Our monthly studio recruitment update looks at Crytek, Version 2 Games and new studio PixelFoundry
[To read out other recruitment spotlight's for more juicy tips on breaking into the industry, you can find them here]
Recruiter Hot Seat
We ask Crytek’s Richard Semmens for his advice on impressing employers and what the triple-A dev can offer applicants
Name: Richard Semmens
Title: Lead Programmer
Why should developers work for Crytek as opposed to other studios?
We think Crytek UK is a fun and fulfilling place to work, where you get ownership of the tasks you’re working on. The Nottingham Studio has a very low turnover; people come here, enjoy it, and stay.
You get to work with and help drive the development of some of the best technology in the industry, and see the bleeding-edge work being done throughout the Crytek family.
What other perks do you offer?
We have a whole array of perks available to our team in Nottingham, including a bonus scheme, contributory pension plan, gym membership, cycle to work scheme, childcare vouchers and not forgetting the most important of them all, pastries and doughnuts on a Friday morning!
How many people are you looking to take on this year?
We are looking for a mix of new and experienced programmers, designers and artists. We still have more than 20 positions to fill.
Which professions in particular are you looking to take on?
We’re looking for a number of game play coders at experience levels all the way from graduate to senior. Our game coders work in concert with designers and artists and have input on the final direction of game features, so it’s important that they have enthusiasm for the task in hand.
We also need talented and enthusiastic artists who are looking to make beautiful games that will take the player to well realised and technically excellent new worlds, people that have a passion for art and that are ready for all the challenges involved in creating triple-A games.
Which interviewee has stood out to you the most as the best applicant for the job and why?
Interviewees that, when a programming test or an interviewer poses a problem that they don’t know the ‘correct’ solution to, offer suggestions and talk through potential approaches to solving it.
It’s important that applicants have enough confidence to be willing to give things a go, even if they don’t know the answer.
When we think back to the interviews of some of our strongest colleagues, what stands out to me is the enthusiasm that they showed.
It's easy to tell from talking to people who has a true passion for making games and wants to improve their skill sets to be a better developer.
Somebody who demonstrates that making games is more than just a job, appeals to us much more than somebody who has well-crafted and rehearsed answers to all of our questions.
For artists, a strong portfolio of work is always the best way to demonstrate your ability, whatever the format and style.
What was the worst interview?
Where the interviewee has not prepared, or where they are so nervous they are tripping over themselves when trying to get through a sentence. It’s important to be relaxed when in an interview; you need to be able to articulate yourself.
It is also crucial for people to be honest about the skills on their CV, as the interviewer will be able to determine quickly how well it represents an individual.
It is much better to focus on what you know and what you are confident to talk about in depth than padding out your CV.
How can people best prepare for a successful interview?
Research the company you are applying for, know what business they are in, what games they make and what makes them good at doing this. We’re always impressed by people that have taken the time to understand why they want to get a job with us rather than just because it was a mail shot to every company out there.
Prepare questions. You will most likely be sat in front of leads or directors within the industry, these guys will have a wealth of experience and if nothing else comes of your interview, ask questions to further your development or understanding of the jobs you are going for.
The CryEngine Free SDK is out there for people to experiment with. You have a chance to demonstrate your interest in the engine, an insight into how we work and how we utilise our technology; take it!
What is your view on the training of young developers in the UK, is enough being done to equip them with the necessary skills?
Before games development courses were widely available, graduates would often enter the industry with more traditional degrees such as computer science.
These days, a significant number of graduates are leaving games-focused programming courses with a decent knowledge of C++ and an awareness of many different aspects of the game development process.
We are, however, seeing a gap in their knowledge with the lower-level aspects of software engineering; how the code they are writing maps into assembly generated by the compiler and how constructs that they are using are actually implemented.
For programmers, a course that covers the more technical aspects of development such as programming languages, maths, algorithms & data structures produce stronger candidates.
The better courses strike a good balance between theoretical and practical work. Group projects are always great learning experiences for students.
We work with a number of universities and have noticed a marked increase in the teaching quality and level of skill that Graduates are armed with when they leave university.
Being such a fast evolving industry, it is hard for universities to keep pace with the cutting edge changes that go on. But it is critical that they develop their ability to teach both core fundamental skills as well as expose their students to the cutting edge engines and techniques required to make the most of their students’ creativity.
Get That Job
This month:Web Developer
Blitz Games Studios studio technical director Richard Hackett explains what you need to know for the role.
“For higher performance games a knowledge of PC and Mac API’s such as DirectX is important, as is an understanding of scalability issues.
“For social, networking and back end server aspects, you need knowledge of which database solutions are needed for specific data usage scenarios.
“An appreciation of network infrastructure options and the fundamentals of latency, bandwidth and compression are beneficial too. An understanding of concepts of Model View Container frameworks and Object Relational Mapping libraries is valuable.”
New Studio Spotlight
A new independent studio called PixelFoundry has been formed by ex- EA Tiburon devs Jerry Phaneuf and Volga Aksoy.
The EA veterans are now working on space-based RTS title BlackSpace for PC, with the potential to take it cross-platform, and Aksoy says that whilst the current project will be created by just them, their “lofty goals could be better accommodated by acquiring more talent”.
“Aside from the creative freedom it offers, we really wanted to have the chance to create games that resonate with us as gamers,” says Phaneuf.
“I think it's likely the same reason that many devs go Indie. We think we have some ideas and insights that will allow us to offer something new.”
Six-Second Studio Spotlight
Version 2 Games is an India-based developer founded in September 2010.
The studio was formed by Indian army defence contractor Zen Technologies
It currently specialises in creating games for PlayStation platforms, such as its debut PS3 title, Smash ‘n’ Survive
Version 2 is focusing on creating ‘the next level’ of 3D interactive games having previously used similar tech in developing simulators
The studio currently employs 35 developers
Version 2 CEO Rajat Ohja says the studio is looking to expand its headcount, number of projects and work cross-platform in future
Movers and Shakers
This month: NaturalMotion Games, Codemasters and Jagex hire senior professionals for their teams
NaturalMotion has appointed former EA and Playfish staffer Dan Borthwick as head of its recently established NaturalMotion Games London studio.
Borthwick has left his role as common technology lead at Playfish, which he also helped found, to take up the role.
He will be responsible for spearheading NaturalMotion’s drive to scale up the company’s games development effort, which has created titles such as BackBreaker and MyHorse, which has been downloaded more than eight million times to date.
Originally a tools company specialising in animation tech, NaturalMotion moved into developing games in 2007, launching its games division in late 2010.
Along with its game production efforts, the company continues to craft animation tools such as its popular Morpheme solution.
The new London studio is to focus on creating high-end free-to-play titles for iOS, and is currently looking to recruit for new positions at the office.
"I am thrilled to be joining NaturalMotion Games and look forward to setting up a new studio in London to build on their recent success, develop great games and continue to push what’s possible in the social mobile space," said Borthwick of his appointment.
UK publisher and developer Codemasters has recruited industry veterans Andy Norman (right) and Colin Rogers to its Southam Racing studio.
Norman, whose last job as game director was at independent studio Monumental games, will take up the role of senior producer.
Rogers (left), meanwhile, joins as chief game designer on the developer’s new racing IP, and boasts 17 years of experience in the industry, having worked in franchises such as Crysis and Need for Speed.
“We are committed to building our teams, and strengthening our studio, with only the very best industry talent,” said Codemasters VP of development Julian Widdows.
“It’s with great pride that we welcome developers of Andy and Colin’s calibre to our family, and look forward to them being the vanguard of our ambitious growth plans for 2012.”
RuneScape developer Jagex has continued its hiring spree this month by reinforcing its marketing department with ex-Codemasters VP David Solari (right) as CMO and former Xbox exec Simon Etchells (below) as global marketing manager.
Solari, who previously worked at Codemasters for 14 years, and oversaw the release of titles such as Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons, will be responsible for leading future marketing strategies for Jagex.
“Having worked in the digital games space for many years, I have followed Jagex’s incredible success and growth with great interest,” said Solari.
“The company’s strength in pioneering free-to-play browser games is inspiring. This role presents a huge and exciting challenge for me.”
Etchells meanwhile will be responsible for promoting RuneScape around the world as the studio looks to widen the reach of its leading franchise.
He has previously worked at LucasArts, EA, and mostly recently Microsoft, where he was responsible for overseeing the release of first party titles for Kinect and other Xbox 360 franchises such as Gears of War and Halo.
Newcastle Upon-Tyne-based developer Eutechnyx has appointed Frogster founder Dirk Weyel as its worldwide publishing head.
Weyel, who takes up the role of non-executive director, will oversee the worldwide release of its upcoming racing title Auto Club Revolution.
“It is my immense pleasure to be able to welcome him into the Eutechnyx group in order to help us build up the newly established publishing operation, and drive it forward in the way that I know it truly deserves,” Eutechnyx COO Darren Jobling.