Thief 3. The
producer is responsible for the project's management on the administrative
side. Schedule, managing documentation, and making sure everyone is able
to work are my high-level responsibilities.
University of Texas at Austin
Degree: BA in French language & Literature
Were there any particular projects or areas of study that you pursued?
Did you do any
Tell us about
your first job in the industry. How did you get the job? What was it like?
What were your responsibilities?
My first job was as a playtester on Thief: The Dark Project at Looking
Glass Studios. I had a friend working there who forwarded me the info,
and I just sent my resume to the lead tester at the time and I think bragged
about being able to fly. For the first week it was a dream job - I had
just quit a job in the financial district of Boston and I was thrilled
to be avoiding rush hour and not having to answer the phone politely.
The first thing I did was to play through the first mission of the game
(Bafford) and write up comments about it. It took me about four days because
the game was kind of broken and I kind of sucked at playing it. Eventually,
after I was spoiled and no longer a good source of first impressions,
I was responsible for testing 2 levels for bugs & gameplay problems.
I really enjoyed tracking down crash bugs and watching/helping the game
go from messy crap to shipping quality. I didn't mind the 13-hour days
on that project because there was a fun atmosphere of camaraderie among
What jobs have
you held in the games industry thus far? Briefly describe the career path
you took to get where you are today.
After Thief, I was the lead tester on System Shock 2. Then QA Supervisor
for Thief Gold, and somewhere in there I got "promoted" to Associate
Producer for Thief 2, though I think I was simultaneously the QA Supervisor.
I can't really remember anymore. I was the Associate Producer for Thief
3 (such as it was) and the technology group for a few weeks before Looking
of study, specific courses, or life experiences would you recommend to
students interested in your field?
It certainly pays to have college experience, but I don't think field
of study is particularly important. I would encourage people to learn
how to construct a sentence using standard grammar and correct spelling
before attempting to get any job anywhere. I get all of the company's
HR mail, and I can't tell you how many people I've written off because
they have egregious errors in their cover letters. Take art or architecture
history classes, too. I find my classes in religions & mythology to
be useful all the time, but that's probably specific to the kind of game
I'm working on.
Before entering the games industry, I had several menial peon-type jobs
that probably prepared me better than you'd expect. I don't believe that
egos should interfere in a professional setting, so having the experience
of being subordinate to everyone was edifying in that respect.
Is there anything
you wish someone had told you before you got into the games industry?
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I guess I'm surprised that such a "modern" industry has such
Victorian labor practices. People are required to work non-standard long
hours, and most accept it because they love the work so much. In turn,
management has come to rely upon employees' dedication to such an extent
that it will be hard in the future for game development to break that
dependency. So when you interview for a job, ask about crunch and see
if the company's view of it is consistent with your own.
Doing things differently:
I certainly would've got more sleep if I could've re-taken my last couple
of projects. Sleep and time away from the office can't be underestimated.
Regardless of how much you love video games, it's crucial to have other
As games increase
in complexity, what are the various kinds of jobs that you foresee development
companies needing in the next five years?
Content developers have become more and more differentiated over time,
and I hope we're going to see management become a field that is less reviled
and that people train for. I've heard too many stories about incompetent
management to believe that that trend can continue. Egomania and its effect
on project management will drive this industry into the ground if we don't
stop it. It follows that a better career path needs to be developed for
people who are super good in their respective fields (art, design, programming)
but aren't cut out to be leaders.
Do you have
any other advice or recommendations to share with students who are interested
in doing what you do?
Buy a copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style. Talk to other producer-type
people and make sure you really want to be a producer, and not to use
it to get into another field or just to have authority.