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  • From Intern to Artist: How Diane Stevenson Broke Into the Game Industry

    - Jill Duffy

  •  DS: My advice is to keep positive. It's weird. My dream job was always to be with a big console company because they're marketing toward my age group. Now that I work in a casual game company that's smaller, I really don't want to work in a big console game company and that's because there's so much creativity that goes into the game using each person's input -- and that's because we're using these small teams.

    I would say also be open to any opportunity with a small company to work with video games because that could ultimately give you a lot of experience. It's satisfying because you do have a lot of creative input.

    GCG: How do you think your path from being an intern to being hired as an artist would have been different had you taken an internship with a large company?

    DS: It would have taken a lot longer. I'm not entirely sure since I never worked in a big console game company, but I would say that I probably wouldn't have been noticed. It would have probably taken a lot longer.

    GCG: Do you want to tell us about the team building that goes on at Large Animal, in terms of being a small company?

    DS: One really great thing about working at a small company is that you really do get to talk to and know the people that you're working with. You know everyone at the company when it's really small. I think the company really tries to push for that so that everyone is really comfortable with each other and can work with each other.

    Every Friday, for example, is Halo night. Wade, our boss, will stop us early, around 6:00 and he'll say, "Okay everyone! Time to play darts." And we'll play darts and who ever gets the highest scores gets to pick which chores they want to do. We all go around and do chores, like sweeping or wiping down surfaces. After that, we'll buy beer for everyone and we'll play Halo for maybe an hour or so.

    GCG: What's one thing you wish you had known about the game industry before you started working it in?

     DS: I kind of wish I knew to prepare myself for being more organized. Organization is a huge thing in working with other people on a project. With computer files, you have to make sure all those files are organized correctly and clearly, using the right names for files so that when someone else needs to take over something that you're doing, they can just look and understand exactly what they need to start doing.

    GCG: What about time management and budgeting time, knowing how many hours it will take to complete certain tasks?

    DS: That's a big thing. That's something I definitely wish I knew about before I came here, but the only way to get better at it is through time, making mistakes and doing it. Estimating your time is really huge in a video game project because you need to be able to see basically what you can get into a project, tasking out and estimating your time for anything. For example, how long is it going to take you to design a screen?

    GCG: Does Scrum or agile development help with that?

    DS: It definitely does. The good thing about Scrum is that you're not the only one seeing that time estimate. Everyone is. So everyone has a good idea of how long everything is going to take. That really helps out with the projects.

    GCG: What games are you playing now?

    DS: Unfortunately I don't have an Xbox 360 yet, but I plan to soon. Right now I'm playing a lot of PlayStation 2 games. I'm playing Final Fantasy XII.

    Sometimes I'll just go to GameStop and see if there are games I haven't heard of. I'll just pick them up, especially cheap games that are on sale because no one's buying them (laughs)!

    I just got this game called ChuLip, which is by the same people who made Harvest Moon, I think. I haven't played Harvest Moon, but I hear it's good. So I picked up ChuLip, and it's about you as a little boy running around a town trying to kiss people. I think "chu" is the sound a kiss makes in Japanese. And then it's "lip." Maybe it's also a pun on "tulip?" It's really funny. You play this little boy and you have kiss people, but you don't have enough points with each person yet, and you'll try to kiss them and they'll hit you in the face and you'll fall on the ground and the characters will say, "What are you doing? You can't kiss me yet!" It's so random because you can kiss doctors or your dad! Ultimately, you're trying to kiss your true love. It's really bizarre.

    And Guitar Hero. I'm obsessed with Guitar Hero!

    Interview by Jill Duffy
    Illustrations by Diane Stevenson
    Screenshots courtesy of Large Animal Games


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