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FreeStyle Career Tips

The FreeStyleGames team give their thoughts on how to break into the industry

The London Games Career Fair takes place on October 23 - 24 and in the build up to the event, is looking at what industry professionals have to say to anybody interested in a career in games.

Here a number of staff at FreeStyleGames give their tips and points of view on what qualities they look for in graduates, and the kinds of subjects or interests job candidates should be involved in.

In part one we hear some overall suggestions, as well as more detailed tips from the technical director and the producer.

Apply Yourself: Basic points

At FreeStyleGames we look for talent, passion and personality. We have a pretty open mind and look for candidates that love games, music, sport or have another relevant hobby or interest. We work hard on creating a positive atmosphere - our staff enjoy coming to the studio.

A good application will come with a well written CV, which will include:

Contact details

Academic history - with grades

Work experience

Other achievements and interests

Interview Inroads: If you get past the doorâ¦

This is a great opportunity to show the company your understanding of their business, the role itself and how you will bring value to the cause. Check out what the studio has done previously - read interviews; play their games.

Put yourself in the interviewer's position and ask yourself what that person would be looking for to add value to the project, the team and the company as a whole.

Try to pre-empt interview questions by identifying and answering as many as you can before the big day.

Remember to stay calm, you've already made great progress in getting to this stage - all you have to do now is prove you're the one for the job, and refuse to leave until they hire you!

Tips: Phil Hindle - Tech Director, FreeStyleGames

- Many universities don't teach C++ in Computer Science courses. If your university doesn't teach this, start learning it now - it's the de facto standard in the games industry and applicants who don't have a decent level of C++ experience are unlikely to progress.

- Spring clean your CV and summarise your technical abilities and experience, paying particular attention to:

Programming language experience and amount of time

List of your technical experience - including APIs, engines and software you have used, plug-in experience, scripting, and languages.

Particular areas of expertise or interest - for example, are you a graphics guru, or networking ninja?

- Applicants should always supply a high quality demo or two. Games are better than purely tech demos - if you have neat tech, show it off in a game! A 3D game is ideal, and show off your coding skills with contemporary technology - such as physics, shaders, BSP trees, visual effects, and so on. The art quality doesn't matter - I won't be assessing your artistic abilities.

- Test your demo on several PCs and ensure it's easy to install and run - I won't have time to download drivers and troubleshoot any problems.

- Always include the source code for your game demos. I will probably only have time to do a quick assessment of your code quality and pick a few interesting modules at random. This is a critical element of your application - ensure your C++ code is well written and documented, and follows good coding practices.

- I will be looking to see if you will fit in with the team, where your interests and ambitions lie, and your ability to think on your feet. How well do you work in a team environment? Be ready for the technical questions. What's your approach to problem solving? How familiar are you with C++ and so on? What are your favourite games and why do you want to work in the games industry as opposed to doing a 'proper job'? These are some of the questions you might be faced with, so make sure you do your homework and feel completely confident when it comes to the crunch.

Tips: Patrik McCormack - Producer, FreeStyleGames

- The producer acts as the communication conduit between the development team, publisher and any other partners, for example outsourcers. Once the development schedule has been agreed and broken down into four-to-six weekly milestones, it's my job to make sure it all happens on time and on budget. Any changes required - and it's inevitable there will be some - need to be communicated and then actioned.

- As a producer I'm continually looking for smart technology/techniques to increase efficiency - saving time and money. I'll hire outsourcers for various aspects of the game, for example motion capture shoots, audio and animation. I'll then manage the relationship to ensure what's needed is delivered.

- I do a lot of talking! Liaising with the team, the publisher and any other party involved in the game. Producers need strong communication and people skills - be organised and attentive to detail and have bucket loads of common sense!

Clarity is vital - a clear, concise, yet informative CV is crucial as this demonstrates clear, concise thinking and communication - vital in a producer. Unstructured and wordy CVs are likely to be disregarded. Avoid listing out your personal skills and attributes without providing real examples. Research the role of a producer and try to identify parallels between the duties a producer would carry out against what you have experienced in the past. You may be surprised at the many similarities between a producer's role and your everyday life; producing is largely down to common sense after all.

There will be more from the FreeStyleGames team next week, including tips for budding designers, animators and artists.

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