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Member Since 21 Oct 2009
Offline Last Active Dec 16 2015 11:09 PM

#4836613 Requesting a resume critique

Posted by on 17 July 2011 - 09:14 PM

Hey Elijah! I just recently got into the games industry, but have already been pretty critical of resumes we receive. Know that most companies get hundreds of resumes per day, so me being critical is just that.

Seeking an entry level position or internship as a software engineer or game designer.

This is totally bogus.
- First, software engineering and game design are two completely different disciplines. Software engineers are programmers, while game designers do very little programming in comparison.
- Second, game design isn't an entry level position. Saying that you're seeing an "entry level position" in game design is completely hypocritical because that position does not exist.
- Third, this is about you, and it should be about the company. What are you going to bring to the table? Think of it from a recruiter's standpoint. They have recruiting "objectives" to fulfill for the company, and your objective should perfectly mesh with theirs.

For education, I would not include your GPA. Your GPA matters if you're in college applying for your first job. After that, it ceases to matter. If you have some outstanding GPA or received honors based on grades, you can include it, but anything less than a ~3.5 and you should probably pass on it.

Purely a curious note, but are you 100% sure you're allowed to talk about everything on your resume? Some of the stuff seems borderline proprietary. I'd check!

Your published projects are cool, but should be condensed down quite a bit. A lot of them are huge bullet points that no one is going to read. Not only that, but you list them in the wrong order - Series of Tubes and Simon Evolution should be up at the top.

"Projects in Progress" are total BS. If they're not finished, don't list them. You'll get a chance to talk about what you're doing in interviews, but if you don't have a demo or a finished product, don't list it.

None of your listings focus on results. For example, "How many downloads did Series of Tubes get?" Or "What did Universal Video Player do for the company?" How many people use the "Mobile Physician Search Directories" or "MyHealth" apps? Focus on results here - how did your contributions make an impact to the company? Most companies are results focused, and your resume doesn't show that.

Your website, http://www.renegadeinteractive.com/, loads absolutely nothing on the front page. You'd easily lose the job here. It reads "Not found. Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here. Wanna try a search?"

Lastly, nothing on your resume says "gaming." This is probably the most killer, because it looks like you're a skilled programmer, but not a skilled game programmer. I went through a similar thing with my resume for outstanding results. You should have a section entirely devoted to "Game Experience and Development." Right now, you're just clumping them all together.

Despite all of this, I do think your resume is good enough to get into the industry, but you'll have to do some networking. Get started on some awesome gaming project and buy a GDC pass, and start networking. You won't be able to get in without it.

#4818712 Looking for tips and critique on a Portfolio

Posted by on 02 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

The real problem with your portfolio is that you don't have any finished projects.

Everything there is just showing how you can program nice <30 second videos. But anyone who knows c++ and spends a tiny bit of time with DirectX, OpenGL, or Unity3D can do that. You're showing the basics, but not real powerful projects.

Make something that people use, or that people will want to use. Make a project that can really "wow" the recruiter with statistics, or at the very least, your knowledge. You want to be able to talk about how many downloads you've got, or at least what skills it demonstrates.

Look at this post: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/602712-best-places-to-post-free-games-i-have-made/

Notice, his projects are finished projects.

#4785340 Question about me

Posted by on 13 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

My general opinion about your resume: lots of vague, no specifics, and more importantly, no results. When you list off work experience and work history, you should be detailing impacts - what specifically did you do, and why did it matter.

Going on to specifics:
- Your objective says "problem solving, and interpersonal skills," which is a bit ridiculous. Every software development position is about solving problems, and interpersonal skills is a checkmark for all business oriented jobs. Not only that, but can you even quantify what a "problem solving skill" is? Programming knowledge is concrete. You should be going about this as "management abilities," if anything.

- Your education section is pretty small, and could be expanded out if you wanted to. There's a LOT of whitespace here. Several people like recommending that you list off relevant or interesting courses as an attention grabber, but that's up to you.

- "Integrated C++ programs with Java" is very specific, but tell us nothing about your place in the company or what it was doing for the business or project. The sub-point here is the same way: that's great that you can tell us what it is, but you're not telling us what it does. Try this out "Created Critical C++/Java Integration Module for the XYZABC project" - This implies that you were doing something for the company in addition to your technical competence.

- "Developed GUI for the integrated C++/Java programs" - again, it's very specific, but not specific enough and not telling us about the why. Why did you make this? What was the point? Was someone just throwing busy work at you? Try this out:
- "Designed and Programmed GUI for integrated C++/Java programs that increased speed of completing XYZABC task by 20% for the company customer support team.
- "Compiled and integrated feedback from customer support team to further increase ease-of-use and speed."

The difference is that I'm focusing on more skills (design, programming, compiling feedback) and focusing on results (the goal was to increase ease and speed of completing a task). I'm telling you not just what I did, but why I did it.

- "Implemented Bioinformatics algorithm for Profesor's research" - and what did it do? How did it impact the research?

- "Web Development research" - again, there's 0 focus on results.

- Leadership Activities
- - - TERRIBLE. Terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. If they started reading here, your resume goes in the trash instantly.
- - - You don't list anything that you've done as a leader. Tell us SPECIFICS. Why are YOU better than some other leader? I've got an application from Joe Bob here, and he says that because he was the leader, he reduced organization costs by 30%. Meanwhile, you've just monitored and coordinated some activities. I'm sure ANYONE in your group could do that.
- - - What did you do? Why do YOU matter? What's SPECIAL ABOUT YOU?

- Technical Skills: is this really all you know?

- Activities and Interests: got anything really interesting here? Are you a Scuba Diver? A Pilot? An intense Skiier? Anything that's actually interesting? Traditionally, these sections are used as conversation starters. Someone looks over your resume and gets to the bottom and thinks "woah that's cool." Neither of your things invoke that response.

#4785144 Portfolio of a Game Designer

Posted by on 13 March 2011 - 01:14 AM

I'll be the one to crush your dreams, since no one else seems to want to give out a reality check here...

"Designer" is a vague position that offers nothing tangible. No matter what your position is, you're always designing elements of the game. Artists are designing art assets. Sound Engineers are designing sound files. Level Designers are designing levels. Writers are designing stories. Producers are putting their input into all of the above. You can't just say "I want to be a designer" without something marketable.

The position of "sit around and think about ideas for games" does not exist. It just doesn't. Think of how businesses in general work: you get paid for possessing a skill set. The generation of game ideas is not a skill set because everyone in the industry has that skill. Saying "I have good gaming ideas" as a game developer is equivalent to saying "I know how comma's work" as an English writer - it's not a skill, it's a check mark.

You need a skill that's valuable, and you need to prove its value before getting a job. Ideas aren't valuable. There are millions upon millions of ideas out there, and the odds that your game idea is actually the next Angry Birds is literally one out of a billion (and if you really think your idea is the next Angry Birds, why would you give it away for just a salary?)

Here's the point: what do you think your job is, and why can't you do it now? Seriously, imagine who your future boss is, and what tasks he's going to give you, and do them.

To give two brief examples:
- I got a job as a Producer, starting out with systems. For me, I pictured my future boss as someone who wanted UI elements that enhanced system flow, so I went out and made a few World of Warcraft and Warhammer add-ons that did just that. I went through feedback iterations, released them to the public, sent out updated versions, and eventually had the opportunity to show them in an interview to the person who would be my future boss.
- A guy interviewing the same day was interviewing for an artist. He had done the same thing - pictured his future boss who wanted completed art projects using the latest tools that were based on rendered 3d models, so he went out and made them. He then released them to the public to get feedback, incorporated the feedback, and created a very polished portfolio that was truly impressive.

You need a valuable skill. Think in terms of money - what can you do that adds real financial value to a game.

Your portfolio should say "I am worth money because I have a unique skill."

#4772594 Review my resume

Posted by on 10 February 2011 - 05:00 PM

Your objective is unclear and vague and completely focused on you. Your objective should be focusing on what you're going to contribute to the company. Compare these two objectives:
  • GOOD: Game design or development position that utilizes my programming knowledge and management abilities while advancing my career in the computer gaming industry.
  • BAD: Game design or development position that advances my career in the computer gaming industry.
The first says why they want me and highlights general skillsets, while the second says what I want.

Your education section is wishy-washy. "Third Year Student" doesn't make any sense. They're only going to care about when you graduate. Formatting could also be sexier to preserver vertical space.

None of your related experience is actually related.

All of your "related experience" stuff is vague, wishywashy, and not result-driven. Talk about what you did that makes you special. How did your projects make impacts to the company? What modules did you specifically create? What were the programs you made?

Just taking some more stuff off my resume again:
  • GOOD: Established new company-wide internal bug reporting system on the Force.com platform using Apex. Migrated all previous bug reports to new system. Wrote detailed user guide for employees.
  • BAD: Created new program for employees using Apex.
If you're laughing at the bad, look at yours: "Developed software programs for Professors" - how much more vague can you possibly get? The word "software" is redundant here too.

Youth of the year - no one cares what happened to you in high school.

Comcast scholarships - no one cares

Dean's List - no one cares.

Co-founding NSA is cool, and should be expanded out more.

Game Development - Talk about what you actually DID for your games. Expand this section out. If this section doesn't take up 50% of your resume, it's not big enough.

Research - pitiful. This is working against you in its current iteration. Tell us what you did in your research. Describe the methods used. What was YOUR part.

Tutor - No one cares.

The core problem with your resume is that there's absolutely 0 focus on the skills related to the gaming industry. You list off project "categories" rather than actual projects, and you don't come anywhere close in describing the projects themselves or, most importantly, your contribution.

You need to talk about your contributions, your skillsets, and why you matter. Your resume should read as "Here's my skillset - here's why I matter." Right now, your resume is formatted to be just one in the crowd, or in this case, one in the "reject" stack.

#4771128 Road from College Undergrad to Game Producer

Posted by on 07 February 2011 - 06:03 PM

Other useful advice was "get out to California," which ended up making a huge impact on my long-term career. If you put in just a few minutes into the gaming industry, you'll find that most advice sites stress the importance of networking. Earlier this year, I flew out to several career fairs in California, a lot of which I had to plead with career services at the respective universities to get permission to enter (before buying my plane ticket, obviously). The impact was magical: I went from having 0 contacts, 0 human response to suddenly having multiple phone interviews throughout the industry. From that point on, I knew I had it made. As an undergraduate, I'd already been interviewed 16 times and received 15 job offers from non-gaming companies I wasn't interested in. I knew I was a pretty good interviewer, and all I had to do was get to the interview to get the job.

I highly doubt that anyone has much success breaking into the games industry without doing some networking. One recruiter told me that the industry is just too "sexy" for you to get in on paper alone. The fact is that the industry gets tons of applications from people trying to break in, and you need something special to actually stand out. While you might think your cool XYZ project is special, it's probably not. I like to say my blog is special, but there are thousands upon thousands of quality gaming blogs out there, many of which have 10-100x as many subscribers. What can be special about you, however, is your personality and professionalism, both of which can only be demonstrated in person.

While it's hard to measure the impacts, I also learned that it's important to be professional, but not too professional. When comparing myself to my "competition," I quickly found that something that set me apart was my professionalism. Some students showed up to career fairs in shorts and tee-shirts when the main attire was generally nice clothes. Some students wouldn't even shake the recruiters hand. Some would joke around and start talking about how awesome the game of XYZ company was. Remember to conduct yourself as a professional developer, not as a geeky-gamer.

At the same time, gaming is one of the rare industries in which you can go too professional. One of the questions I asked in several interviews was "What do you look for in perspective candidates?" Some candidates were actually denied because they came across as too professional - they lacked "cultural fit." I was glad that I was wearing dress-jeans, a casual polo-shirt, and nice shoes rather than the full suit that they mocked in the candidate. Each company varies drastically, and you should do your research and ask questions.

One final note of "professionalism" that got me a huge edge was emailing follow-ups and thank-yous. When you meet someone at a career fair, get their card and send them an email thanking them for the advice. When someone takes the time to interview you, thank them for their time in an email. If you want to be really impressive, write down something memorable to spark their memory. For me, I got very targeted resume advice from one recruiter and thanked him and sent a revised resume. He was very impressed. Another recruiter asked a very interesting question, and I sent a follow-up with a blog entry inspired by their question. Make sure you use proper grammar/spelling the whole way, of course.

The road for me ended with 4 full-time production job offers all arriving at about the same time, one of which was particularly good, and none of which I'm completely qualified for. I went from being desperate to get in to actually getting to say "I know you want to wait to interview me, but I'm already interviewing with other companies" (said to the company I'm signing with). In hindsight, it's interesting that things moved so quickly once I actually started triggering network connections. From the Summer to Fall, I went from people saying "mmhmm, that's okay" to "wow, that's cool." I started hearing things like "You're a rising star" and "You've clearly already put in the work" from two different companies, when before no one even bothered to send me a reply.

I certainly don't know everything about the industry, or what it's like to work in the industry. I haven't even started yet (starting this June/July), and I'm 100% sure that I have so much to learn it's unreal. I've started reading several books on production, agile project management, and general management skills, and I'm sure I'll learn a ton more from my training and coworkers, and even more in the years to come.

#4771127 Road from College Undergrad to Game Producer

Posted by on 07 February 2011 - 06:03 PM

If you hadn't noticed by now, finished projects matter. Last May, when I looked at my blog again, I realized how terrible it was and how little effort I had put into it. I was actually extremely disappointed with myself - the project had just fallen off the face of the earth. When I started writing again, I wasn't writing to get into the industry - I was writing for fun. I completely transformed my blog from being "wall-of-text" to visually appealing, lots of images, and lots of entries. I started trying to get a new entry every week, but evolved into 2-3 entries per week as I became addicted to blogging about my experiences as a gamer and guild leader.

A "finished project" doesn't just consist of the submitted code, or submitted work. Most projects are never really "finished." A lot of projects/games are always evolving and always changing, and yours should be too. If you've never gotten serious feedback on your code, gameplay, or artwork, you're certainly not "finished." If you've never incorporated feedback, you're certainly not "finished." A project is "finished" when you've released it to the public, gone through iterations of feedback, patches, and bug fixes, and you have a generally complete "product." Think from your bosses' perspective: if you were assigned to this project, would he think it's "done" or would he find it lackluster? You can't cut corners here. While you might be able to trick an HR person to thinking a project is cool and complete, your future boss will see right through it.

Feedback is a critical element of not only projects, but also your career. When I was locked into returning to my web-software internship last summer, I started getting more aggressive with marketing myself and getting feedback. I posted a lot on these forums to get any bit of feedback possible. My resume underwent several iterations as I started distributing it out to anyone who would look and comment on it. I joined IGDA and started attending random game development meetings throughout Chicago, all the while asking questions about the industry and getting feedback on what I had done so far.

Feedback is a gift. Throughout my career search, I've been warned several times of "college arrogance." College students graduate feeling all high-and-mighty with their degree, and in turn, they come off as arrogant and unwilling to learn. Ironically, the students at the highest risk of falling into this trap are also the ones who are most likely to brush it off. If you read this and instantly think "psh, I'm nothing like that," you're already guilty. Careers are built on the basis of listening, learning, and communicating, all three of which can be significantly improved by listening to feedback.

One of my final interview questions in the entire process was "What's the most valuable thing you've learned in your life?" For me, it's been the ability to listen and make people feel listened too. In high school, I was constantly told by my parents, teachers, and friends that I wasn't listening even when I was. I learned about the concept of reflective listening when I got to Northwestern and started implementing it in my everyday life. Maybe it was just maturity, but maybe it was the idea too. Learning how to listen to feedback, however, has easily been the most valuable skill I've ever acquired. It's touched every part of my life.

When I first started poking around asking for advice, I instantly ran into brutal advisors that seemed like forum trolls (*cough* Tom Sloper *cough*). Before I actually listened to them, I would find myself looking into their credentials, usually finding that they were a 1st generation gamer and likely had no clue what it was work in "modern gaming." But everywhere I went, the same people were offering the same feedback, and I quickly started finding that my attempts to discredit were going in the complete wrong direction. Instead of listening to advice, I tried to prove it was ignorant and ignorable.

After meeting failure after failure, I started getting bent into submission while also starting to use more and more resources. Rather than just going onto the forums and posting resumes, I went to my university's career services. I started putting myself in situations in which hiring folks couldn't really refuse to answer my questions. On my projects, I started developing more, getting better at feedback cycles and also structuring my code to easily implement later feedback.

One of the most popular bits of feedback that I saw getting thrown around was "Do you even know what you want to do?" When I first started posting asking for advice, this was usually the response. It's the response a lot of college students get, because the reality is, they don't know what they want to do. If you're a college student reading this, know that it's pretty normal while in college to "not know what you want to do." Even if you know what industry you want to work in, it's completely fine to not know what you want to do in that industry.

Usually, not knowing what you want to do is a consequence of not knowing what work there is to do or laziness. Let's assume it's the first, in which case you probably need to do your research. If and when you get to an on-site interview, it's almost guaranteed that one of the questions, either directly or indirectly, will be "what do you see yourself doing here?" At that point, you need to know what you're doing, and to get that involves research. Research is a critical element of any job search. You need to know the industry, the position, and the company among several other things.

If it's laziness, let me tell you that making games is not a game - it's a serious business that involves countless hours of hard work. When I first started wanting to get into the games industry, I imagined some dream job in which I could sit around and talk to people about what I would want to change in a game and I could write or draw out changes and make other people do the work. That dream job does not exist. Video games are equivalent to almost any other electronic consumer good. You've got target markets, marketing campaigns, budgets, intense timelines, development goals, etc.

For me, there was a point where I realized that you have to have a passion for actually making games - not just playing them. Looking back at some of my old posts, I trashed Valve's Hammer because I thought "it's a stupid level designer" - really, I was just unwilling to put in the work required to actually make a finished level. I don't have passion for level design (or anything related to artwork), and that's okay too. Personally, I found my main two passions to be systems design and production. For systems design, I focused a lot on UI elements and procedural flow, along with systems within my own guild leadership. For production, I've been a leader among gamers for quite a while and want to take my leadership skills to the gaming industry.

Some people get so wrapped up on the consumer side of the games industry that they mistakenly think that making games is just as fun and cool. Using that logic, making french fries at McDonalds must be the coolest job ever because the fries taste really good. If you don't have a passion for making games, this industry isn't for you. The company I'm starting at works from 10-6, but just walking around and talking to people quickly revealed that most work from 10am-midnight or later.

You need to want to put in the hard work. If you look at portfolio development and think "I'll just cut corners" or "I don't need to do that to get in," you're not approaching it right. When first working on a portfolio, think of realistic projects that would impress your future boss and make them. My blog now has over 100 entries, 500 subscribers, and over 100,000 words (the size of the average American novel).

After finishing all of these projects, I started looking at full time positions last August. Along the way, I found a lot of useful advice that helped me target specific career opportunities and career paths. One interesting bit of advice that I got along the way was "production isn't an entry-level position." I certainly agree still that production isn't an entry-level position, but I didn't seem myself as necessarily "entry-level" - I'd put in a lot of work to game development and targeted my degree to focus a lot on organizational behavior and project management.

#4771126 Road from College Undergrad to Game Producer

Posted by on 07 February 2011 - 06:02 PM

Note: I realize now that this is extremely long. I've successfully landed my first job in the gaming industry as a Production Intern, and wanted to share my experiences, successes, failures, and lessons learned for any college undergraduates who might be in a similar spot in the future.

About 20 months ago, I was sitting in at work in a web-software summer internship wondering what I was going to do with my life. The internship was pretty good, and the work environment was pretty awesome, but I had absolutely no passion for what I was doing. I was very appreciative of the opportunity to do real work and start learning real skills, but it was obvious that the web-software industry wasn't for me.

After realizing that I really disliked my job, I started focusing on post-graduation. I'm a senior at Northwestern University graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering this June (minors in Computer Science and Marketing). Going into my Junior year, I started asking "Well, what am I passionate about?" I came up with a list of skills - programming, computers, statistics - things I thought that were relevant to the "real business world." It was only until consulting my girlfriend (now fiance) that I was turned onto gaming.

After 20 months of hard work, I finally got into the games industry as a production intern at fairly well known studio in LA. I'll be starting as a Production Intern this coming June, and I wanted to write this so that college students who were in my spot (and I'm sure there are many) can learn from my mistakes and successes.

The first bit of advice I can give is be resilient. It took me 18 months from the time I started working to get into the gaming industry to get my first interview. In fact, it was 17 months until I got my first ounce of humanity out of the industry. I sent in resumes. I posted on forums. I marketed myself. I did everything I possibly could think of. I blindly followed huge stretches. I cold-called several studios. I applied to every position I could think of. It was painful. For 17 months, everything I did seemed to go into some meaningless black hole in which no human would ever see it. Sometimes I would get an email response from a "do not reply" email saying I was denied. All of this for simple internships. The industry seemed so insular - to get in the games industry, you already needed to be in the industry. If you weren't in the industry, no one paid any attention to you.

There were a few points where I thought it was hopeless or where I was getting desperate. During the winter of my Junior year, I felt that if I didn't get an internship, I was doomed to get into the industry for the positions I wanted. I started looking at gaming colleges and gaming graduate schools, thinking those would be the magical solution. I started lamenting my university, if that's even believable. Northwestern University - an elite college - seemed to leave me leaps and bounds behind other colleges for the only industry I wanted.

But each time I met failure, I kept going. I'd buy a new book to read on game development, or start some new programming project to add to my portfolio. Despite my failures at getting into the industry, I started having huge success for the projects I had taken on. I made 2 stand-alone PC games, which while not that impressive, could be sent out as finished projects. I made a World of Warcraft add-on that was featured on numerous fan sites and became #1 in its category with over 4,000 downloads in the first month.

And this leads me into my second bit of advice: you don't need a job to work in the industry. There was actually a definitive point in January last year where I suddenly realized that I was a producer without a job. I had finished the first major iteration of my add-on and was doing user testing, conducting interviews, and organizing feedback. I started coordinating a few of my gaming friends to help me with each task, such as creating a demo video, structuring the exact text I wanted on the add-on page, etc. I convinced one of them to start making some artwork for the add-on. And suddenly, I realized that I was doing the job of a producer. The programming was done, and now I was coordinating 3-4 people to wrap up everything else and get a solid initial release.

A lot of people come to these forums asking "how can I get into the industry" - and to be honest, it extremely easy. There's a reason that there are so many independent studios out there - there aren't any barriers to entry to the games industry. Start making your own projects. Start doing the job you want to do. If you want to be a game programmer, get C++ and OpenGL and get to work. If you want to be a QA tester, start compiling bug lists and reproduction methods in various games that you play. If you want to be an artist, start making art for a game (either new or current). If you want to be a level designer, pick up Starcraft 2 or Valve's Hammer and start making levels. If you want to be a producer, start finding people to coordinate a project with (you can find people at your University or gaming circles). Several people never even get hired into the industry at all - some people get a group of friends, make an iPhone or Droid game, throw it on the app store for 99 cents, and make thousands. Point is, you don't need someone to give you a job to start doing the work, and the work should come first.

In mid-February, I still hadn't received any response from the 30+ studios I'd applied for an internship with. I started wondering "what am I missing?" - I had an awesome add-on, a great personal website (http://www.MatthewEnthoven.com), a pretty good portfolio. But still, I wasn't having any luck. I started doing research on other candidates - my competitors - and what they had that I didn't. Through my research, I found what I was really good at: I had an awesome personal website. Aesthetically, it kicked ass, which would win me a few points here and there. I had a great University, which despite my failures, I still found as an advantage. I had finished projects that had several hundred downloads compared to broken, unfinished, and untested ones. But the one thing I was missing was a blog.

So I started my gaming blog. Initially, I wrote about 10 articles and started releasing them ever week. After 10 articles, I completely stopped. No one was reading it, and I lost all motivation to continue writing. Between guild leadership, my various programming projects, and my schoolwork, I just didn't seem to have time to write. My blog went down as an unfinished project, going 3 months or more without a single entry.