Ask a Game Dev 2023-06-30 19:02:10

If I’m hiring for a specific role (i.e. a permanent position), then I usually look for depth. If I’m looking for interns, I prefer breadth. Depending on what sort of job you’re looking for, you should tailor your resume accordingly. However, I get the feeling the depth vs breadth you mention and the depth and breadth I mean are different. When I say depth, I mean “pick a specialty” - systems design, combat design, level design, UX design, technical design, etc. Depth to me is understanding the core concepts and nuance of a specific form of design, not experience with engines or tools or whatever. 


Tools and engine knowledge/familiarity are mostly icing on the cake; developers have to learn how to use new engines and tools all the time. Being able to pick up new tools and adapt a new workflow is a very useful skill in the industry because we often need to do just that. Being familiar with tools or an engine may tip things in your favor over a competing candidate, but it will rarely elevate you from rejection to callback status under normal circumstances (at least not for entry level).


Depth to me is the understanding of concepts in the field. For example, if you want to do systems design, I expect you to think about things in terms of growth, formulas, and how the different parts interact with each other. I expect you to consider elements like relative power levels from early game to end game, identify synergistic and dissonant factors to the system, and take important factors like player intuition and engagement into account while creating these systems. You won’t just say “It will take 100 exp to level up each level” unless you’ve thought about what it means for a player to earn that experience, how it is doled out, how much time is spent earning the experience, what a level actually means, and so on. This is depth of knowledge to me. 

Similarly, breadth is your knowledge of different areas of game design. Can you create interesting and engaging spaces with a level editor? Can you create an interesting combat encounter and explain what makes it interesting? Can you construct an engaging narrative with interesting characters in under 100 words? Can you craft a conversation tree that flows comfortably and allows the player to express herself with sufficient agency? The more of these sorts of answers you can say “yes” to, the more breadth I think you have.


The reason I look for breadth in interns is primarily because we usually hire a number of interns at once that are then doled out to different teams. Having a lot of different interests makes it easier to match a team with a promising candidate to work with. Interns don’t have much experience or skill to begin with anyway, so our expectations aren’t very high for them. We know the interns won’t be with us for a significant amount of time or be able to commit super deeply to the development process, so it’s less important to us that they are good at any one thing and more that we have somebody who is interested and willing to learn.


This differs from a full-time or contract hire because the expectations are different. If I hire you for a full-time position, I need to know that you’re the best candidate I have to do the job I need done. We rarely hire first and then find things for the new hire to do. We have a set of tasks that we need done, and we look for somebody we believe can succeed at doing those tasks. If you want a job in the industry, you need to convince me that you can succeed at doing the tasks I need done, and that you can do them better than the other candidates I’m considering. 

The FANTa Project is currently on hiatus while I am crunching at work too busy.

[What is the FANTa project?] [Git the FANTa Project]

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