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

Topics I've Started

Road from College Undergrad to Game Producer

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.

Revamped Resume - I love brutal feedback!

05 October 2010 - 08:00 PM

I've completely redone my resume and was hoping for more feedback:
Resume PDF

I also added another project to my portfolio:
Raid Invite Organizer

I would love feedback on both projects and my overall personal website:

I love brutal feedback - the harsher the better. The real world is going to throw my resume in the garbage if there's a single error or headscratch. Anything you can say to prevent that from happening is much appreciated.

Cold Calling?

07 September 2010 - 08:39 AM

Starting to panic once again. After a year of trying, I've still had absolutely no luck getting even an ounce of human response out of the industry. I feel like I have a great resume, blog, and portfolio. I'm doing everything I can on a daily basis to try to improve my portfolio further.

I refuse to give up.

For those who want the quick "about me" section, I'm currently a senior at Northwestern University graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering. I have minors in both Computer Science and Marketing with just above a 3.0 GPA. Gaming wise, I maintain a personal gaming blog that's becoming pretty popular along with writing for worldofmatticus.com. I'm a guild leader of the #55 World of Warcraft guild in the United States, and we play together about 10 hours each week. Lastly, I have a portfolio consisting of an WoW add-on that's the "top" of its category along with two simple standalone games. I really want to bust into the industry through QA or design.

I've gone through the conventional channels and am about to resort to extremes:
- I've got a friend at the career services department at Stanford University who's letting me attend their career fair this October. Blizzard Entertainment and EA Games will both be there, and I'm hoping to make an initial contact and actually get some face time for once. This is "extreme" in the sense that I'm dropping $900 for a 1-day trip.

I'm considering cold calling. Does anyone have any specific tips for the game industry that might facilitate its success? Or is this just a terrible idea to begin with?

http://www.MatthewEnthoven.com <--- My portfolio/resume
http://www.Blacksen.com <--- My blog

Resume/Portfolio/Blog Critique

07 July 2010 - 08:27 AM

Unfortunately, I missed this latest round of gaming internships and am now working at the same internship I've been with the last two summers. This summer, however, I got a promotion and now have a much more engaging project that I get to make real decisions on. It's still not in the gaming industry, however, which is where I really need to be.

I'm hoping someone can review my personal website:

Things I want to highlight:
- LootCouncil_Lite. This World of Warcraft addon is now at over 5,000 downloads. It's been a huge success that numerous guilds have been using on a weekly basis.
- Northwestern University. Most employers know this is a pretty prestigious University, and so I obviously want to show it off as much as possible.
- Promotion. Unfortunately, I'm having some trouble discussing exactly what the project is. Because it's a new product, I can't discuss any details at all.

Things I'm working on:
- Another World of Warcraft mod that plugs into the SimCraft application/framework.
- Designing a Starcraft 2 level once the game is fully released later this month.

I'd appreciate all comments! I've been trying to break into the industry for over a year now. I'm now going to be a senior, so I'm done looking at "just internships."

About to take a jump

22 February 2010 - 04:28 AM

Some of you might remember me, but I'm a student at Northwestern University struggling to get a summer internship in game design or production. For long-term career goals, I'd like to get more into the business side of making games (product management, marketing) but I haven't really seen a good break-in opportunity for either. I've been spending a lot of my time over the past six months learning how to do something in the games industry, and am really enjoying it. However, the frustration of not being able to get an interview has left me considering other alternatives. I've been advised by several relatives and a games entertainment marketer that I should find email addresses of people (not departments) and send my resume directly to them, saying "I'll be in L.A. from March 18th-28th if you have anyone that can sit down for lunch and an informational interview" or something like that. I've tried going through the "normal" system but am having very limited success. I cannot go to GDC as it's during my exam schedule, and I'd prefer keeping my focus on my studies. I'm going to see some family in L.A. and San Fransisco, but obviously am really trying to get a break in job. It seems like a good break-in tactic, but it also seems like it could be disastrous. I'm worried I could get on a "do not hire" list, or it would just seem desperate (though I am starting to get desperate). I don't want to burn bridges for post-graduation opportunities. Is this a good idea, or should I continue sticking with the normal system?