Success is Overrated

I’m probably not the expert on this subject since I’m not the CEO of Globalcorpbiz Inc, but I have a gut reaction to this Game Set Watch article on moving your career forward.

Once you are in [the industry] you should ship as many titles as possible.

This is one area where MMO developers get screwed. It takes at least three and possibly as long as six years to build an MMO. In that same amount of time a console game developer could ship 2-4 titles.

You can improve your title count by picking what projects you work on carefully. All other factors being equal, you should prefer the project that is closer to shipping.

If you have an opportunity to work on a mega hit (like GTA, Rock Band, Bioshock, Halo, Half-Life, etc.) you should take it. Getting one of these on your resume is worth at least 5 other titles.

Here are my thoughts.

If I am in the business of hiring developers, a wall of credits will look impressive on a resume. But that sets expectations higher. If once you land an interview, you can’t talk about each title and what your role was in a way that meets those expectations, then you are going to look sub-par.

All else being equal, I would (and have) chosen titles that are further from shipping. Why? Because the longer you spend on the project, the more you can impact it. Who has the better experience? A programmer who worked for three months on the Halo team or one that worked through the whole Iron Man game? You mean to tell me that someone who worked on four shovelware DS titles in a year has a more impressive resume than someone working on Warhammer for the same year? You mean to tell me name-dropping Bungie is worth five times the value of someone who had meaningful experience on a game that wasn’t successful?

I’ve learned the most and grown the most when I was on titles that weren’t successful. That isn’t to say that you should go out there and try to find doomed projects, but I don’t want someone leading my army who hasn’t seen war.

And if a company is hiring just on name recognition, what kind of team are you going to get hired into? Are they all going to be people who hitched themselves to the right wagons or people that actually have the requisite skills? I’m a big believer in that you hope everyone else in the room is smarter than you. What better environment is there to learn and grow? But you want to be hired in a place that values excellence, not pedigree.

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