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GET THAT JOB Development specialists off er advice on how you can bag that career leap

THIS MONTH: LEAD GAME DESIGNER PLAYGROUND GAMES’ RALPH FULTON discusses the skills needed to head up development in his role as lead games designer on upcoming racing title Forza Horizon 2.

How would someone become a lead game designer?

By getting a lot of experience. You have a lot of responsibility. I cannot imagine making the decisions I make about game content without having the experience I have. Trust is so important and when people can see that you’ve been making video games for as long for the likes of Rockstar North and Guerrilla Games those around you trust in your experience.

What qualifi cations and/or experience do you need? Any kind of degree is going to give you a better chance of getting into the industry. It takes smart people to make games and having a degree tells me that you’re smart, committed and disciplined. We’ve also hired people because they’ve been very active in

the modding scene or have a portfolio containing games or demos that the candidate has made by themselves. I got into the QA department of a Scottish games company and learned fi rst-hand how games are made. This experience helped me out considerably when the opportunity arose to become a game designer. This is a career path I’d highly recommend to any aspiring game designer.

I can’t imagine making

decisions about game content without experience.

Ralph Fulton, Playground

If you’re interviewing someone to join your team what do you look for? Senior designers need to have a more extensive skillset than entry-level designers, obviously.

However, they should have excellent communication skills. In a project’s concept phase designers write pitch documents and then present them to the leadership team. Then, throughout production, they have to make sure that every person working on a feature is fully aware of what is required of them. This means that both written and verbal communication skills are essential for any aspiring game designer. We also want people who are determined to succeed and hungry to learn. We’re in a fortunate position to have so many ambitious people in one studio. We’re constantly striving to be better and to achieve more. Our games and our studio benefi t massively as a result of this ambition.

Playing games has to be their number one hobby. This is incredibly important for us at

Playground Games.

If you’ve got job advice to share, email

Employee HOT SEAT

Rob McLachlan, senior designer at Climax Studios, talks about getting a job at the Portsmouth-based developer

What do you do at the studio? I’m a senior designer at Climax. I do everything from high-level pitch work with Rhys Cadle, our design director, to good old fashioned level or systems design for any of the projects we have going on at the studio.

How did you get your current job? I started at Climax in 2005 as a level designer, was promoted to lead and then left to work at another studio. Climax lured me back with the chance to work on a great project, and now I’m one of the senior members of the design team here.

Name: Rob McLachlan Title: Senior Designer

52 | AUGUST 2014

What perks are available to those working at the studio? The best thing about Climax is the position. The view is great and there’s plenty of places to eat or drink nearby. We’re not stuck on a research park or industrial estate with only a terrible sandwich van for company. We get free parking and discounts at the shops on site, too.

What is the recruitment process like at your studio?

We’re always on the look out for new staff , especially Unreal experienced level designers at present. Our recruitment manager – Stuart Godfrey – reviews all our applications,

Developer: Climax Studios

What opportunities are there for career progression?

There are excellent opportunities for progression here. We have a fantastic performance management program, here. It’s all about setting the right objectives for your team, providing them with everything they need to meet those and meeting to discuss progress. This has been incredibly successful for us.

Why choose to follow a career in your fi eld? Every day at work, you feel like you’re a part of a creative collective, all pushing to reach the very top in their fi eld. No two games are ever the same, so making games means you’re working in an environment that is constantly evolving and improving.

and off ers relevant candidates to the directors. Rhys forwards CVs over to me or other designers for our opinion, after which we’ll look to bring the best people in for interview. We like to fi nd out how people think, and how much they enjoy making games, but above all interviews are to check they’re right for the position we need to fi ll.

What was your own interview like? My return to Climax was a look at the game and meeting old friends again, but my original interview included a design test.

We like to fi nd out how people

think and how much they enjoy

making games.

For level designers we like to give a 30-minute test to draw a level out on a whiteboard. This tests all sorts of qualities – imagination, thinking under pressure, clarity of diagrams and ability to present ideas.

Describe what the atmosphere is like at your studio.

Busy, but very professional. One thing I like about Climax is things move fast. Decisions are taken quickly and decisively without extended meetings, and we like to test things rapidly in game to see what works. All our designers can use Unreal or Unity or both, and we have great coders who can help us try things out. It’s good to see new technology like VR making massive progress at the studio.

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