[Here at Boximals Studios we've been through all the ups and downs of creating, and maintaining a Startup, and would like to help others through those tenuous first few months of life. We are a mobile games startup based out of Vancouver that has just received its first round of seed capital to complete our first children's game, Boximals ABC's.]
To many, working for a AAA Video Game company is the pinnacle of their dreams in the Industry. While big names and large corporations may not be everyone's cup of tea, there are certainly benefits for working for the big boys. Here at Boximals and Victory Square Games we may be an indie company, but we've also had a chance to connect with a few who work in the corporate side of things.
I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down and speak with a Network Programmer at Capcom (Who wished to remain anonymous) and Tyler Smith, a Writer working at Remedy.
Design and Programming
Bob Edwards: What do you think needs to be in a portfolio to get a programming job for AAA?
Capcom Employee: I think a general passion for programming is a huge asset. If you don't have industry experience, get into some open source work. Your git logs can say a lot. Hobby projects also help.
What sort of experience do you need to successfully apply to a big company?
CE: Experience can really vary. I work with guys that managed to get in on a school internship, and have been offered jobs afterwards. More experience is always better though. Working with teams is a big asset as well.
What was your career progressions to get there?
CE: My path was a bit...odd. Started out as a mission scripter/designer based on the hobby work I did with Neverwinter Nights. From that I moved to programming in the same company, and have been programming since.
What's the best part about working for a company like Capcom?
CE: The thing I like most about working here? I work with some incredibly smart and talented people, and it's amazing to see what we can create from just an idea into something amazing and fun.
One of the big things to take away from this is the importance of having demonstrated work when applying to these companies. In addition to a solid portfolio, one of the big things you'll see when applying to a AAA company is requirement of work experience in the industry. Sometimes these numbers can be pretty high, which can be quite daunting. It's important to remember that such experience can be offset by a promising or professional looking portfolio, and by work on hobby projects. It doesn't always need to be paid experience, unless you're applying for a senior position.
I touched on it in my Vancouver Sun articles, but it's also incredibly important to be able to take feedback and criticism, and understand where it's coming from. The ultimate goal of any project is to make the best game possible, and sometimes a first pass just won't be that. Demonstrating work with a team, even a small one, is going to go a long way when applying to a company that may utilize 20-30-50 members on a project. Part of working on teams like that is having multiple managers or supervisors scrutinizing your work, and the industry is a small community. Having a reputation for being easy to work with and accessible to criticism is much better than the opposite. It's not always about landing that first job, but walking away from it with good references and a positive attitude. The Game Industry can be very transitory, and it isn't uncommon for entire teams to be laid off, and projects abandoned. A thick skin, and being able to move is also a necessary skill.