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BlizzCon 2009: Breaking into the Gaming Industry live blog


This panel will be starting at 10:00 a.m. PDT / 1:00 p.m. EDT and will be live blogged here.

The live blog after the break!

Update: Live blog over. Very interesting panel for those looking to get into the industry.

10:02 a.m. - Blizzard is just letting the public into the convention center. They said the panel would start at 10 a.m., but don't open the doors until 10 a.m.... people will just magically transport into their seat, Heisenberg compensator FTW!

10:05 a.m. - They just announced that the panel will start in a few minutes.

10:10 a.m. - New announcement, panel will begin in 5 minutes. Nice that they wanted to give people time to get in here... and didn't think about that before hand. Hopefully they'll have better insight into the gaming industry than how to run an event.

10:14 a.m. - Here we go. Don't see Ghostcrawler. Apparently the program and schedule was wrong...

10:15 a.m. - At the panel: Steve Parker (Senior Producer, DIII), Alex Tsang (Tools Producer, WoW), Alex Mayberry (Senior Producer, WoW), Mark Choy (Level Designer, DIII), Gary Platner (Lead Environment Artist, WoW), John Cash (Technical Director, Unannounced Project), John Herndon (Senior Manager, Quality Assurance), Monte Krol (Lead Tools Programmer, WoW), Summer Ortiz (Manager, Community Relations and Internal Mobility), Kriste Stull (Lead Recruiter), Matt Versluys (Technical Director,

10:17 a.m. - Unannounced Project tech director is here, but he won't be talking about that.

10:18 a.m. - Herndon: Quality insurance is a great place to start your career if you're not 100% ready to go into the big leagues of game development.

10:19 a.m. - Krol: I do everything that you don't see, the tools behind WoW.

10:21 a.m. - Q: I'm in college right now, doing a lot of cinematic work. What skills do we need to get in? A: Lots of art skills, have a good portfolio - that's what matters. We look for everything [in the portfolio].

10:23 a.m. - There is a difference between big studios and small studios, we focus on really specialized skill sets when hiring.

10:24 a.m. - Q: As a recent graduate, it's hard to know what to do after school. What advice can you give to a recent computer science graduate looking to get in?

10:25 a.m. - A: Go into Quality Assurance, you'll see all the different disciplines in game design. At Blizzard we have a lot of programs to help our QA and Community folks improve their skill sets and be hired for better jobs within the company.

10:27 a.m. - Q: How can I get into the industry if I've been working on pen and paper games for the last 20 years? A: Expand your skill set into the electronic game design. Design levels for games, that'll be good.

10:28 a.m. - Q: Do any game design schools matter? A: I've seen really good animators that didn't go to a really good school, it's all about talent. "It all comes down to the individual rather than the school." "School is very important, but we're looking at what you can show us, what you can do. When we see someone who goes above and beyond, like working on a mod." Get involved in the community. Really figure out what you're passionate about.

10:31 a.m. - Q: I love all your audio. How do you get into the audio composition for your games? Not sound fx, but the actual composition. A: I've seen a lot of people just advertise themselves, and just do audio work for free just to get exposure [at smaller companies].

10:32 a.m. - Q: I just graduated as a film major. I'd love to direct cinematics, some one has to be there not clicking the mouse buttons [but directing], how do I get into that? A: Develop a skill, they didn't start at the top. As you pay your dues and prove yourself, you'll get up to that level. No one starts as a director. If you don't know how things work at the ground level, it's hard to tell them how to do quality work. You come to a game job with a portfolio, build that up and make it good. We need to understand what you're capable of, and your portfolio will show that.

10:34 a.m. - Q: What are your thoughts on LUA? How important is it to know it? A: Obvious we love it, because we use it so much in WoW. If you're not already working in a game job, making mods is a great way to show that you're committed to getting started in games, and shows that you can finish [projects].

We like LUA because it's so high performance. There's other languages we'd prefer to LUA, but they're just too darn slow.

Q: How much do you use LUA outside of WoW? A: We use it to run tests and all kinds of things, and is very easy to integrate into C++. We actually use it in DIII too.

Q: Once you do get into an internship, what should I expect from that? Getting coffee? A: Interns are very good at waxing cars. [laughs]. We use our interns as associates, we use them for things that they want to do but don't have time to do. [it's not just coffee]. You're doing actual stuff, you won't be getting coffee or anything like that.

All our internship information will be out in October for the 2010 internships.

Q: I'm a junior in high school, how can I get into the internship program? What schools do I go to? I've been doing a lot of maya and lightwave work. A: Once you get into a university or college setting you'll be able to get into the internship program. You can apply from any university or college you're attending.

Additional answer: It doesn't matter what school you went to, we look at the portfolio's first and then the schools.

10: 40 a.m. Q: The operations side of the house doesn't seem to be covered very much, how seperated is the business side? A: We try to avoid creative accounting. [laughter]. We have a lot of openings for finances, accounting, HR people, etc... we tend not to intermix though, business people don't really intermix with creative people in creative ways, we need to keep those two parts of the company different. One is business, one is game development.

10:48 a.m. - Technical failures. Can't hear a thing.

10:50 a.m. - On the resume with the objectives and what not, skip the flowery stuff. Just but the job down.

10:51 a.m. - What ever piece of paper you get from a degree program isn't going to make up for a lack of talent.

10:51 a.m. - People who have come out of the game design schools have a lot of breadth, but not a lot of depth that they need as well.

10:52 a.m. - System designers are really the most competitive and hard jobs to get into. You need to can prove and put on the table and show to us that you can do it. We don't know if you're really good as you say you are [until you show us your stuff]. There's no specific place we get our designers from. Our designers are just students of gaming, they break the game apart, figure out everything that happens behind the scenes. The reality is play games, play games, play games, and then get involved in something that lets you put that experience to work.

10:53 a.m. - They're saying get into QA again. "QA is a great place to start." Sounds like that want to QA testers...

10:54 a.m. - Q: How can you get into the story aspect of the games, in the writing department? A: We have some creative dev guys on our team. It starts with a love for writing, and also starts with quest designs. NWN with Bioware is a great modding tool that lets you tell a story.

Adam's comment: Blizzard pimping Bioware stuff. I love it!

10:58 a.m. - If you're not a US citizen, having any degrees makes it much easier for us to get you over here.

10:59 a.m. - Q: What kind of advice would you have for an independent game developer? A: We think it's very cool, the biggest thing we look for is someone who can finish something. If you're starting a game, start small and get it to the end. Finish it, bring a finished game to us and show us what you made.

11:00 a.m. - Q: What programs do you want your artists to be knowledge in? A: Traditional media will always transfer, as far as programs what ever you're comfortable with. Just mimic and do the work we're currently doing. Stay with our style.

11:04 a.m. - Q: In hiring programmers, how much weight do you give to people making modding tools? A: I give that a lot of consideration, you're making games. That shows something, it's part of your portfolio. We hired one of the guys who made the xBox. There's strong consideration to those kind of skills. Programming skills translate across a lot jobs. You want to be the person who can work with designers, artists, programmers, etc...

11:08 a.m. - We have a very low turnover, once people get to Blizzard they really don't leave.

11:09 a.m. - Q: Describe an ideal portfolio, a diverse skillset or a specific? Both, but we really need to see the main focus be the job that's available.

No one is going to know you've applied seven times for Blizzard, so if another position opens up, apply for it.

11:11 a.m. - Panel over. Thanks for reading!

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