Role: Systems Designer
Years at Roll7: 6.5
Favourite classic game: Streets of Rage II
Pets: None, but he likes dogs.
We’re running a new interview series for the Roll7 blog, so that people
can learn more about all the awesome people on our team. Could you
tell us a bit about what you do as a Systems Designer?
Well, as the name suggests, I design various systems within our games.
That checks out. And what does designing systems involve?
It’s everything from working out what abilities a player may possess in order
pass a level, deciding what types of loot people will get for completing it,
planning what features and game modes may exist for the user, to working out
the logistics of how players will know progress through the game. Essentially, it’s
a lot of the metagame rather than designing the actual gameplay - although
since we’re still a pretty small team I do often end up involved with that too.
When you started at Roll7, you were a QA intern – how did you end up
I actually got the initial internship because I turned up to a short playtest session
and ended up turning in a bunch of super detailed QA notes at the end. Tom,
John, and Simon took a look at the bugs I’d found and decided that they needed
someone doing this a bit more often! They booked me in for an interview and I
came on shortly after. From then until now I came on in a fulltime QA position,
got involved with production while making ports with external studios, designing
platform feature content, and by the time we were making Laser League I was
QA Lead. During my time doing QA, I found myself contributing a lot to design
discussions, and over time I ended up getting more and more involved in our
games' feature and level design and now... here we are.
I guess that’s one of the benefits of a small creative team, right? You
get to be involved in the discussions that interest you, even if they’re
not strictly related to your current role.
So, what was it that made you decide to get into a career in games in
the first place?
As a kid I was really into playing games – pretty typical for a lot of folks in the
industry I guess – but one thing I was super drawn to was glitches and bugs that
did cool things. I distinctly remember accidentally coming across ‘MISSINGNO.’
when I was about 8 and it blowing my tiny mind a bit – do you know about
Off the top of my head, it’s basically a Pokémon that doesn’t really exist, but
which could appear in-game because of an oversight the developers made. You
can encounter it in some of the early games, and people figured out that this
oversight could be used to do things like duplicating items and finding any
Pokémon you wanted in that exact area if used correctly. It’s- you should look it
up, it’s really interesting to see all the things that have come out of one tiny
mistake in the creation of the game. But yeah, as a kid I remember seeing that
and having this realisation that games aren’t just made by these faceless distant
figures who can do no wrong – they’re made by people, they have flaws and
quirks which can result in all these interesting unintended things that you can
find as a player. And that sort of made me realise that if regular people were
actually out there making games, I could be one of those people someday.
So that’s what kind of drew you to QA as a career path initially?
Definitely. I guess also, you know, QA is often an entry level sort of position, so
that was part of the appeal too. I haven’t always been super confident in my
abilities, so starting from the bottom and working my way up seemed like the
best way to do it. Over time through my career in QA, I’ve also found out what
I'm good at in terms of design work.
So what would you say is your proudest achievement to date at Roll7?
Probably working on OlliOlli2 – Everyone on the team was super talented and I
made a lot of friends working on that game who I still speak to today. In terms of
achievement. It was amazing to be part of making something that got so much
exposure, as well as it being our most critically acclaimed title to date.
What was your role on OlliOlli2?
QA mostly, but I ended up getting involved in a bit of design work on that one
too – I think one of my personal favourite parts was stepping up my design
involvement and working on the ‘FreeSkate’ mode for the Xbox One version. I
really got to stretch my legs and design something that was a bit more chill, a bit
more accessible, and a bit more open to new players or casual gamers. I’m
pretty proud of what we managed to do with that. I really like the idea of making
a game more accessible, while still having that really high skill ceiling.
For sure. And one final question - what’s something interesting about
the games industry that people might not know?
What, other than the fact that working in the industry doesn’t mean you just get
to play games all day?
Even in QA?!
Even in QA! Jokes aside - I guess the big thing I would say surprised me when I
started out in games is how friendly people are. I go to a lot of industry events,
and while the people there might be working at different companies, it’s not a
competitive atmosphere. Everyone is really invested in everyone else’s success.
Yeah, that’s something I’ve really noticed as well, actually. There’s a
real community vibe.
There is, definitely.
Alright Sam, I think that’s all the questions I have for now. Thank you so
much for your time – have a great day!
The Roll7 Team
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