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How to do an interview with a video game developer

We tend to play games without acknowledging who creates them. Developing a game is tremendous work that requires lots of resources, people, and time. And although we play full-fledged, smooth, and interesting games, the actual process of creating games is way more fascinating and complicated.

Talking with a game developer is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn how the industry works from the inside out. Also, it is stunning to know the nuts and bolts of game developers’ life, their daily routine, what they do apart from work, etc. But can you ask anything your heart desires? Absolutely no!

Many questions exist that developers naturally don’t like answering. For instance, asking a direct question about video game addiction may stop the interview straight away. So how to do an interview, you might ask. This article reveals the best approach toward interviewing a game developer.

Ask about when it all started

No matter how proficient a game developer is, they used to be children who attend school, play with friends, and perform some extracurricular activities. And every developer had a moment that simply had determined that they wanted to coin games. Ask about such a turning point. When did it happen? How old were they? Did they realize it would lead them to where they are now?

If they were young, how did their parents react? These questions will cast some light on the beginnings and motivations. Many top-notch developers started off as academic writers. They used to work in writing services and design first-class papers on programming. They have helped numerous students review model works and gain lots of valuable knowledge on programming languages.

Ask about the project they are most proud of

Don’t know how to make a developer talk? Ask them about the project they are most proud of! Indubitably, it will be hard to understand everything they will tell you. But since it is an interview, ask them to use simple terms so that those who don’t know anything about the programming world can understand them. Focus on specific questions. Why is the project so valuable to them? How can they justify their opinion? What was their role as developers, and did they undertake other functions because of work complexity? Asking this question at the beginning will stimulate the interview and make it more open, honest, and priceless in the long run.

Ask about completed roles

It depends on a person’s experience in the field, but asking about completed roles will give you a clear picture of how involved the person is in programming. Ask what their position was when they entered the industry. Many programmers were junior developers at small corporations, or working freelance, or even serving unpaid internships. Each and every individual works hard, and their career takes off at some point. Your job is to learn when and create a logical chain of complete roles over their active programming period.

Ask about the simplest and most challenging jobs

We might think that if the game looks exciting–the entire picture is impressive, and the animations are superb–it was very hard to create. But that’s not always true. Simple, at first glance, games can require much more energy and skills to develop a code, glue it together, and make sure everything works cohesively. Ask a person what games were the simplest and most challenging in their programming career. Since a few people ask such questions, their responses will be pretty insightful.

Delve into some private questions (but don’t exaggerate)

Game developers also live outside gaming studios. They have families, pets, children, and friends. Ask them to describe their daily routine. What do they always do? What do they like doing? What don’t they enjoy doing? How do they spend their free time? You can practically ask any question, but don’t go too far because you might not get an answer.

Ask to be self-critical

Everyone has made mistakes. And no matter how competent a game developer is, they had a time when they failed or weren’t happy with a task they worked on. Ask them to be critical and evaluate completed projects. What led to such mistakes? How soon did they realize it was their mistake? Of course, the point of such questions is not to humiliate them and question their competence. It is to talk about what they learned and how others can avoid this mistake in the future.

Ask for any dreams/goals/regrets

Ask about their dreams. They don’t necessarily need to correlate with programming. Embarking on a scooter trip can be an interesting dream coming from a game developer. Listen to their goals and ask when they want to accomplish them. Finally, ask about regrets. Whatever they say–be it knowing about homework hacks, studying harder, or spending more time with family–will be a precious lesson for every person fond of games.

Ask about their cancelled video games

Of course, you should always try finding details about possible canned games they worked on! Ask about their memories of the project, its gameplay, how it started and why it was never released. Do they still have any image or video from the game? Maybe even a playable prototype? Just ask them! It’s always worth trying :) 

What is the proper way of researching the history of video games?

Everyone enjoys playing games. They help us relax, recharge our batteries, and have fun with our friends. Why are games so popular, though? Creating a game is a time-consuming and highly complex process involving numerous people working on different tasks. That is, a writing team works on scripts, conversations, and other interactions. A designing team focuses on making levels and other events pertinent to the plot. Programmers work on making sure the game works flawlessly. And many more. The incorporation of all this creates diverse games we can play on various platforms.

However, writing about games is something completely different. Besides writing about gameplays, plot twists, and strengths with weaknesses, including the game’s history is an absolute must. And, to be honest, finding it can be a total pain in the neck. This tricky element has already made lots of students think about where to buy essay cheap to lift this writing assignment off their shoulders. What is the proper way of researching the history of video games?

Visit the National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian Museum is among the most prominent institutions that have vast information on video games. It provides educational, research, and other academic and non-academic materials on different topics, including games. The analysis of games started in 1966 by Ralph Baer, the then employee in Sanders Associates Inc. He and his colleagues Bill Harrison and Bill Rusch created several video game test units. And although such units all seem too far-fetched from the contemporary games, they still cast light on how games emerged and what it took for developers to coin different video games.

The National Museum of American History offers information on a dozen games and devices, including but not limited to:

  • TV Game Unit
  • The Brown Box Lightgun
  • The Pump Unit
  • The Brown Box Program Cards 1967-68
  • Magnavox Odyssey Video Game Unit 1972
  • Simon Electronic Game 1978
  • Maniac Electronic Game 1979

The collection of articles comprises comprehensive information with high-resolution images of devices that were predecessors to today’s widely known gadgets and consoles. 

Teebo & Kai [Xbox, PC – Cancelled Prototype]

Teebo & Kai was to be an online cooperative, Sci-Fi, 3D platformer developed by Escape Factory and commissioned by Valve. Escape Factory is not a studio many have heard of, and for good reason. The company never released any major games on consoles, just a few casual games like Overball and STX for the PC. Founded in 2000 by Ed Allard and James Gwertzman, the company only lasted 3 years before the company was shut down. Throughout their short existence, the company worked on only 2 major projects, Teebo & Kai and a cancelled entry in the Space Quest franchise.

Very little is known about Teebo and Kai, and the information available contradicts one another. A now delisted video by Tyler McVicker claims that the project was in development for the original Xbox and explains his story for how the project came about’:

Microsoft approached Valve Software around the year 2000 in order for Valve to create an exclusive title for the then upcoming Xbox. Quickly following the first couple of meetings and contract signings between Microsoft and Valve, Valve put together a team.”

This claim contradicts various sources such as James Gwertzman’s LinkedIn profile and the Escape Factory website (which was updated multiple times during the early 2000s), the latter of which provides a timeline of the entire company’s life and claims that the studio was in fact an independent developer doing contract work for Valve. Not only do the sources claim that they were independent, these sources claim that Teebo and Kai was in development for the PC and was actually a “cooperative platform game prototype” and not a full game.

Another illusive aspect of Teebo & Kai is the gameplay. It was to be an action platformer with online components running on the GoldSrc engine, but very little is known about the moment-to-moment gameplay beyond that. The project would have taken place on an alien planet, with many strange and unique locals that players can visit. Temples, towns, and strange rocky areas are a small fraction of what the supposed game could have had players visit.

Teebo & Kai also would have featured very unique enemy designs for the time. 3-eyed monsters with mouths on their stomach, giant frog creatures with cameras, and gummy bear-like aliens would have filled out the project’s lush planet. Another piece of concept art for the game features flying machines that seem to be enemies, which could be evident of other enemy types in the project.

Another major deviation between the Tyler McVicker video and other sources is the outcome of the project. The previously stated claim that the project was only a prototype and was worked on for a year is further supported by a Powerpoint presentation given by Gwertzman called What to do When it All Goes to Hell: Escape Factory Post-Mortem which gives a detailed timeline of Escape Factory.

While the timeline states that the project was only worked on for 8 months, and was the project only ended because the demo was completed, the Tyler McVicker video also went on to explain their version nature of the project’s cancelation:

About 2 years in Gabe Newell walked into the office at Valve headquarters that this team was working in, cancelled the project, fired the entire team, and decided that porting Team Fortress to the Xbox was the better option.”

Despite these contradictions, all information on the project confirms that Escape factory then went on to use the tech and progress made on Teebo & Kai to work on a revival of Sierra’s Space Quest franchise. This project was also cancelled later on, after a series of developmental problems.

Article by Alex Cutler

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Some anticipated video games which may have been canceled (or not)

Probably, you know how it feels to wait for the release of your most hyped game, promising attractive plot and gameplay. Sometimes it happens that such a game was announced several years ago, but it is still yet to be released.

A long wait can prompt us to think that games like Hytale, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Dead Island 2, Wild (by Wild Sheep Studio), and Dragon Age 4 will remain at the development stage forever. Anything can be. But do not forget that many internal and external factors can affect the work of the development team.

Remember: release delay does not always equal cancellation. For example, the Last Guardian was released nine years later after it was announced on the PS3.

Here are some games that were announced many years ago and are still unreleased: could these be the next unseen games to be archived in our site?

Hytale

Hytale is an open-world sandbox game with RPG elements and the impact of randomness on game events. Work on the game was officially announced in December 2018, but in fact, work on it began even earlier.

Initially, Hypixel Studios did not announce the Hytale release date. The issue behind was a financial factor: in April 2020 Riot Games bought Hypixel Studios and announced at least an approximate Hytale release date: 2021. The question of when will Hytale be released was discussed by Insider.Games in more detail. But we can state that work on Hytale continues. The developers published a big update in December 2020.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

Beyond Good and Evil 2 is a prequel to the first game. The plot tells the story about the consequences of the program for people and animals crossing to study space.

Ubisoft Montpellier originally announced work on the game in May 2008, and that version was indeed canned. Unfortunately, commercial failure predicted the developers to wait until they could represent the game at a press conference in 2017.

In September 2020, the developer Michel Ancel left the team, which is why work on Beyond Good and Evil 2 is still ongoing. According to the financial statements of Ubisoft, the game should be released after April 2021.

Dead Island 2

Dead Island 2, like the first game, is not going to strain players with a complex plot. By genre, this is a role-playing action in which the player will have to survive in California, where infections have occurred, and zombies are threatening humanity again.

The development history of Dead Island 2 is sad and may no longer inspire confidence in many gamers. The game had changed three developers since 2012 when it was announced. 2019 is the last time a new developer (Dambuster Studios) was appointed. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the development process. We have only the vague promise “the game will not be canceled,” announced in December 2020 on Twitter by Deep Silver.

Will the game get a new developer? Will it be released in 2021? Will it be canceled? Only time will tell.

Wild

Wild from French developer Wild Sheep Studio promises to be an interesting open-world survival game. Events will unfold in the Neolithic period, and the player will be able to control the first people and animals thanks to shamanism.

Work on Wild was announced back in 2014. In 2017, journalists speculated that Wild Sheep Studio had never actually worked on the game, but in April 2020, the developers published new images.

Unfortunately, Michel Ancel’s resignation affected not only Beyond Good and Evil 2 but Wild as well. Though Ancel stated that the game is in good hands, the gaming community has never received a specific release date or updates on the work process.

Dragon Age 4

Fantasy game Dragon Age 4 continues the story of the mainland Thedas, whose habitual existence is now threatened by the Dread Wolf. The Dread Wolf is one of the first powerful elves to cause the fall of his race. He wants to fix everything, but there is no room for non-elves in the world he sees.

Unlike previous games, we can be sure that Dragon Age 4 will be released. Since 2018, when the developers announced work on the new game, the gaming community has received several videos covering the main plot, locations, and characters. However, due to the volume of work on the game and the resignation of some key developers, fans of the series and the genre will not be able to play Dragon Age 4 until 2022 or 2023. 

Developers’s Tips to Avoid Game Cancellation For Students

Over the years, we have seen several much-anticipated video games getting canceled, including, Conker Bad Fur Day 2, ZOE 3, Project Titan, Prey 2, Silent Hill: PT, and others.

Some of the reasons for game cancellation are realistic, such as budget limitations, changes in the company, or time constraints. Although cancellation can be frustrating for both gamers and game developers, these reasons are quite understandable.

However, sometimes game cancellations can occur for the crazier reasons possible. Imagine spending all your time making a video game; then it gets canceled because it can’t be played on a certain game console or a vengeful wife destroys all the work. Yes! It can happen.

Game development is no simple task; lots of hours and effort goes into it. So, it’s wise to know the things to avoid, so your game doesn’t get canceled. Here you’ll find tips on how to avoid video game cancellation from game developers.