Online gaming is a hugely popular market within the larger game industry, and the survival of an MMO or online RPG depends on the stability and speed of server-based systems. This is a senior-level position that may require several more years of experience to achieve than a lead position in game art or design.
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He then spent two years working for IBM Microelectronics before going to graduate school to obtain his M.S. Zaferakis entered the games industry in 2001, and within a few years was hired by Rockstar Games to be the Xbox lead programmer for the multi-million dollar Midnight Club II franchise. In his current position at High Moon Studios, Zaferakis has worked on multiplayer aspects of Darkwatch and led the programming development for both the Bourne Conspiracy and the critically-acclaimed Transformers: War for Cybertron.
Welcome to the third installment in our new series, Game Changer! Because it’s important to signal boost the work of women in the games industry (especially lately), we’ll be interviewing the awesome, brave, and talented women who bring their voices to indie and mainstream game development. When I went to university, I still loved books and music and fashion and architecture and math, but I chose Computer Science for its intricate problems and the idea of being part of a new field that was still designing and discovering itself.
Code: The lead programmer is responsible for delivering the tech required for the success of the project, from the programming of the game itself to all the tools and other tech the designers and artists and testers may need. An average day starts with checking in with my team and other project leads to build a prioritized list of issues.
Code: The obvious difference between working on Child of Light and working on Assassin’s Creed was one of tone. On Child of Light, we were a small team making a new game in a genre we had never made before. Another thing that was different on Child of Light was that it was also my first role leading the entire programming team and I got to build my team from scratch.
All my life I’ve had friends outside the industry who share my tastes in media except for games. I built trust by recommending Journey, and then at one point I bullied one friend into playing Skyrim. As part of that, I think we need to attract a wider range of people into the industry, with diverse backgrounds and tastes.
TMS: Do you have any advice for people—especially women—who might be considering a career in games? Code: The best advice anyone ever gave to me about my career was to make sure you are one of the least smart and least experienced people on your team. As well, if you are in an environment where you can’t admit you don’t know something without losing face, get out of that environment. TMS: Can you talk about anything really difficult you’ve had to overcome both as a programmer and as a woman in the games industry?
However, the last three years have been increasingly inspiring as I see more and more women entering the industry and see more and more discussion about this topic. Overall, when I compare my position to that of the men I have worked with who maybe fit in better, I get frustrated.
Code: Replaying The Colonel’s Bequest over and over as a child to try to find out everything possible about the characters… And to try to get the flying statue easter egg to happen again, since I wasn’t sure if I had dreamt it or not and this was before we had Google for checking things like that.
Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Campfire Games is currently looking to hire an experienced gameplay programmer to join the team in creating our newly successfully Kickstarter funded game, War of Rights.
You need to have professional previous experience in working with CRYENGINE and the willingness to work at an Indie level of wages.
We’ll be able to offer you the interesting task of being the main programming contributor to a title with a highly engaged community already. War of Rights is an online multiplayer first person shooter with heavy emphasis on historical accuracy and authenticity. A Dundee based Games studio are currently undergoing an expansion, due to successful project demand and require a Lead Programmer to work on a new Free to play title.
They are looking for this individual to have high energy and passion for mobile games and constantly come up with new and innovative ideas to keep the users engaged.
The opportunity plays a key role in a new project contributing to the success of the title from concept to final product. The role would be best suited to a generalist programmer who can plug into different areas of development and offer guidance throughout the whole project. Sign up to receive MCV's email news updates and access to other online products and services.
MCV is the leading trade news and community site for all professionals working within the UK and international video games market. Here, we take a more tailored look at the statistics in light of what someone new to the game industry would need to know by paring down the results of Game Developer's sixth annual salary survey. Across all job titles (such as lead programmer, technical director, and so forth) the average salary for an entry-level programmer is almost $66,000. Entry-level game artists needn't get too caught up in which software package is best either. Be prepared to hear the following words of wisdom over and over again: it is nearly impossible to become a game designer fresh out of college. The average salary of writers with less than 3 years' experience dropped by $6,631 since last year, and writers with 3-6 years saw a $12,500 drop in pay.
The production department has seen an interesting trend over the last three to four years, one that I'm going to guess is the result of needing more producers but not wanting to pay them astronomical salaries. In 2004 (reporting incomes from 2003), Game Developer found 61% of producers had 6 or more years experience, compared to 49% last year and this year.
The job titles assistant and associate producer are becoming more and more prevalent-so much so that the survey compiled an average salary for those specific titles: $44,167. Whatever the title, one of the benefits of working in the production department is that the gender imbalance isn't nearly as severe as it is in the other major disciplines. What this tells us: With the exception of audio, the survey saw an even cross section of less experienced respondents in each discipline.
Although well over 5,600 unique responses were received worldwide, not all who participated in this survey provided sufficient compensation information to be included in the findings.
Enhanced versions of this article originally appeared in Game Developer's Game Career Guide, Fall 2007 magazine and the April 2007 issue of Game Developer magazine.


Ensuring that players are able to access their guilds and go on quests for treasure and world domination through ancient lands, the lead server programmer is on the front lines of network preservation. Supervising a larger staff of server programmers, the lead is charged with the implementation of networking systems and network-synchronized game code, which controls elements like enemy behavior and player interaction. The lead server programmer must be proficient in scripting with C++ and possess expertise with multiple operating systems including Unix, Linux, Windows, and Mac. Expect to spend at least five years at the junior or midlevel before consideration for advancement.
He continues to lend his programming expertise to future projects, as well as drive the vision of online and multiplayer aspects of game development. DA&S combines elements of strong scientific research with equally impressive technological expertise in the digital arts. As I rushed through the arts building on my way between math and computer science classes and saw all the cute creatively-dressed punk girls, I wished I knew them.
The dotcom crash happened, and I was terrified of working in a more conservative environment like a bank. At this moment, Relic Entertainment was looking to fill its first two junior programmer positions.
There, I learned what a great team is, what a great manager is, and how special it is to work in this creative and technical industry creating entertainment for millions of people. We never really talked about making Aurora more “badass.” Instead we had whimsical debates about whether she should have short hair or long hair (I voted long), and whether the Capilli women should have beards (I voted yes).
Instead of focusing on hiring the best individual candidates, I focused on building the best team, a diverse team of people from various backgrounds and with different personalities.
I love love love games, but I often find I play games more for what I wish they were than for what they are. So one of the things I’m doing right now is working with the fantastic Sabrina Jacques, a filmmaker who stumbled across video games and never looked back, to lead a new initiative to increase diversity at Ubisoft MTL. The most interesting innovations come out of the connections between different groups or between different industries.
On Child of Light, the team was 25% women and it was so refreshing and inspiring to work in that slightly more balanced environment.
But when I compare my position to almost any other possible job, I see clearly how lucky I am to be here.
If gamers are willing to invest their time and money in those leaderboards, they want security for their investment. An interest in the period portrayed or general gameplay style is not a requirement but prefered. While we have set tasks needed to be completed we’re also very aware that several gameplay mechanics need live testing before one truly knows if they offer the experience designed on paper. Your core function will be to implement features to go into the game such as easy to use mechanics, tweaking level difficultly, mentoring a team and come up with special events in order to keep the daily user base consistent.
This fantastic challenge also provides a competitive salary, share scheme, healthcare and relocation assistance. Learn at least one of the two major packages (3ds Max and Maya) thoroughly, noodle with a few others if you can, and be ready to adapt on the job. If these salaries sound low, bear in mind that more than half of all designers earn fairly large bonuses on top of their base salaries, which can amount to nearly $10,000 in additional pay. The trend is that more and more producers are less and less experienced, which is a boon to young game industry hopefuls. And in 2004 a mere 13% of producers had fewer than 3 years' experience, compared to 18% last year and 34% this year.
This figure is probably closer to what an entry-level producer can expect to earn when first coming into the industry than the $52,885 cited above. They are the runts of the industry, and everyone-including the people who determine their salaries-knows it. As long as you can show you know a thing or two about video games, are capable of breaking them, and can intelligently articulate what broke and when, you're hirable. Also excluded were cases in which the compensation was given at less than $10,000 USD, and the highest salary range was limited to $202,500 USD to prevent a limited number of outliers from distorting the true central tendency of the computed average salaries in each category. The lead server programmer will also oversee the integration of distributed simulation systems and manage subsystems that include character control, artificial intelligence, and physics. Naturally, prior employment as a server programmer for a game studio is the standard path toward this career, but similar experience in server programming and maintenance outside the game industry is applicable. I liked crafting worlds too, creating elaborate scenarios and even more elaborate hand-sewn outfits while playing dolls with my friends, or sitting on the floor in my room drafting intricate and extravagant house and garden plans. I slacked off for a few years, dropped out of grad school on the first day, and went travelling in search of answers instead. After two great projects at Relic, I worked briefly at Pandemic Studios, but then when I saw the release of Assassin’s Creed with its beautiful colour palette and multicultural message, I knew I had to join that team.
Lead programmer is a great position for someone like that—I get to do the same kind of problem solving and intricate, detailed thinking involved in programming, but I also get to do team building, mentorship, requirements negotiation, scheduling, reporting, and playing the game and suggesting ideas. Instead of each person being a specialist, each person had to know how to do almost anything. While keeping in mind that our overall goal is to increase diversity of all kinds, our first mandate will be to increase the percentage of women in the studio.
In the ’90s, Marc Jacobs, known then for his dirty grungy American aesthetic, became creative director of the luxury French brand Louis Vuitton and developed artist collaborations that changed the fashion industry. I get to work with a variety of lovely, artsy geniuses on meaningful, challenging work, in an industry that is growing fast and absolutely bonkers with opportunity.
Your main tasks will consist of coding a number of needed core gameplay mechanics needed prior to the release of our closed alpha such as player classes, respawn and ticket systems as well as game mode objectives such as capture areas.
Because of this, we’re very open to ideas and tweaks of the mechanics and invite you to leave your own mark on the gameplay of War of Rights.
MCV is published by NewBay Media, which specialises in entertainment, leisure and technology markets. Unless your sights are set on becoming an executive of a game company, the most financially rewarding position within game development (not to mention the job that typically employs the greatest number of people) is that of a programmer.
So if you're interested in game programming, know that it pays (handsomely!) to stick around.
Designers typically make their way into the industry through some other discipline (for example, by spending two or three years as a programmer or producer), then become a designer later.


Hiring lesser experienced producers, either as assistants or project leads, may be what caused the overall average salary of producers to drop by just over $3,000 since last year.
It seems the difficult part is figuring out exactly how to rise above the daily duties of repetitively collision-testing while sitting in a super-air conditioned dungeon, all the while scheming about how the rent is going to get paid. The survey further excludes records that were missing key demographic and classification information. The sample represented in our salary survey can be projected to the overall game developer community with a margin of error, for the aggregate U.S.
In addition to putting in place and extending the foundational structure of the server-based gaming systems, the lead programmer also supervises the continuing maintenance of the server.
As a manager, the lead programmer must be capable of establishing priority of tasks for the staff and monitoring workflow through the pipeline to ensure quality and efficient work. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.
I was also really into math, and it helped that, since my dad was a programmer, we always had computers around. My favourite subjects were AI, graphics, algorithm design and analysis, and numerical analysis.
What I found, among other things, was maxed out credit cards and the desperate need for a job. I’ve been at Ubisoft MTL for seven years, shipping three Assassin’s Creeds and Child of Light. The lead programmer has an overview of the whole project and is well positioned to be able to see how possibilities in the game and narrative design and possibilities in the tech can support each other.
The scope of the game is incredibly ambitious, because recreating real environments means everything has to be handcrafted and the tech needs to be pushed to its most optimized. Instead of carefully choosing a direction and setting the wheels in motion, we had to try many different directions and stay flexible and see what we discovered along the way. I also heard once that a team should include a Visionary, a Doer, a Skeptic, a Client Advocate, and a Historian.
In the long term, we’re focusing on attracting teenage girls and women who work in related industries. This is one reason I like to work at a big studio: I am surrounded by experts whom I can ask for mentorship as needed.
And the software engineers known as the Gang of Four were influenced by an architect’s book about community and livability, A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, to write their book Design Patterns and revolutionize the field of software engineering. You’ll be joining two other programmers (although both part time workers) and will be expected to work closely together with them. The average salary for a game programmer across all levels of experience has been more than $80,000 for two years in a row.
None of this advice is meant to be discouraging-it's meant to help you formulate a clear and realistic path to your dream job. This will include regular debugging of code, scripting of new code, and stability and usability updates. Courses in advanced mathematics are invaluable, and should be the core foundation of a server programmer’s formal education.
Video games seemed to bring all of my loves together, being both an imaginative escape and a form of creative expression. If I have focused work to do, I usually do that later in the day once everything else is running smoothly. Things were changing fast but since the team was so small we were always in close communication with each other.
I kept those roles in mind as I built the Child of Light team, as well as building a bilingual team and a mix of Canadians and expats and women and men and gamers and non-gamers.
She called me after her first companion, Lydia, died, surprised that she had an emotional attachment to a character in a game. In the medium term, we’re looking at supporting, developing, and retaining the promising women who are already here. If you can find your way in a field where you aren’t the norm, you’ll have something unique and special to contribute. And just as I want to make more games for my cohorts, I want to share this work with them too. You will be the only full time programmer working on the project and thus we require you to be able to take on the role as the programming lead of the project also.
In sustaining an operational server construction, the lead will collaborate with engineers and quality assurance staff in all matters concerning the improvement and evolution of the server to provide satisfying gameplay and effective networking. Each individual held a lot more responsibility for the quality of the whole game rather than one slice of the game. My friends started getting tablets, or even second-hand consoles given to them from gamers they knew who were upgrading.
And in that moment, I realized that this part of my life that I assumed my friends wouldn’t like, these incredibly immersive interactive experiences that have gotten me through hard times and given me perspective: my friends had made it into their thirties without ever getting to have these experiences.
How can the game remain stable and coherent with hundreds of people modifying it in parallel?
They started to ask me what to play, hesitantly, bored with puzzle games but not really wanting to try anything that seemed too masculine for their tastes. Skyrim is fabulous, but what about a game my friend would have picked up on her own in the first place? When we first sent a call for participation around the studio, we had so many respondents that we had to redesign and expand our plan to include not just the original group with this mandate, but other related groups with other, more specific mandates as well.
How can a change in direction be correctly communicated to and enthusiastically adopted by so many people? Ubisoft MTL is one of the largest video game studios in the world, with 2700 employees and growing, and increasing the number of women here could have impacts across the industry, I hope.
There is a lot of inertia once something starts moving so it has to start in a good direction in the first place.



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