1. Specialize in a department with larger opportunities
Research your industry and aim your skills in a direction that studios need and will need in the future. Certain departments require more staff than others, for example studios usually only need a few concept artists that often require years of experience. On the other hand environment art requires 10, 20 or sometimes more artists and their skills are also transferable to other departments if needed.
Learning never stops, and there are always new tools and techniques to learn. Fast track your way into becoming valuable employee who is always in demand by taking courses and picking up new skills. Find a game development school where the mentors are active in the industry themselves. That will ensure you're learning the most up-to-date techniques used by actual studios.
- Follow game industry media and news: Check out Gamasutra.com
- Subscribe to developer newsletters: Sign up for MCV updates
- Play and analyze games from various genres and platform styles: Visit twitch.tv
- Learn new skills from industry professionals: Check out CG Spectrum's Game Art & Animation Diploma
2. Make things and finish them
There’s nothing holding you back from creating whatever content you want if you’re given enough time. Keep in mind a finished, polished product is what’s considered valuable and rare, so be realistic about the scope of the idea you’re trying to achieve. Use your time wisely by exploring and creating using all the tools available out there.
- Volunteer to help out on mod teams: Visit Unreal's "Got Skills/Looking for Talent" forum
- Apply for indie projects with royalty payments: Visit Unity's "Collaboration" forum
- Create your own game design or pitch an idea to friends: Apply for Unreal's development grants
3. Hunger for personal growth and learning
Get used to always being just outside your comfort zone, where you aren’t quite sure how you’ll be able to accomplish your goal. Practice getting your work critiqued so you can listen and learn from people’s reactions and interpretations. Make an effort to critique other people’s work too, not only will it help them but it also sharpens your skills to identify and describe useful feedback. Also try to keep your ear to the ground for the next new software or industry shifts and don’t be afraid to abandon old ways of thinking.
- Research latest industry trends: Latest news at cgchannel.com
- Keep up to date with software forums: Visit Autodesk's forums
4. Only show your best work
Retiring work from your showreel should be a common practice. It’s better to keep things as concentrated as possible with “Wow” factor and let the rest be explained during the interview. Don’t be afraid to add your own personality and interpretation into your showreel. All rules are made to be broken and if there’s something you want to say that’s unique then say it.
- Browse for game design jobs to see what’s in demand: Look for a job at Creativeheads.net
- Apply to game studios who are expanding and hiring
5. Don't be a jerk
Being able to work well with others is one of the most underrated skills within the games industry yet it takes a lifetime to master. One bad apple in a team can destroy a department’s morale and bring a project to its knees. Take every opportunity you can to meet and greet people at conventions or social situations, even if the conversation goes terribly, it brings perspective, knowledge and experience. Make sure to listen and ask questions when socializing and remember to stay humble and polite. Being the person people enjoy spending time with can get you the recommendation you need without asking for it.
- Attend game development conferences: Plan a trip to the GDC, attend at your local PAX Convention
- Research local social events where developers meet up: Find a local Gamedev Meetup
Simon Warwick's Game Cinematic Animation Demo Reel
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