Our monthly studio recruitment update looks at Rare, Nomad Games and new studio Aphelio
[To read our other recruitment spotlight's for more juicy tips on breaking into the game industry, you can find them here.]
Rare’s studio head Craig Duncan drops need-to-know recruitment details about how you can join ones of Britain’s oldest, most beloved studios and work on Windows 8 and Kinect
What are the benefits of working at a studio such as Rare?
Rare is in a pretty unique position. As a first party developer for Microsoft, our remit is to showcase amazing entertainment experiences for all current and future Microsoft platforms, including Xbox 360, Kinect and now Windows 8. What this means is that we work on very exciting projects at the cutting-edge of the industry. We have great resources, a fantastic facility and talented people.
Being part of the Microsoft Studios family opens up excellent career opportunities within the studio, and also our sister studios across the UK, Canada, US and the wider Microsoft business divisions.
How many staff are you currently looking to take on? And from what fields specifically?
Firstly, we are always looking to take on talented people – we realise that the right talent and right role may not always align from a timing perspective. We presently have open roles across all our disciplines on our careers site, at all levels from graduate to senior.
Console experience is important, but as Windows 8 is a big deal for the studio we are also interested in looking beyond that to developers with PC and touch experience. We aim for a blend of expertise, from individuals with deep skills to generalists who can do a little of everything including prototyping in small teams.
What perks are available to those working at the studio?
In addition to working on future-defining projects, we have a great staff benefits package. We care about the careers and growth of all our people, and we also know that they like to have engaging things going on around the studio.
So we have an events team whose charter is to organise a wide range of team events, both on-site and off-site. We have a subsidised restaurant with Starbucks coffee and regular barbeques within our 100-plus acres of countryside grounds. And our fitness trainer makes sure that we have opportunities to workout properly twice a week during the summer.
What should aspiring developers do with their CV to get to an interview?
Show that you have a passion for being the best and changing the world. Be clear on how you made a difference or a significant contribution in whatever you have achieved. Show your passion for creativity and innovation – we are every bit as interested in what you are capable of doing as what you have done already.
Who is the best interviewee you have ever had and how did they impress you?
All of the best interviewees were hired and are now in the team. Passionate and creative people impress us. Show drive and ambition to take ownership of your area, go beyond what others do – that’s what excites us.
And who was the worst?
Interesting question. We’d have to say that our interview structure enables all potential candidates to sell their skills, experience and industry knowledge in a positive way.
What advice would you give jobseekers for a successful interview interview at your studio?
Know your subject, be passionate and show us clearly what you are capable of achieving. Interviewers understand how it feels to be on both sides of the process, but they still need to see your A-game.
Be sure to communicate well, not just during the interview but before and after if you have the opportunity – whatever your role, clear communication between individuals, teams and disciplines is the foundation for our results.
Study the industry and be knowledgeable about things that other companies and games have recently achieved in your field. We don’t always need applicants to be familiar with the world of games, but it does ease the road ahead in more ways than one.
Being a Kinect-focused studio, how difficult or straightforward is it to hire new developers?
More accurately, we’re an innovation-focused studio developing entertainment to showcase Microsoft platforms; recently we’ve focused on the huge potential of Kinect for creativity and audience appeal. As a studio we always have a number of ideas bubbling.
The important thing for Rare is that the people who join us do so because they believe in our approach and the opportunities it unlocks for them, not only in the tech we currently work with. Our custom-built HQ and location right in the heart of the country offer us many extra benefits, but our recruitment net is cast wide as we want to find the best people in the world rather than just the closest.
The UK is currently going through big changes regarding ICT and computer science at university. Do you think games development education in the UK is good enough at the moment?
It is getting better and we meet some fantastic people through our intern and graduate schemes who fill us with confidence. We do a huge amount of work across Microsoft to support education, from primary school age through to university programmes.
Is there anything else you wish to add about recruitment at your studio or in games development in general?
We have an amazing studio with a heritage not many can match, and building on the foundations of our recent commercial success, we are now at a pivotal time with
industry-changing opportunities in our future. If that’s appealing, you’re the best at what you do and like the sound of a career at one of the top studios in the world – get in touch.
This month: Engine Programmer
“As an engine programmer, you need to be a smart and open-minded person, aware of the whole games development process.
“You are required to find technical solutions and deliver quality foundation systems.
“It’s highly beneficial to hold a natural sense of curiosity. You must be driven to find out how things work, solve why some things don’t, but also imagine how they could evolve in the future.
“You will have a good knowledge of C++ and, of course, skills related to the games industry, such as rendering, architecture, networking, tools and so on.
“A proven background in having shipped a commercial console title is well regarded by employers.”
Nicolas Bécavin, Lead Platform Programmer, Asobo Studio
Out of the strain and sleepless nights of Dare+, a studio is born. Michael Walker, Kraig Walker and Carla Johnston met on the first day their Dare+ course in July 2012.
After completing the course and demoing their products at the Dare Protoplay festival in August, the trio decided to form a new company, Aphelio.
Team Aphelio has been working together for less than six months, and are still without an office, but they are already working for clients on commercial contracts.
Aphelio will focus on making social and casual games for HTML5 as well as platforms which are “under served”. PlayStation Vita and, by extension, PlayStation Mobile specifically.
The studio is currently being funded by the trio themselves, but they’re in the process of seeking investment.
“By looking at the mistakes that have been made in the past we’ve focused more on the experience rather than the conventional ideas,” says Kraig Walker, co-founder and CTO of Aphelio.
Kraig was chairman of the IGDA Scotland Chapter aged 18. With Aphelio, he’s eager to carve out a new style of games company. “Aphelio is all about testing the limits of what people perceive to be possible in gaming. We think people will find what we have to be very interesting and, most importantly, original.”
Aphelio’s other co-founder and CEO, Michael Walker, was formerly a community coordinator at Jagex. While Johnston, the studio’s artistic director, is a graduate of games art and design at the Norwich University College of the Arts.
Eager to form new game ideas and reach new audiences with them, Kraig says they’re doing it for the love of exploration.
“By living on the bleeding-edge both technologically and in our design approach, our work will definitely belong on the platforms we push them on, and hopefully inspire a new approach to game development,” says Kraig.
We speak to Atlassian’s vice president of talent Joris Luijke about positions at the enterprise software maker
What makes Atlassian different from other enterprise software makers?
First, many engineers in other enterprise companies develop tools that will be used in different company functions – HR, finance or sales.
Atlassian, however, makes software that helps businesses plan, build and launch great software. Therefore, our software products don’t just solve problems for our 22,000 customers – they also help us. It’s fun working at a company where you get to experience your own products, improvements and innovations on a daily basis.
What benefits do you offer staff?
We offer all sorts of perks, from free lunches to extra leave and working at a charity of choice. We even offer new hires a holiday before they start, so that they can begin their new job refreshed.
Which disciplines are you in need of?
And how have your recruitment needs changed?
Consumer software has set new benchmarks for software design. For enterprise software, the emphasis on product design and front-end development has increased because people are often bombarded with more information than they can process. Today’s products need to be easily navigable and intuitive to use.
Additionally, younger generations have grown up with smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, so they expect similar functionality from other technologies. Today’s developers are as much engineers as they are designers, so we look for multifaceted candidates.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
A new adventure is always just around the corner for motivated employees. Atlassian has more than doubled in size during the past two years and is continuing to grow rapidly.
Every month new teams and positions are formed to support new product or growth opportunities.
Atlassian also offers international secondments to enable cross-continent collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Why should prospective employees choose a role in enterprise software?
Enterprise software has come a long way. It’s no longer just about building traditional heavyweight products sold in mega-deals to top executives. Even though some may find enterprise boring, the truth is that B2B software impacts small and large teams around the world daily.
Every company on the planet is becoming, in essence, a software company. There are more lines of code in a Ford car than in Twitter and Facebook combined. Why not get in on the software revolution?