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Do You Enjoy Your Game Industry Job?
Hello everyone, I know alot of you out there actually have professional level design jobs. I'm just curious if you feel it's worth it. Is doing what you love for a living worth the very long hours and relatively low pay? Is being around interesting people and not having to deal with corporarte bullshit enough incentive? Do you still engage in your own personal level design projects even though you probably spend 50-70 hours a week doing level design? Are the arcane editing tools you might use at work and having to conform to someone else's creative vision sapping the enjoyability out of one of the best damn hobbies there is? How much room do you have to exercise your own creativity in the levels you design? How do you feel regarding job security? If you feel you need to post anonymously to reply to this thread please do so, I think this thread might be important to let people know what exactly they are getting themselves into when they pursue their 'dream job working in the industry'.
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Getting There Was The Most Fun 
I worked briefly as a level designer myself. I don't know if it was the particulars of my own situation or the industry itself, however I left my job pretty damn jaded. I worked at a small company in Middle of Nowhere,USA, growing up as a city kid that was probably the biggest change to adjust to. Our project was essentially a Quake3 imitation to be released 3 years after Quake3 using inferior technology. That didn't really bother me, I knew you would have to go through some difficulties to get a decent job in the industry in someplace you like to live. What did bother me was our engine creators. These people basically had no respect for people doing art/content related stuff. Our level design tools were complete and utter shit. Before I took the job I asked the project lead if the tools were going to be improved, he said yes we will take your feedback, we understand they need to be improved. Once I actually spent a lot of money relocating and basically turning my life upside down to join the project, that answer turned 180degrees into 'the tools are not a priority'. After struggling to try to make decent looking levels, I just said 'fuck this builshit' and quit after a few months.

Things that influenced me into this decision. I couldn't make decent levels at work, and doing more level design in my spare time was the last thing I wanted to do after mapping for 60 hours a week, then how I am going to get a better job? I really couldn't stomach the possibility of making only $30k to $60k a year for the rest of my life, the job I was working at was under $20k a year, living expenses were non-existant in that back-water shithole town. Job security was a big concern, I felt very expendable as a level designer in a volatile industry. Just look at what happened today to all the great talent working on Elite Force II, project done, layed off. It's really unfortunate, I wish them the best of luck landing on their feet. All these factors led me back to school for a Computer Science degree. $100/hr doing consulting work? Wow suddenly corporate bullshit doesn't look so bad.

I've had a few run-ins with the game industry since this time. I interviewed at Blizzard, and also was offered a position with an EA subsidiary. I didn't get Blizzard and turned down the EA position. I would of loved to work at Blizzard, but oh well. Overall level design is much more gratifying to me as a hobby. I had infinitely more fun polishing my level design skills to a professional level in my spare time, than doing the job full time. I think I'm going to keep it that way, unless that true dream job comes knocking. 
I Geuss It Depends On The Company 
I've just started a job at a developer and Im finding it really great. Everyone is friendly, the tools are good and most days I dont really notice that ive worked overtime.

Sorry to hear that its not this way for everyone :( It *IS* different from what I thought it would be, but this hasn't affected my love of the work, you just have to go into so much depth and detail in the industry whereas in your own projects you can throw stuff around and chop and change it whenever you like.

All in all its been well worth it for me, and worth all the risks that come with it imo. 
Regarding Coders 
What did bother me was our engine creators. These people basically had no respect for people doing art/content related stuff.

I feel exactly the sameway about coders in the so-called community. It seems like half are jerks and the other half don't have a clue what they're doing. Very rarely you'll come across someone who can actually code and you can also get along with.

I wish I could comment about working in the industry, but I've never worked in it so I can't. 
A Job 
I didnt really work for them in a way that i never meet them or saw them face to face. this is a UK company and i live on the us. hehe.

anyway. they where making a doom clone for the GBA, using doom2 as a base, new texture and all that shit. so they asked the doom comunity for level designers and shit, so i e-mailed them, they praised my levels and they told me to make a level or so. so i was all excited and stuff, but it was weird and sucky. they sent me an image and a word file explaining the level's style and so on and the image had the textures, all of them. so you had to figure out which textures where which (they didnt sent me an exe file or a wad file to open or anything) so it was well, complicated. i asked them if they could send me an exe file or something so i could look at the maps and see if i had everything right, but they said my e-mail didnt accept big files (what about uploading it somewhere?). anyway. they wanted the map for like 4 weeks or so because they were going to show it to the E3 or whatever they do with consoles and well, told them i couldnt make a level and well, never heared of them and i never saw the game. that was in 2001. :)

i dont know if thats good or bad. i honestly dont care about that anymore. just sharing. hehe 
... Which Brings Me To Another Point... 
Don't smoke crack. 
Hehe 
do opium instead 
I Geuss It Depends On The Company

Seconded, and can even depend on different teams within the company. The tools on my project are abysmal - think worldcraft the s&m edition - but other teams have got it much more together. If you ever go for an interview, make sure you can sit down with one of their designers and spend five minutes with the tools.

Disclaimer: I'm a coder. 
Hmm 
Daz, where you working? 
Eurocom 
 
D= 
EddieDean...

I don't know what your real world name is, but I know EXACTLY where you were, and ALL i have to say about it is "joel"

in response to that, i have to say that i believe that i have worked in 2 of the most diametrically opposed Game Dev work places possible.

First, some of you may know that i worked on Gore for a while. The office there was crap both environmentally and mentally. The design tools were shit (originally started as a modeller) the engine was shit (no moving geometry, no water, no volume triggers). The pc i worked on would BARELY play Q3, (in 2001, p3 450 w 512mb ram)... and on top of that, the company ran out of money while i was there... granted they were funding it on their own, but when it comes down to paying people and my paycheck almost doesn't get cashed . . . that's to fucking much.

aside from all the factors external to the levels that i was working on, the ONE CTF LEVEL that i got to %30 completion... i spent well over 400 (four hundred) hours working on it. . . and this is basically with quake 2 visual tech and depth-of-detail/poly counts. why? well, i could give a billion individual examples of why, but i'll just end that tyrade right now by saying that the map editor HAD NO CLIPPER, nevermind any kind of CSG tools. Thats right... no clipper. that DRASTICALLY reduces the amount of detail that you want to add to a map. it means no sunken floors, no deciding to put a window in later, no item alcoves etc... cuz if you want to do that you had to do all the brushing manually. it totally blew.


on the phlip side, i am currently working at the best place i think i have ever worked since i got out of college in 1988. In 15 years of being quitting one job for another, being layed off for no goddam reason (i've been layed off more times than i've quit or been fired put together), and having to deal with office politics, HumanHead is the most professional office atmosphere that i've ever worked in.

How many of you would allow 3 people to say "we're all pretty much your direct supervisor" without quitting on the spot? in the 9 mos i've been here, it has only been a problem for 1 episode. they are pretty much on the same page ALL the time.

The real advantage here is tht 6 of the 7 principals of the company came from raven, and an office environment that had become increasingly more stagnant and hostile to the creative process. it was becoming a machine, and these ppl wanted to make games.

so, armed with the knowledge of how NOT to do it, they started a company. and after their first signed project was cancelled (daikatana 2 believe it or not), and a couple of Rune's, they hired me to work on one of the 2 proj's in dev right now.

here, on a team of ~30, the level of communication is stellar. the amount of creative freedom is very high... "we want X kind of look for this level... Blueish lighting dominant with greenish ambient light. Lets have a blockout and a flow document in a few days." I'm responsible for everything save major scripting and major mapmodels. I do know, tho, that up the street at the behemoth (raven)

but, of course, freedom doesn't come without responsibility. I've had to learn lightwave and several other apps that'd i'd have never considered fucking with otherwise. it also means time gets tight. which means i should stop with this thing and get back to the grind.

pay is decent. it's about what i was making as a pc tech working for a health services company. BUT... i'm making the same amount here in wisconsin tht The Collective wanted to pay me for SoCal... i mean com on... cost of living is LITERALLY 3x what it is here, a 3 br apt here is ~800/mo. in so cal it's almost $2000 for a much smaller place in a similar hood. so getting paid shit is relative to where you are geographically. working on external proj's is non-existant cuz i'm here all the time, and workin with much cooler tools (= 
Oh Hey... 
yeah i know now who eddie dean is. . . you were the guy that basically got me the job at 4d.

dunno if i shoudl curse you for getting me into such an assbackwards company, or thank you for showing me the basement of the gamedesign industry. 
Oh Hey... 
yeah i know now who eddie dean is. . . you were the guy that basically got me the job at 4d.

dunno if i shoudl curse you for getting me into such an assbackwards company, or thank you for showing me the basement of the gamedesign industry. 
Oh Hey... 
yeah i know now who eddie dean is. . . you were the guy that basically got me the job at 4d.

dunno if i shoudl curse you for getting me into such an assbackwards company, or thank you for showing me the basement of the gamedesign industry. 
BLOODY HELL 
I THINK I JUST DISCOVERED A BUG IN THE BOARD. 
I Think It's A Bug In You. 
 
And Furthermore. . . 
Eddie. . .

the talk around that office was that you were undependable... that you'd started several things, but in the end they couldn't depend on you to finish. . .

nevermind that 'they' had told us BOTH things that never came to pass, to do with stuff both in and out of the office... like I BARELY got paychecks, neverminding travel reimbursement. and then the editor, and on and on. I'm pretty sure that they also believe that i am "a shitty mapper that doesn't know what he's doing."

(=

I'll just wait till our spiffy eyeball popping game comes out and will handily laugh at their crappy little Unreal Championchimp 'same thing only different' Gore 2 for Dreamcast. 
Monsto 
a p3 450 should be able to run q3 just fine! (I'm still on a 450MHz...) 
Ah The Good Ol Days 
Monsto- Sup man, did you enjoy your trip down memory lane? More like being dragged through a bed of rusty urine soaked spikes with beavers attached that are grinning but their teeth point outward, I bet.

Anyways, I'm glad to hear you're at a much better company nowadays. From working with such flatulent tech to Doom3 tech, aren't you quite the lucky bastard... 
)8 
ow. 
The Place Now... 
Hello from Beatrice.

I spent time working at 4D last summer as a level designer and am working again on a contract basis on their current title.

My reason for being there is simple - it's paid work on a shipped title in my own hometown. I attend the University in Lincoln, and with the number of activities I'm involved in there, I'd greatly prefer being able to finish my education while still getting a little bit of experience on a shipped title for resume purposes, even if it is a crap company.

I will say that the engine is almost to the level of decent at this point. It's funny that Ben has been slaving away on the real-time lighting/bump mapped/specular highlighting bandwagon but there's still no moving doors... *shakes head sadly* I think someone needs to sort their priorities, but what -is- there doesn't look -too- bad. It's still pretty crappy, but with the right content creation team it can look good.

Speaking of content creation, I will say the contracted team assembled for the new title is pretty good. There's still a couple people doing things who shouldn't be doing things, and I'm guessing both you former 4DR types know exactly the two people I'm referring to.

I'm an English major at the University and have been offering my skills to try and salvage the script - I'm getting to make some limited input at least, but I don't know if that will be enough. In fact, I highly doubt it will be...

Brent, who I don't know if you would be familiar with or not, is churning out some great stuff level wise and beating Ben in the head with certain bits that need to be included in the editor. There's a hell of a lot more features now than it used to be, though it's still missing a few notably important pieces (though I think there may have even been a clipping tool added by the time I worked there last summer).

The reason I'm on contract is everyone is gone. Jim and Matt were let go (while Matt was talented, it's probably for the better Jim is no more - he was breaking levels the week before Gore went gold...). Chris headed off to Jaleco last August, and Chad saw the relocation package and things like that as Chris got them and followed him a couple weeks later. They're both working on Goblin Commander for PS2 right now and absolutely loving the new job in a real studio.

I never heard anything about any "shitty mappers who didn't know what they were doing," though I think Chris made reference to both of you guys at one point. Said you guys were great, but just couldn't handle the editor. Which I can definitely understand. I picked it up surprisingly quick last summer, but oh god was it pain. At least we had an Unreal engine licensee evaluation to dink around with for a couple months - that was fairly pleasant, just working with Chad and Chris on a demo level in that. But no, there's no Gore 2 for Dreamcast. ;)

Anyway. Yeah. That's about how things are now. Chad's been contracted to develop a rather intriguing title and is now pending final budget approval after the prototype went over -extremely- well. I'm just holding out hope for that so I can turn to that as a source of experience and income instead. 
The Place Now... 
Hello from Beatrice.

I spent time working at 4D last summer as a level designer and am working again on a contract basis on their current title.

My reason for being there is simple - it's paid work on a shipped title in my own hometown. I attend the University in Lincoln, and with the number of activities I'm involved in there, I'd greatly prefer being able to finish my education while still getting a little bit of experience on a shipped title for resume purposes, even if it is a crap company.

I will say that the engine is almost to the level of decent at this point. It's funny that Ben has been slaving away on the real-time lighting/bump mapped/specular highlighting bandwagon but there's still no moving doors... *shakes head sadly* I think someone needs to sort their priorities, but what -is- there doesn't look -too- bad. It's still pretty crappy, but with the right content creation team it can look good.

Speaking of content creation, I will say the contracted team assembled for the new title is pretty good. There's still a couple people doing things who shouldn't be doing things, and I'm guessing both you former 4DR types know exactly the two people I'm referring to.

I'm an English major at the University and have been offering my skills to try and salvage the script - I'm getting to make some limited input at least, but I don't know if that will be enough. In fact, I highly doubt it will be...

Brent, who I don't know if you would be familiar with or not, is churning out some great stuff level wise and beating Ben in the head with certain bits that need to be included in the editor. There's a hell of a lot more features now than it used to be, though it's still missing a few notably important pieces (though I think there may have even been a clipping tool added by the time I worked there last summer).

The reason I'm on contract is everyone is gone. Jim and Matt were let go (while Matt was talented, it's probably for the better Jim is no more - he was breaking levels the week before Gore went gold...). Chris headed off to Jaleco last August, and Chad saw the relocation package and things like that as Chris got them and followed him a couple weeks later. They're both working on Goblin Commander for PS2 right now and absolutely loving the new job in a real studio.

I never heard anything about any "shitty mappers who didn't know what they were doing," though I think Chris made reference to both of you guys at one point. Said you guys were great, but just couldn't handle the editor. Which I can definitely understand. I picked it up surprisingly quick last summer, but oh god was it pain. At least we had an Unreal engine licensee evaluation to dink around with for a couple months - that was fairly pleasant, just working with Chad and Chris on a demo level in that. But no, there's no Gore 2 for Dreamcast. ;)

Anyway. Yeah. That's about how things are now. Chad's been contracted to develop a rather intriguing title and is now pending final budget approval after the prototype went over -extremely- well. I'm just holding out hope for that so I can turn to that as a source of experience and income instead. 
Guh. 
Shit, sorry. Double posts from hell. I think it has something to do with reloading. D: 
Kungfusquirrel: 
yeah, it does have to do with reloading. One of those things i want to solve at some point. 
Woohoo! 
Master of the obvious once again... I'm too good at telling people things they already know. ;) 
Bleh 
note. i was forced by r.ectal p.ain g.enerator to write here ;)

anyway, well, i enjoy working in this satanic industry. it's something completely different from usual office job. i wouldn't tell that here is more freedom or something, but creating something virtual, and not just images but playground is interesting in every way.
at first i'd spot people. they are vey nice. openminded and humorous and not snobs. they have sober view of things (at least in this company). it's pleasure to work with them.
but of course people isn't the main thing at job. the main thing is self-contentment from this job.
personally i'm happy. it's a lot of new things i had to and will learn. new editors, new technologies. i work on a TPS game. genre i never touched (mapped) before.

so, that's it basically. hope our game will be interesting to play ;) 
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