Get That Job Daily: How to be a lead level designer

Get That Job Daily: How to be a lead level designer
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

January 17th 2014 at 12:35PM

Techland’s Adrian Sikora discusses the key skills needed for his role in level design and narrative

Every working day this month, as part of our New Year, New Job 2014 special, Develop brings you a game industry professional to explain what their job involves and key advice to help you follow in their footsteps.

Level designer and writer

Adrian Sikora, of Techland, offers an insight into his job working as lead level designer and writer for the maker of Dead Island.

What is your job role?
I’m the supervisor of the level design and the scenario departments, which create the plot and gameplay backbone of the game. Story and quest designers together with our writers bring fictional characters to life and plan any narrative elements, while the level design department is responsible for the logic and the progress of the game, meaning a broadly defined gameplay.

How would someone become a lead level designer?
It’s a hard question, because there’s no universal recipe, and in my case it was a series of fortunate events. A person in a position like mine bears much responsibility, so they need to be trusted, which can be earned only with hard work. I was very dedicated to my work from the very beginning and, thankfully, it was noticed by my bosses. My career path began with a level designer position and I continued to gain more and more responsibilities.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
Lead level designer is not simply a planner, but also a coordinator of numerous teams: Level design demands collaborations with almost every production team, as it makes use of assets made by programmers, modellers, audio directors, animators and many more. So you need abilities from the fields of design as well as management. Without the latter, a person in this position would be destined to fail.

What do you look for when recruiting a new level designer or writer?
Relevant experience and expertise is very important and cannot be ignored. It’s not a only requirement, though. If a candidate is eager to join the team and has the basic predispositions, such as creativity and sense of proportion, they can easily learn how to use the tools. Both lead designer and writer are creative positions, so I always pay much attention to the candidate’s inspirations and hobbies. They often turn out to be more important than experience or taught skills.

What opportunities are there for career progression?
Level or story and quest designer are great starting points for future independent game creation, which is an ultimate goal for many people in our industry. It’s not an easy path, but these positions teach many aspects of game development and give experience that is indispensable when designing a game as a whole.

Why choose to follow a career in your field?
Designing computer games isn’t an easy piece of bread. Sometimes it’s frustrating and thankless. But, at the same time, freaking rewarding! I’ve got a significant influence on the final product, I can see gamers enjoying ‘my’ game and, most of all, their positive comments are more than enough to make up for any inconveniencies during development.

If you’d like to get involved with Get That Job Daily, contact aaron.lee@intentmedia.co.uk. You can take a look at all the available design vacancies over at our Develop Jobs section.

This feature is part of New Year, New Job 2014, Develop’s month-long guide to games recruitment. You can read more at www.develop-online.net/jobs2014.