Archive for January, 2011

Riot Games is an amazing company!

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Hello everyone! So in a previous post I said I would talk more about getting hired by Riot Games.

It all started way back with the League of Legends beta release. I got in and played the hell out of the game. I was obsessed, just like I used to be with DotA. So when I went to volunteer at GDC last year, I decided to run a League of Legends tournament for all of the CAs. I contacted Jeff Jew at Riot Games to see if any of the Riot guys would be willing to visit and if they had any schwag I could use as prizes.

Well, not only did Jeff Jew show up, but ELEVEN OTHER RIOT GUYS CAME! Holy crap! It was like a dream come true for so many people. We had laptops set up everywhere and there were at least 40 people playing LoL at any given time. We had a huge 5v5 Riot VS CAs match. All in all the event was a blast, and as thanks for preparing it they invited me to their recruitment party.

While there, I met many Riot employees and they discovered that I did Flash programming. I had no idea that Flash coders could even get a job in anything but the casual/kids section of the game industry, but apparently almost all of the triple-AAA studios use a 3rd party solution called ScaleformGFX for their user interface solution. The way Scaleform works is that you can code the entire UI in Flash using the IDE as well as Actionscript code, and then the Scaleform player runs during your game simulating the way a Flash player behaves in a browser. The unfortunate part is that Scaleform currently only supports Actionscript 2.0, which is a horrible language for most developers. But, to make a long story a little shorter, that is the reason I now work for Riot Games. They needed a Flash developer to take over the UI coding, and I was at the right place at the right time and proved my passion for the game by spending my spare time running a huge tournament to show my support.

This just goes to show that networking is the absolute 100% most vital aspect to getting a job in the game industry. I had met Jeff Jew and played in-game with him once, and he remembered me because while I was in school another Riot employee, Steve Snow, used to come speak at our school and I mentioned that fact. As a result, when I decided to run the tournament, I was able to use my previous networking and send Jeff an email and that resulted in the entire chain of events that eventually led to my employment.

And I have to say, this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. Riot Games is the most incredible company I’ve ever worked for. If you add up how happy and fulfilled I was at every job I’ve ever had in the past, it would be a fraction of how happy and fulfilled I am at Riot after just 6 months on the job. Despite tackling immensely difficult problems the likes of which I’ve never seen before, I don’t feel like I’ve “worked” a single day here. I look forward to going in and seeing my awesome and amazingly talented co-workers, and I face satisfying challenges every day! I am the kind of person whereby, in a job, if I don’t get copious amounts of extremely difficult to solve problems and challenges on a daily basis, I get bored very easily. Keep the hard work piling in on me and I’m happy as a kid in a playground. The best part is that the design department is extremely open about including non-design department employees as participants in their discussions. I love game design, but I was hired as a programmer, so that’s my first responsibility. But everyone is encouraged to submit champion ideas (of which I’ve submitted 4 already), provide feedback on any aspect of the game including balance, and play in the play tests that we run every single day to do a massive crowd-sourced QA and design/balance sweep of the game. Since we’re running the game as a service that updates every 2 weeks, the latter is the most important part of the puzzle.

Anyway, this post is turning into a novel. To conclude, I will say to anyone who is interested in working at Riot Games, we have quite possibly the best company the game industry has ever seen. We only hire strong, talented, alpha personality people who check their egos at the door, and I’ve never worked with a more cohesive and impressive group of individuals. The company is very demanding of time and effort, but they are also very generous and recognize those efforts on a regular basis. The leadership is also extremely transparent – you know exactly where you stand at all times, and I have yet to experience any sort of politics. Everyone in the company is treated as an equal, from the QA interns to the programmers to the CEO & President.

I love Riot Games! :)

GDC 2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

YES! I just got my acceptance letter to attend GDC 2011 as a Conference Associate! For those of you who don’t know, Conference Associates (or CAs for short) are the volunteers that help run GDC. It’s a fantastic program that I’ve talked about before on my blog here and here. Needless to say, I am very excited about volunteering again this year! I miss all the CAs a lot. We’re kind of like a big family, and I love seeing them all every year!

I strongly encourage any of you out there who are trying to get your foot in the door of the game industry to apply for a volunteer position next year. It’s too late for GDC 2011, but applications open up around November of the year previous to each conference. They make their final selections in early January, which gives you a good chance to get a great deal on a plane ticket. The application form is always on the Volunteer Page on the main GDC website. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

This is going to be an especially fun year for me in particular as well, since I’m turning 30 at the GDC! I have the feeling I’m going to be partying quite late that night, most likely with a bunch of CAs and my new co-workers at Riot! I think this year I’ll try to take some pictures and post them with my GDC 2011 Final Thoughts post. If you’re going to be attending, see you there!

Steam Christmas Game Sale

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

So League of Legends has obsessed my life since I got hired by Riot Games back in May 2010. I’ve been pretty remiss in my game playing lately, pretty much exclusively playing LoL and not really exploring any other games or even paying that much attention to what games have been coming out. In my defense, League of Legends is a really addictive game and I’m also on a high right now from having started to work at Riot. But what better way to bring in the new year than with a ton of new games to play? So, I made it my new year’s resolution to play a bunch of other games in addition to League of Legends.

Starting December 20th and ending tomorrow, January 2nd, Steam has had a crapload of games on sale. Pretty much their entire collection is slashed anywhere from 25-90% off. This was a little bit of a wake up call to me as I saw a whole bunch of games I’ve been meaning to play at some point but put off due to League of Legends. I strongly recommend to all of you to peruse what’s available as they have something for everyone. The Indie packs were particularly cool – you can get 5 indie games for $5. Not a bad deal! Here’s the list of games I purchased:

That’s 23 (EDIT: Now 25) games that I bought, everything from triple-A studio titles to indie horror games to casual puzzle games you can beat in 2 hours. How much did I pay? Grand total just under $84 (EDIT: Now $99). Yes that’s right, $84, or for you math majors, less than $4 per game on average. Holy bargain bin, Batman!!!

Anyway, go hit it up while you can. The sale ends tomorrow!!!

I’ll be posting reviews of these games as I finish them. Until then… Happy new year!!!

EDIT: I bought Team Fortress 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 Platinum as well, bringing the total to just under $100. Still an amazing deal, as I have some huge titles on there as well as a ton of indie/casual/smaller titles.