From Education to Industry

I’m still playing catch-up with all the news and press conferences from E3, so expect that post in a couple of days. I only managed to catch half of Microsoft’s conference due to internet issues, and missed Sony and Nintendo’s due to needing sleep before an early morning journey up north (more on that in a week or two).

My University life is now complete (with the exception of the actual graduation ceremony next month), and with the end of my time in education comes the grand task of job-hunting. The job market is a competitive one at the best of times, but the games industry requires a blend of great talent, good luck and a LOT of perserverance. And having some useful contacts helps a lot too.

GamesIndustry.biz has been an invaluable job-hunting tool for me- and has also proven what we were told during our time on the course; there will always be jobs for games programmers, but an entry-level job for a designer is much harder to find. On average, there have been a couple of jobs a day that I’ve felt I can go for (which is pretty darn good) but a vast majority of the jobs listed require industry (or industry-equivalent) experience, or a combination of design and programming skills that might be missed by some courses (and mine especially so).

The good news? There ARE oppotunities out there, so applying for everything that falls within your skillset is a good way to go. I’ve been impressed by the number of responses I’ve got from companies and agencies, even if they are just to say ‘Sorry, your application was unsuccessful’- any response is better than no response at all!

On a slight tangent, let’s talk about LittleBigPlanet 2 and it’s Create mode. One of the jobs I applied for was as a Level/Game Designer at Supermassive Games, one of the developers of LBP2, and was invited to do a level design test using LBP2 on the PlayStation 3. My first stumbling block was the fact that I don’t actually own a PS3; but after being leant one by a very kind friend, I then realised that you have to play the game (and do reasonably well) in order to unlock materials, decorations and objects to use in Create mode. So two of the fourteen days I have were taken up by myself, my boyfriend, my two housemates and our friend tag-teaming our way through the game collecting as much as possible.

Now I have to say, including a Create Mode that allows you to make ANY kind of level you can think of is fantastic- I’ve seen a replica of the Tron lightcycle game, a clone of Geometry Wars, and a full-on FPS game, all made in the Create mode. Seriously impressive stuff.
However, when trying to make a kitchen-themed level and discovering you can’t edit water in a localised area…you start to find the odd flaw. The first time my level mysterious broke itself overnight, I assumed I’d been a fool and not saved it correctly (or some other such human error). The same thing happened for the fourth time just this morning (to both my level and my boyfriend’s), so now we’re thinking there might be other issues. Both of us now spend more time fixing randomly broken things and remaking objects that have vanished than we do actually progressing with the level- and far more time raging at the game than singing its praises.

In short, I’m reasonably happy with my level (as it’s my first time ever making one in this editor) but also sick to death of it falling apart with no reason or warning. I’m not expecting to pass the level design test, and I know I could have done much better. But hey, you live and learn, right?

To finish, another real-life confirmation of what is often said about the games industry; women are rarer than men, and are often highly valued. I applied and have been given an interview for a QA tester job for a AAA title company- that was recruiting only for females (not because they are sexist, but because they need to test that their game is suitable and playable by both males and females- and obviously they’ve been able to find more male than female testers).

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~ by Tegan on June 9, 2011.

One Response to “From Education to Industry”

  1. I HATED the LBP editor, for all the reasons and more – so making games in it all day I had to turn it down, would drive me slightly insane.

    http://www.gameguzzler.com/

    This gem is far better for finding jobs – not full of annoying middlemen profit-iring

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