Level Up: I Got My Job, Now What?

Level Up with Victor Kam — Banner

So you’ve just graduated VFS and landed your first job in the industry.  All those late nights and hard work has finally paid off and you’re set to enjoy your first pay check doing the job you love.  Time to cruise along and work 9-5 right?

The answer to this is yes and no.  Yes, because you’ve earned it and deserve a bit of a break after an intense year of school.  But after you have settled in your job, I would say no to cruise control.  Just because you’ve finished school and earning a paycheck now, your education should not stop there.

The games industry is a very creative field and we as designers are creative.  We have to keep creating to keep our minds at ease; to have that outlet after work hours.  Not to mention the fact that technology keeps changing constantly.  New tools and techniques are continuously being developed to enable us to build our imaginary worlds quicker and more efficiently.

Unfortunately when you are in the midst of crunch in a studio environment, there may be long periods of time where you are stuck using the same tools over and over, only to find at the end of the project a whole suite of new dev tools have come out which you’ve never heard of.  You could dismiss them and keep with your old ways, or you can spend some time after work hours to do research and potentially learn the new software.

Sure this takes time and effort after work hours, but we work in an industry where studios are hiring people with skills in cutting edge technology.  This will keep you competitive in the job market when the time comes to renew that contract.

I always recommend graduates keep working on levels at home even after they have gotten their jobs.  This is a great way to keep your portfolio updated, as well as giving yourself a way to be creative building something that is personal to you.  We’ve all been there, after a day of work the last thing you want to do is sit back on the computer.  The process will take much longer when you are working full-time, but bit by bit, even an hour or two a week over the course of several months will yield something that is portfolio worthy.  Hopefully during this time you can learn some new tech along the way to help you build with the most current tools and workflows.

So don’t know how to use Zbrush? Never heard of nDo2 or dDo?  Have you used xNormal?  When was the last time you touched that level editor?  It might be time to get out of the comfort zone of 9-5 and be proactive, pick up some new skills and create your next masterpiece!

Victor Kam is a Level Design Instructor at VFS Game Design