A Day in the Life Of... Design

What do you do?

I’m a Level Designer; I create the world where gameplay becomes reality. But an unpretentious description would be that I design and implement environments and missions.

How do you fit into nDreams?

I work with other Designers and Artists on our levels, either individually or collaboratively, and report to the Principal Level Designer. We have a very collaborative approach in how we design and build levels – we’ve found that this method of working closely together and pushing each other with regular playtesting and iteration allows us to create the best and most fun game we possibly can.

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What kind of skills and experience do you need to be effective in your role?

Understanding and internalising design principles. Building up a thick skin; players may or may not like your work, and it’s down to you to take and apply that feedback as you see fit. Communicating effectively and pushing for your ideas without rubbing anyone the wrong way. Critically analysing all forms of media – games, films, books… What do you like about it? How could you use that in your level?

Tell us about a typical working day…

My mornings start off by downloading the latest files from our repo in Perforce, then grabbing a coffee and having a chat with some colleagues, catching up on emails, and then having our design stand-up to discuss what we’re working on. The rest of the day is spent working on my assigned level with some meetings and level reviews in between.

What about an atypical day recently?

I’m still relatively new here so nothing typical stands out currently as the last 6 months has been a massive learning experience, but I really enjoyed assisting the pitch team for a short period of time.

What do you love about your job?

Getting to express myself creatively in a relaxed and friendly environment. Coming in to work feels like an extension of a hobby.

What areas do you enjoy less?

Filling timesheets – I can’t seem to escape them no matter what industry I’m in.

How did you get started in the industry?  Why did you join nDreams?

Before I started at nDreams I was doing architectural design for 6 years whilst working on a multiplayer WW2 shooter in my spare time, so moving into the games industry was a big career change for me but not necessarily a difficult transition. I found nDreams values that different life and work experience you can bring to the studio – VR is still quite new and offers very interesting and unique challenges which compliments those different perspectives.

The studio’s ambition to be a leader in VR also stood out to me at interview, and after playing an early version of the game it was impossible to say no – I don’t think anyone can deny we have something special here.

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Do you have any advice for people who want to do what you do?

Build and build some more. Get people to play your levels and find out what they did and didn’t like. Design must be internalised – whether architectural or in games. I was hired based on the strength of my modding background, and nDreams rates that highly over someone who has a degree in games with no portfolio.

Cut your teeth and join an indie team working on a UE4 game – experience the ups and downs, what it’s like to work with different disciplines and personalities, taking player feedback and using it to make it better. Developing a game can sometimes be a long slog, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who sees it through. Lastly, learn to sell yourself – do you have any unusual skillsets that can be applied to games? The majority of Designers I know have carved out their paths in different ways.