We Want Your Job is a new regular feature that involves us talking to people in all areas of the games industry about their job and why it's so awesome! For you guys out there that want to get into the games industry, or even those that are just curious about the people that make the games we love, this is a unique insight behind the scenes of gaming.
First up is Ed Orman, from 2K Marin down in Canberra, who are currently working on the new XCOM. Take it away Ed!
Hi! Can you tell us who you are and what you do? Hello! My name is Ed Orman, and I'm Lead Designer on XCOM. I work in the Canberra office of the 2K Marin studio.
Can you run us through a regular day in the life of Ed Orman? I've been asked this one before, and the fact is, every day is pretty much different. It really depends on what stage of a project I'm in (and what day of the week it is). I can tell you that it always involves a surprising number of meetings.
Typically, we have catch-up and planning days during the week, where I gather all the designers together and we go through each individual’s “to-do” lists. We find out who is doing what, see if anyone is stuck on something or needs help and most importantly we get a picture of where we are in terms of timelines for the project. Usually, we follow that up with some other necessary discussion with other project leads and production team members.
We work in tandem with the Novato studio, and our Tuesday morning is their Monday afternoon - so Tuesday to Friday mornings I'll usually be in meetings with the Lead Field Ops Designer, or other leads from that studio.
We have a weekly Director's review of the game as well and this is where we sit down and do a focused review of the implemented game, or the game as a whole, in order to get some high-level feedback together for the team.
Every second week, we also try to run regular "design-a-thons", which is a team-wide meeting where the designer's present some feature of the game, field questions, even (gasp!) take feedback.
If I'm lucky, my afternoons are where I get to spend some alone-time with the game on my own dev kit. This is a precious time, a time when I can just tune everything else out, play the game and see where the fun is.
How did you get into this role? What do us plebs need to do to become the next Ed Orman? I started as an illustrator, and then I landed the Lead Designer position on my second title which was just crazy luck, in my opinion. What then followed was a hell of a lot of hard work, and the good fortune of landing at Irrational Games (thanks, Jon!). More hard work, more good luck, and we're now 2K Marin working on XCOM.
My story is hardly typical and probably not much help to someone looking to break in to game development. So here's something that might be more useful to remember...
Whether you're working with a team or by yourself, you need the discipline to take something from concept through to completion, the brains to think through your ideas, the guts to defend them, the humility to throw them out when they're not working, and the good sense to know when you should stop thinking about it and just play the game.
What do you like most about your job? Easy answer: the team of people I work with.
Some of the team members here, I've been working with for over 10 years, then there are others whom I’ve only been working with for a few months. They're all smart and dedicated professionals with a sense of fun and a desire to produce great games.
If you could change anything about the games industry, what would you change? I'd like to see some sustainable growth of the local industry in Australia. There are great game developers here who are already doing great work. What I'd like to see are more opportunities for new people; people who are really passionate about making games and would like to take it up as a full-time career.