This time A Conversation with… tracked down Scott Morin who is teaching Level Design here at VFS, Scott was from our 9th graduating class.
- Tell me about what you are doing now in the Games Industry
After a few years of jumping studio to studio from the west coast of Canada to the east, I find myself back where it started – at Vancouver Film School. This time around I’m on the other side of the fence, teaching level design. I teach all of the four level design courses here at VFS; theory, practical, application and specialization. I also get to mentor and guide the students along the development of their final projects.
- How has this changed since you graduated?
Obviously it’s very different from development – the student has become the master! But it’s really been a wild ride along the way. The first year after graduation was rough, it was just when the majority of big Vancouver studios were closing shop in 2008 – so we were competing against people with years of professional experience. It’s definitely a lot better now than it was back then. Thankfully I managed to find work after persevering for so long as a Quest Designer at Propaganda, then a Track Designer at EA, onto being a Design Scripter at Radical and then most recently a Level Designer at Ubisoft.
- Can you describe a typical day in your office?
It varies from day to day, usually falls into one of three categories; teaching, grading or experimenting with new Unreal Engine functionality. Praise the grid!
- What’s the most fun thing you get to do? What’s the most stressful/challenging?
Honestly the more fun thing is seeing students come in with zero experience in level design and by the end of the program they’ve created these sprawling engaging experiences. People with zero experience in level design being able to churn out well designed maps in just months is really inspiring – I’m always astounded by the quality of the maps that the students crank out these days. Without a doubt the most stressful thing was getting started as a teaching. At first there’s this awkward nervousness that I’d bring in every time I’d step in front of a class, telling them what’s what. But over time it became really natural and second nature to me.
- What games are you playing right now, and what elements have impressed you?
I don’t think I’ll ever stop playing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. There’s an amazing 70 person team objective server I always hang out on that has a great community. Plus there’s nothing like getting into a 10v1 scrap with some Steam Sale noobs and being the last man standing without a scratch. It’s also the Steam Summer Sale so I’ll have about 20 new games to play over the next couple weeks, whenever I find the time.
- What are some trends you see in upcoming games?
The resurgence of mid-core/AA games and studios. Better tools and more available knowledge means smaller teams creating experiences that are on par with the big dogs. We’re going to see a lot more independent games because of open publishing platforms like Steam and Good Old Games, and more funding options like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. There has never been a better time to be a game developer.
- What do you feel was the most valuable skill that you learned in the Game Design program at VFS?
How to work creatively and be productive in a team environment. Working on the 2D game and final project with only a few other people under a tight dead line was invigorating and addicting. It was definitely the first time I got hooked on game development.
- If you could give a current student in Game Design some advice, what would it be?
Pay attention in my classes! But seriously, don’t ever give up. If it’s really your dream then stick with it until it’s a reality.
Thanks Scott, now get back to work!