I heard from 3 unrelated sources today that Blizzard is on a mad hiring spree. I’ve never worked there but from what I’ve heard

A. They pay hourly, 9 hours a day max, with 1 hour of that overtime
B. They pay up to 40% of your yearly pay as a bonus (not sure if this is true, or how true it is, or who it is true for)
C. The work is easy (at least on WoW) because you are tweaking a game that’s already done.

They are only a couple of miles from where I live too. The problem is I don’t see anything on their job board I am well qualified for. I have too much experience for their network programmer position. Tools I could do, but I don’t know C# (though I could learn quickly enough). Also, I’m sort of ambivalent about working on tools, since that is most of what I’ve done in my career.

Looking over their listings makes me think of what kind of job I would like to do. In my opinion here’s how things rank:

Most to least enjoyable

Graphics – You get all the attention from the big wigs
API – You get to design systems
AI – See above
Gameplay – Fun to do a good job and make a good game, but can be high pressure
Audio – Easy to do, low pressure
Physics – Moderately hard, low credit and visibility
Networking – Very hard, doing a good job means people don’t complain.
Maintaining systems – Who likes guessing at bugs caused by other people?

Best pay to worst pay:

Graphics – Highly specialized, high demand
Networking – Highly specialized, critical in games that do MP
AI – Everyone thinks they can do it, but if you have experience you can get a higher price
Physics – Many middleware libraries drives down price
Tools – Slightly specialized
Gameplay – Not specialized
Maintaining systems – Grunt work

Difficulty

Networking – Takes less knowledge than graphics, but much more thought and bugs are harder to fix. Everything is asynchronous.
Graphics – Requires lots of up-to-date knowledge, great math
API – Doing a good job is hard, which is why so many do it badly
Maintaining systems – It’s all about experience at reading other’s code, which is hard
Gameplay – Average
AI – It’s not hard, it’s just a matter of designing what you want before you write it
Physics – Lots of APIs out there, just integration
Audio – Lots of APIs out there, just integration

Probably I would like to do graphics, but my skill isn’t great enough to get a job doing that on its own at the pay I usually get. It would be good to do this in a training capacity again. After that gameplay or AI. There’s too little demand for API authoring, and usually lead programmers take that upon themselves. Speaking of which, I’ve gotten 3 interview offers for lead programmer over the last few months. Galactic Melee really helps on this point. Maybe one of these days soon I’ll be moving up on the industry.

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2 Responses to “”

  1. Alan Lawrance says:

    Typically good game companies hire based on intelligence and attitude, not on specialized skills.

    You shouldn’t worry about not having experience in a particular skill set. If Blizzard recognizes you are a talented programmer (and they believe you would fit into their culture), you can count on getting hired.

    You may not get to do the specific role you want right away, but if you prove yourself and show the desire to work in a particular area (e.g., graphics) you will eventually get a shot at that.

  2. Nelson says:

    Cripes, the one shoe fits all game programmer types does not exist. In fact this is the bane of the industry – hiring nice but incompetent folks so they can learn on the job and produce low-quality work in the process.

    Gameplay programmers should like games – whereas it takes a certain mindset to be a Tools programmer…. (doesn’t have to like or play games). Graphics programmers should understand math and all the rendering algorithms (from rasterizing triangles to Final Gathering).

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