Work title: Associate Producer
Worked on: Just Cause II as a technical designer, as a community manager and tech support, I’ve worked on a lot of games. Selection including: Cities in Motion, Magicka, Mount & Blade, Pride of Nations, Commander: Conquest of the Americas, Lead and Gold, Rise of Prussia, Ship Simulator Extremes, Victoria II, Hearts of Iron III, East India Company. Associate producer on Crusader Kings II.
Why they enjoy the games industry? – Games are my hobby, so I wanted to work with them. Now that I do, another motivation is also that all the people are so nice and fun to work with.
How they got into the games industry? – I wrote my thesis (MSc) for Avalanche Studios, they asked me to stay.
The down falls of the industry? – Every project is always created under a hard pressed schedule, so sometimes we have to make decisions that are not ideal for the game.
Encouragement and advice to people that want to work with game development? – Decide what part of the industry you want to work with, and what you want to become best at. Even if you feel you can do anything a studio might need, you still need to excel at something. That will make you a better employee.
Best memory from game development? – Seeing my name in the credits for the first time.
Etc – any thing they feel students could benefit from knowing – People usually advice you to start as QA. That is not necessarily the easiest way in. If you happen to be a great programmer, know that programmers are always in demand. If you are great at 2d or 3d art, that can also work of course. The first job can be harder to land that way though. If you can freelance a bit first and prove that you made something that actually ended up in the game, that is very valuable in a portfolio. If your passion is to be a game designer, I would advice you to start your own studio or modding team. To get an entry level job as a game designer is like telling your parents you want to be a rockstar when you grow up. Not really, but our counterpart at least. There are tons of other jobs in the industry as well. The bigger the company the more types of roles they’ll have. Pick something you can excel at, and figure out where that puts you!
Name: Sara Wendel-Örtqvist
Work title: Assistant Developer
Worked on: Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi, Victoria 2, Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind, Sengoku, Crusader Kings II
Why they enjoy the games industry? Working in the games industry I get to be creative, take responsibility for my work areas, work with what I love doing and with people who share the same passion: games.
How they got into the games industry? I started playing games when I was four years old, kept playing, realised I wanted to make games for a living so I studied Games Development – Design at the University of Skövde, got a B.A. in Media, saw an advert where Paradox Interactive were looking for a scripter who liked history, could program a bit and liked writing. “I could do that”, I thought, applied, got the job and now I have been working for Paradox for about two years.
The down falls of the industry? Only 10% are women and we need more to make even greater games.
Encouragement and advice to people that want to work with game development? Make a mod, make several mods. Learn how to use Unity, Unreal Engine or any other game engine. Even if all you want to do is design games, learn how to use Photoshop, Maya and learn a bit of programming. You don’t need to become an expert, just knowing a bit of this and that is useful. All knowledge is useful when making games, and if you want to be able to make great games you got to understand the limitations artists and programmers struggle with. Be passionate about games but also have some other interest that you can use to make games even better. Whatever your other interests are, you can probably use it to make great games.
Best memory from game development? When we released Crusader Kings II and people started talking about how some of them managed to get their spouses or friends interested in the game just by playing and showing them the game. Then one of them said their friend got hooked when the narrative event serie “Gates of Hell” popped up during his play, events I had worked hard with and it was great knowing someone liked it so much they bought the whole game!
Name: Artur Foxander
Work title: QA lead
Worked on: (games) Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Bionic commando, Bionic commando Rearmed, Wanted, Terminator Salvation, Syndicate, Europa Universalis 3: Divine wind, Hearts of Iron 3: For the Motherland, Victoria 2: A House Divided, Sengoku, Crusader Kings 2,
Why they enjoy the games industry? Really fun at work – Every day. Great people with very similar intrests to my own. Challenging.
How they got into the games industry? Took Masters in Computer linguistics. Started as a programmer but after working for one project I moved on to QA.
The down falls of the industry? Unstable (Cut downs or bancrupcy for Starbreeze Avalanche, Grin and Starbreeze again during 8 years), relatively low payment. Long crunch periods.
Encouragement and advice to people that want to work with game development? The positive things about the industry are worth a lot more than the down falls. It is THAT fun!
Best memory from game development? None particular but LOTS of good memories. Plenty of fun bugs that I could talk about for ages. Reading the reviews of games that I have been working on for long time. (Even the negative ones have plenty of “I told you so!”-moments).
Etc – any thing they feel students could benefit from knowing:
1: The industry is in need for motivated and highly specialised people. If you are good at something: Stick to it and become best at it.
2: Games industry is quite small: To begin with, don’t make any enemies as you never know who you will have to work with in the future.
3: Build a network of people that you like to work with. They might help you get a job one day, or the other way around. You might be in a position where you can pick people you like to a project you are working on. Make sure that those people are easy to work with. Start building this network as soon as possible. People in your class will become great developers in the future.
4: When applying for work, Make sure to apply to something you want to work with. I have seen people in the industry that might have been good, but applied for a project or a job that they didn’t like. They did terrible job and the rumors about them spread. They are not working in the industry any more.
Name: Fredrik Persson
Work Title: Lead Artist
Worked on: Hearts of Iron III, Just Cause 2, Victoria 2, Sengoku,Crusader Kings 2 and multiple expansions.
The casual relaxed and be yourself atmosphere, working in collaboration with other people to achieve something fun, engaging and new. The challenge of working against the technical limitations of computers.
Went to university for 3 years, did my thesis at Avalanche studios,after that i was hired by Avalanche Studios. Later got a job at Paradox Interactive where I’ve been ever since.
Downfalls: You get less money for the same kind of work in other industries, but the games industry is awesome and they are really boring. Many companies have overtime lots of overtime, which you might not even get paid for. The games industry is not entirely stable where a product can fail once released, and not do well enough for the company to survive (everyone loses their job) Or your game might not even finish before being cancelled.
Encouragement : Knowledge of other professions is important. If your an artist. learn a little bit of scripting, a little bit of coding and learn some of how you need to think when doing real game design. You will work with these people and you need to understand their point of view and their limitations of what is possible. Understanding the limitations is how you can move beyond them. Get really good at what you do, don’t have to wide a focus, be really good at 2d, or User interface, or animation. This will be attractive to many employers.
Best memory: Release of Crusader Kings 2. After lots of hard work, the title was received as highly polished, fun and a great step forward for Paradox titles. Etc Working in the gaming industry can be everything you want it to be. Its not a mirage. Become good and don’t give up and you will get there.
Many thank goes to all staff at Paradox Development Studio and our Awesome contact Boel Bermann.