either stuff that is irrelevant, or things that are thrown away later because someone somewhere didn't do his job well...
QFT :p

Lord_Porksword
12th Feb 2009, 07:30 PM
LOL at the magic spreadsheets. :lol:
I think some of the managers here at my work have magic spreadsheets to hide their incompetence. Said managers also carry "fingers of blame pointing +1" as well......

Have you ever had the issue of people running the project who have never been gamers themselves and expect unrealistic things to be implemented that aren't possible or just don't work in a game environment? Or have you found that the places you work are generally run by gamers/ex-gamers?
Would you think that it even makes a difference to the success of a game if the team members working on a game are gamers/ex gamers or not?

The large company vs small backyard developer is an interesting topic. Large companies have lots of money to throw at a project therefore can hire more peeps have more equipment, bigger advertising but have to take in the account that the end product is required to make more money than what has been spent on development.

I wonder though with larger 'money rich' companies that it becomes rather too easy to bloat out a team with positions and ideas that don't really need to be there due to the fact that funding isn't an issue. These positions/ideas cost money which could be spent in better areas of development. Bit like having too many managers when they aren't needed. eg.. Too many chiefs and not enough indians... :o

Whereas backyard developers may have little funds, hardly any equipment but don't have a bunch of shareholders breathing down their neck expecting to make them money. I'd like to think they have more freedom but with little funds maybe they don't...

In the end both can be quite successful but the question is..who would be better to work for...



Thanx for responding as well! :)

Angel_Mapper
12th Feb 2009, 10:06 PM
The problem I'm having right now is that my position and influence on our projects does not match my immense talent. I'm consistently ignored and am growing increasingly frustrated at the horrible design decisions being made and the horrible levels being produced, without there being anything I can do about it. Smaller companies != better work environment or better games necessarily.

Lord_Porksword
12th Feb 2009, 10:43 PM
The problem I'm having right now is that my position and influence on our projects does not match my immense talent. I'm consistently ignored and am growing increasingly frustrated at the horrible design decisions being made and the horrible levels being produced, without there being anything I can do about it. Smaller companies != better work environment or better games necessarily.

It's a shame to hear that your talent is going to waste! :(

Maybe down the track you can do what others have done and team up with some of the other talented folk, who are in a similar situation, and startup your own company! :D

Hourences
13th Feb 2009, 01:16 PM
I completely understand your position Rachel, and smaller studios are certainly not always better. Smaller studios are usually lesser experienced which usually leads to a whole host of other problems really.

I also think, and I am sure Rachel will agree, that modding experience is not valued enough. I think being able to work entirely on your own, plan your own time, and experiment with a wide variety of stuff is really important, and gives you a substantial lead over people who only work 9-5, usually. Not a lot of companies seem to realize that though.

Lord Porksword, I dont think gamer/not gamer is a too big issue. I think everyone is a gamer pretty much in this industry. For me a much bigger issue however is gamer/developer. You need to be more than a gamer. The problem is that there is so much involved in creating a game, so the ones in charge are almost never really into all the aspects they are suppose to lead. The Art Director prolly doesn't has an environment art background, yet he does make the decisions on those things. That could work out of course dependent on the guy, and the support he gets, but it could also not work out. The same goes for many people. A producer who has no clue about level design for example and so on.

It is not just the games industry that burns money like crazy. I came across this yesterday:
http://blog.case.edu/james.chang/2007/06/06/2012Logo_LondonOlympics.jpg
Logo for the Olympic games in four years. It costed them over half a milion dollar to design! Totally insane. The same goes for games.

Lord_Porksword
23rd Feb 2009, 10:32 PM
Yeah i can't believe that someone would actually authorize the such a large payment for just a stupid logo...but it shows that there is a lot of money to burn out there...

So what'chaz think about Duke Nukem forever and the fact they've gone through 4 engine changes since starting the project. Would it drive you crazy or would the fact that each newer engine brought more possibilities 'keep it fresh'?

Angel_Mapper
25th Feb 2009, 02:03 AM
I also think, and I am sure Rachel will agree, that modding experience is not valued enough.Well, it depends. I wouldn't have gotten any of the job offers I've been getting this past year if it weren't for the stuff I do at home. If I had to rely on my work portfolio, I'd be lucky to get anything.

On the brighter side, I just got back from my interview today, and I'm going to get an offer soon for a Lead Level Designer / Lead Level Scripter position in Florida. I get the feeling the "interview" was just a formality, since there was no real interview and I just sat in on design meetings all day giving my opinion on stuff. :)

Hyrage
25th Feb 2009, 09:43 AM
Yeah i can't believe that someone would actually authorize the such a large payment for just a stupid logo...but it shows that there is a lot of money to burn out there...

So what'chaz think about Duke Nukem forever and the fact they've gone through 4 engine changes since starting the project. Would it drive you crazy or would the fact that each newer engine brought more possibilities 'keep it fresh'?
Well it just depends, how can we tell if it's already what they planned since a long time... but just waiting for Unreal Engine 3.0 ? They probably needed to prototype their stuff quickly and much more... for that kind of title.

3D Realms are smart guys, maybe they made a few mistakes by assuming the size of their DNF, but I believe they know now that is the best for them. I do believe, that DNF will be great.

Angel_Mapper
11th Mar 2009, 03:36 AM
Bump.

One other thing that helps, and this is the part a lot of people have problems with, is motivation. You have to want it so bad that you're willing to sacrifice a lot to get it. Myself, and I'm sure Hourences and a lot of other people, have spent literally every spare moment working in the editor, nights, weekends, lunches, for years to get where we are. It doesn't happen overnight, and sitting back and waiting for it to happen will get you nowhere. You have to work your ass off to get it.

A lot of my friends I've tried to help, told them that I'd help them learn the editor so they could get better jobs or get into the industry, but it always comes down to the same thing. They get home, they play WoW or watch tv, and they get nowhere. Then they complain about it, or realize that they've wasted an entire year playing WoW when they could have gotten good at the editor in that time, yet still do nothing about it.

It's not that I'm some super-talented genius who this comes naturally to. Anyone could do this. I just have that motivation to spend the time working in the editor to get better at it all the time.

[/Some kinda weird rant]

Hourences
11th Mar 2009, 08:23 AM
I completely agree but that is kind of the whole problem with humanity :)

We just don't fix problems when we notice them. The world can go to hell, we still remain passive.

Lord_Hades
16th Mar 2009, 03:30 AM
Also having a well written resume helps a lot! In the past 3 companies I worked for, the HR managers were not gamers, so if you say that you can create Versailles using BSP only, you might as well speak in Chinese because he/ she would have no clue what you are talking about.

The last HR manager told me that he will post a job on the website using keywords. And he wont spend more than 10sec per resume he receive, so what he does is that he only look to see these keywords (manage, lead, design, communicate, etc...).

Of course once you get past the HR manager, you will still have to impress who ever is going to look at your resume/ portfolio, but if you dont get past the HR manager, you are sure to not get the job...

In my opinion this is silly as they are probably losing some talented peoples that aren't good at writing their resume, but that's the way it is.

zynthetic
16th Mar 2009, 06:05 AM
One other thing that helps, and this is the part a lot of people have problems with, is motivation.

True. 8 years of networking and making some cool stuff along the way did a good service for me. Granted 6 of those years I didn't place modding above anything other than a hobby but the learning experiences and attention gained in that time has really paid off. Getting to know ppl in the industry will definitely help but it's also what you know that'll put you over anyone else that may be bidding the position, and keep you there.
Pick one thing or field and learn it well. It's better to be great at one thing than mediocre at many.

Sjosz
28th Mar 2009, 01:39 PM
It's not that I'm some super-talented genius who this comes naturally to. Anyone could do this. I just have that motivation to spend the time working in the editor to get better at it all the time.

[/Some kinda weird rant]

I disagree. Anyone can learn how to use the tools, but if you have no imagination or a weak creative mind you'll never be as good as people who breathe creativity. Sure, level design largely is analyzing, iterating and applying a set of rules, but creativity plays a large role in it as well. (imotbhkthxbai)

Hyrage
30th Mar 2009, 06:23 PM
I disagree. Anyone can learn how to use the tools, but if you have no imagination or a weak creative mind you'll never be as good as people who breathe creativity. Sure, level design largely is analyzing, iterating and applying a set of rules, but creativity plays a large role in it as well. (imotbhkthxbai)

You are right, but I can't say it's totally true for the following reasons.

-----------------------

A few Game Studios do not care about your creativity, they only want you to build a level, the one they thought of and are sure is great, even if it's the worse, even if you know it won't work. If it fails, they will blame you and replace you by someone else if they desire it, because you do not have any impact on the Studio yourself alone... you aren't allowed to create.


If you are allowed to create and work for a HQ somewhere in the world, they do assume that they know what they are talking about when they give you the feedbacks once you released a Playable Demo. Depending of the Game Dev, it may be once per week, per 2 weeks, once per months or more. It just depends... Plus, they will order you to change stuff that is great, but they don't like it and are convinced they are right so they will ask you to make a Low Gravity Mode in a realistic game, even if your game is supposed to be a real life simulation on Earth... or add flowers & butterflies in a uber-viloent game. If you do it, fine... you know it doesn't make sense and won't sell and the decision was not for the gamers, they made it for themselves and do not care about everything else, but... you will keep your job and be able to buy flowers for your wife and restaurants for your kids. Plus if you are able to please their ideas all the time and understand how they think, you will be able to add those stupid ideas in your things and get a better reputation, but you will always not do your job for the gamers... just for your Leaders. If you don't do that, you may risk to lose your job.


With some luck, you could just be part of a super happy Game Dev Studio that makes smart decision and makes games for gamers!


Or... the last option is to say f*** all that, I'll do my own studio. Unfortunately for that, you may need to experience the situations stated above. What a vicious life, isn't it? :D


-----------------------

In other terms, you may be the best Tool User in the world, but you need the creativity to use it properly. If you are the best genius in the world, but you don't know how to produce your ideas with the Tools... it is even worst.

Programmers are making playable games, good or bad, they are highly paid to do that. Designers are usually not paid as much as programmers, because they do not make a game playable alone. So, if you can make something playable [using the tools], it's a start, even if it's bad (and... unfortunately it's real).

Now, if you really want to get into the Game Industry keep your motivation very high because that world isn't pink, but if you can keep the flame alive and burn all the crap around you... it may be full of light.

Sjosz
31st Mar 2009, 07:47 PM
You are right, but I can't say it's totally true for the following reasons.

STUFF


Aside from the fact that I'm not interested in buying my kids restaurants, I fail to see your point. You make sure you sign with a company that takes you in because you can be creative and create besides using the toolset. If you're completely new to the industry your own ideas of good design will need to be nuanced by learning under experienced higher-ups.

You're talking about hypothetical situations where producers have creative control, and other comparable scenarios. If you want to shut up and make sure you keep your job by pleasing your boss even if he makes a bad decision, you're not really a designer, and you're not doing what you're supposed to. At work I've always met decisions that seem off with questions and concerns. Usually there is a good thought process behind the decisions but well argumented alternatives are never simply ignored.

Angel_Mapper
31st Mar 2009, 08:07 PM
You're talking about hypothetical situations where producers have creative controlHypothetical?

Hyrage
31st Mar 2009, 08:39 PM
Aside from the fact that I'm not interested in buying my kids restaurants, I fail to see your point. You make sure you sign with a company that takes you in because you can be creative and create besides using the toolset. If you're completely new to the industry your own ideas of good design will need to be nuanced by learning under experienced higher-ups.

You're talking about hypothetical situations where producers have creative control, and other comparable scenarios. If you want to shut up and make sure you keep your job by pleasing your boss even if he makes a bad decision, you're not really a designer, and you're not doing what you're supposed to. At work I've always met decisions that seem off with questions and concerns. Usually there is a good thought process behind the decisions but well argumented alternatives are never simply ignored.

Hypothetical?
Unfortunately, I don't think... Because there isn't a Game Studio that works the same way, most of them use similar (different) titles for job position, but the roles are mostly different. Plus, each Game Studio does process differently, even if we may think they work in similar ways and each process does affect the Creativity differently (I mean, our Creativity as level Designers or else). So, even if you do well document or argument an idea, the guys above may just do not care at all and are free to refuse you could be right.


If your Studio is independant and got a contract for a game based on a Film, it's one type of process.


If your Studio is independant and does work for Microsoft to produce a specific game it's a different process.


If your Game Studio is owned by Activison, EA or Ubisoft and does work closely with the HQ it's a totally different process because the HQ may just change everything at anytime, they are you real Lead Designer and Producer and your Studio does only have a little impact.


If your Studio is owned by Activision, EA or Ubisoft, but they do let your Freedom to produce the games you want and they only act as Publisher (in other terms), it's a whole different process.


If your Game Studio is totally independant, managing his own Budget, release his stuff when it's done and needs to find a ncie publisher, it's another process.


In each of thsoe process the impact of your Position changes. Plus, if a Studio does have a lot of Employees, each of them does have no or just a little impact on the ideas and production. In a smaller Studio, each employee may get easier the opportunity to impact the Game and Quality, because they do not jsut act as slaves.

By chance, here in Montreal we do have various types of Studio and I got a few friends a bit everywhere. Plus, if you are Junior, Senior or lead the job differs depending of the Studio too, each of them does get more or less the opportunity to be truly creative. However, everything may also change depending of the various Projectsa Game Studio could produce. Depending of the Platform and the type of game you develop, it may change pretty much everything. If you do work as a Level Designer on Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits, it isn't the same as making Unreal Tournament 4. The creativity isn't the same and doesn't work the same way.

In conclusion, it does vary a lot. The hierarchy behind a Studio does affect that Creativity and how much you could give. Sometimes a Game Designer will only execute the demand of his HQ and wouldn't even have to do somekind of Market studies. Sometimes, even the Producer may act as a Game Designer and filter what may be good or wrong and much more. it is never the same... I'm working on my fourth project and each of them was completely different. I never had the exact same role and I didn't contribute the same way [Game Design, Level Design or just produce from a Layout that was already done].

Angel_Mapper
31st Mar 2009, 08:43 PM
And in other news, water is wet. :p

Hyrage
31st Mar 2009, 08:44 PM
And in other news, water is wet. :p

And we love making games

Sjosz
31st Mar 2009, 10:38 PM
Hypothetical?

Hypothetical. Producers just slap you with time constraints. Maintaining creative direction requires a creative mind, as such. :B

MORE STUFF

Writing short posts is hard, hm? ;)

Regardless of your entire essay on project organization and structural differences in different companies that have different circumstances, being creative is ultimately an important part of being a designer. If you're not creative but can use the toolset you can go a long way before running into the obstacle of having to be creative but not being able to.
My entire point is that creativity is an important part of being a designer. I'm not disputing that applying creativity has its different restrictions.

Angel_Mapper
31st Mar 2009, 10:44 PM
Producers just slap you with time constraints.Unless this hypothetical producer was originally a design intern who didn't make the cut and failed upward, and still think they're designers.

evilmrfrank
31st Mar 2009, 10:59 PM
I agree with Sjosz. A designer with out any creativity would be like a train with out train tracks.

TheSpoonDog
31st Mar 2009, 11:22 PM
Unless this hypothetical producer was originally a design intern who didn't make the cut and failed upward, and still think they're designers.
Must admit, the two main producers I've worked with were highly involved in the design process. Though one was also the boss, thus paying for the project, so I don't blame him. And the other usually surrendered to the opinions of the *actual* design team in the end.

Hourences
1st Apr 2009, 08:07 AM
Sjosz you know too there are plenty of producers who are into designing things, especially in smaller studios. It is a problem.

Futhermore creativity is of course an absolute must, and talent in general is, but do not underestimate commitment and dedication. Like Rachel I know plenty of people who's dream it is to work in this industry but when you ask them what they are doing to actually achieve that "yeah like two years ago I wrote this game design document while sitting in a maths class but since then I have been playing WOW every night". Does that kid has talent? Perhaps, but whats the point if he does jack **** really? He is never going to succeed, not because of his talent for game development or lack thereof, but because of his commitment.

If you want something, work for it. And hey, if you are also just good at it that obviously helps a whole damn lot but it is useless without commitment.

While talent can get you there faster, and while talent is important to keep your job, it is commitment that will get you that job in the first place, over talent really.

Hyrage
1st Apr 2009, 10:27 AM
My entire point is that creativity is an important part of being a designer. I'm not disputing that applying creativity has its different restrictions.
Yeah, and it is absolutely right, but I do point out that whatever your job position is, you aren't always the One that creates the Layout. In other terms, sometimes, only the Lead Level Designer would commit a Layout and the Level Designers will exclusively ''build'' it. Yes, it does involve ''some creativity'', but they have to deal will the default Layout Even if they say, ''oh adding that and a room there could be better and all that stuff to orient the player too''; it doesn't mean that the Lead will accept, because you just aren't him. (Ego problem anyone?)

I really don't see the point of stating that to have a producer influencing a Game Design is a bad thing. If the Producer is skilled, it will never be a problem because if his statement his wrong, then the Lead Designer should make the cut. For now, the worst Design Decisions I saw where coming from HQs.

cooloola
25th Oct 2009, 06:13 PM
Bumpity bump bump
So yeah after several years of mapping I've decided that it's time to see if I can actually land a job and start sending applications, since in the past year it's really been bugging me and I can't seem to focus on anything else and it's starting to **** up my academics. So I just need some pointers.
First of all does it help if you have a fancy portfolio because I know next to nothing about web design. Or is it just fine if I have a simple page with all my best maps with download links and screenies.
The thing I'm worried most about is the resume since I don't have any professional experience what are the other things they focus on? I've worked on some mods but nothing that really came to fruition and it was for UT99, does that help at all?
If there's anything else you want to mention that I have thought about, I appreciate any help greatly.

evilmrfrank
25th Oct 2009, 09:02 PM
You don't need a fancy portfolio. A lot of people who know nothing about the gaming industry are always yelling at me to make my portfolio more fancy looking and amazing looking and its really quite annoying. Keep your portfolio simple and to the point. Only put your best work on there. Of course the page should still look decent and not like it was made back in 1995 but companies are there to see your work not your site :P It's kinda hard to write a Resume for companies when you don't have any professional experience but my advice is to put your strengths on there and also list some of the mods you have worked on. Companies like to see that you've done mod work because it shows them you can work in a team and even possibly make deadlines. Thats about all the help I can give on Resumes cause I suck at writing them :P Any other advice I have is to definitely go through all the other Resumes and portfolios of other pro level designers and get an idea of what portfolios and resumes look like :)

ambershee
25th Oct 2009, 11:48 PM
Yeah - your work speaks volumes more than your web design skills do (unless of course, you were applying for a web design position...). So long as it's all accessible and presented in a fashion that shows it at it's best, you should do fine in terms of portfolio.

TheSpoonDog
26th Oct 2009, 12:00 AM
PM'd you my latest resume for your reference :)

Sjosz
26th Oct 2009, 02:25 AM
Applicable knowledge of design theory is relevant. If/when you land interviews/tests you will likely be asked questions that deal with problems and situations that require resolving to make something a fun experience. Understanding what is fun and how you can apply it is as important as having a decent amount of work to show.

As long as your website is easy and straightforward to navigate and prospect employers don't have to click several times to get to see your work, and you keep things neat, it should be fine. And make sure you don't come across as 'hai gais I can has make level plzkthx I want job nao k' (even on the website). Showing resolve and a degree of being serious about what you want helps. The stuff you've made that's the most recent in terms of technology should probably be around the top of the list of things to show, so make those things extra visible. Pretty sure nobody cares what levels people make in the Super Mario World editor these days.

cooloola
26th Oct 2009, 04:10 AM
Wow, you guys are awesome! Seriously you are, I've still got 2-3 maps that I definitely have to finish but I'll keep you posted.
Also over the past three years I've gotten pretty good with blender, does it help, or is it better if I train myself with more popular software like max or maya?
Again I love you all!

Angel_Mapper
26th Oct 2009, 04:14 AM
If you're going in as an LD, knowing Max or Maya is definitely helpful (higher priority on Max), I would also learn Google SketchUp as well, a lot of companies are starting to use it for whiteboxing.

Mozi
26th Oct 2009, 08:58 PM
If you're going in as an LD, knowing Max or Maya is definitely helpful (higher priority on Max), I would also learn Google SketchUp as well, a lot of companies are starting to use it for whiteboxing.

Google SketchUp:shake:

Had some bad experiences with that in the past making geometry then giving it to artists who did all the pretty work in max. A change in SketchUp meant a lot of re-exporting...

But not to say it's a tool you should not know. It's very easy to use. Just have a good pipeline for it.

Angel_Mapper
26th Oct 2009, 09:01 PM
Yeah, I'm not happy at all with it, but somehow it's wormed its way into use at companies lately.

cooloola
27th Oct 2009, 05:29 AM
If you're going in as an LD, knowing Max or Maya is definitely helpful (higher priority on Max), I would also learn Google SketchUp as well, a lot of companies are starting to use it for whiteboxing.
Ok, I got google sketchup, doesn't seem like a very sophisticated piece of software so it shouldn't take long to learn. I've already got basic knowledge of max but I'm gonna train a little bit more. Also I'm looking for fairly new games that support SP custom maps, any suggestions?
Thanks for the help.

Mozi
30th Oct 2009, 04:08 PM
Ok, I got google sketchup, doesn't seem like a very sophisticated piece of software so it shouldn't take long to learn. I've already got basic knowledge of max but I'm gonna train a little bit more. Also I'm looking for fairly new games that support SP custom maps, any suggestions?
Thanks for the help.

Gears PC does, but word of wisdom. Have patience. That editor crashes a lot!

evilmrfrank
30th Oct 2009, 06:20 PM
Brothers in arms Hells Highway includes the editor. It's about a dozen times more stable than the Gears Editor

nELsOn
31st Oct 2009, 07:09 AM
Gears PC does, but word of wisdom. Have patience. That editor crashes a lot!

Oh, yes it does... Actually I was working on a map for Kantham's Lance mode a while ago but gave up on it because the editor kept crashing at random intervals :B

cooloola
31st Oct 2009, 07:17 AM
I have Gears so I'll reinstall and check the editor out, also I'll search for a cheap copy of BIA. And again you guys rock.