Next up in our new series A Conversation with…, we check in with Corey Gaspur, a graduate of our 5th Game Design class…
• Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
I am the Lead Gameplay Designer at BioWare Edmonton. I am currently working with core members of the Mass Effect team on a brand new BioWare I.P.
• How has this changed since you graduated?
My career has taken off since I left VFS. When I graduated out of VFS I landed a contract position at Propaganda (Disney Studios) doing development support. I was lucky enough to get this opportunity from a contact I made during my time in the GD program at VFS. I cannot stress how important is to students to treat everyone you meet in the industry well and to never burn bridges. The game industry is very small and your reputation will often proceed you.
After a 1 year contract at Propaganda, I received an opportunity to interview at BioWare again through a contact from VFS and was hired as an Assistant level designer on Sonic Chronicles for the Nintendo DS. From there I moved onto Mass Effect 2 as a gameplay designer and helped out on Dragon Age Origins. I then became Lead Combat Designer for Mass Effect 3 leading up to what I am doing today.
• Can you describe a typical day in your office?
Typically my day consists of meetings and in engine work on gameplay and combat. The gameplay team I lead’s philosophy is heavily centered on getting features into the game rapidly and trying it out at a prototype level. We keep documentation very lean. 9 times out of 10 the idea you have in your head is better than how it turns out in game. We try to stay away from paper designing and members of our team are very technical and hands on in engine.
The other facet of my job is management and maintaining/presenting vision around gameplay and combat. On our project we work very hard at reaching a very tight vision around features in the game and it is up to the leads to champion that direction and get the team excited about it.
• What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
It’s a dream job for me, I love what I do. I love making games! The “funnest” part of my job is going to conventions like E3 and Comic Con and interacting with fans who are so passionate about the games we make. It’s a huge honor to me. I try to keep stress to a minimum. If you approach your work with passion, energy and excitement you will not only raise yourself up, but raise your co-workers spirits around you. People will love to work with you because positivity is contagious! I mean at the end of the day I get to work on video games for living, what beats that?
• What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
I recently finished Dark Souls 2. That game blows me away! The design decisions are so tight and centered around the core player experience. It reminds me of Resident Evil 4 (one of my fav games) in the sense that you can clearly see the tight direction and vision that Shinji Mikami put on his team. The same can be said for Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki.
On a side note however playing games like Dark Souls 2, it does alarm me how big AAA video games are trending into 500+ person teams because I think you lose that tight cohesive direction and vision that makes games like Dark Souls so special. I personally prefer smaller tighter development teams.
• What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
For me the most valuable skills I learnt from VFS was presentation skills, confidence and most importantly connections within the video game industry. I very quickly learned at VFS that breaking into the game industry is tough, and I encourage students to work their “asses” off. You will not make it far in this industry by not giving 110% to everything you do. For example the Neverwinter Nights level I worked on while I was at VFS became the module I used for my BioWare application, if I had not busted my butt on that level I would not have had such a strong application to put forward. Never stop learning and improving.
Thanks Corey, and we look forward to seeing your next project at BioWare!
Dave Warfield is the Head of Game Design at VFS