Game Boy 013 – Rejection

“Game Boy” is a weekly column in which I write about being a game developer working in Montreal. You’ll find them all under this category, and it starts here.

About a month ago there was another game dev hashtag making the rounds, in this case, #ShareYourRejection (or rather, it wasn’t just tied to the games industry, but the examples I saw in my timeline were game dev-related).

I make no secret that it wasn’t an easy process for me to get a job in the games industry, once I decided I wanted to return to North America and work in games. I applied to countless companies — through their website — and would never hear anything back other than a confirmation of receipt, and then sometimes a notification that the position was filled, and that I would continue to be “considered” for future openings.

(There’s one company in particular — you can probably guess if you know my tastes in games — to which I applied for quite a few positions, with that type of response every time.)

Yes, at times it was feeling like nothing would happen, and that maybe my dream of working in games was a futile one. Despite that, I still left Tokyo without a job lined up, hoping that things would work out. My wife and I stayed at my parent’s home (in the province of New Brunswick) for just over a month while I continued to apply for positions — and at that point, I finally got some phone interviews happening.

How did I finally break through? I got so tired of applying through websites and nothing happening that I figured that I would need to try and get in touch with a recruiter directly, and that’s what I did. There was something that looked interesting at Eidos Montréal, and so I reached out to a friend who had ties to them, asking if he could get me the name of someone I could email directly. 

Following that first email, I got a reply that they’d be interested in talking to me, asking me what role I’d be interested in (they had a few they thought would fit my profile), and then I did a call with the recruiter, and then a call with the person who would become my manager.

The whole point of this post is to say that, yes, rejection happens, but if it’s something you really want and that you think you could really do, then you need to persevere and figure out ways to get through. And yes, getting in touch with a human being — instead of just a contact email or upload link on a website for your CV — has a much better chance of getting the attention of the company.

(Let me add that I did the same thing for Ubisoft, once I got laid off from Eidos Montréal, and that also worked out.)

I’m still a newbie in the industry — I’m at about 3 and a half years now, 2 and a half at Ubisoft, with a trajectory that went from Production Coordinator to Project Manager — but I’m always happy to share anything I can share with anyone who is also interested in doing the same. I have in fact already been contacted a few times by people asking me for advice, and I’m always happy to help out any way I can.

It’s maybe also worth noting that I did all of this once I was already in my 40s, and so it’s never too late. 

Excellent E3 Experience

The Ubisoft conference is being streamed in our studio’s largest room, on two giant screens. I’m sitting with a few of my colleagues – about 300 of them – waiting for the segment for our game to start. We’ve all been cheering and celebrating all of the announcements so far, but the most exciting moment for our team is of course going to be when For Honor makes an appearance, first in the form of a new cinematic trailer, then with our creative director Jason VandenBerghe setting the stage for the world of For Honor, followed by game director Roman Campos-Oriola playing through a level.

I’ve excitedly watched E3 – the game industry’s biggest show – from afar for years and years, but this year was special in that it was my first time taking in E3 while having a personal investment in what was going on.

I’m working on a game that was taking part.

As I say each year, I always hope that this will be the one where I actually get to go to E3, but despite not going, it was definitely the most exciting one I’ve experienced so far. I had a great time as always watching all of the keynotes, while getting excited for the big game reveals, but following it all while you have something “in the ring” just makes it that much more special.

And even better, people seem to really like our game. As I write this, the 3rd and final day is coming to an end, and already we’ve received a “Best of E3″ award from GameSpot. I’ve also watched a few videos and read some hands-on write-ups that seem to be really pumped by the gameplay that was experienced. 

So what next? As the fantastically funny Aisha Tyler announced at the end of our segment during the Ubisoft conference, you can go to the For Honor website to register for upcoming Alpha and Beta access. 

The game’s release date was also announced: February 14, 2017 – Valentine’s Day!

For Honor

It’s with great pleasure that I can announce that from next week, I’ll be taking on the role of production coordinator at Ubisoft here in Montreal.

Following the defeat of Shinra, it’s been an interesting month of exploration, and I’m incredibly excited for this new challenge. Although it’s technically the same role that I had at Shinra, it will be within a much bigger team, which I look forward to joining.

I’m also quite excited that I’ll be working on a game this time (as opposed to a platform, which is what we were building at Shinra), and a new IP at that – I’ll be joining the For Honor team.

It’s also going to be quite interesting for me to have a new studio experience, to compare with my previous one (as an employee of Eidos Montréal, but working out of the Square Enix Montréal studio), and I’m already happy that I’ll be seeing a few familiar faces once I get there – and also working in what is quite possibly the biggest game studio in the world (current employee count here in Montreal is apparently 2750). 

Michel Ancel is one of my favorite game creators, and I’m incredibly excited to join the company that gave birth to games like Rayman and Beyond Good & Evil – and of course also the ridiculous number of other Ubisoft games that I’ve played over the years.

New year, new company, new game!