299: Destined for Middle Earth

Destined for Middle Earth

One nerdy lawyer from Boston stumbled into the dream of a lifetime: designing quests for Lord of the Rings Online.

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ohh It's stories like these that make it seem sooo much easier than it actually must be to get into the Games Industry. Oh well, maybe I too will have that kind of luck? *Fingers crossed*

GrizzlerBorno:
ohh It's stories like these that make it seem sooo much easier than it actually must be to get into the Games Industry. Oh well, maybe I too will have that kind of luck? *Fingers crossed*

That's exactly what I was thinking. Maybe after grad school I can randomly apply to a job posting without any professional experience and get hired too...

I love this man, though. He's one of the reasons I actually READ the quest dialogues in LotRO rather than just clicking Accept like in every single other MMO ever.

GrizzlerBorno:
ohh It's stories like these that make it seem sooo much easier than it actually must be to get into the Games Industry. Oh well, maybe I too will have that kind of luck? *Fingers crossed*

Yeah.. all it took this guy was 8 yrs of post-secondary, a couple years doing what I assume was mostly boring as hell copyright and contract law at a book company, while in the meantime finding a wife who not only put up with the guys geeky habits but was supportive enough to point out a job opportunity that very likely paid less and was out of his certified skill-set because she knew he'd like it, and he'd been spending so much time training himself (on both game design and the material in question) in his spare time.

Yeah.. that sounds easy.. sure it does. ...

Heh. I get your point though, it kind of glosses over the harder parts.

Dream job..

On Topic, the Epic Quest line in Lotro is on par with the best plots on any Bioware/Bethesda game.

And it's free :)

A combination of skill, drive, and yes, luck to land a desired job.

I'm not going to lie. I couldn't do this. I'm absolutely horrible at learning languages. My English is terrible, and you add in any other language, and it gets worse.

He made his own luck, good for him :0)

Would be a nice job, but it'd still be work... :)

I would have enjoyed a reference to Shamus Plays LOTRO here... perhaps a follow-up question on some of the quests covered therein.

Hah, lucky fellow. And yet the game has a it's work cut out for it, so it's not like he's landed on easy street, there's hard work ahead. I wish him the best of luck or maybe, wish him that his luck should continue.

Kwil:

GrizzlerBorno:
ohh It's stories like these that make it seem sooo much easier than it actually must be to get into the Games Industry. Oh well, maybe I too will have that kind of luck? *Fingers crossed*

Yeah.. all it took this guy was 8 yrs of post-secondary, a couple years doing what I assume was mostly boring as hell copyright and contract law at a book company, while in the meantime finding a wife who not only put up with the guys geeky habits but was supportive enough to point out a job opportunity that very likely paid less and was out of his certified skill-set because she knew he'd like it, and he'd been spending so much time training himself (on both game design and the material in question) in his spare time.

Yeah.. that sounds easy.. sure it does. ...

Heh. I get your point though, it kind of glosses over the harder parts.

I'd honestly like to know if Turbine would have even looked twice at his work if he'd just been a fresh-out-of-college student, or a non-graduate, and produced *exactly the same content*, rather than being a degreed lawyer who'd spent years in a publishing house.

Companies generally seem to value a degree and previous job seniority infinitely more than they value the things which produce good products and content, like demonstrated talent.

RvLeshrac:

I'd honestly like to know if Turbine would have even looked twice at his work if he'd just been a fresh-out-of-college student, or a non-graduate, and produced *exactly the same content*, rather than being a degreed lawyer who'd spent years in a publishing house.

Companies generally seem to value a degree and previous job seniority infinitely more than they value the things which produce good products and content, like demonstrated talent.

As someone who has done quite a bit of interviewing, yeah degree and previous job experience does mean a lot. Demonstrating talent usually isn't enough for me. I've hired some young inexperienced people before based off the talent they showed and they often times turned out to be mistakes. They were smart and talented...when they worked...which unfortunately wasn't very often or didn't get along well with others or some other issue that detracts from the talent they demonstrated.

Seeing someone who has put the work and years into getting through college and hold down a job for a few years goes along way. That's not to say they can't still be duds or you would take with with no real demonstrated knowledge/talent just because they have a degree, but I would take a proven worker with slightly less talent than a greenie with "potential" any day of the week.

[On-Topic] I've been playing this game since beta and even with the silly Shire (as Shamus made hilariously clear on this site) it's one of the most engaging MMO's I've been a part of. They take that great attitude to the forums as well which is nice. Elbow licking and handstand challenges in the office get shared with the forum....and there's always the Ghost Bear! :-)

Greg Tito:

One nerdy lawyer from Boston stumbled into the dream of a lifetime: designing quests for Lord of the Rings Online.

Given the long hours, culture of unpaid work and general drudgery of the computer game industry, I must say I don't envy him. I hope he enjoys his lack of free time, but I'm glad he's not me.

leviticusd:

RvLeshrac:

I'd honestly like to know if Turbine would have even looked twice at his work if he'd just been a fresh-out-of-college student, or a non-graduate, and produced *exactly the same content*, rather than being a degreed lawyer who'd spent years in a publishing house.

Companies generally seem to value a degree and previous job seniority infinitely more than they value the things which produce good products and content, like demonstrated talent.

As someone who has done quite a bit of interviewing, yeah degree and previous job experience does mean a lot. Demonstrating talent usually isn't enough for me. I've hired some young inexperienced people before based off the talent they showed and they often times turned out to be mistakes. They were smart and talented...when they worked...which unfortunately wasn't very often or didn't get along well with others or some other issue that detracts from the talent they demonstrated.

Seeing someone who has put the work and years into getting through college and hold down a job for a few years goes along way. That's not to say they can't still be duds or you would take with with no real demonstrated knowledge/talent just because they have a degree, but I would take a proven worker with slightly less talent than a greenie with "potential" any day of the week.

[On-Topic] I've been playing this game since beta and even with the silly Shire (as Shamus made hilariously clear on this site) it's one of the most engaging MMO's I've been a part of. They take that great attitude to the forums as well which is nice. Elbow licking and handstand challenges in the office get shared with the forum....and there's always the Ghost Bear! :-)

That's exactly my point. The paper doesn't necessarily mean anything, I've seen plenty of individuals who didn't even have the most tenuous grasp on the subject of their degree, and nor does the prior work.

There were, after all, plenty of dot-coms where a "working day" consisted primarily of playing foosball next to the open bar.

If you take chances, sure, you'll be stung - but if you don't, neither you nor the company will do anything great. Just look at all the century-old companies today who haven't actually produced anything truly innovative in 30+ years.

What I *will* credit Turbine for is giving a non-industry-type the benefit of the doubt.

well, good luck to this guy !

I still don't understand why a lawyer would want to work in one of the lowest paying jobs in the western world.

wow! that is pretty bamf
my studies aren't directly taking me anywhere near game development, but hey you never know if the door will open (altho being out of work in the first hand can be a tough break :[ just sayin)

Incredibly inspiring! Proof that doing what you want to do in life, and enjoying life like you want it is a good way to go! I remember that being a Lawyer is a good thing when applying for writing positions - I checked once, few years ago, and Biowares writers were also Lawyers before. Does that mean Lawyers write great fiction? I'll leave you with this funny question.

Don't forget that Bioware's founders were doctors, too! :) I love this game and its writing though...

Metalhandkerchief:
I still don't understand why a lawyer would want to work in one of the lowest paying jobs in the western world.

There's something about being able to go into work every day and not want to bash your head against the radiator.

If he's able to support his family and continue his endeavors props to him.

Mister Benoit:

Metalhandkerchief:
I still don't understand why a lawyer would want to work in one of the lowest paying jobs in the western world.

There's something about being able to go into work every day and not want to bash your head against the radiator.

If he's able to support his family and continue his endeavors props to him.

I agree, life is not about getting the most amount of money but getting enough to make what you want possible and to support yourself while you are at it.

This is good to hear. Turbine has a decent policy for picking up talent when they see it. They picked up Merlask (now Dev Tolero) who was D&D Online player and well-known role player in the community. They picked up Mockduck (now Cordovan) who hosted 200ish very positive DDo Podcasts about the game. So, hard work and devotion to their games is a real selling point for Turbine. I guess it is easier to say "Yes, that person will be a good employee." if you get a chance to watch them and their work for a long period of time whilst they are milling about in your gaming world. Go Turbine!

Both of these players sucked into "the Turbine" are really great folks that I have had the pleasure of getting to interact with on occassion.

Tolero (Senior Community Specialist) http://my.ddo.com/tolero/
Cordovan (Turbine Community Team) http://my.ddo.com/cordovan/

The apparent 'get a game design/art/CS degree then start applying for jobs' path is an illusion. The numbers alone will crush you unless you have very good contacts or are incredibly lucky. From what I've seen the most useful paths to game industry employment in a meaningful role are:

* Showing you can make awesome things and build an audience round them (games, comics, mods, whatever: listen to Gabe Newell talk about this)
* Being demonstrably, psychotically, one-in-a-million good at engine programming
* Organizing a community and/or business around something to do with games

All of the above will be made easier if you show that you had the discipline to finish a 4 year degree, and that you have a professional work ethic that includes being able to deal with many different types of personality + deliver things to deadline. But then, if you can do all that, as others have said you may not really want to be working for an industry that treats its employees so badly...:-)

Cheers

Colin

One thing that articles like this never mention is that you'll be incredibly lucky to find a job like this. The MMO market, when LOTRO was coming out, still wasn't really full of stuff, and it fills a definite niche there, so the relatively new Turbine needed people for jobs that there really weren't that many people with experience for. (decent quest text? In an MMO?)

It'd be a heck of a lot harder to get into the normal AAA game designing market. It's hard for a new developer to get ahead, and many of the old ones don't hire new people all the time. I imagine the best chance would be to get a job with one of the newer companies, or, even better, an expanding company, do your best work, and then use that to get a job that you like even more.

Another aspect is the education. Even 5 years ago, there weren't all that many game design schools, but it's starting to become more common, and developers are looking for people with that kind of education. Not to say that someone without that can't get in, but I imagine it would be a lot easier!

I've thought about this a fair bit - I'm seriously trying to get into the industry.

forgot I had read this 2 years ago lol...very inspiring re-reading this with some new perspective :)

it's good to have an expansive background of experience. never know what you'll need!

 

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