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About SKHayward

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  1. SKHayward

    Where do I go from here?

    I get the impression that it is an uphill battle trying to get hired at studio on a junior level if you aren't living where the studio is located. Companies don't want to pay to fly people out for interviews and pay for moving stipends to hire someone who is new and unproven across a few states, let alone spend much much more time and money doing the same for someone out of country. You have a literal mountain to climb.   I think in your shoes having some professional experience in software and a finished degree would help a lot, and avoid going for studios you know are going to get hundreds of equally qualified candidates applying (you'd have to literally blow everyone else out of the water by being out of country). With your freelance/independant game experience plus professional software dev experience, I would think that counts for more than junior level at a studio.   Your alternate option is to move. This is probably going to take the least amount of time and be the best way to go, but depends heavily on your finances and living situation. It doesn't cost as much as you think if you start a new life and play your cards right. You might even look a lot more attractive to your now-local employers compared to other junior level applications for pulling the trigger on such a move and having a unique perspective someone who never lived in the UAE wouldn't have.
  2. I looked into vancouver, isn't it the highest cost of living city in the world?   Sadly the trend I was seeing is that if you want to get your foot in the door with games (at a place that will actually pay you a salary and isn't just a "startup") you need to live in the most expensive places to live. Austin, TX was one of the cheapest hubs I could find, which is why it seems like things are booming there. I just don't have many connections to that area and I'm really not a fan of texas heat.   Once you have experience it looked like the options open up a lot more. There's a lot of smaller studios or more specialized places not only located in expensive game dev hubs but almost all require industry experience or are the only guys in town (so you better be getting flown in for an interview).
  3. I'm planning on applying everywhere too, but I do want to be local in a hot market. Bay area is very appealing to me as well because I have a lot of connections & friends there to introduce me to the area, which isn't the case anywhere else. None of them work in the industry, but it could always lead somewhere.      Also, my roommate plans do not have to be permanent. It's just a nice option because it's a no strings attached room until I find another place. And he's wanting even more roommates. I like to think once I land a footing I'd seek out other roommate opportunities to bring my costs down closer to $1k/mo, that said.     I ran these numbers too. I already consulted my roommate, utilities would be at most $100-$200 extra on top of $1500, not sure where you got $500 from?   My car is small and gas efficient and mostly paid off. My current gas expense is $20/mo, with a work commute bigger than 15 minutes and paying more for gas I'd probably expect that to double or triple.. but no where near $200?   Here was my budget: $1600/mo for rent+utilities (this was confirmed to be approx cost). I'm not on a lease and would be paying in advance for month(s) I am staying. Yes, I know the person, yes he's trustworthy. $50/mo in gas $85/mo car payment $250/mo food (I assume it is more expensive, I currently do close to $150-$200). $35/mo phone bill   If my take home is $3K/mo, that leaves me with $980 left over per month to start with. Car/medical insurance will take that down, as will retirement+savings, but even still I should be comfortably pocketing $500/mo assuming I keep that exact arrangement. Not get rich quick money, and certainly not on the fast track to early retirement but isn't largely different than my current situation (much better actually since I don't make enough to save for retirement or pay health insurance at the moment). And I don't intend those numbers to be permanently locked in like that. I'd ideally like to get my rental costs under $1K rooming with other friends, and hopefully move up in pay once I build professional experience.   EDIT: I do want to thank everyone for their advice of course! I'm obviously leaning hard on the bay for reasons beyond just game dev, but am always considering my plan B or C. My "worst" case scenario is I end up in someplace like Austin, which wouldn't be so bad :) I have enough money saved up to account for a fallback move.
  4.   My breaking in plan was mostly be local and apply, so nothing fancy.   My portfolio is focused on level design with some gameplay systems design. I'm done a ton of scripting work and have worked on projects that were award winning. Within the month I'm planning on adding a solo project to my portfolio that I've worked on in the past year which focuses on single player level design pacing & narrative. My degree background is in visual communications (associate's) and sculpture (BFA).   It is a hard position to be in because I know these positions aren't nearly as common as engineering focused ones. But I love it! And I feel I'm at the point where I know I can grow much faster actually working in the industry instead of doing hobby projects all the time. Plus, making a salary sounds like a good idea.
  5. I'm looking to break into the industry, and am confident in my portfolio so just need to make the move. I have an opportunity to split a room with a friend in the San Jose area for roughly $1500/mo, and he's flexible as far as how long I stay. I feel like this is a great opportunity to establish myself.   The problem is, the salaries for that area aren't super clear. From what I gather, I can probably expect $48-50K entry level for a design position, possibly lower. That sounds okay to me, but keep in mind I simply don't have a frame of reference for how expensive the bay area really is. All of my research online points to people saying that it is impossible to live in the bay area for less than $70K, but I have a decent amount saved up and have no debts outside of a small car payment.   Is $50K really affordable for the bay? I don't want to be in a situation where I'm living paycheck to paycheck or going slowly broke despite living frugal. But I'm comfortable with the idea of building up a modest savings once I gain enough experience to move to higher positions. I was wondering if anyone here had experience working such positions in the bay area (or similarly expensive cities like Vancouver), and how it worked out financially? It just scares me reading stories about people barely getting by on 6 figures, and it makes me wonder if I'm missing some secret expense I wasn't expecting.   For the record, I do live on my own right now, but I've never made a salary (hourly) or made over $16K and live in the midwest where it is cheap. My dad is helping me with car insurance, but nothing else (my rates would likely be around $100/mo for my car).
  6. SKHayward

    Portfolio/Resume Review

    Thanks for all the help. I've updated and uploaded a new resume.   Sucks that I likely burned any hope of getting noticed with my initial applications thanks to previous (bad) advice I was following. Live and learn..
  7. SKHayward

    Portfolio/Resume Review

    I appreciate the feedback!   I'm a bit confused on experience part though, considering I've read from a few places that working on actual released projects (even if it's "just a mod") counts as experience?   That said I'll def take your advice to reorganize things to highlight project work, makes way more sense thinking about the role an actual resume is supposed to do.
  8. So, I graduated last May. I've been figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, if it would be easier to just follow the path of graphic design (what a good chunk of my education is in). But recently I've really discovered that the thing I know I can spend countless hours on is game/level design, so I'm really pushing for my first job into the industry using my modding work. I really want to know your thoughts on my portfolio, if you think I need more or am doing something wrong that would get me turned down vs many other applicants.   http://www.skhaywarddesign.com   I've already applied to a couple of studios late this past Friday, but am unsure how likely I am to get any kind of interview or offer, considering these are the first real companies I have applied for in this industry. One of the jobs is for a Level Design position at Bethesda, and the other as a combat systems designer at Zenimax Online Studios (ESO). At Zenimax, I know someone who works there and have an "in" that way, but since he's never personally worked with me the most I can expect might be a friendly bump up past HR. I have my doubts I can get this position though because he said that they were already in the process of starting to interview candidates, and I have a feeling that Bethesda is already doing the same. A case of missing the boat. And a little bit of being unsure what a portfolio of a combat systems designer should look like.   Perhaps in all my nervousness I am over-thinking everything. I really like to have a solid plan of action and broad overview of things I am dealing with, both personal and professional, so this is simply a consequence of that    I guess I just want to know... would you hire me if you had such positions available? Do you think I'm "ready" for a job? What are the expectations of such new hires? They didn't list any required shipped products or years of experience, but I have this vision in my head that the only hope of breaking into the industry having those things. A perception that recent grads (such as myself) need several years worth of projects post-grad to really beat other candidates. Maybe I'm being a bit pessimistic though.
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