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    • By Alex Daughters
       

      Hi, I am currently a college student studying to become a Game Developer. I need to interview current game developers for a class I'm taking. if anyone seeing this could answer just the 5 questions that I have provided below as well as your name, current position, and how many years you've been in the game industry. I'd really appreciate any responses. 
       
      Name:
      Position:
      Year in the industry:
       
      What was the starting salary?
      How many hours do you work?
      What did you learn outside of school that was useful?
      How did you get your job and how hard was it to find it?
      how was this job different than you expected it to be?
       
      Thank you for your time.
      -Alex Daughters
    • By RyRyB
      I got into a conversation awhile ago with some fellow game artists and the prospect of signing bonuses got brought up. Out of the group, I was the only one who had negotiated any sort of sign on bonus or payment above and beyond base compensation. My goal with this article and possibly others is to inform and motivate other artists to work on this aspect of their “portfolio” and start treating their career as a business. 
      What is a Sign-On Bonus?
      Quite simply, a sign-on bonus is a sum of money offered to a prospective candidate in order to get them to join. It is quite common in other industries but rarely seen in the games unless it is at the executive level. Unfortunately, conversations centered around artist employment usually stops at base compensation, quite literally leaving money on the table.
      Why Ask for a Sign-On Bonus?
      There are many reasons to ask for a sign-on bonus. In my experience, it has been to compensate for some delta between how much I need vs. how much the company is offering.
      For example, a company has offered a candidate a position paying $50k/year. However, research indicates that the candidate requires $60k/year in order to keep in line with their personal financial requirements and long-term goals. Instead of turning down the offer wholesale, they may ask for a $10k sign on bonus with actionable terms to partially bridge the gap.
      Whatever the reason may be, the ask needs to be reasonable. Would you like a $100k sign-on bonus? Of course! Should you ask for it? Probably not. A sign-on bonus is a tool to reduce risk, not a tool to help you buy a shiny new sports car.
      Aspects to Consider
      Before one goes and asks for a huge sum of money, there are some aspects of sign-on bonus negotiations the candidate needs to keep in mind.
      - The more experience you have, the more leverage you have to negotiate
      - You must have confidence in your role as an employee.
      - You must have done your research. This includes knowing your personal financial goals and how the prospective offer changes, influences or diminishes those goals.
      To the first point, the more experience one has, the better. If the candidate is a junior employee (roughly defined as less than 3 years of industry experience) or looking for their first job in the industry, it is highly unlikely that a company will entertain a conversation about sign-on bonuses. Getting into the industry is highly competitive and there is likely very little motivation for a company to pay a sign-on bonus for one candidate when there a dozens (or hundreds in some cases) of other candidates that will jump at the first offer.
      Additionally, the candidate must have confidence in succeeding at the desired role in the company. They have to know that they can handle the day to day responsibilities as well as any extra demands that may come up during production. The company needs to be convinced of their ability to be a team player and, as a result, is willing to put a little extra money down to hire them. In other words, the candidate needs to reduce the company’s risk in hiring them enough that an extra payment or two is negligible.
      And finally, they must know where they sit financially and where they want to be in the short-, mid-, and long-term. Having this information at hand is essential to the negotiation process.
      The Role Risk Plays in Employment
      The interviewing process is a tricky one for all parties involved and it revolves around the idea of risk. Is this candidate low-risk or high-risk? The risk level depends on a number of factors: portfolio quality, experience, soft skills, etc. Were you late for the interview? Your risk to the company just went up. Did you bring additional portfolio materials that were not online? Your risk just went down and you became more hireable.
      If a candidate has an offer in hand, then the company sees enough potential to get a return on their investment with as little risk as possible. At this point, the company is confident in their ability as an employee (ie. low risk) and they are willing to give them money in return for that ability.
      Asking for the Sign-On Bonus
      So what now? The candidate has gone through the interview process, the company has offered them a position and base compensation. Unfortunately, the offer falls below expectations. Here is where the knowledge and research of the position and personal financial goals comes in. The candidate has to know what their thresholds and limits are. If they ask for $60k/year and the company is offering $50k, how do you ask for the bonus? Once again, it comes down to risk.
      Here is the point to remember: risk is not one-sided. The candidate takes on risk by changing companies as well. The candidate has to leverage the sign-on bonus as a way to reduce risk for both parties.
      Here is the important part:
      A sign-on bonus reduces the company’s risk because they are not commiting to an increased salary and bonus payouts can be staggered and have terms attached to them. The sign-on bonus reduces the candidate’s risk because it bridges the gap between the offered compensation and their personal financial requirements.
      If the sign-on bonus is reasonable and the company has the finances (explained further down below), it is a win-win for both parties and hopefully the beginning a profitable business relationship.
      A Bit about Finances
      First off, I am not a business accountant nor have I managed finances for a business. I am sure that it is much more complicated than my example below and there are a lot of considerations to take into account. In my experience, however, I do know that base compensation (ie. salary) will generally fall into a different line item category on the financial books than a bonus payout. When companies determine how many open spots they have, it is usually done by department with inter-departmental salary caps.
      For a simplified example, an environment department’s total salary cap is $500k/year. They have 9 artists being paid $50k/year, leaving $50k/year remaining for the 10th member of the team. Remember the example I gave earlier asking for $60k/year? The company cannot offer that salary because it breaks the departmental cap. However, since bonuses typically do not affect departmental caps, the company can pull from a different pool of money without increasing their risk by committing to a higher salary.
      Sweetening the Deal
      Coming right out of the gate and asking for an upfront payment might be too aggressive of a play (ie. high risk for the company). One way around this is to attach terms to the bonus. What does this mean? Take the situation above. A candidate has an offer for $50k/year but would like a bit more. If through the course of discussing compensation they get the sense that $10k is too high, they can offer to break up the payments based on terms. For example, a counterpoint to the initial base compensation offer could look like this:
      - $50k/year salary
      - $5k bonus payout #1 after 30 days of successful employment
      - $5k bonus payout #2 after 365 days (or any length of time) of successful employment
      In this example, the candidate is guaranteed $55k/year salary for 2 years. If they factor in a standard 3% cost of living raise, the first 3 years of employment looks like this:
      - Year 0-1 = $55,000 ($50,000 + $5,000 payout #1)
      - Year 1-2 = $56,500 (($50,000 x 1.03%) + $5,000 payout #2)
      - Year 2-3 = $53,045 ($51,500 x 1.03%)
      Now it might not be the $60k/year they had in mind but it is a great compromise to keep both parties comfortable.
      If the Company Says Yes
      Great news! The company said yes! What now? Personally, I always request at least a full 24 hours to crunch the final numbers. In the past, I’ve requested up to a week for full consideration. Even if you know you will say yes, doing due diligence with your finances one last time is always a good practice. Plug the numbers into a spreadsheet, look at your bills and expenses again, and review the whole offer (base compensation, bonus, time off/sick leave, medical/dental/vision, etc.). Discuss the offer with your significant other as well. You will see the offer in a different light when you wake up, so make sure you are not rushing into a situation you will regret.
      If the Company Say No
      If the company says no, then you have a difficult decision to make. Request time to review the offer and crunch the numbers. If it is a lateral move (same position, different company) then you have to ask if the switch is worth it. Only due diligence will offer that insight and you have to give yourself enough time to let those insights arrive. You might find yourself accepting the new position due to other non-financial reasons (which could be a whole separate article!).
      Conclusion/Final Thoughts 
      When it comes to negotiating during the interview process, it is very easy to take what you can get and run. You might fear that in asking for more, you will be disqualifying yourself from the position. Keep in mind that the offer has already been extended to you and a company will not rescind their offer simply because you came back with a counterpoint. Negotiations are expected at this stage and by putting forth a creative compromise, your first impression is that of someone who conducts themselves in a professional manner.
      Also keep in mind that negotiations do not always go well. There are countless factors that influence whether or not someone gets a sign-on bonus. Sometimes it all comes down to being there at the right time at the right place. Just make sure you do your due diligence and be ready when the opportunity presents itself.
      Hope this helps!
    • By Marinka Brussel
      Imagine a game where the characters are not defined by body regions, but rather, each body region consists of thousands of components, which would kind of replicate the real world where we consist of molecules, atoms - that would open up many, many new possibilities for creative gameplay. Can this be done on any scale with today's technology, or would the games simply require too powerful of a computer to even be playable? Are there any theoretical limits to this? Thanks
    • By Monty Kiani
      This idea comes from the concept of making a game that specifically, fills the time of a person in travel when the person might not enjoy the adrenaline factor that accompanies many games.  I couldn't come up with anything so I thought about the general vibe I wanted and an action people did in general that emulated that. I found that it mostly happened, amongst other places no doubt, when people go through their messages panel on their devices; a plane traveler/businessperson perfectly calm for a minute eliminating messages, that moment extended. It's a kind of process of elimination. I don't know if this idea is common knowledge but I couldn't find anything and I'd love to see games based on this. 
    • By menyo
      I have a MongoDB db on a server operated by Kryonet. Obviously I need to be able to query the database from the client for adding, removing, requesting all kind of assets. Now I have written the code to request, add and remove fighters on the Kryonet network I am wondering if there is a better way to do this. I feel it's a bit repetitive, especially when I need to implement this for all other assets the player can own and other players assets when needed. The way I am currently approaching this is the same as my chat/lobby system which works great but I was wondering if anyone could see improvement on my code or a complete different way that is much more scalable perhaps.
       
      public class ClientAssets { public static final int FIGHTER_REQUEST = 1; public static final int FIGHTER_RESPONSE = 2; public static final int FIGHTER_ADD = 3; public static final int FIGHTER_REMOVE = 4; public static void Register(EndPoint endPoint) { Kryo kryo = endPoint.getKryo(); kryo.register(FighterRequest.class); kryo.register(FighterResponse.class); kryo.register(FighterAdd.class); kryo.register(FighterRemove.class); } static public abstract class AssetPacket { public int packetId; public AssetPacket() { } } /** * Packet to request all owned fighters */ public static class FighterRequest extends AssetPacket { public ObjectId playerId; public FighterRequest(ObjectId playerId) { packetId = FIGHTER_REQUEST; this.playerId = playerId; } public FighterRequest() { } } /** * Receiving fighter data from server */ public static class FighterResponse extends AssetPacket { public Fighter fighter; public boolean add; // Add or remove public FighterResponse(Fighter fighter, boolean add) { packetId = FIGHTER_RESPONSE; this.fighter = fighter; this.add = add; } public FighterResponse() { } } /** * Adds a fighter to player assets */ public static class FighterAdd extends AssetPacket { public ObjectId fighterTemplateID; public FighterAdd(ObjectId fighterTemplateID) { packetId = FIGHTER_ADD; this.fighterTemplateID = fighterTemplateID; } public FighterAdd() { } } /** * Removes fighter from assets. */ public static class FighterRemove extends AssetPacket { public ObjectId fighterId; public FighterRemove(ObjectId fighterId) { packetId = FIGHTER_REMOVE; this.fighterId = fighterId; } public FighterRemove() { } } } To elaborate a bit more, this code will communicate between client and server. When receiving a request on the server it will lookup the request in the database. The client will store it for displaying the assets. A specific thing I am unsure about is the FighterResponse.add boolean. I need to be able to remove and add fighters, I guess I am better off with a FighterAddResponse and a FighterRemove response so I will send one boolean less each time this packet is send. But this will create even more repetitive code.
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Execution: Backstory revelation

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Hey guys. Need advice on a matter thats been baffling me.

I have a main story. Made in proper context and all. I have two characters who generally have an uneasy past that will be presented in the form of flashbacks and argumentative conversations in cutscenes. The story has many secrets behind the becoming of the second character because they play the villain, but in a sense where they are misunderstood  (Like Sylar on Heroes). I was wonder how I could incorporate this secondary characters life story after their separation with the first character.......should I make a interactive flashback where the player can see things through the secondary characters eyes so that his actions can be justified through what he went through  (i.e. Call of Duty Ghost. The fathers flashback to why Rorke is hunting ghosts) or should I got with the more subtle approach, presenting it as a prologue that shows the past, then works through present day.

Any other approaches would be highly appreciated:D

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Posted (edited)

I like both approaches. However, with the first one, by having the player see through said secondary character , then switching back to the actual player character, can be jarring and confusing. If you start with the main character, you establish who the game is mostly played by. Later on you can switch characters to show stuff. I'm thinking of that exact idea in my game story. Jotted it down to consider later.

Now your second idea seems as the more conventional route, which isn't necessarily bad. If you show a past tense cinematic, you establish the two characters and perhaps the beginnings of their differences. It makes the player understand that you have these two characters at odds early on. What I see problematic is that outside that conflict there isn't much else about these two. You can explore that later on through the first idea. 

What is your idea, or ideas, for the background lore? Will the player watch cinematics explaining it, or will they find in game stuff related to it? Also, do you want your villain established right off the bat, or do you want the player to learn about said villain as the story progresses and characters are introduced? You might do some foreshadowing first, showing a relationship between the characters, then gradually the other character turns bad? Or maybe that's nothing close to your plan. It might be better to focus on your protagonist first, show the player why we need to care about them and enjoy playing as them, before you bring up a bad guy. Of course not all game stories need to show certain characters this way.

This help any?

Edited by Matthew Birdzell

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Loads of helpxD. The thing is, my idea is based on the betrayal of one brother to the other. The other moves on with their lives thinking their sibling is dead, but in actual fact is just living off 6 years of his life as a small time theif at a distant county. I was thinking player starts the game playing as the protagonist detective trying to solve a string of well planned crimes, then when the antagonist is discovered, it turns out to be the brother. From there onwards the story continues with the detective as a captive in a disclosed location, and the theif becomes the detective, solving crimes and stuff. The twist to the story would be that the goody two shoes detective is actually the antagonist and the criminal is the protagonist, just wronged to many times to give a sh*# about morals. 

So with that I've been trying to find a never been attempted approach towards presenting backstories. The story already had antagonists for the undercover antagonist/protagonist, my problem was showing players where the rivalry come from.

Advice was helpful too....thanks alot

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On 1/8/2018 at 3:03 PM, Savidge said:

Loads of help. The thing is, my idea is based on the betrayal of one brother to the other. The other moves on with their lives thinking their sibling is dead, but in actual fact is just living off 6 years of his life as a small time theif at a distant county. I was thinking player starts the game playing as the protagonist detective trying to solve a string of well planned crimes, then when the antagonist is discovered, it turns out to be the brother. From there onwards the story continues with the detective as a captive in a disclosed location, and the theif becomes the detective, solving crimes and stuff. The twist to the story would be that the goody two shoes detective is actually the antagonist and the criminal is the protagonist, just wronged to many times to give a sh*# about morals. 

So with that I've been trying to find a never been attempted approach towards presenting backstories. The story already had antagonists for the undercover antagonist/protagonist, my problem was showing players where the rivalry come from.

Advice was helpful too....thanks alot

So the confusion by the player could work in your favor by being intentional for a time? Hmm...sounds like it might work. At least establish a character to start playing as that makes the player think they're the protagonist. 

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This reminds me of a Kevin Kostner movie called "No Way Out" about a Russian Spy named Yuri.  You might watch that movie for some inspiration/ideas.  I haven't seen it in many years, but it has aspects too it that are similar to your story.

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I personally like the second idea better, but, it's your story. If anything, block out how both would look/work in the game, and then see which you feel resonates more.

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