Friday, March 09, 2007

"It's like GTA, only with more stuff in it."

This follows on a bit from a previous update.

Now, as you might have read on the extensive bio to the right there, I'm a designer, so I'm looking at this purely from a design perspective - maybe things are very different in other disciplines - and I've interviewed a fair number of people (enough that I've forgotten how many it is, but let's say that two dozen would be a conservative guess).

Candidates who've been through 'game' degrees (design, programming, whatever) almost always have the weakest grasp of what modern games are doing, and what is reasonable.

The most memorable example was a wildly ambitious project that would need mountains of assets, that due to its branching structure most players would never see, and wrapped tightly around a single licensed IP. This particular candidate had achieved good results in their course, and actually received special reward for their design, despite it being suicide for any studio that decided to create it. Why are video game design courses, at the very least not educating people about the pitfalls and realities of professional development?

The answer is that they (the lecturers) don't realise that's what we (the developers) want people (the potential employees) to know.

Many development studios are trying to remedy this situation now by working more closely with the universities that offer these courses. Blitz Games now even hold annual open days to allow students to see what working in 'the trenches' is like.

So hopefully the situation will get better, not worse. And we did give that guy a job - he was talented enough, and we figured he'd soon learn the errors of his ways. Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Blitz offer the open days to the lectures as well, because, believe me they do sometimes need it.


Bez said...

I had to judge some students' scholarship entries for a game development school once. The other judges were a journalist, and the guy who ran the course. Neither had been "in the trenches" as far as I could tell.

The moment I made criticisms about the rather ambitious scope of the ideas being put forward by these students, the more I was sidelined into the role "technical advisor". It gave these two guys the freedom to deal with the more "blue sky, creative" issues. Basically, it gave them license to guff on about how great these hypothetical designs would be. I was kind of insulted, considering I've always used an understanding of the technology as a catapult to riff quite interesting, but achievable ideas. My percieved practical perspective obviously made them feel like they were creative visionaries, and that a greasemonkey like me could never understand their genius. Bleh.

Ideas are only successful if they intersect with reality. Ideas which don't are still useful, certainly, but at some point, they're just masturbation (which is fun, don't get me wrong).

I just get this scarey feeling that this attitude of "You are in the evil industry and are actively trying to kill everyone's aspirations" might be pervasive in academia. Truth is, we just want to be able to achieve a decent approximation of a practical vision, rather than a mere shadow of an impossible dream.

Matthew said...

Nobody with a degree from a "game design school" has ever passed our internal design test to my knowledge.