Naughty Dog Lead Designers Give Pointers on How to Land a Job in the Gaming Industry

Want to find a job as a game developer? It’s no easy task, but Naughty Dog is here to help. To be precise, three lead designers at Sony’s acclaimed the studio (Kurt Margenau, Anthony Newman and Ricky Cambier) went on a spree today providing useful pointers for those that are seeking a gig making games at Naughty Dog or elsewhere.

Kurt Margenau

#1 most important thing we look for in a game designer is experience. Specifically experience shipping games.

I started out learning to program. It’s invaluable to all disciplines to understand how games work technically.

Shipping something is everything. Even if it’s small. There’s so much that goes into getting something to that state.

Sounds harsh but move to where games are made! SF, LA, major hubs in america. There are tons of industry events to meet devs.

Just make a small game by yourself. Do everything. Art. Sound. Programming. Guess what, everything in between is DESIGN!

No one will hand you an internship. Make stuff in Unity, build a portfolio. Those=expected for anyone hired as an intern.

Everyone is diving into Unity these days. C# is a great language to learn OO programming.

You don’t need to have a job at a game company to make games. Do filmakers need a studio deal to make films? Passion is free!

Lots of designers aren’t required to know text based scripting. I think it helps immensely.In short, get better!

Scope being too big is #1 downfall of beginner designers. Give yourself limits, absolutely. It will force you to make decisions.

Regarding level design job: What makes a good Uncharted level? How does the space draw you through the level?

You don’t have to be an artist to be a level designer. We make our blockmesh out of VERY simple shapes. Have an eye for composition thugh.

Once you learn the principles of programming, learning a new language is very easy. Pick one and use it!

Make a small game and do everything yourself. Design, Art, Programming. By doing all of them, you’ll find the one you love most.

Unity is great, but I also recommend making something small completely from scratch with like javascript. Or play with

Programming at ND is no joke. 3D Math skills like the back of your hand. Hardware knowledge. Memory management. Low level stuff.

My advice? Avoid for-profit schools. 4 year bachelors, learn other non-game things too. USC, CMU, GaTech, dope programs.

No one gets into games because they think it will be a fun job. They are creative people driven by a passion to express themselves.

For those interested, here’s the hacked-together-from-an-online-tutorial first game I made in high school.

Anthony Newman

Initiative and skills go a long way. we love seeing games that do well in indie contests or get a lot of players.

Play a lot of games and think hard about what makes them great (or not great) try making your own small games. There are so many incredible (cheap!) tools out there to get you started. get your hands dirty and ship something real.

[Best way to showcase your level design skills]: Screenshots with summary, camera flythrough, or gameplay video.

EA still has a really solid internship program, it can make for a great summer job.

USC and Carnegie Melon both have badass grad programs for games. but maybe not worth the price? best bang 4 buck is working asap.

If you want to design at ND, being able to handle text based scripting isn’t a 100% requirement, but it’s very close.

Best advice: play lots of games and think hard about what makes them great. Make *finished* games as hard as you can.

No age limit, takes all kinds: great studios want talent and passion and are blind to everything else : )

Ricky Cambier

For your projects – keep your scope manageable. Having something playable is more important than half baked.

[On software engineering]  It’s good for both coding and design since it’ll make you capable of creating your own work.

Master the pitch! Tell people your idea & if they react positively, go with that. If not – new idea.

Few people get to start w/ their dream job. Keep your eye on Naughty Dog – but cut your teeth somewhere else. Takes time.

The compSci will get you making things. Study top games on your own. I’d suggest entry level position over MS degree to start.

I mean study! To play is not enough. Analyze. Push the limits. Explore. Discuss. We do so much you don’t see. Discover it. =)

Those are definitely a lot of great pointers, and the most relevant one seems to be to jump into the ocean and start making games, even on your own. If you’re going to take the advice and give it a try, maybe one day we’ll be writing about your own games.

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Giuseppe Nelva

Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.

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