Notes on GameDev: Tamir Nadav
October 22, 2008
Tamir Nadav, formerly a programmer who has marked his path out as a game designer at KingsIsle, has been involved in the industry for over 5 years with his enthusiastic networking abilities. He's always up for an interesting conversation and pitches in with events like Women In Games International, which promotes the inclusion and advancement of women in the games industry, worldwide.
You’re pretty notorious in the conference-going circles and I remember seeing you at just about every event I was at. What value do you see in attending game events?
The biggest one, of course, is networking. One minute I'm talking to an aspiring game designer, then someone like Gordon Walton walks by, and we all end up in a conversation. Since there are a huge amount of us game nerds in one place, who all have a common interest, it makes it very easy for those situations to happen to everyone.
So then, what's your favorite conference story?
Oh, wow. I'm not sure I have a favorite. The majority of good stories happen behind the scenes with other Conference Associates, and we're not supposed to talk about that! But, if I had to pick something to be shared, it would be the same story that I experience at every conference I attend, and that is the combination of the new friends I make each conference I attend, and watching the old ones continue in their career.
Speaking of careers... How did you make the career transition from programmer to designer?
Well, I started very early on in development as an Associate Programmer on an unannounced project at KingsIsle. The other two programmers were our Sr. and our Lead, shortly followed up by another Sr. There wasn't a whole lot for me to work on aside from simple prototyping, so I ended up assisting Tom a lot with design. Through a combination of them noticing that I really enjoyed design, and me not quite performing as well as I would have liked as a programmer to keep up with the other guys, and perhaps a few other factors as well, I was basically asked if I'd like to make the switch. I said sure, and here I am. :)
What drove you to you go for the "indie" life instead of working for a bigger company?
I wish I had a much better reason, but basically they were the first company who decided to hire me. :) In general, I think I'm indifferent to working for either or, because each has their ups and downs, but I can definitely say I highly enjoy my time here at KingsIsle. It's been 3 years now!
What's it like working at KingsIsle Entertainment?
We're in Austin, which sums up a lot of the culture here! I'd say that we're all rather laid back, and from what I've heard from others, don't experience many of the problems that other companies do. We don't go out and party as much as some studios, but since we're made up of many people with families or at least spouses, we've been pretty good at placing family obligations first and allowing time to spend with our loved ones. We still have the stereotypical nerf gun wars, and arguments over Kefka vs. Sephiroth, and quote Star Wars and Family Guy, and all the usual things you'd expect from a game company, though.
How much of your personality comes out in Wizard101?
Well, I'll say not very much, and a heck of a lot. I did very little work on Wizard101; most of my time has been spent working on another yet-to-be-announced project at KingsIsle. However, I did design one of the mini-games, Sorcerer Stones, and my voice is used for a few of the imps and monsters I believe. I say that a heck of a lot of my personality comes through, because many of us at KingsIsle have the same sort of whimsical attitude towards life; it's not "my" particular personality that shines, but mine matches very well to the personality reflected by the product.
Where do you want to head in the future as a game designer?
To design more games! I had a taste of what it's like to be quasi-famous when I was at Full Sail, and now I want to do that in the entire industry. I'd love to continue to develop my skills as a designer, as well as practice programming and art well enough to communicate effectively with the rest of the team, and eventually take my place in name at the sides of the other greats who have come before me, like John Romero, Will Wright, Tom Hall, Gordon Walton, and of course many others. I'm not going to list them all, those were just the first 4, so no one feel insulted, okay?
Any advice for those out there who also want to become a designer?
I always hear people say that the first advice for people who want to become a designer is "Don't become a designer!" I understand why people say that; being in design is a rough job, because we usually get blamed for everything, and everyone else thinks they can do our job. My advice would be to develop a thick shell, and learn to persevere through the hardest times. A designer's ideas can feel like mere offerings to the artists and programmers (and especially production) who seem to take delight in shredding them to pieces. This is a good thing; because what ends up being left over after a few of these processes, is a very core, solid idea that everyone is on board with. It's kind of like a saying that I heard a lot growing up; "Shoot for the Stars and you'll hit the Moon."