Our monthly studio recruitment update looks at Codemasters, Playfish and West Pier
We quiz Codemasters' Simon Miles on the studio’s recruitment policy and the dos and don’ts to land a job
Name: Simon Miles
What does your company offer that makes you stand out from others?
The number one attraction is that Codemasters works on world leading triple-A titles, with cutting edge, in-house built technology.
Not many companies are building their own tech anymore, whereas building our own is part of company strategy. Our brands are big enough to deserve a lot of hand crafted, dedicated work.
In addition, our art department is immensely respected for its visual direction and presentation style. Our audio department has phenomenal attention to detail; just listen to what’s going on in Dirt 3 or F1 2011.
What are the other perks?
Both our UK offices offer something for everyone. Our Southam HQ is very near Leamington Spa with all of its amenities including a plethora of bars, clubs and restaurants, but at the same time has plenty of rural space and stunning parks and gardens.
Our Birmingham Studio is in the heart of the city itself with all a major city has to offer. Be warned though, the amount of shopping available can be very damaging on the wallet.
I’ve got to also mention our onsite pub. Yep, a fully licensed public house called the Masters Arms with a lakeside outdoor sitting area.
Who is the best interviewee you’ve ever had and what did they do?
I couldn’t give one specific example, but the best you usually know as they step through the door. Immediately bright, personable, a wide range of knowledge and an enthusiasm for games themselves. But they are also very well prepared and know about the company history.
So what was the worst interview?
One guy turned up and at the start of the interview said that he had accepted a job elsewhere and he was only here because he promised the agent he would attend. At least we kept the interview short.
We have also noticed a trend that the more intelligent a person may be the less they seem to understand dates and calendars and we often get people turning up for interviews a week too early or a week too late.
Luckily all of those people manage to turn up to work on time as we employed most of them after the initial hiccup.
What is your advice for a successful interview?
Be prepared, that will ease the nerves. If you’re a coder, by all means revise your subject, that does no harm and is a good excuse to brush up.
Everything else from there is about what sort of person you are and where we see you fitting into our company. Interviewers should always ask ‘have you got any questions yourself?’ at the end.
Have a checklist of questions that you go through and tick off during the interview if they come up. That way, you look organised, have thought about a few things and then if you really have nothing else to ask – point to your list and say ‘I think we’ve already discussed them all’.
My other tip would be many interviews end and you really aren’t sure whether they are genuinely interested in the role or not. Therefore if you are interested, don’t be afraid to tell us.
With so many developers self-publishing these days, why should they join a big studio like Codemasters?
We are a big studio, there’s no doubt about that, and you really need to be a team player to get on in that type of atmosphere.
You need that scale to make great products with the production values we have. The good thing about Codemasters is that we have leadership and expert roles.
If you want to become an expert in, say, physics, there is nothing stopping you from becoming a principal programmer in that area – be a leading expert and mentor others in that area.
If you want to see the wider picture then there are group lead and lead roles as well as eventually the more senior technical director roles.
What area of the industry needs investment?
If the UK is to compete with the rest of the world we’ve got to be careful we don’t stray too far from our heritage.
Understanding the underlying hardware and being inventive with limited resources has been one of the UK’s strengths.
This month: Lead Developer
We ask Playfish game server director Campbell Wilson for his tips on getting getting the role.
“At Playfish, being able to think outside of your ‘game’ is a great skill. This involves experience of writing common bits of tech that can benefit other teams as well as your own.
“In line with that, the ability to code selflessly, and not reinvent the wheel is a must. This means that you should be able to write maintainable code, and have the skills to make useful existing code generic (especially if written by other devs).
“Another hugely important skill is the ability to thoroughly test your code. This involves using test driven development, and automating the process in CI.
“Experience of balancing technical improvement alongside business requirements is important. It’s often hard to do during tight iterations, but worth the investment. If you don’t love your code, you’re not going to enjoy working with it.
“Finally, being friendly and a great team player goes a long way.”
A new digitally-focused independent outfit called West Pier has been formed from five ex developers of the now defunct Disney studio Black Rock.
The founders of the Brighton-based studio are Vassos Shiarlis, Craig Gabell, Joe Palmer, Dominic Jackson and Huw Bowles.
“Historically focused on triple-A console development, the West Pier directors are making the jump over to online and mobile games,” read a statement from the company.
More info at: www.westpierstudio.com
This month: Lucid Games
This month: New and digital studios hiring young talent and industry veterans
Publisher nDreams has hired programmer Adam Fahey, artist Ash Sparling, audio designer Matt Casson and junior artist Chris Williams.
Ash Sparling, previously an artist at Rare, TT Games and Outso, will work on Home costumes, companions and envrionments in the studio’s upcoming projects.
Chris Williams has been made junior artist, having worked there as a volunteer and intern, and will be working on modelling and environments, including on the studio’s first Home clubhouse.
Adam Fahey meanwhile joins from Relentless, whilst Matt Casson has been appointed to the audio team after studying a degree in popular music and record production.
nDreams CEO Patrick O’Luanaigh said: “We’re building a highly talented, creative and enthusiastic team here at nDreams, with an unusual penchant for Nerf guns and strange headwear, and we’re delighted to welcome Adam, Ash, Chris and Matt into the family.
Ubisoft Reflections execs Martin and Gareth Edmondson have been appointed executive roles at new mobile games studio Thumbstar.
Gareth has taken up the role of CEO at the firm, whilst Martin has been hired as chief creative officer.
The Liverpool headquartered company is opening a Newcastle division for the brothers to lead, with the studio focusing on developing game content, IP and other mobile games content for business partners.
“I am very excited by the prospect of what we can create together at Thumbstar, not only by adding our own internal development team, but by expanding our network of third-party developers and using high quality content to grow our distribution channels even further,” said Gareth.
Martin, who was one of the original investors in Thumbstar when it was founded in 2008, added: “I am very proud to have been involved with Thumbstar since its formation.
“I’m now particularly looking forward to getting back to my primary passion for original IP creation in such a dynamic and rapidly growing space.”
The brothers have both previously led the Newcastle-based Ubisoft Reflections studio in separate spells, and they were both at the firm during the development of the recent Driver: San Francisco.
Motion tracking specialists Lightning Fish Games has appointed husband and wife Ewa and Robert Aguero Padilla to work on its Flash team.
Ewa has been hired as Flash designer, where she will be responsible for designing interfaces for console games and putting together assets and animations.
Robert meanwhile, who has previously worked on titles such as Operation Flashpoint: Red River whilst also working on his own games, will take up the role of senior Flash programmer at the studio.
“I really enjoy waking up each morning to join a great team and work on big titles, and go back home in the evening, where I can continue development of my small home titles together with my wife,” says Robert.
The studio has worked on titles such as the Let’s Dance with Mel B and NewU Fitness series of games.
Crytek’s Tony Davis, game director of Kinect title Ryse, has quit the studio to join ngmoco Sweden
He joins the smartphone publisher as senior designer, having previously worked on titles such as Crysis and Crysis 2 as producer and level designer.
The digital firm has also appointed Crytek’s former art director Vesselin Efremov, who will take up the role of senior artist.