This week we have a quick chat with Sean Miller, Game Director over at High Moon Studios, who were last responsible for Transformers: War for Cybertron.
Hi! Can you tell us who you are and what you do? My name is Sean Miller, Game Director for the next title from High Moon Studios. Unfortunately the project is shrouded in secrecy right now, so I can’t discuss it – YET. But I’m very excited to be working on it.
Can you run us through a regular day in the office? I like to get in early to get a start on the day, get together with my Senior Producer Brian Johnson to review the team’s latest work on the game. The mornings are dedicated to short meetings and planning with level and feature teams, each comprised of experts from across all disciplines. These meetings are simply for the teams to check in with each other’s progress and raise any issues that come up. This helps everyone to understand not only what their team is working on but how their own work fits into the bigger picture. It also creates a sort of “brain-trust” of experience so that the members have direct access to others that can help provide solutions.
Once the morning meetings are finished I spend the majority of my day providing feedback on all aspects of the game. I’m very hands on with the details, as I’m trying to see the game as a complete experience for the player. Every minute needs to resonate: What does the player see? Hear? Feel? How does the world react to a player’s actions? With our development timeline, it’s a real challenge to get in as deep as we want to. But that’s always the case, isn’t it?
How did you get into this role? What do us plebs need to do to get your job? I’ve been working in games for 13 years now but feel I’ve been preparing for this role for most of my adult life. After studying acting, art and animation I worked my way up through roles in animation, modeling and art direction. All along the way I’ve kept a close relationship with designers, programmers and producers. That has been a hallmark of my experience- learning to communicate and work together with a diverse team of people. As one of the founding members of High Moon Studio that spirit of collaboration was one of the core principals we incorporated into the culture and has allowed me to build up a diverse skill-set with each of the roles I have had.
Early in my career at Oddworld Inhabitants I honed my skills as an artist and animator. Here at High Moon Studios, as a Lead Artist, I was able to learn to drive the vision for levels beyond characters and animation. I saw firsthand how they were experienced in game and worked with design to flesh out not only what they were doing but how and why. Later as Animation Director I expanded my role to working with character modeling and animation for multiple projects. Now I get to bring all those experiences together to direct an entire game.
Everyone’s career path is going to be unique, but there is something I have learned from my experience with Matt Tieger, Game Director on Transformers: War for Cybertron. To be a Game Director I believe you have to be able to understand the importance of the broad range of skills needed to bring a game to life and be bold enough to entrust your vision to the people with those skills. It isn’t enough to have an idea, you have to be able to communicate it and be able to give others the chance to build upon it.
What do you like most about your role? As Game Director I get to touch every aspect of the game’s development. I really enjoy collaborating with such amazing creative people to bring worlds to life. We work together to build something greater than any one of us could achieve on our own.
If you could change anything about the games industry, what would you change? The industry is always changing; that is one of the things I find exciting about it. One of the new trends that I am really intrigued by is digital delivery. As more and more consumers are getting "Plugged-In," online delivery of content becomes more and more viable. I think we are still a ways off from that being a broad solution, but it is something that I am definitely looking forward to.