Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Visit from Firaxis Executive Producer

Firaxis GamesImage via Wikipedia

Firaxis makes the Sid Meier's Civilization games. Friday February 6, 2009, Barry Caudill and screenwriting alumni Liam ??? visited with students at Ithaca College. They gave some good advice for students interested in working in the videogame industry.

  • The big message - it's tough to break into the industry. Don't give up. There are steps you can take to be more attractive to game companies.
  • Be willing to start small and work up. Be adaptable and versatile.
  • Communication is key - written, oral, with team members and managers, with publishers and consumers.
  • Sometimes there are designer/writers, designer/scripter; at Firaxis they have designer/programmers.
  • If you want to get into the industry as a designer you need some programming so you can create your own prototypes. You're better able to get across your own ideas if you can create your own prototypes.
  • Quality Assurance is a good starting point especially if you want to move into a position as a producer.

  • Companies are looking for experience which makes it tough for new grads. You can make your own game and take to the interview. It's not enough to have ideas - you have to make stuff. You can make videogames, game mods, even analog games (board/card games). Show you can implement ideas and finish stuff. There are lots of tools to use to make games - XNA Unreal engine, NeverEnding Knights engine, flash... You need to let people play your game and get feedback. So playtest early and often.
    Go to game jams - you work with a team to create a playable game.
  • The more you know the easier it is to talk to other people on the team. They use a variety of software - Visual Studio, MS Office suite, visualization tools like Visio and PowerPoint, lots of project management tools, graphic tools like Photoshop and 3D StudioMax, Python and other scripting languages, XML for game text, and software for source control.

    And - to my students who wonder why I assign strange projects and make them play with boardgames about bean farming and zombie brains - - - see I don't make this stuff up. The pros give the same advice. And they'd both played Bohanza, the bean farming game - ha ha!

    Here's alum Liam Collins:

    Here is a photos of Barry Caudill:

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