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How to break in the games industry - an insiders' guide

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I personally wouldn't adjust the portfolio for a single company, just for the fact that you may be applying a different ones at the same time. It's hard to know exactly what the company is going to be interested in based on their ongoing projects etc. so better mention everything in a way that's easy to browse through and get the gist of it (experience with what tools, strong points, extra skills...) and let them cherry-pick what suits them (IMO)

I don't know about cases where employers stop at the cover letter. In my experience, who cares about cover letters? They all sound almost exactly the same, and even when the candidate gets a little original with it, it doesn't stand on its own anyway and can just maybe give you an idea of the personality of the candidate. It could go no further than the resume I guess if the experience on it is way too little compared to the needs for that position, but personally I always click the portfolio link (or LinkedIIn if there's no portfolio) out of curiosity and for the sake of being thorough.

What I meant with this is to create subpages/subdomains eg myportfolio.com/crytek/ or bethesda.myportfolio.com, allowing for different kinds of personalization... mainly like highlighting a project created with the tech a company uses, but of course including all the rest.

I've seen this sort of thing done by some web designers when applying to certain companies they were particularly eager to work with, like creating a resume that looks like an Amazon product page, or writing an in-depth analysis of a product, including the applicant's proposed changes.
Of course is a different market, so just wondering if it sounds too weird to apply or just plain impractical. In terms of time, when you are unemployed or looking for a job, you virtually have all the time you want to spend on these things (of course at the base you want to work building a solid portfolio first).

Interesting insight regarding the second question, I hope there are a lot of people like you in charge of recruiting. If you don't mind I will tag/contact you when I've adjusted some things on my own website to ask some feedback.

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Hii. I am kunal and i want to be a level designer. I have some questions.

So I am in computer science now and from last 1.5 years I've been learning 3D art (Maya , photoshop , substance) in free time. But now I think I want to be level designer because it's more fun...

So I started using hammer editor and currently learning /creating maps for Insurgency and Counter strike games. But my question is should I just learn hammer editor and create maps for source games or should I start learning others as well?

So should I also start modding different genre games ? Like should I create levels for skyrim in creation kit and Red orchestra 2 maybe?

Also Is it a good idea to create a game using Unreal engine 4 ? I am thinking to create small FPS game (will take very long time but ). It will have everything AI , blueprint scripting , level design and little bit of environment art?

Which is the best way if I want to be level designer?

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I have a sort of relevant question - I haven't looked for a games design job for a couple of years but one has come up almost literally down the road from me. The problem is that even though my domain was registered until later this year, somehow it was bought last March and replaced with a placeholder site, probably waiting for me to ask to buy it back, because there can't be much demand for scorchingcraniums.com

So at the minute I have no portfolio. There's a slow version up on webarchive - how bad would it look if I linked to that, or said I can provide a portfolio on request?

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23 hours ago, the0rthopaedicsurgeon said:

I have a sort of relevant question - I haven't looked for a games design job for a couple of years but one has come up almost literally down the road from me. The problem is that even though my domain was registered until later this year, somehow it was bought last March and replaced with a placeholder site, probably waiting for me to ask to buy it back, because there can't be much demand for scorchingcraniums.com

So at the minute I have no portfolio. There's a slow version up on webarchive - how bad would it look if I linked to that, or said I can provide a portfolio on request?

Well the domain is not that great tbh, quite long and prone to typos.

You can register anything you like, what about your real name…

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So I just feel like sharing my story. I'll be turning 31 soon (I saw earlier in this thread someone considering themselves old at 22.. Yeah..). I have a wife, two kids and a academic career that is fun and pays really well.

I've also had a passion for level design for the past 20 years. I made my first map with QuArK in 1996/1997 that I still remember to this date. I've also played a LOT of games over these two decades, and in every single one of them, I stop to look at the architecture and gameplay layout. I do this IRL as well. Sometimes to my wife's dismay. I just enjoy scanning stuff I see and putting them in my visual library somewhere up there in my brain. It's a bit of an obession.

I've considered a career in LD on many occasions. It just never happened, for various reasons. Most likely because I never really tried, if I boil it down, and that is killing me. I'll be releasing my CSGO map soon, and after that I'll be moving on to more modern engines to get a portfolio running, to see if I could land a junior position. If I succeed, my paycheck will likely be 25-50% smaller, but I'd be happier. If all else failes, at least I tried.

Curious to hear if anyone here made a career switch post 30?

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Grats @grapen!

im in a similar position, just I'm older and nowhere near releasing a map. I just can't make the time to regularly work on them… I've tried several times by participating in contests, but my job has so irregular hours that is impossible to have a routine and as easy as it sounds "instead of watching a tv show map", I'm really tired most evenings ao much so I often collapse into sleep on the sofa after putting down my plate.

im still not giving up tho, just maybe I'm more oriented to the indie development idea.

Well hold on and keep working, curious to see the map and more work in the future :)

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36 minutes ago, blackdog said:

Grats @grapen!

im in a similar position, just I'm older and nowhere near releasing a map. I just can't make the time to regularly work on them… I've tried several times by participating in contests, but my job has so irregular hours that is impossible to have a routine and as easy as it sounds "instead of watching a tv show map", I'm really tired most evenings ao much so I often collapse into sleep on the sofa after putting down my plate.

im still not giving up tho, just maybe I'm more oriented to the indie development idea.

Well hold on and keep working, curious to see the map and more work in the future :)

Oh I know just what you mean, juggling a day job, family and aspirations of becoming a developer can be so draining at times. I guess I'm just fueled by raw willpower at this point. Here's to us both making it sooner or later! :) 

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21 minutes ago, grapen said:

Oh I know just what you mean, juggling a day job, family and aspirations of becoming a developer can be so draining at times. I guess I'm just fueled by raw willpower at this point. Here's to us both making it sooner or later! :) 

I too feel the pressure to either make or break it - I think the key is that so long as we are all committed to improving and understanding what we are getting into, and how that will affect our families, we will be OK. It is definitely a grind, and not a sprint. There are definitely days where I just want to put my head in my hands and give up, but it passes and will for you too.

http://gph.is/2cA8E2J  <-- Can't figure out how to show GIF :(

Edited by Sigma

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On 2/22/2017 at 11:49 AM, grapen said:

So I just feel like sharing my story. I'll be turning 31 soon (I saw earlier in this thread someone considering themselves old at 22.. Yeah..). I have a wife, two kids and a academic career that is fun and pays really well.

I've also had a passion for level design for the past 20 years. I made my first map with QuArK in 1996/1997 that I still remember to this date. I've also played a LOT of games over these two decades, and in every single one of them, I stop to look at the architecture and gameplay layout. I do this IRL as well. Sometimes to my wife's dismay. I just enjoy scanning stuff I see and putting them in my visual library somewhere up there in my brain. It's a bit of an obession.

I've considered a career in LD on many occasions. It just never happened, for various reasons. Most likely because I never really tried, if I boil it down, and that is killing me. I'll be releasing my CSGO map soon, and after that I'll be moving on to more modern engines to get a portfolio running, to see if I could land a junior position. If I succeed, my paycheck will likely be 25-50% smaller, but I'd be happier. If all else failes, at least I tried.

Curious to hear if anyone here made a career switch post 30?

Dunno what you are on now, but a junior LD salary in europe is about 20k euros. It is really low. Just be careful making the jump at this point.

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1 hour ago, BJA said:

Thought I'd share this here as some might find it useful. Small article about entering the industry as an environment artist.

https://magazine.artstation.com/2017/03/game-environment-artist/

Thanks for sharing the article, great tips for aspiring environment artist like me.

Edited by krashja

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3 hours ago, Vilham said:

Dunno what you are on now, but a junior LD salary in europe is about 20k euros. It is really low. Just be careful making the jump at this point.

Oh, 20k annually is remarkably low for developed countries, didn't expect to hear that. Is that the case in London as well? I would love to hear from someone working in the industry in Sweden, through PM or whatever means.

Edited by grapen

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