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Hey there! I want to share our experience in hiring game designers.
The basic principles are suitable for most professions, but since I am responsible for hiring game designers we will focus on them.
The first step in hiring a new employee - strong need in a new team member and a crystal clear picture of who exactly is necessary to be hired.
Since we are a small company we can not afford to hire weak players and try to train and coach them. One weak link in a company of 200 employees can catch up with the others to the company’s level, but one weak link in a 10-15 members team will sink alongside the whole crew. So let's find the chosen one we need so much.
Game designers are basically divided into 2 types: Game designers - storytellers and game designers-mathematics.
The first ones see their role in developing a “feeling”, writing a plot, quests, items descriptions and game universe backstory.
Second ones are all about balance design, economics, gameplay formulas and calculations.
In all conscience, most designers unite those skills but usually they focused on the one side more than on the other.
Usually, I hunt people with math\programming background and surely add this condition to our vacancy, which helps immediately cut off a half of unsuitable candidates and save some time.
Based on our needs I design a vacancy and place it on the popular HR resources (in Russia it is , and )
I place 3 blocks into my vacancy:
- Requirements for candidates
- Future job responsibilities
- Work conditions
Also, I necessarily indicate that candidates will be asked to do the test assignment.
Okay, vacancy is designed and placed on HR resources, good job - my mailbox started to fill with designers CV. Usually, it is about 30-50 CV per vacancy and now my primary goal is to process them.
First of all, I isolate too juniors without any experience.
Say goodbye to these candidates. I try to be polite and answer to all interested candidates who wrote me because you never know where you will meet this person next time and friendly attitude is an important strategic move.
Okay, next step. To the rest of candidates, I send a letter about our interest in their CV and our test assignment.
I am sure, that test assignment is a necessary step in game designer hiring and let’s take a closer look at it.
Our test assignment contains 7 tasks and designed for about 8 hours of work. Of course, I do not expect that the candidate will spend the whole work-day on the test assignment and just ask potential employees to set the deadline for yourself. That's an important moment, which will indicate the candidate’s ability to give right estimates and reveal time management skills. 5-7 days is an optimal and usual time for delivering the result.
First of all, I warn the candidate that the test assignment is synthetical, can not and would not be used to get any profit for our company - that eliminate the doubts that we just want to do our ongoing job by candidate’s hands for free.
So, what’s inside the test assignment? Come closer, let's see.
Choose one of the most successful (in your opinion) free-to-play RPG (client-based, browser or social) and shortly describe it’s core loop, main mechanics (PvE, PvP, Loot, Craft etc.) and monetisation scheme.
This task reveals candidate’s knowledge in the actual free-to-play games market, understanding of terms “mechanic” and “loop”, ability to search information and skill in compilation thoughts into the meaningful document.
Pick any free-to-play game and suggest three major improvements of gameplay, monetisation or GUI.
The result reveals candidate’s area of expertise, highlights their ability to think analytically, see problems in products and suggest possible solutions. We pay extra attention to the reason for the decision provided by the candidate. Good if potential employee verifies their decisions by examples from other games or products, where those problems are solved fine in his opinion.
Write specification of the crafting system in Minecraft. Describe the system including resources, items and their craft chains. Format: Specification for the developer who will implement that mechanic into the game. No need to describe all recipe book, just basic categories and logic.
This task indicates candidate’s competence in creating and supporting game functional specifications and ability to catch details. If candidate describes functional in lyric descriptive style, referred to “well-known” principles (“as usual”, “like in most RPG’s” etc.) or arguing that he did not play Minecraft - it is a bad sign. It means that there will be problems with research, processing and compiling information. If you did not play any game or played it the long time ago - you can always go to forums, find game encyclopedias etc. where you can find any information about the game.
Rare item drops from the treasure chest with a 27% chance. The Player has 3 treasure chests. What is the chance to find 0-1-2-3 rare items in these chests? Describe your reasoning and calculations.
Since I’m looking for game designers with a mathematical background - math tasks are the mandatory part of the test assignment.
This task allows me in a primitive example evaluate candidate's knowledge of the probability theory, which is necessary for game balance calculations.
In math tasks it is very important to look into the calculation process, because in the future I have to delegate the responsibility for the balance and formulas of the game to this person and I do not want a trash in the logic.