This time A Conversation with… tracked down Mbuso Radebe at Smoking Gun Interactive, Mbuso was also from our 8th graduating class.
• Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
I’m an Associate Producer at Smoking Gun Interactive.
• How has this changed since you graduated?
I started off as an Assistant Producer at Relic Entertainment working on PC and console titles, I then worked at startups Grantoo (now branded as Fuel) and Earthlandia where I worked on mobile titles. Now I’m at Smoking Gun, where I work on a combination of PC and mobile titles.
• Can you describe a typical day in your office?
I typically start with a daily team meeting where everyone on the team lets me know what they worked on the day before, and what they plan on working on that day. I’ll email a recap with the team’s action items. I then update our task tracker and follow up on any issues (e.g. blockers, concerns around any tasks etc.) discussed in the meeting. I’ll then probably sit in on any meetings discussing new features or our progress updates to our publisher. I’ll communicate any updates from these meetings to the rest of the team. I will also review our Jobs folder to look at potential candidates we may be interested in interviewing for new job posts. Depending on the day, I may also meet with QA to discuss progress or Community Management to discuss strategy.
• What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
The most fun – Helping plan new features and updates for our existing titles or brainstorming entirely new concepts and strategies for potential new games.
The most stressful/challenging – Ensuring the builds we deliver every week to our publisher include all the expected features, are stable and include all the necessary instructions and files necessary for external testing.
• What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
I’m currently playing Hearthstone and Monument Valley.
I’m really hooked on Hearthstone, which is surprising since I’ve never been a CCG fan. The tutorial and battle mechanics are really intuitive and elegantly executed. I also think the battle lengths have been well balanced.
I think Monument Valley is just a great example of minimalist and efficient design. A lot of mobile games tend to get quite busy visually, so it’s been refreshing to play something that shows more restraint and uses the small screen real estate so well.
• What are some trends you see in upcoming games?
1. The rise of genres everyone thought were no longer being made like Broken Age, Star Citizen and Mighty No. 9 – Thanks Kickstarter!
2. Games that try to add more replayabilty in single player campaigns like the nemesis system in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.
3. Games including more robust modding/creation tools.
4. And of course VR.
• What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
The importance of prioritization and clear communication. Prioritization allows you to quickly boil down the essence of your game and clear communication ensures everyone involved is on the same page.
• If you could give a current student in Game Design some advice, what would it be?
The game industry changes constantly, so keep an open mind in terms of your expectations. Also use the precious time your have with your mentors wisely, and try to learn as much as you can while you can.
Thanks Mbuso, and best of luck with Smoking Gun!