Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Experience and how to get it (?)

If you have been looking at job vacancies for game design or many other game development positions, you would have noticed that almost all positions available require a few years of professional experience. This is understandable, but also extremely annoying for people like me, who are looking for jobs in this industry.


In the "Essential" list for probably 90% of the game design positions, they are asking for 2/3 years of experience in a game design role, very often you are required to have shipped a AAA title and many, many more high quality requirements. Now, I understand that these are the "ideal" candidates and you can apply with less, or even without experience, but you are very unlikely to even get a chance.

Of course companies want experienced people, to minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person. This, however, reduces the amount of "new blood" entering the business and probably reduces the amount of new ideas and ways of doing things. I'm not saying that people already in the industry aren't creative or innovative enough, but I can guess that, as a newcomer to an area of work that you've dreamt of joining, you would be more ambitious, with fresh ideas and energy to work day and night. Some, or many of the ideas might not be as good, but that's why game development is done as a team, right?

I think it would be extremely beneficial for the game companies to accept more Junior Game Designers (all game design positions, such as writing, level design and game design). I am aware that, since I'm looking for a job at the moment, I might seem a bit biased. I assure you though, I'm only slightly biased. It would be a good thing to let new people (not just young) join the business as well, as their minds haven't "got stuck" with the conventional way of thinking.

Blueberry Garden - an example of a great game by a (at the time) new game developer.

What may be worst of all, though, is that I've started questioning my education. I have a Bachelor Degree in Game Design (BD of Art, with a Major in Media Studies) from one of Sweden's top Game Development Universities, the University of Skövde. I can't even create my own games since we didn't have enough programming courses during the education. I know, I could've learnt more programming on my own, but at the time I thought that my degree in game design would be enough to at least get me a starting position in the wide world of games.

Maybe I should have studied programming first and then tried to get into game design instead? It's too late to change that now, but never too late to learn, which is why I'm also trying to learn programming at the moment.

...End of rant

How to get experience?

I have been a part of the group developing Bloodline Champions which has been released as free to play. This was done during my education years in university and because of that it seems that recruiters do not count it as a relevant experience.

For quite a while I was certain that I just needed to apply for jobs and sooner or later I would get my chance, because I know I can make great games...But, I'm not so sure about "getting my chance" anymore. That's why I'm currently looking in to the possibility to make my own games, with help of my friend from Uni. Since I'm no programmer (although I'm trying to learn) or graphics artist, I will be outsourcing the tasks I cannot do myself, while I will be in charge of design and project management.

I have quite high hopes for this little project I will be running and I believe this might be just what I need, to get experience, to make a small salary in the future and to prove what i am capable of as a game designer.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Old Republic and possibilities

First of all, I'm sorry for taking this long to write a new post. I've been away last weekend to help my brother move in to his new apartment in Stockholm and celebrating my birthday. Also, I've been busy playing loads of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I will talk more about later. Now, on to the...

... Possibilities

As you might know, I'm currently unemployed and looking for work. It's quite hard to find something good and something that you want to work with, that also can support you and your immediate family. All is not bad though. Since a while back I've been thinking about the possibility of starting up my own gaming company, and with the help and advice of a friend from Uni, I might just have a shot at that!

I don't want to say too much at the moment, but for now I can tell you that he will help me the basics of running own projects and starting a company, while I try to help and manage a project for him. If this goes well, you might find my games in iTunes or the Android Market soon. Cross your fingers for me!

Maybe you'll find my games here soon!

Star Wars: The Old Republic

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was playing the game Portal 2, mainly with a friend of mine. Now it happens that (most) games don't last forever and this was no exception. After the inevitable end of Portal 2, my mate and I were looking for a new game to dig in to, and Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR from now on) was a prime candidate since we have another friend very much involved in it. For those of you who don't know SWTOR, it's a MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe, and if you need more information than that, you should probably have a look here.

So, now the three of us has made characters (one each for soloing and one for group play) and are ready to group up. I play a Trooper tank, and the others play a Jedi healer and a Smuggler dps... we just have one problem: we can't seem to be able to play at the same time, which is really sad 'cause I've really been looking forward to try it out all three of us, but I guess it will have to wait a bit.

Regarding the game itself, its a very nice mix of single player story and experience, while set in a world with thousands of other players. Masterfully done, as you'd expect from Bioware.

If anyone else is playing SWTOR on the same server, The Progenitor, feel free to add my solo character, Dannael, a Jedi Shadow. Hope to see you around ;)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Programming and job hunting


Since I was made redundant from my previous work I have been toying with the idea to properly learn how to program. Soon after the redundancy I started looking around for possible programming languages and trying them out. The one I spent most time with was something called Monkey, which was recommended to me by a friend of mine from Uni. Monkey is quite new and therefore the documentation for it is relatively sparse, but what makes it shine, however, is the fact that the code can easily compile to be used on several different platforms. Due to the lack of documentation, and frustration from my own side, I eventually gave up on Monkey and programming for a time. Until recently.

At the moment I'm learning C# and XNA through a university course which started in the middle of January. It's a basic course which mainly will introduce C#, XNA and programming to us students, so I wont learn how to make super complex games in this course. Thanks to my earlier studies I have a basic grasp of programming, which helps me quite a lot through this course. Currently, I'm having a few doubts though. I'm hoping that the course will teach me new things, which I don't know since previously, and not only repeat what I (kind of) already know. Either way, repetition is always useful, and it is, after all, a new programming language for me.

I still consider myself a beginner in terms of programming, I know pretty much of how variables and the "logic" works, but parameters, abstract classes and many more things are quite dodgy to me. However, it feels extremely rewarding when I finally manage to solve some issue I've had for a while, or when I get my horribly ugly "aquarium" game to almost do what I want it to do. Let's hope I can make some proper games you can try later on ;)

You wouldn't have a job for me, would you?
Will work for money!

Looking for work is tough, finding a good job is even worse. At the moment I've most likely sent out hundreds of applications, mainly for game design and community management, over the last couple of months, but unfortunately I'm still looking. Recently I got turned down for a very nice opportunity as a Social Media Specialist on Malta, after 5 interviews. That really hurt, 'cause I was feeling very good about my chances and the job seemed very interesting as well... but what can you do? Keep on fighting, I guess.

Lately I've also started applying for CS positions and similar all over the world in hopes for something to show up. It's not my first pick, but it would be something to do until something more interesting shows up.

In case someone has an interesting offer or tip for my hunt, I would be very grateful if you would share... please?

Friday, 27 January 2012


As you might be able to conclude from the title of this blog post, I will mainly talk about the game Portal, what it is, what's good about it and what's not as great.

Recently I've picked up the game Portal 2, mainly to play Co-op with a friend of mine. Portal 2 is an awesome game, but in case some of you don't really know about Portal, I will give a brief explanation:

In Portal (1 & 2) you take control of a nameless test subject in the Aperture Science headquarters. You follow instructions given by a robotic voice you only get to know as Glados. Early in the game you get your hands on a portal gun with which you can make portals, at most you can have two portals at any given time. Step through one portal and you will come out of the other, with the same relative force, speed and direction. With these portals, and your own creativity, you make your way through testing arenas with anything from acid lakes, automated drones, laser beams and more. Why don't you take a look at the trailer?

Official trailer for Portal 

Portal 2 works in pretty much the same way as the original, with minor improvements and enhancements. Since the first game was so awesome (in my opinion), of course I would get the second one. There is so much joy to be had in this game. The insults, humor, sarcasm and teasing you get from Glados is brilliant. She will call you many things and they always put a smile on your face. The continued comments on your characters supposed weight might seem like something you wouldn't smile about, but since they are being made by a robotic voice who clearly tries to evoke a response, it just makes it funny instead.

The puzzles are the core of the game however and there is not shortage of brilliance here either, although a few does annoy you quite a bit though. The harder the puzzle is to solve, the more rewarding it is, except in those few instances when the puzzles do annoy you. The main reason why these puzzles are annoying is because its hard to find that very small spot where you can actually place your portal. Sometimes you can spend several minutes just standing and looking around for what to do, where to go and where to place your f*cking portal. Fortunately, though, there are many more puzzles that require you to think than to search, and when you finally solve a hard puzzle by creating and infinite loop with two portals and then replacing one of them to catapult yourself over an, otherwise impassable, lake of acid is very gratifying.

It took me way to long to get it Portal 2, though, and the reason why I finally decided to buy it was because of the co-op mode. I'm a big sucker for co-op, and Portal 2 certainly did not let me down.Taking on the role of the two "fighting marshmallows", as Glados named us, me and my friend solves puzzles harder than anything we could've imagined (thanks to having 2 portals each). It gives the game a whole new dimensions. Everything great about the single player campaign is doubly as great when you play with a friend. The humor is still there, with Glados promoting "team play" by telling us how much better or worse one of us is. And since there is always the risk (read "chance") of killing each other, trust is very hard to come by... amusingly so!

"It's called teamwork...and sometimes it's painful."

Portal 2 doesn't really innovate and do something completely new when it comes to the single player campaign. It does, however, improve on most of the aspects of the original. With some new elements comes new obstacles and new ways of solving puzzles. Some puzzles should probably have been left out though, where the main problem comes from finding where to place your portal.

The game is, overall, truly awesome, but it is in co-op where it really shines. With more portals (2 per player) the puzzles become more advanced and more interesting. Also, the more the merrier!

What do you think about Portal and Portal 2? If you've played it, please leave a comment with what you think about the game. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Commence Blogging! (Under construction)

So, I guess it's time for me to start this little thing called blogging. Now, why should I blog, what should I blog about and does the world really need another blog/blogger? The answer to the first two questions goes something like this:

At the moment I'm unemployed, so I've got plenty of time to do this. Also, I'm very interested in computer games (both playing and developing) and social media which is what I will end up blogging about. Of course I will also blog about whats happening in my life and things I find interesting, funny or otherwise worthy of your attention. Question one and two answered, but what about the third question? Do the world really need another blog/-ger? Short answer: NO!


There are tons of blogs and bloggers out there, many who might (probably) be better at it than I am. That is, however, beside the point. To be completely honest, I'm not blogging to make the world a better place. I'm blogging for my own sake, so if you got any problems with that... well, I don't really know what you should do in that case. It's completely up to you.

I should probably tell you a little more about myself, for those poor bastards of you who previously haven't got the chance to bask in my glory:

My name is Fredrik Öman (Oman, or sometimes Ohman) and my biggest hobby, by far, is games, be it digital or not. I am also very keen on playing sports and pride myself in being quite good in most of them. During my secondary school ("gymnasie" in Swedish) I attended a program with special focus on physical education and leadership and after that I took a Bachelors Degree of Arts in Game Design at Högskolan i Skövde (University of Skövde).

After I got my degree I got the opportunity to flee the country when my good friend Joakim refered me to a company he just got employment with. As luck had it, this little company put their faith in me and, on a cold day in January I went from 20 degrees below 0, in Sweden, to +20 in sunny Spain and Gibraltar.

Me and a monkey friend in Gibraltar, 2010

In Gibraltar I stayed for almost two years before moving back to Sweden, and here I am with plenty of time on my hands and looking for work. By the way, you wouldn't happen to know of a decent job for me, would you?