Interviewing For Game Design

In this 2017 GDC session, Ubisoft Toronto’s Richard Carrillo reviews both sides of the game design interview process to help developers of all experience levels in their job search.

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  • wow I aced all the questions from this guy

  • This guy is so smart. currently, I am looking for work as a game designer or technical director at a studio and to me. This guy is just right on the money. My first answer was, this would break the conundrum. It's not a logical goal. although I would try to see their point of view in this particular case the systems would not support it in the particular game. A/B select flip flop works but that's not exactly the goal of the game "rock paper scissors" its now "Heads or Tails"

  • My thought process was, remove rock, because paper and scissors go together, and then the game would transform into a chase/evade system

  • My idea about the tank was either (since it's roaming around) would either be in
    1) some sort of convoy where the enemies have weapons so if your not prepared for the fight you could take out gaurds that have what you need, and since the gaurds would be tailing the back you could take them out which would provide a stealth option. (As typically the infantry units are always tailing the heavy artillery in real world strategies.
    Or 2) maybe the tank had some sort of weak spot, when you think of tank you think of a heavy bulky piece of machinery but in Farcry 5 the tank they use in a mission is actually a makeshift 18 wheeler, maybe this tank is actually something created in someone's garage and has some sort of weak point in the back (though this might not work in all themes)

  • "If it's a 90 you should have played it"

    So no Ubisoft game then, got it.

  • First thing that came to my mind with the Rock Paper Scissors question was the JonTron meme
    "Why would you do that? Why would you do any of that ?"
    If this was an actual interview I probably would have had a confused look on my face before answering. It seems so obvious that this game now doesn't work, but that's the point "it doesn't work, fix it !"

    That's a great question, and a great talk, thank you.

  • I'm surprised about the rock paper scissors thing, nobody came up with the answer "use two hands". if you remove paper, then you can use two hands and you have the system rock+rock > rock+paper > paper+paper > rock+rock

  • Listening to this dude kind of explains why I don't like Ubisoft games so much. Decently designed, but extremely boring and uninventive systems and game loops.

  • Okay so I really liked the idea of Tank for stealth style players

  • When that Rock Paper Scissors question was asked I was just like, "Interesting, that would severely impede game-play balance. How would I correct that uneven balance?"

  • Great talk! This is applicable in other areas as well (for example web-development etc.)

  • :V

  • a great talk 😉

  • Wow, really helpful talk!
    I have been in so many interviews I was wandering "why do they ask me this question?" – now I know the answer (they just did not know what they have been looking for). And recently I needed to ask the questions instead of being at the other side and it was tough one – I was quite lost and hoping for my instincts and experience… now I will be much better prepared.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Richard!

  • This really opened my eyes. Loved this. Thanks 🙏

  • That was actually a fantastic video Richard. I love how you went super in-depth with showing bad questions and answers and then even the really good answers. I'm a huge Ubisoft fan and I love that as soon as I heard the tank question I paused the video and came up with a scenario for the stealth player that was quite similar to the one the guy who provided the great answer gave 🙂

  • Really amazing talk. I admire this dude's commitment to separating "This is a well-designed game" from "This is a fun game." Plenty of people can think something is fun when it is in fact horribly designed.

  • Steal the ideas from your worker's crunch them and fire them like pions when you're done.

  • Amazing talk. Very concise, informative and insightful. Thank you.

  • Having recently done some job interviews for game design, I can say I have only gotten bad questions so far. I would've much more preferred to get the good ones, since I often felt like I wasn't really being interviewed, just talking about random things that really didn't have much to do with the job.

  • Yes. A thousand times yes.

    I still remember an interview when I was asked the same, vague, open ended questions… and when I tried to offer spontaneous systemic solutions I was met with comments like:
    "Oh, this is actually clever and a valid answer, bravo! But it's WRONG, I expected you to say XYZ which is the standard answer you should provide." -_-
    One episode I remember:
    "we are adding a 4th option to Rock, Paper, Scissors… how would you balance that?"
    I offered options, considerations, analyses, questions. The response was:
    "Awesome! But WRONG, I expected you to say that you would add a 5th option. Any other answer is valid, but not what we are looking for." -_-
    Meh 😛

  • I’m sorry but these questions could easily be answered by anyone when given time to think in a relaxed environment.
    The person who answered poorly to the RPS question was clearly having tunnel vision and was over thinking due to the stress of the situation.
    I have just asked this question to my grandmother who hasn’t played a video game in her life. After matching her answers with the “good” and “great” answers, she now thinks she’s a professional game designer lol

  • As a solo dev, I've been surprised how large a percent of development is game design. Decisions, more decisions, and then more more more decisions!

  • What's with the repeating part about the next far cry?

  • 6:666:66

    Author Reply

    I was very excited about the topic of this vid until I saw "Ubisoft". Misunderstanding between designing and engineering are truly fundamental here.

  • Okay, so my thought to the Rock Paper Scissors question was something like this:
    If you remove one option, you are left with one option that can never win and one option that can never lose. So if you want to win, you would always pick the better option so each game would end in a tie unless the other player gets so bored he picks the other one just to end the misery. As for the tank question:
    If the encounter can happen at any time, it's stats need to vary over the course of the game or else an early encounter may be devastating and a late encounter rather lame. But the changes can be invisible to the player, like a reduced attack power / reduced ressistance to the player's shots / reduced radius in which the player is spotted, when the game is still in the earlier parts. As for playstyles: Stealth could be done via secretely placing bombs and then activating them from afar or maybe even entering the tank and eliminating the crew from the inside. As for aggressive attacks: Offer grenades or other large explosives, while gunshot may do hardly any damage. Again, adjust the difficult based on how long the player had time to familiarize themselves with the game or make it obvious that this enemy should be avoided in the early game. Maybe with some warning shots from a distance that will always miss.

  • 24:23 Funny, my answer to the left one would have been: either more far cry or less far cry. Which quite comically brings the idea of the right question into the picture. :p

  • Actually for the rock paper scisor questions, I had a mix of the first don't with some of the does.

    Question to the boss should be: what problem do you want to solve by removing one option?
    It is a much better answer to me as the question being asked of me is to find a solution, and finding a solution before spelling out the problem first… is doom.

  • This guy might be the total opposite of Jesse Schell. (Unity Trainer, Book of Lenses) Jesse thinks that EVERYONE is a designer.

  • Excellent tips here for hiring, applicable to any field, really good talk.
    Edit: And for those of you saying "Ah well this is why all Ubisoft's games are the same, they take all the creativity out of it", aren't limitations the mother of invention? This is about taking the unknowns out of the hiring process and making it somewhat quantifiable, making sure it actually tests for skills they want rather than how good they are at stage improv and talking. Of course it shouldn't be the only factor but it works as a filter because the results are objective. If different things are important to you then design different questions, but the process for getting objective answers outlined still seems sound.

  • Great talk