Monday, September 19, 2011

All Geared Up for Jim Brown

Those who enjoy the stellar graphics and gripping action on xBox 360 game Gears of War got lucky when Gears of War game designer Jim Brown dropped by NYP on the 26 August to give a talk.

Over 150 Diploma in Digital Entertainment Technology and Diploma in Digital Media Design students turned up for the talk. It was an enlightening experience hearing Jim. This was especially so for students who are aiming to work in the gaming industry when they graduate.

Jim made time to explain how he got into the gaming industry. He majored in biology in university, and his first job was charting bird migration patterns on the computer.  This led him to creating and tweaking gaming models during his spare time. Game companies eventually started to take notice of his huge portfolio of games and made him job offers.

Eventually he started working for a small gaming firm, which culminated in his current position as lead level designer at Epic Games. He described the many types of designers in the gaming industry - art, detail, intuitive, systematic and level. He also related that it is normal to be working more than 10 hours each day. He also advised young designers to “always put the player first” and “never forget who you are making the game for.”

Students were treated to life sized Gears of War characters in the auditorium as well as free game sets, for every question that Jim chooses to answer in the Q & A session. Many Gears of War fans from other courses also showed up to ask questions.

“It’s quite interesting and I learnt some new things about what it’s like being a designer,” said Kenneth Ng, Year 1, Diploma in Infosecurity. “What I asked Jim was something I wanted to ask for a long time, and I’m glad he could answer it personally.”

Kenneth, who is a Gears of Wars fan, asked if cinematics is an important part of the game because many players skip them, and Jim had expressed that he personally likes cinematics, but considering the minor role it plays, designers have to try to reduce the work on cinematics.

Students in related courses also asked questions like whether experience or education is more important when it comes to getting a foot into the gaming industry. According to Jim, generally in the US, a degree is needed. Otherwise the industry would typically require
 8 to 10 years of industry experience for non-degree holders.
All eyes on Jim

And for fans who are dying to know what happens in Gears of War 3, well the only thing Jim will reveal is that the character Richard Prescott reappears in Gears of War 3 with a message from Marcus Fenix’s supposedly dead father.

The rest is all still hush hush, until tomorrow at least.

Jim was in Singapore to give a special media preview of Gears of War 3. The game is set to be released in most countries worldwide on September 20.

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