We Want Your Job

We Want Your Job is a regular section where we take the time to chat to those in the games industry about their work, and the best routes available to get into said industry.

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.


Comments

    Insightful interview - well done :)

    I really like High Moon Studios so this was a very good read for me, and the fact that he worked on the very underrated Transformers: War for Cybertron is even better.

      War for cybertron *swoons*

      Man that game was great! :D

      I can't wait for the next

    Kudos to whoever conceptualised the style of the Autobots in War for Cybertron. Perfect blend of G1 and the movie transformers! Loved it!!

      Better yet, there were more G1 than movies!

      My god Mr.Bay has a lot to answer for!!

      The edgy designs in WfC just seemed absolutely perfect though! The only one i didn't like that much was megatron, everyone else was amazing!

        Personally, I thought art direction was one of the weakest parts of WFC. The robot designs (especially Starscream and the other seekers) were, for the most part, bland and unimaginative.

        The metal-on-metal, grey-on-grey textures created a confusing mess for anybody who wasn't either a Transformers fan or a very observant gamer, which is why some more negative previews cited difficulty in tell what are pickups and what is merely part of the level geometry.

          Yes, but it's a planet of robots made by robots for robots. Things aren't going to stand out or be particularly aesthetically pleasing.
          I think it all fits in perfectly fine considering the setting and characters.

            I think that's a weak excuse, to say that you can't make out things in this game because of the setting and theme. Previous Transformers media did this perfectly well by presenting more of a contrast between the characters and the background.

            What High Moon opted to do was make everything look too "busy", which is ironically what more casual Transformers fans complained about the most regarding the live-action movie Transformers.

    Good read, but being an article about australian game industry, isn't high moon studios located in san diego county california?
    Maybe I'm wrong and they contracted locally, meh interesting read none the less.

    It's War For Cybertron 2 for sure. Too bad Matt Tieger ain't directing.

Join the discussion!