Monday, March 31, 2008

Career Crossroads

Hey everyone

I apoligize for the late update, its been pretty hectic but things should be dying down now. The game is progressing at a awesome rate so I'd like to share the current build.

We're currently in beta and this is what we presented last week to the class. Theres 2 installers a complete installer with all needed pre-reqs (DX9, XNA2.0, .NET2.0) and a light installer with just the game

Complete Installer

Light Installer

And the game website can be found here

We've added new weapons and another layer of polish, its just fun to play!

So on to the interesting stuff, well the job related stuff.

After the Amaze presentation we were giving design tests, it was like some 3D action beatem up game where we had to design a level and justify why we did what we did. It was interesting.

The Bungie programming tests consisted of 5 questions, none of which were too hard once you started working on them. I've simplified the questions but here they are in a general sense
1) Reverse a string
2) Create a copy of a linked list that also has random pointers in to the list
3) Given 2 points and 2 "links" of particular length find a solution that connects both points
4) Create a Boggle solver
5) Create a physics simulation for a 3D rocket game.

I was also contacted by BigHugeGames and asked to take their programmers test. We had 4 hours to complete it from the moment they mailed it out. They gave us a frame work for a 2D zombie eating brains game. Its really really simple / basic using AscII graphics (read text based). We had to add a "zombie killer" actor in to the game world that would seek out zombies and kill them. I managed to do well enough on this test to warrent a phone interview later.

I also had an interview with Aristen. They're a startup that is aiming to build tools / middleware for game companies. Its essentially 2 guys with years and years of experience (1 guy founded Monolith makers of F.E.A.R.) It was a neat 2 hour interview. Aristen would later on extend me a job offer. I'd decline this offer after my MS interview as detailed next

My MS interview (round 2) was with 2 different groups. Games Test Organization and Xbox Platform. It was like an 8 hour day but it seemed to move at a pretty good pace. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Strangely enough this was totally different then my last MS interview where I got drilled. This was more of a test of personality then pure problem solving (I did have to solve some problems). The "technical" questions I was asked are as follows
1) Find the number of "flipped" bits in a binary number
2) Find the angle between the Hour and Minute hands of a clock

I was also asked to test a mythical "VHS" Addon for the 360. The rest of the questions were personality related, like whats your strength and weakness, what would be your top 5 qualities for a candidate, have you had problems in teams and what you did about them blah blah.

So the Interview was on a Thursday and I was told I was wanted by both groups the next day and that I had to decide on which group I wanted on the following Tuesday and decide on the offer the Friday after >< I decided on the platform group. The job position sounded more interesting and less "Testing". They're working on the 360 Dashboard / OS / Live / Marketplace and features regarding that. Not game development, but important to the 360. Another interesting Tidbit, on the Monday before I had to decide which group I wanted to go with (I had already decide platform at this point) I get invited to lunch with a senior manager of the platform group. We have lunch and have a good discussion about games, the industry and the 360 and its future. After lunch I get invited backed up to his office where he gives a new 360, 3games, 120gig HDD. I kid you not, that was pretty crazy.

Now here's where things get tricky. After I got the offer from MS, I had an interview with ArenaNet. The ArenaNet interview was a 2 hour programming test followed by 2 hour normal interview discussion. After the interview I told them about the MS offer and I needed an answer the next day if they wanted to make an offer. Well a whole 30 minutes after I left I got a phone call of them telling me they wanted to make an offer and some brief details. So I tell MS and ask for a extension and they give me the weekend. My whole weekend is spent debating between the two jobs, asking for people's opinions and advice as well as getting more information from the two companies. It was a really tough situation to be in but at the same time a really really good situation to be in. This decision is likely to effect the rest of my life and career, pretty big decision to make eh? I really agonized over it all weekend, I don't think Nicole wanted to hear any more from me ><

In the end I decided on ArenaNet. Why you ask?
Well I originally came to DigiPen to learn how to make games and get in to the industry. ArenaNet is a well known game company with top industry members (Former Blizzard). While the MS position sounded really good they aren't working on games exactly. Both have equal growth opportunities (even though in different directions) and offer very different experiences (Mega corp vs ~150 people office). There wasn't a clear answer in this decision so I had to fall back on to my roots and look at the bigger picture of why I'm down here.

So there you have it.
Now that the job hunts over, perhaps I can catch up in the rest of my homework and projects :)
And I returned the Xbox and whatever to MS, I couldn't accept it after declining there offer.

- Mike Out
PS: Go Flames Go! Playoffs are around the corner!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Post GDC and CareerDay!

Sorry for the lack of Updates.
I've been super super busy every since GDC ended.

GDC was pretty good. Got really good reception at the Career Pavilion as I handed out Resumes and what not. The sessions and lectures at GDC were pretty okay, but I didn't have too much time to see them cause of the volunteering.

What was really cool thou was that one of the CA's (Conference Associate, AKA Volunteer) brought his Japanese Wii and Brawl. And so hosted a large tournament for all the CAs. I ended up Winning :D
Videos and stuff - I'm Lee
Finals Video

So after GDC I was busy with followups, school, game and most importantly, my Nephew! Jack, Elaine and Desmond came to visit again for a few days it was a bunch of fun. We also celebrated my Sister's 29th Birthday by going out to Crabpot. They literally dump the food on the table :)

So after they let I've spent the last week preparing for CareerDay at Digipen. CareerDay is when companies are invited to come to Digipen to see student displays and setups. We had to setup a Trifold and put on information about us and our game. So we had some Screenshots, our BIOs and stuff like that. We also had resumes and business cards on hand. The Trifold was a bit of a pain. We got a $50 budget from the school for printing. So we printed nice colored screen shots and logos etc... But Kinkos was being a pain, well rather hte people their werent that nice. I had to make several trips to get proofs, redo some pictures etc... Biggest annoyance is that they only want PDF files, else they charge $2.50 per file to convert... blah

Anyway CareerDay was nuts. Started at 11am and ended at 6pm. It was non-stop talking with people. Got more business cards and people took in our resumes. I had a short 20 minute 1v1 (well 2v1) interview with ArenaNet. Also my team is scheduled to present to Amaze Entertainment on Tuesday at their offices.

Last Thursday I also received another notification about interviewing with MS again and on Friday I received a programmers test from Bungie. So much stuff happening!

Oh and Smash Bros Brawl was officially released and I wish I had time to play it ><

- Mike Out
PS: Sooo Busy (and Stressed)