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HomeEntertainmentAnimeA-kon Interview: Jesse Sosa Part 2

A-kon Interview: Jesse Sosa Part 2

 

JA -You have worked on many video games over the years. What would you say is your favorite project to date? Why?

JS – My favorite project are the some of the smallest one I’ve ever worked on.

JA – It’s more intimate?

JS – Yeah. I don’t want to say that there are two kinds of developers but if you start talking to a lot of them you find out that there are the developers that like working on big teams and the once that like working on smaller teams. I love working on small teams.

As far as projects go, I don’t want to call it my favorite but my best experience developing a game was Snowball Run back in 2001-02 with Mumbo-Jumbo. It is a Mac game, sort of a Monkey ball type of game we made for kids. It was my best experience because it was my first in house game we took from inception to completion. It’s what we call “shipping a game” so it was a full dev cycle. We were our own publisher so I really didn’t have to answer to anybody. The art director pretty much sat next to me and I was able to come up with whatever I wanted to.
My favorite I would have to say if Bloodrayne 2. It was my first full development cycle at Terminal Reality. The team we had were kind of all rookies in a way, but we had this sense of family. There were about 24 of us and for most of them it was their first game and for me it was about my 5th.

You always hear horror stories about people working “crunch” (staying after hours, sometimes over night to be able to meet a deadline), but a lot of it was voluntary. In the gaming industry there are two kinds of crunch. The mandatory crunch that come from the top down and no one really likes doing that, and then there is the other kind where we work crunch because we want to put as much into the game as we can. That is what the majority of the crunch on Bloodrayne 2 was. All the extras we put into that game where like a labor of love because we wanted to work on it. It was a lot of fun and I haven’t had an experience like it since.

 


JA -Are there any Games that you’ve wanted to work on, you know, really sink your teeth in and leave your mark on?

JS – I wouldn’t mind revisiting Bloodrayne. I think now with all my experience we would probably be able to deliver a really satisfying and memorable experience. I’m a big fan of batman, especially 1966 batman. I always loved Ghostbusters so that one worked out. I believe that there is some potential in making a Ninja Turtles game, I won’t say “realistic” but in the same vein as Arkham City were it feels raw. I think that could work great and I would love to work on a Ninja Turtles property.

I don’t do fan art and that was one of the things that pushed me away from Terminal Reality. We were working in Star Wars Kinect and I”m not a big Star Wars Fan, so for me I was just not enjoying that project. I looking into the direction that the project was going and just saw license after license. It was sort of the driving force behind me starting my own studio: Dinosaur. We wanted to do new IP and fun games.

JA -In a normal job the make or break moment is in the interview. In your line of work would you say that this is the same or is it more about your portfolio?

JS – The big thing is that your portfolio is going to get you your interview. A lot of people put focus on resumes. A resume isn’t very important to land you and interview, you really have to have a portfolio that outshines everyone else. There are so many people that want to make games and it is such a competitive market especially right now when the industry seems to be going through a restructuring period as digital download is becoming more of a common thing. Its is just easier for someone to buy a .99 app on their iPhone, or go to Steam and purchase a bundle, or even Xbox Live and PSN than to go and buy a physical copy at a brick and mortar store……Wow that was more of a tangent than an answer wasn’t it (laughs)

JA – Just a little (laughs)

JS – Now getting back to your question. When we hire someone, your portfolio is your most important thing. That is what is going to get our attention. We usually get forwarded an email with a resume attached and link to their portfolio. 9 out of 10 time we go straight for the portfolio. If that impresses us then we go to the resume. From there that is where the interview comes into play.

JA – With jobs as unstable as the video game industry, what are some things that you can do to insure that you can keep working after your development cycle is over?

JS – I would say stay relevant in your art and always keep up with what is going on. If a new zbrush comes out go and learn that or a new 3ds Max comes out go and learn that tool set. Any new software would be important to have a heads up on in terms of relevance cause you are going to be competing against a lot of people.

Another thing is to be able to take a step back, look at your work and be able to critic it in a realistic fashion. I don’t want to say you should compare yourself to everyone else but you should look at what’s in video games right now and be able to compare that to your work then ask yourself if it holds up.

Networking is another big thing. Have a web presence because with all the layoffs that happen you have to have a link. You need a Linkein (linkedin.com), even Facebook is great for networking. Go to forums like Polycount.com. Just make sure you are relevant and stay in peoples faces, anything to get your name noticed. I am usually in the general discussion forums talking about various things and I do podcasts and other things so people know who I am.

So keep your portfolio and resume fresh and always have your website ready just in case you get laid off or something.

JA – What were some of the challenges you ran across with opening your own studio?

JS – Having a good business partner is key. Most studios I see that are just starting just have no clue. They are run by a bunch of artists or programmers that have never really done business. We are lucky enough to have a great business partner. I have known my business partner for over 15 years and he himself has over 25 years of experience. He is someone I trust and that is very important because that is who is going to handle your money, interfacing with investors and potentially taking care of seven digits worth of money, so It has to be a mutual thing because he is trusting that you are going to put out a quality product. When I talk to other studio business head for feedback they always tell me that we are so lucky and so much more prepared than they were starting off, but it can still be scary when you are just a small artist that just wants to make a game.

It is important to have realistic goals and expectations. Our first game is a side scrolling beat’em up. That is what we have experience in and is what we are good at. We aren’t trying to make a Grand Theft Auto or anything. We know what we can do with the amount of time and budget that we have

JA -So you are building your name the best way possible.

JS – Yeah, you have to put your best foot forward. As long as you come out with a good presentable game, door will open with publishers suggesting working one certain properties or you might turn a profit and be able to keep working on your own stuff.

Dinosaurgames

Jesse Sosa’s Personal website and portfolio

James Arledge
James Arledgehttp://youtube.com/good2knowgames
James is a passionate gamer and artist. He attended ITT Technical Institute and received an Associates Degree in Graphic Design, which led him to get an internship with The Heat Magazine as a Graphic Designer. His passion for gaming has led him to create and take the title of Editor-in-Chief of good2knowgames on the world's premiere video platform, You Tube. The video game industry is rapidly growing and that is something James strives to continue to be an integral part of, for many years to come.
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