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Adventures in Game Production

New GameDev.net Challenge!

Posted by , 06 May 2011 - - - - - - · 807 views

See my post here - http://www.gamedev.n...-dev-challenge/

I did one of these something like 3 years ago and thought it was cool, and I figured it was time to do it again. It is a weekend challenge, theme announced on Friday at noon, 72 hour window for development, and cool prizes will be up for grabs ;)

Where the Jobs Are

Posted by , 17 February 2011 - - - - - - · 384 views

I'm not sure how long this entry will be, but this is just something that has been on my mind. In the games industry news we are constantly seeing studios laying off. Back when was I was interviewing around I had two different companies close the position (without hiring anyone), with one of them admitting they realized they didn't have the budget for the position. We are well into the current console systems' life cycles, and budgets for the largest titles have soared beyond imagination. Huge projects are getting canned frequently and large, established studios are closing and/or being subjugated to laying off large portions of their staffs. Talented and experienced game developers are on the market for finding new jobs, and fresh graduates from school who are looking around don't have a lot to pick from because they have to compete for jobs with all the experienced folk who are looking as well. The situation appears, at the surface, dire.

I don't think it is at all; there has simply been a large market shift over the past couple years. There are a number of great opportunities that have emerged simultaneously with this predicament.
  • Growth in the indie space. With so many talent developers finding it difficult to make it in the AAA console gaming space, many are striking it alone. Xbox Live Arcade, the smartphone (particularly iPhone/iPad) market, PC, and online social gaming spaces have had a flood of startups. These markets are are hit driven as it is for consoles, but the markets themselves have grown tremendously and the barriers for entry are considerably lower.
  • Growth in the mobile market. Over the past couple years the number of mobile developers has exploded, along with the market size. Some, in only a short couple years, have become practically giants in their own right. Mobile gaming may not be as 'glamorous' as console gaming, but the number of potential players is huge. The rapid advancements in mobile gaming technology has made wicked awesome gameplay possible that wasn't possible only a couple years ago. The number of people who own an iPhone or Android phone is an order of magnitude larger than the number of console owners there are, each of them a potential gamer with the right apps.
  • Growth in the social gaming space. When I was graduating with my Bachelor's degree three and a half years ago, social gaming was basically text based games with a couple buttons to interact with the game. Now they are incredibly richer, and everyday there are new games being released with better graphics, better audio, and better gameplay. Wikipedia tells me that there have been over 55 million copies of every game in the Call of Duty franchise sold. Top social games have more unique players than that play them in a month.
As I've mentioned before, I now work for the largest game developer for Facebook. There are so many people playing online social games on Facebook that we can't hire people fast enough to make enough quality content for people to enjoy. We have a ton of great titles on the horizon, each pushing what is possible on the social gaming space. I'm flabbergasted that more people aren't trying to jump onto this bandwagon, where the games you make will reach a wider audience than any console comes even remotely close to.

BTW, hit me up if you've got skills and you're looking to make a move into where gaming is going Posted Image

Job Search Metrics

Posted by , 02 December 2010 - - - - - - · 489 views

I promised a summation of my job search metrics awhile ago, and now I'm finally sitting down to finish compiling it and to write it out. Not sure if anyone will find this useful or beneficial, but I figured I'd throw it out there just in case [wink] Some of these numbers may be slightly off, due to my record keeping being my e-mail, but they are pretty close.

Search Time: 14 weeks
Positions/companies applied to: ~80
Posted positions applied for: ~50
Non-game companies applied to: 5
Interviews: 14

I was laid off on Aug 20th and was given my offer of employment by Zynga on Nov 23rd. I pretty much saw the lay offs coming, so I started applying a few days before I was laid off. This amounted to approximately 14 weeks of searching before I had an offer in hand (a quite good one at that). During that time I applied to approximately 80 positions across the US. Note that about 50 of those were actual posted positions, the other 30 were unsolicited contacts. I applied particularly heavily, whether positions were posted or not, in Texas (since I'm currently in Austin) and in Chicago (since my family is only a couple hours driving distance away). Out of the 50 positions that I applied for, admittedly, many of them were outside of my experience level/breadth, but it is always worth a shot! I also spoke with a single recruiter, though I never got any contacts out of it. The 5 non-game companies were local and were web and software development companies.

Now onto that last number, the number of interviews - 14. Saying 'interviews' is a bit of an overstatement, that is really just the number of companies that I got anyone to call me, generally meaning their HR department. 5 of them I never got past the HR, or initial phone call. That leaves 9 companies that I actually got real developers on the phone and/or I met in person. 2 of those companies weren't hiring at the time, but got me on the phone (and video Skype!) for interviewing about about future openings. That narrows it down to 7 companies. 2 of the remaining companies closed the positions without hiring anyone, due to hiring needs changes. The remaining 5 companies that I had at least 2 interviews, and that didn't close the position without hiring anyone, were EA Mobile, Zynga Dallas (formerly Bonfire Studios), Bioware Austin, BancVue (local non-games company looking to start an edutainment division), and KingsIsle.

All five of these companies were outside of my family friend gaming Wii (primarily), DS, and PC development experience. Bioware Austin and KingsIsle both have MMO projects. Zynga Dallas was a mobile developer and is now a social games developer. BancVue is a banking software company developing an online edutainment product. EA Mobile is well, cell phone games. The company that I made it through the carnage with is Zynga Dallas.

Zynga Dallas started as Bonfire Studios, which formed out of a lot of the former Ensemble team. They were actually among the first companies I contacted. They were still Bonfire Studios at the time and they had a posting for a Senior Producer. I didn't have the level of experience they were looking for, but I sent my resume in anyways, presenting myself as a potential Associate Producer for their team. I managed to get onto the phone with their Senior Producer at the time, who informed me that they didn't have a position for me at the moment, but to keep checking back with him, as there was a good chance they would in the near future. I kept e-mailing him every week, finally getting him back on the phone again 2 months later. The rest, as they say, is history! They're a fantastic team with the backing of social games giant Zynga. I look forward to starting work with them this coming Monday [smile]


Posted by , 19 November 2010 - - - - - - · 777 views

I'll keep this short because I'll be writing a follow-up entry with metrics on my job search within the next few days. I'm now employed again! I'll be joining the Zynga Dallas team as a Producer in about a week and a half. w00t!

Interviews :)

Posted by , 05 October 2010 - - - - - - · 371 views

Well, I wrapped up my face-to-face interview with Bioware Austin about an hour ago and I have a face-to-face interview with Toy Studio in two days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

To provide more actual substance in this journal entry, listed below are 10 questions that I have had asked of me, and you should be able to answer them. Most of them don't have necessarily a 'right' answer, but if you're preparing for an interview I'd suggest you be able to answer these questions.

1) Why don't we start off with you telling us about yourself?

2) Pitch yourself, 30 seconds or less.

3) Do you know what all this position entails?

4) How familiar with [genre] are you?

5) Why do you want to be a [position] at [company]?

6) What is one of the worst mistakes you've made, and what did you learn from it?

7) Can you tell us what your favorite project was and why?

8) [non-leads] You're two weeks out from the next milestone and you don't have enough time to hit your tasks. What do you do?
[leads] You're two weeks out from the next milestone and you don't have enough time/resources for your team to hit the deadline. What do you do?

9) You've been handed a list of tasks (or features, content list, etc) and what your next milestone date it. What do you do now?

10) When we get off of the phone with each other, why should we keep moving forward with you and not toss away your resume?

Well, that's it for the moment. I hope these questions are useful for you. I'll post again in a week or two, hopefully with a job in hand. I'll sum up some of the metrics of my job search.

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