Our monthly studio recruitment update looks at Ubisoft Reflections, Stainless Games and Pixel Toys
[To read out other recruitment spotlight's for more juicy tips on breaking into the industry, you can find them here]
Ubisoft Reflections' senior recruiter, Craig Lawson introduces you to what you can expect to be part of at the Newcastle studio.
Name: Craig Lawson
Title: Senior Recruiter
What are the benefits of working at a studio such as Reflections?
First and foremost, you will work on great products. We still have a few senior roles left on Watch Dogs, a title we are developing in collaboration with Ubisoft Montreal; and we have also recently shipped Just Dance 4 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as well as contributing to Far Cry 3, Sports Connection on Wii U and Ghost Recon Online. So there is plenty going on.
I would also highlight our adventurous spirit – we champion independent thinkers and encourage our staff to be brave and original in their work. Reflections is a studio where your ideas are listened to and entrepreneurship is encouraged.
Another fantastic benefit is undoubtedly being part of the Ubisoft family – our staff have the resources and backing of the world’s third largest publisher. This means you collaborate with amazing people from all over the world and have access to all the latest tech and tools needed to stay at the forefront of development.
Finally, Reflections is simply a great studio in a great location. We have fantastic experience and expertise, which spans 28 years. You will work with some of the greatest minds in the business, both at Reflections and throughout the Ubisoft network. We collaborate closely with studios worldwide, so there are plenty of opportunities for travel and career advancement.
Newcastle is a great city; friendly, good for families, culture, nightlife, countryside, the beach; what more could you want?
How many new staff are you currently looking to take on at your development studio?
We are looking to take on an additional 50 people, which will take the studio up to two hundred. To manage this growth, we have expanded our in-house talent team, so applicants and agencies will be dealing with Will Brown (far right), Kar-Man Hargreaves (second from left) and Lorna Evans (third from left), as well as myself.
We are looking for experienced, senior people across programming, design, art, production and sound. So, basically, everything.
What perks or privileges are available to staff working at the games studio?
We have the usual perks you would expect, such as a work pension, family-wide medical insurance, gym membership and so on. However, the real perks come from working within the Ubisoft family, working with nationalities from all over the world, travel opportunities, working on the biggest games in the business and having access to the best resources in the industry.
What should aspiring developers do with their CV or their profolio to get to an interview?
Really try to stand out and go the extra mile. Include demos you have made, examples of your own projects, small games you have made outside of work. It shows passion and enthusiasm. Get creative; it will pay off.
What advice would you give perspective developers for a successful interview?
It is not just skills that Reflections is looking for. We are looking for you to show interest in our amazing portfolio of products and a passion for working within the Ubisoft family.
As I said earlier, at Reflections we are looking for people with an independent spirit, people who are willing to be brave and fight for their ideas – inspirational thinkers who can lead and motivate a team. We need people who fit this company culture.
Who is the best interviewee you have ever had and how did they impress you?
It is all about enthusiasm; from when they walk in the door, to their tone of voice, a firm handshake and body language. We are okay with nerves, this is normal, but I am looking for your passion and enthusiasm to fill the room.
Always give examples from your own experience of things that have worked well and not so well. Show that you have learned from your mistakes and are someone who is adaptable, but with bags of confidence and a strong sense of self.
And who was the worst?
Definitely the person who slumped in the chair, giving one-word answers in a monotone voice, who smelt of alcohol and answered his phone in the interview. Funnily enough I have not seen him since.
If your studio has recruited talent internationally, what was the process like for you and for the applicant? And what considerations should international applicants keep in mind?
At Reflections we are looking for the best people, full stop. That means recruiting from all over the world. We currently employ people from 11 different countries, including China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Poland, the USA and Spain. Being friendly and having an international outlook is very much part of our culture.
We are extremely experienced in organising international visas and sponsorship and we very much encourage applicants from all over the world to contact us.
Is there anything else you wish to add about recruitment?
We need people who have passion, are adventurous and brave, and inspired to develop award-winning products and technology. If you think that is you, come to Reflections and you will have the opportunity to shine.
This month: Senior producer
Stuart Bayliss, Senior Producer, Stainless Games
“Producers are all about getting games to market. But the specific responsibilities can vary greatly, from methodologies employed to the level of creative input expected.
“Ensure you know what the role advertised actually is, and that you want to do it. When applying, be sure to demonstrate that you have the relevant background and skills for the job on offer.
“Most recruiters tend towards people with prior experience; if you’re after that first step into production or looking to break into games, your cover letter will need to be extra persuasive.
“Decide beforehand what you need to get out of the interview stage and be prepared to answer questions from any angle.
“It’s vital that a producer fits in with the studio culture, so don’t forget to bring your personality.”
Leamington Spa’s newest addition to the development circuit is Pixel Toys. Founded by Andrew Wafer and Alex Zoro in December 2012, the company is based in the same building where FreeStyleGames started exactly ten years ago.
“I’ve been in the industry for about 12 years and I’ve never seen more innovation, change and opportunity in it than right now,” says CEO Wafer, who previously worked at Codemasters.
“There are more people playing than ever before, on new types of devices, in new genres and with changing business models. Smartphones and tablets really are being used for gaming and the volumes being sold are staggering.
“It feels like the industry isn’t just evolving like it’s done before. This time it’s in full metamorphosis. I think it’s worth getting in the driving seat to experience that and contribute to it. That’s why we set up Pixel Toys, we want to make new and great games in exciting times and make them for these massive global audiences.”
Pixel Toys will be targeting high-end 3D games for mobile platforms. First however, it will be releasing a 2D platformer called Super Little Acorns on the 3DS eShop in March.
Currently a team of three, with some external contributors, the studio is now in a position to take on four more staff, and hopes to double that in 2014.
Wafer already has his eyes set on expansion: “The type of games we’re building require a larger team than the average developer for mobile and tablet. We’ve got open positions for artists and programmers now and expect to have a lot more later in
Mojaro and its parent company, Virtual Intelligence, were found in mid 2010 by Laurent Ancessi, Nick Malaperiman and other staff from Sony, Xbox and Ubisoft
Based in Vancouver and San Francisco, it has 16 employees
The group has expertise making triple-A console and PC games, and wanted to bring that pedigree to mobile
Its focus is on triple-A titles for smartphones and tablets
Just iOS for now, but Android and Windows Phone 8 are coming
“KnightScape is our first game, but we have others planned,” says Malaperiman. “They will be set in other worlds and will all be combined in a top secret way”
Universally Speaking’s CEO Vickie Peggs talks about openings at the QA and localisation specialist.
What makes Universally Speaking different from other QA firms?
It’s the clients we work with and the projects we work on that set us apart from our competition. We’re very lucky to work with a wide range of leading games companies spanning mobile, console, MMO and more, giving a wealth of variety to each job.
In addition to this, we work hard on our company culture and staff retention. We have a relaxed and genuinely friendly working environment at Universally Speaking. Our open and flat management structure allows all team members to have a significant input on ideas and direction with the support of peers.
We are also proud to be able to boast around a 50/50 split of males and females in our office, which make for a fun and diverse bunch.
What benefits do you offer staff?
On top of the expected company benefits, such as a company pension scheme and ongoing training programmes, Universally Speaking has a number of additional perks.
For starters you can expect normal working hours. We operate a 9am to 5.30pm working day, as opposed to the usual unsocial hours typical for the games industry. However, if our projects require testers to work outside of normal hours, we offer paid overtime. We also supply dinner in case late night testing is needed.
We have regular Krispy Kreme deliveries, daily sweets and opportunities to attend games industry events, including our GamesCom lottery.
We are located on-site at the stunning Wyboston Lakes complex, in Bedfordshire, with fantastic facilities including water sports, golf, spa, gym, café and restaurant. All these are offered to us at a lower price thanks to our discount card.
Which disciplines are you most in need of?
We are constantly looking for great, new talent at Universally Speaking. Right now we are specifically looking for compliance testers and German language testers.
How have your staff needs changed?
In the past five years, with the emergence of multiple new platforms, QA has evolved beyond console, and testing skills and programmes have evolved alongside it. The scope and variety of projects has changed significantly with online and mobile. We are always on the lookout for tech-savvy testers with experience in all QA disciplines, but also knowledge of these many platforms and an understanding of the dynamics of gameplay and what players want.