Job Research – Programming and Game Design

We’ve been asked to write a couple of blog posts about:

  1. Job roles involved within the chosen industry – what each role is responsible for and what other job roles you’d work with
  2. How I can get myself there – this could be by researching university courses and their links with industry or reading about how professionals got into that industry

I’ve done similar blog posts about this when Gary asked us to do some industry research about it back in March:

Games/VFX Studio Research (part 1)

Games/VFX Studio Research (part 2)

I’ve looked at a few more jobs recently to see what’s going on right now out there and what I might want to focus on learning during the summer/next school year. There are a lot of types of programming (possibly UI  and game design positions, each one with their niche set of skills. While I haven’t had a lot of need to focus on any one particular type of job within my chosen field, I think it’s time to hone my skills according to what the jobs out there are asking.

This means I’ll have to become very comfortable with C# and C++ so I can easily move between Unity, UE4, and other similar programs. I’m also fairly sure I’m going to have to look into the “pipeline” of game development, as that’s something we’ve not much had the chance to learn. I get the feeling one of the best ways would be to look at videos and other professionals in the same job – we met a couple of them at Animex, so I’ll be looking back at their blogs and LinkedIn profiles to glean more information.

I’ve pulled a couple of example positions, primarily junior positions, which would be what I’d be interested in applying for.

Junior Tools Programmer – Ubisoft Reflections, Newcastle

This was the first location I thought of, just because it’s local to the area and I’ve looked into them a lot in the past. They do have a number of junior spots open at the moment (three unique jobs, two positions in each, from the looks of it). However, some of them are down south, while this Junior Tools Programmer position is based up here. I think it’s a potentially very interesting job; from what I understand, you could be there making or maintaining tools for other developers in-house to use to make the company games or you’re just the general go-between for the main points of the pipeline (for example, taking source game assets into their final form). I think this could be great, especially since you have the potential to work with a multitude of other departments while in this position.

  • Knowledge of software programming, ideally in the video game industry or any other relevant experience
  • Basic knowledge of engine or middleware and associated pipeline
  • Passionate about playing and making games
  • Basic knowledge of debugging tools
  • Familiar with basic speed and memory considerations
  • Familiar with optimisation principles
  • Good analytical and synthesis skills
  • Ability to anticipate and resolve problems
  • Attention to detail
  • Flexibility in organizing work
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Results driven
  • Ability to quickly learn to use new tools
  • Excellent communication skills in spoken and written English
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering or equivalent.

Graduate Programmer – Studio Gobo, Brighton

I’d not really heard about this company until I found them on a job search website; however, I’m VERY familiar with their games, being a huge fan of Disney Infinity. They seem to have a variety of jobs and quite a few available at the same time – I had a look at the Graduate Programmer job, which I thought I’d have a better chance at that going in for a full position. They don’t seem to have many junior positions on the go, so this is also the closest example I can find for an entry-level spot. Their list of skills aren’t particularly long, but to me that just means you have to be stellar in each point. I already know I want to dive into C++ because a lot of jobs ask for it (especially for UE4), but it’s also good to be reminded about the debugging process and working with other people’s code.

  • 1st Class Honours degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Maths, any games programming subject or similar
  • Strong programming, maths and problem solving skills
  • Demonstrable C++ programming skills
  • Ability to understand, debug and optimise other programmers code
  • A passion for developing high quality games
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Game Designer – Supermassive Games, Guildford

I was really impressed with the Animex talk from Supermassive Games’ Gary Napper a few weeks ago and I’ve had my eye on their movements ever since. I know with 100% certainty I would move down the country to work for them should the right opportunity arise and their website gives good insight into what they’re looking for. Game Designers seem to have their hands in most puddings, since they’re looking at the overall look and feel of the game. They’d need to know what the engineers are doing, where the programmers are headed, what ideas the art team have, and so on. I think that might be what I like the idea of a Game Designer job so much; you get to work with a variety of people to make something and communications skills have to be so important. What I need to think about on how I’d get to a position like this can be taken from the qualifications section of their job advert:

  • Strong technical skills – you are able to operate independently in current industry standard world building tools. As well as collaborate with engineers to optimize scripted logic
  • The ability to build and iterate gameplay and play spaces from white box to final quality
  • Demonstrate a collaborative approach to game creation, showing how you worked together with the other disciplines/team members to realize the best possible game play experience
  • A logical approach and solid problem solving skills
  • A desire to learn new approaches and tools
  • The desire and knowledge to push for quality
  • (desirable) A great portfolio of games, level building and scripting work that speaks to our key requirements
  • (desirable) At least two years of experience in a team, working on at least one published game
  • (desirable) Experience working in UE4
  • Flexible and open-minded
  • Determined and self-motivated
  • Prepared to rise to a challenge
  • Obsessed with quality
  • Team-focussed
  • Creative and innovative
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