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jlf2n

How did you get into the gaming industry?

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This is something I continue to ponder as the days roll past. If I knew then what I know now, I might have actually made a push to get into the gaming industry, but growing up it seemed like an unrealistic dream.

 

I have since graduated college and moved into an entirely unrelated field, but my love of video games has only grown with time. When I first discovered modding it was like a dream come true. Nothing is more rewarding than building your own game, or helping others build theirs. I started out pretty small, creating new maps for the PC game Stronghold 2, then moved on to bigger challenges like Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls. Recently I made the jump to NWN2, and have really enjoyed working towards mastering this toolkit. To me it is the closest thing I have found to actual painting in any toolkit I have used.

 

So my question to you guys. Did any of you get into the field later in life after you had walked a different path?

 

If you are interested in seeing some of my work, Google my user name, jlf2n, along with NWN2 or Oblivion.

 

P.S. Be sure to check out our new PW that is currently under development. Titled "Baldur's Gate: The Sword Coast Chronicles", it will be a role-play light place world focusing more on the Pen and Paper aspects of gaming than hard core role-playing. Players will be able to visit and adventure in locations such as Candlekeep, Beregost, The Wood of Sharp Teeth, Cloakwood, Durlag's Tower, and many more familiar places located along the Sword Coast.

 

You can learn more here Baldur's Gate: The Sword Coast Chronicles

Be sure to check out the gallery while you are there. o:)

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If you're serious about working in the game industry, just don't give up. There will be plenty of times where you think no matter how much you work and how many books you study you'll never be able to do it.

 

But if you're passionate about it and have the desire to keep going until you make it, then you'll do it. Just don't get discouraged.

 

(And for the record, I never thought that "modding" would be my path into the game industry, but my last job ended up working a lot with NWN1 scripting and I'm sure that was one of the major reasons Obsidian chose to hire me, so you never know! Modding get's quite a few people's foot in the door)

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Don't stress - video games wasn't the initial focus of many of us in the industry - hells, I majored in English Literature and wanted to get my masters -> PhD to teach about interactive narrative (i.e. GAMES), and it was a scary thing to kind of abandon that path and start down a new one. But if you're down for it, I do have a couple recommendations:

 

There are lots of factors to the process - including learning scripting languages (like Ruby, Python, or Lua), mod-making, work with existing toolsets (NWN2's, for example...), personal writing... etc. Basically I'd emphasize personal learning - that you're really unafraid to learn new tools, foster new skills, and improve old ones - and above all, persistence. This is a really hard industry to break into, and I know I'm one of the few who got lucky. Have a solid Plan B to keep you afloat while you work at improving yourself, and keep an eye out for opportunities - and don't get discouraged if they don't plan out how you want. Be sure to network as best you can, take constructive criticism well, and work to consistently improve yourself.

 

But yeah. Not to sound sappy or whiny, but this is an industry that kicks the crap out of you, and you HAVE to love what you do - but if you really do find yourself irresistibly drawn to making video games, godspeed, good luck, and my hat is off to you. :)

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So my plan to become a school teacher and then switch to the gaming industry after 10 years isn't doomed to failure?

 

Ma, burn the McDonald's application!

Edited by Krezack

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So my question to you guys. Did any of you get into the field later in life after you had walked a different path?

 

I spent 3 years working in politics and 3 years in law school before going the mod route, so my advice would be to just throw yourself into a mod project and work your ass off until somebody notices.

 

Apply for specific jobs when your portfolio of work is ready, not before -- ideally after making some connections in the game business through conventions, modding, forums, whatever.

 

Bottom line: If you are passionate about something and you pursue that something then you will eventually achieve something worth achieving. In other words, fight for your dreams and be ready when your dreams fight back.


Thanks for the awesome avatar Jorian!

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So my plan to become a school teacher and then switch to the gaming industry after 10 years isn't doomed to failure?

Hey, that is my plan as well!


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Don't stress - video games wasn't the initial focus of many of us in the industry - hells, I majored in English Literature and wanted to get my masters -> PhD to teach about interactive narrative (i.e. GAMES), and it was a scary thing to kind of abandon that path and start down a new one. But if you're down for it, I do have a couple recommendations:

 

There are lots of factors to the process - including learning scripting languages (like Ruby, Python, or Lua), mod-making, work with existing toolsets (NWN2's, for example...), personal writing... etc. Basically I'd emphasize personal learning - that you're really unafraid to learn new tools, foster new skills, and improve old ones - and above all, persistence. This is a really hard industry to break into, and I know I'm one of the few who got lucky. Have a solid Plan B to keep you afloat while you work at improving yourself, and keep an eye out for opportunities - and don't get discouraged if they don't plan out how you want. Be sure to network as best you can, take constructive criticism well, and work to consistently improve yourself.

 

But yeah. Not to sound sappy or whiny, but this is an industry that kicks the crap out of you, and you HAVE to love what you do - but if you really do find yourself irresistibly drawn to making video games, godspeed, good luck, and my hat is off to you. :)

 

 

Seeing as I have the same major as you do, what other skills allowed you, specifically, to break into the industry?


"My hovercraft is full of eels!" - Hungarian tourist
I am Dan Quayle of the Romans.
I want to tattoo a map of the Netherlands on my nether lands.
Heja Sverige!!
Everyone should cuffawkle more.
The wrench is your friend. :bat:

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Seeing as I have the same major as you do, what other skills allowed you, specifically, to break into the industry?

 

Well, knowing how to write well helps a LOT - not just creatively, but clearly and concisely (for all them design docs), and to not be afraid to iterate (many versions often makes for a stronger product - shake that tree 'til the junk falls out!)... I'd say college as a WHOLE is a positive thing, as it shows that hey, you can get into something long-term and stick with it until it's complete. Also when I was in college I did my best to study a wide range of disciplines in addition to English (wheeee liberal arts school...), but also to look at narrative structure... why what works for TV shows is not the same as movies, or books, or games, etc. You'd be surprised how much that's overlooked: so many people try to use the same sort of criteria for measuring games as they do for static art or movies or books, and none of it fits it perfectly - part of why I was like "WHEE I WIL TEECH ABOUT GAEMS LOL" was trying to push for an invention of criteria that WORKED. Thinking about structure and genre is good - how things adhere to it, how they defy it, pros and cons - all that jazz. Plus it helps for making "combination" genres like for AP and Aliens :)

 

Also, just basic information searching and networking - you get the basics of that in college too, I think. If you're properly persistent, know how to be professional and word a cover letter accordingly (HINT: saying "OMG I WIL HAVE UR BABIEZ IF I CAN WERK 4 U" is not acceptable for a cover letter. I know, I know, I had to rewrite it myself), and search for new opportunities that work and fit your skills, you should be good to go!

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Does that mean you don't have programming and scripting skills?

 

It sounds like it was it the strength of your cover letter that landed you a gaming job. Would that be true?


"My hovercraft is full of eels!" - Hungarian tourist
I am Dan Quayle of the Romans.
I want to tattoo a map of the Netherlands on my nether lands.
Heja Sverige!!
Everyone should cuffawkle more.
The wrench is your friend. :bat:

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Yes, one of my weaknesses is my inability to script and program. While I have dabbled in it, it's just not something that I pick up on well. My bag is art, and visual creation. Give me a tool kit and I can make you an area in a few days or maybe even moments. My recreation of Candlekeep was completed in an afternoon and a half. But ask me to program, and it could take a month or more. Do you guys know of people in the industry who do not script or program, but instead only work on area design?

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Does that mean you don't have programming and scripting skills?

 

It sounds like it was it the strength of your cover letter that landed you a gaming job. Would that be true?

 

Well, when I started out, no, I didn't know how to program or script... sort of why I started out in an admin/PR position when I first got into the industry. Most folks - even those WITH programming and scripting skills - start out as testers, and I only sort of dodged that bullet. I did lock down my first job in that regard because I could speak and write (in a sense) "fluent Business-ese" - my early tasks over at Papaya included me working up a list of industry press contacts and helping the boss write business letters. Then I got moved onto writing fluff dialogue, then handling larger story stuff and working with sounds and 3D Studio Max, and yeah. By the time I headed over to Obsidian, I had very base familiarity with a 3D modeling program (which I say is handily replicated with a toolset like NWN2's), and some very rudimentary scripting knowledge, but I built my experience and my career from a writing base, yep. BUT - if you can help it? Do your best to study things like scripting and the whole game-creation-process thing (there's so much silly mystique about what we do it can be hard to really properly illustrate the details of it without actual investigation into the process), I very VERY highly advise it. It comes in quite handy. :)

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For me it was a combination of having a long history of mod making and knowing someone who could give me the heads-up and a foot in the door. After making a few mods, including Action Quake 2 (which rocked your face!) I went to school for Anthropology. After realizing I suck at science I switched to philosophy, at which point it became clear that it might not have been science that was the problem, but school in general. I dropped out and worked on mod projects while making nearly minimum wage at a bookstore until my friend Nathaniel Chapman, now a designer on Project Whateverstatenamewe'reuptonow had just gotten a QA job at Obsidian and informed me that more positions were open for production testers.

 

For those of you who don't know QA, production testers are the QA guys who sit with the developers and do engine testing and stuff... Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what the real difference is, I never did regular QA and I got shuffled on to scripting in about 6 months, doing a lot of the spells and abilities in NWN2.

 

One trick to getting that scripting position was to lie a teensy bit. When Josh came to me and asked me if I knew NeverwinterScript enough to handle some small tasks left by a designer who was leaving the company, I said yes- which was mostly true. Of course, the designer who left was also not telling the whole truth when he said he only had a few minor tasks he was leaving behind, it turned out that I had to modify or re-script nearly half the spells and abilities in the game for reasons that I can't even remember now. So, long story short, I learned scripting as quickly as I could, made a lot of mistakes but made a good enough impression that I got offered a designer position after the project was up.

 

So:

1) Play a lot of games.

2) Drop out of school.

3) Lie about your abilities.

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Nah, they're going to fire Patrick today. That filthy liar.

Are they? In that case I'm not 17 years old, despite what my profile may say. In fact, I'm 35 and have a decade of experience in modding, half of which I spent toying with NWN. And I have a Ph. D. in applied mathematics. Will travel.


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One of the main problems with the games industry is that some companies are populated by elitest s***s, riding off the glories of yesturyear... I'm not going to name names in regards to that but I've had my run ins.

 

Though, that attitude isn't displayed by every company. I'm certainly not finding it easy to break into the games industry in regards to OOOOoooo I wanna work for X, and it happends. Sometimes you just have to take a job when it's on offer, which can be a double edged sword, but in regards to making a start its certainly not been my experience so far that you can just target a single company, or group of companies and expect to get hired.

 

Naturally I have a prefered shortlist :aiee:. I think most devs do, but then again... I've met alot of folks who would also be quite happy working for blizzard, as part of the WoW community... *shruggs* whatever that's about.

 

I wish I had some advice for breaking into the industry, but as I'm just about done with my degree, its hard to say, I'm not quite there yet, just another face in a sea of faces shouting HIRE ME! While trying to get something togeather to make me stand out... I certainly don't know what to do past continuing to make indie games, I plan on applying to lots of places, but that won't certainly get me a job, but it may.


RS_Silvestri_01.jpg

 

"I'm a programmer at a games company... REET GOOD!" - Me

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I was actually shocked in a way, but mostly amazed that you have this section. It's one thing that never really gets talked about at other companies forums (not that I have visited many).

 

Anyway, I may need to explain my situation before asking a few things so brace yourself for wall-o-text!

 

This year I will be moving abroad (from England to Australia), to study at Ballarat University - Certificate of Applied Computing (Games Technology) - It sounds posh but basically it covers the main areas of game development such as animation, programming, and design. It's for 3 years and a select few of the students may get something similar to a work placement in the final year.

 

Now, a lot of you have been talking about modding, which is something I have never bothered with, mainly due to not really having such a great PC. I can't really get more than one game on it at any time. Also, my art style is more character-based (most mods are for levels or weapons, etc)

 

So, would I need a back-up plan (such as modding), or do you think this course will be enough?

Also on the course, we get to choose what area we wish to focus on. My main interest in games is to come up with ideas and have my creative vision brought to life. But I'm doubting I will be able to break into the industry as the lead designer/project lead. I'm quite artistic so I was thinking maybe I would have to start as an animator or character designer/modeller, and then work my way up to the "lead game designer/head of project". Do you think this is a more sensible route?

 

Sorry for typing so much and asking what may seem like complex/odd questions. I'm just trying to understand how it works and what I would need to do in order to get into making my own games (already have lots of ideas). It's rare to find the chance to actually ask established games developers like yourselves.

 

Thanks for any replies (and for anyone who actually reads all of this).

 

P.S. in response to wanting to work for specific developers, I personally would have a shortlist of companies that make similar games to the ones I wish to make. And one day when I have enough experience and money I wish to set up my own (I'm a dreamer!).

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Yeah, apparently Australia has a fairly strong game design education industry. I think the government actually funds it! Heaven forbid. Anyway, Queensland has the strongest one, but I hear Victoria's industry is good, too. Good luck!

 

Thanks.

The only reason I found this course is because my partner is at that uni doing a fine art/photography course. Originally she was going to move over here but she found that course and all plans turned "upside down". o:)

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Well I came to the US about 5 years ago, my family didnt support me going into college and I fit the bill of an immigrant who is hispanic in California, barely speaks english and is just working.

 

I immigrated LEGALLY to the US from El Salvador, I always knew I wanted to make games, but back home, this is not an option. So when the option came about coming to live in the US, I quickly POUNCED on that.

 

Again, my family didnt support me at all going into college to "better" myself, so I financed everything 100%, even the dorm rooms, I learned english by watching Nick Jr, and playing online games, and at the time, chatrooms were still a good place to hang out.

 

Quickly the time went by, and I had a fame in my THEN school - Art Institute of Los Angeles. But life has a way of testing you, and I could no longer live in California and go to school at the same time, while keeping a

40 hour job and going to school full time... aka... 5 classes.

 

I paid for everything myself, books, apartment, clothes, car, everything, but like I said life in California sucks when no one else is helping you, so a friend of mine was moving to Las Vegas, which at the time was still

a CHEAP CHEAP place to live, so I decided to leap on.

 

Quickly they opened the Art Institute of Las Vegas, and then I transfered there, found a job and kept on struggling. In time, I also developed a "fame" - I guess you can call it for a lack of a better word, I was known in the school between the Animation Department for being a Hard Worker.

 

Everything seemed fine, but near the end of my last year, one of my loans didnt go through, I decided, that I was living a dream, and resolved to go back to El Salvador defeated. One of my teachers - Lee Lanier, found this out and was able to pull some strings within the school and long story short was able to land a loan to fully pay for the rest of my schooling.

 

I worked really really hard that year, so much that I sacrificed sleep time, sometimes, entire nights, to build a competitive reel, because if I didnt land a job right away, it was really... back home this time.

 

My very first application ever went to Obsidian, I respected everyone's skill and unlike some people I really thought it showed on KOTORII and Neverwinter Nights, quickly Obsidian became my dream studio to work for.

 

However, for life reasons, or experience ones, I was unable to land a job at the company. But other offers knocked in the door and I was able to land a job in the Industry with another company, before I even graduated.

 

I was hired in the Videogame industry, my childhood dream, and they hired me while I was still a student, and had a month left. But I always kept my eye on the prize..... 2 years later and a few more personal works... I re-applied for Obsidian Environment Position.

 

I got a call back one day, and the hiring manager, said if I could go to the company for an interview, hope was brim, but was there.

 

At the interview I was really nervous, Sawyer was awfully quiet in the interview which made me... more nervous. But in the end, 2 weeks later, from that date, I got a call from the hiring manager, congratulating me as he told me the words I have been waiting to hear since I was a sophmore in the Art Institute.

 

"Obsidian would like you to work for us"

 

 

 

 

And that's it, it took me a while, and all my life my grandparents, uncles, and everyone really, told me to stop watching cartoons, movies, playing stupid videogames, and in reality, to start looking for a job because dreams don't pay the rent.

 

So in closing, I would like to say to you, readers, modders, and dreamers, that yes... you can do it, you too can break into the game industry if you really want it.

 

If a chubby guy from a 3rd world country, with a funny name can do it, so can you.

 

And please.... keep dreaming.

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Whoah, best developer story ever

 

Beautiful :rolleyes:


How can it be a no ob build. It has PROVEN effective. I dare you to show your builds and I will tear you apart in an arugment about how these builds will won them.

- OverPowered Godzilla (OPG)

 

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Your determination is admirable, Joshua. It is truly a pleasure working with you.

 

And now it's my turn:

 

I grew up in Fresno, a poor town in northern California, with my siblings and mother. My auntie, God rest her soul, knew that Fresberg was a horrible place to live, and that no one really ever makes it out of there. When the opportunity arrived, she moved me and my siblings down to Southern California to get a better education and good jobs with hopes of moving our mother as well, once we could afford it. We packed some of our things and moved to Orange County, the land of opportunity.

 

Being young and extremely stubborn(I was going into my junior year of High School at the time) I did not want to move, and (of course) I thought I knew everything, so for my first few years in Orange County I was antisocial. Despite my best attempts to make things difficult, my auntie never lost faith in her favorite nephew. She would always tell me that we could do whatever we wanted with our futures and that she was proud of us. Another favor she did for us was never accepting anything but our best efforts; the word "slacker" was not in her vocabulary, especially not where we were concerned. None of it made sense at the time, but in the end it all paid off.

 

Senior year came around, and I guess you could say I grew up. With the realization that high school was at an end and whether I liked it or not, I no longer lived in Fresno, I opened my eyes to the opportunities available. I understood that if I tried hard enough I could attain one of my childhood dreams: working in the gaming industry.

 

I got buy pulling shifts at a number of restaurants and went to school for awhile. During that time I would search the internet to find a place that was hiring for testers. I knew that being a tester was my ticket in, seeing as I had no formal training to enter the world of games. I didn


Let me get back to sleeping. I'm tired...

Avatar made by Jorian Drake

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Long is the road towards becoming an Ass. Prod.

 

 

Like Joshua's tale, your story was awesome man. Now go around the office and force some other devs to post their story here. With a :).


"My hovercraft is full of eels!" - Hungarian tourist
I am Dan Quayle of the Romans.
I want to tattoo a map of the Netherlands on my nether lands.
Heja Sverige!!
Everyone should cuffawkle more.
The wrench is your friend. :bat:

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