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  • Cheat Mode: Choosing a Career in the Games Industry

    [03.05.13]
    - Dan Jacobs

  • Design Department:

    The design team creates the game's story line, but this is just the beginning. They deal with a whole host of other things as well, such as making all the design decisions within the title. Every control method, level name or game rule has been chosen by the design team. The difficulty levels and the points within a level (re-spawn, weapons, health, etc.) are all carefully chosen by the designers.

    As a game designer I'm responsible for all aspects of the game, from initial concept document through to the Game Design Document and post-production. This includes tasks such as narrative, level design, player character and A.I. design, U.I. flow, SFX, game mechanics, marketing and much, much more. I love the diversity that the job offers - from one day to the next I'll be doing completely different tasks, so I never get bored.

    -Sophie Blackmore
    Senior Designer, Rockstar Games

    Roles: Junior Designer, Designer, Lead Designer, Assistant Director, Director

    Production Department:

    The production team is the central hub of any game. This team ensures the game is on track and within budget. They actively communicate between every department to ensure that from start to finish, the whole process is tracked and on budget in a timely manner. Although all the central communication, planning, and scheduling is done through the Production Department, all departments communicate with each other and from time to time with the publisher.

    Roles: Assistant Producer, Producer, Executive Producer

    It's all about reacting to the needs of the project at any given time, as every project and team is different, so too are those needs. However, there are of course some consistencies, which might include attending one or more of the daily scrum meetings; doing a build review and distributing feedback and specific tasks based on it; liaising with the publisher about any outstanding issues or upcoming milestones; catching up with the EP and game director on problems and priorities; orchestrating the commission and distribution of any outsourced artwork; and one too many cigarette breaks.

    -Jez Harris
    Production Manager, Supermassive Games

    Programming Department:

    The Programming Department is the driving force behind any game studio. Everything in a game needs code to work, so this is one of the few teams who will work on a project from start to finish. As well as coding the game itself, they may also work on studio tools for other departments, or they may be found working in research and development creating new engines and tools for the next generation of games.

    Roles: Junior Coder, Coder, Lead Coder, Development Manager

    I'm a Lead Programmer so I write code for various systems. I architect systems, mentor juniors, work with other Leads.

    -Rhys Twelves
    Lead Programmer, Bioware

    Quality Assurance Department:

    The Quality Assurance (Q.A.) Department is responsible for the quality of the product. As well as testing the game itself, they will also help with balancing the difficulty of the game, checking the box and manual, localizing the game into other languages, and ensuring that the game passes the submission process. Additionally, they may also liaise with external test teams from the publisher and manage the bug database throughout all departments. It is often seen as a way into the industry, but should not be ignored as a possible career path in itself.

    My job is to break the game and make accurate records of how it was done so that the Development team can fix the issue. Sometimes this is easy as the bug will happen naturally, but then sometimes you have to really think about how you are going to force the game to break.

    -Paul Sedgmore
    Q.A. Manager, Colossal Games

    Roles: Junior Tester, Tester, Lead Tester, Q.A. Manager

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