So You Want to be an MMO Developer? Part 4

by Nick Parkinson,MMORPG.COM

Today, we present Part Four: CS and QA, of Nick's four-part developer journal series. Nick Parkinson is a developer at Sigil and is currently working on Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

Where to Start

We're lumping Quality Assurance, Customer Support and Community together because while the jobs are very much different all three are often seen as "foot in the door" jobs, so to speak. Meaning, a lot of folks get hired on in a position in one of these areas and want to eventually move on to some other area (typically design, though sometimes art). If you find yourself applying for one, don't feel that you need to keep that fact a secret either as it's usually not a problem.

Anyway, QA and CS people can prepare in much the same way you would for game design. Play lots of different kind of games, be active in the community and give good feedback where you can. For community particularly, and CS too having an amiable, generally good natured personality goes a long way. If you're just not a people person, you probably won't like being a GM or on the community team a whole bunch.

Where to go to School

None of these areas really require any sort of degree. Though good written communication skills are critical to your ability to do any of them, so while English or similar degrees can help, they certainly aren't required. On our community team alone, we've had people who majored in English, Psychology and even a culinary student.

Getting a Job

Customer Support and Quality Assurance people can improve their chances at getting hired by doing much of the same things described in the design section. If you're in beta, post lots of good, quality feedback and make sure when you apply for the job you let the developers know.

For Community jobs, we typically hire directly out of the community. So if you want to get in, try getting on the staff of a fan site or starting your own and showing us what you can do. Be very active in the community and most of all, set a good example for everyone else. We're not going to hire the guy who insults other people all the time, even if he runs a killer fan site.

What to Expect

If you're coming in with the hope of moving on to another department, expect to work hard and prove that you can do it. If you're not a self-starter it's going to be really hard. Assert yourself and offer to help the area you want to move to wherever possible. Other than that, expect to have your patience tested on a regular basis. Game bugs can be frustrating, dealing with 1000 angry players because of the bug can be even more frustrating. In the end though, it is a rewarding experience as you'll have the opportunity to meet a lot of really cool people you probably wouldn't have otherwise known. Web Developer Rob Matzker and Game Master Suzanne Owen add their two cents:

What's your favorite part about working for a game company?

Rob Matzker, Web Developer: The culture. People here are creative and like to have fun while working hard. It really makes for an exciting and rewarding work environment. I love the electronic entertainment industry and I'm proud that our company is working on a product that so many people are looking forward to.

Suzanne Owen, Game Master: I love meeting people from all over the world, and seeing the one thing they all have in common which is love of the game. Being in customer support means being a part of a team; I really enjoy working in that type of environment. Each one of us brings something unique to the team and it's great to see how it all comes together.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about working at Sigil?

Rob Matzker, Web Developer: We have a tight-knit community of employees. I've worked for quite a few companies in the past and I have never experienced this kind of overall utopian experience that we have here at Sigil. It really makes coming to work everyday something I look forward to. We strive to make a great game while trying to keep the workplace as non-corporate as possible. This helps to bring about more of a family-like environment where people can be themselves.

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