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  • 10 Tips For Game Dev Veterans And Students Alike

    [01.25.18]
    - Mars Ashton

  • 5. Communicate. Be Present.

    It doesn't matter what your role is, speak up, ask questions and be present. Dealing with conferences? People? Networking? If it helps, establish Agile/Scrum-like meetings at work or school. Find what works best for your team. Nothing to report? That is fine, but keep things going and make sure meetups are regularly advertised. People will be there. People will be present if they know it is happening with or without them. You will be surprised at how easy it is to talk to someone who worked on your favorite game. You will be just as surprised to find a ton of potential in someone looking to get into the industry who happens to love a project you contributed to.

    If you're looking to establish a certain culture within your studio or community: keep it consistent.

    Pro tip: shyness can be counteracted by asking people about themselves.

    6. Do Not Be A Hater.

    It is easy to dismiss games you don't like. There is value in everything, though. Games, movies, books and disciplines new and old offer a ton of insight, inspiration and influence that could lead to amazing revelations. Try not to bother with why something is terrible. Focus on what made it that way on a critical level from an objective standpoint and apply that to your own methodology and workflow.

    7. It Is Not About You.

    Check the ego. Nobody owes you a thing. See opportunities, gossip and drama from this perspective. Pass on the amazing idea you had that nobody liked. Allow someone to do things their way even if you tried convincing them otherwise. Trust in your team and foster these moments, don't trash talk them.

    In the college courses I teach I'll direct as much as I can, but I often say "prove me wrong" or "justify and validate" if a student wants to go a different route. We both grow from it. A conversation is had and we discover new things or validate what we already felt we knew.

    8. Handle It.

    Take feedback. Do not whine or complain. Whatever the task is at hand, make it happen. All of these tips have everything to do with making, learning, networking, dealing with the routine and being well adjusted. If you need to vent about a problem or a bad day or something someone said, figure out how to go about doing that and choose to exercise venting appropriately.

    9. Trust and Teach.

    Some of the best managers, directors and all-around developers I know look at leadership roles as teaching experiences. They are there to take whatever their team can do and elevate it. Do not force people to replicate one artist's style. Let them have their own take based on their own skills and elevate that to fit the mold. If you're a lead, heed this. If you're on a team, encourage this approach. Exercise this.

    10. Know When To Quit.

    My grandfather always told me a "good artist knows when to stop". I follow that line of thought. It won't be easy at first without experience to spot these situations, but it can be just as difficult for a vet to find themselves in a bad spot. A bad team, a bad gig, a risky opportunity. Avoid working with people with bad reputations. Know a bad reputation from a "bad reputation". Ask for advice and do not be afraid to take risks.

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