This time A Conversation with… tracked down Harry Scott in Toronto, working at Ubisoft, Harry was from our 28th graduating class.
· Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
At the time of writing this we’ve just finished up testing an E3 build for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which is being worked on at Ubisoft Quebec. Ubisoft Toronto testers have been remote testing it to help out during the process. I’ve actually just been hired on as a Level Designer, so a couple more months of testing and I’ll be moving into an unannounced project, very excited.
· How has this changed since you graduated?
I did not find a position in the industry right away, as with more and more graduates it takes a little while upon graduation to get something. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but for the most part you’re looking at some time between graduation and finding some work, and that’s not a bad thing – I remember the course, and I was pretty drained by the end of that year and really enjoyed the time to look around for work and take it easy for a bit – but not too easy, looking for work is practically a full time job in and of itself.
· Can you describe a typical day in your office?
Well, I generally get in a couple minutes early – grab a build for the day and get all set up. While that process goes through I tend to grab a coffee with some co-workers and chat – usually about Game of Thrones or something else geeky like our love of games/movies, most recently Mad Max. (What did you expect?)
The position is Dev Tester, we don’t generally test like someone in QC does – we have to generate builds ourselves and test fixes before they’ve been implemented, we work closely with designers and test based on their requests. Sometimes it’s a specific mechanic, sometimes it’s an entire feature. We’re responsible for filing issues we find and we’re responsible for sending reports out to the studio so they can keep track of the work being done, and the stability of the builds.
· What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
UbiBash! This is something very similar to our First Fridays, which happens on the last Friday of every month. The work day ends at about 4 and we all gather for a studio-wide update (my NDA prevents me from discussing more). Then it’s drinking time. We all celebrate the month at Ubisoft, drink, and have fun playing games, hanging out, and catching up with some of the people you might not see every day.
Well, I’d say the most stressful isn’t necessarily the most challenging thing. Sending reports can definitely be stressful, these reports are read by leads and producers across many studios and it can be a little daunting when you’re making the final touches on the report, quadruple checking it to make sure there isn’t any kind of spelling mistake or a link that doesn’t work properly.
The most challenging thing would be also one of the more exciting things about working in a AAA studio, we keep in contact with different studios across the world and sometimes there can be language barriers to overcome when you’re trying to get information needed, It can be challenging trying to get in contact with the person you need to especially if they aren’t fluent in your language.
· What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
Witcher 3, Hearthstone, and GTA5 are the most recent titles I’ve been playing. These titles all have something in common, and that’s player choice. I’m given freedom to play these games how I see fit and I think that’s what I find most attractive about them. Not to say there isn’t something to be said for games with linear gameplay, but now that I’m in the industry and I tend to have a game in my hands most of the time, in my leisure time, I like that I can do something cool in these types of games in a short time span
· What are some trends you see in upcoming games?
VR seems to be a hot topic these days. I think as hardware gets stronger there is going to be fewer and fewer games that do not offer some kind of virtual reality aspect to the game. It’s untested waters for the most part which is really exciting. Things can only improve from here; I had the opportunity to play around with an Oculus with Elite Dangerous, it’s an unfamiliar experience but it’s truly awesome and I can’t wait to see where this kind of technology goes down the road.
· What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
Iterate, iterate, iterate. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, be it small or large.
· If you could give a current student in Game Design some advice, what would it be?
This course is only a year, put everything you have into it, after that year you can take a break – party, have fun, what have you. But if you truly give it 150% of what you’ve got then you’re going to reap the benefits when you’re done. No question about it. The instructors are important connections to have and they see when someone puts their all into something – they notice, and they can help those who want to be helped. That’s not to suggest you can’t enjoy your year, but it’s important to be able to separate work and play in my opinion, and being that those reading this are passionate about the industry (why else would you go to VFS ) it’s important not to squander the opportunity you could have while you’re there.
Thanks Harry, and best of luck with Assasin’s Creed Syndicate and whatever your next project is