Missing the Point

So, a few days back Irrational had a job posting with a “need to have shipped a game with a 85+ metacritic ranking” requirement and the Gamasutra staff took turns bashing it. Disregarding how rarely job “requirements” turn out to be anything more than a wishlist I find it a bit odd that none of them could make any sense out of this.

To be clear, I don’t think it is a particularly good requirement and I agree that in AAA productions you cannot judge games by individuals, or individuals by the games they have been credited on. Even if the entire team is top-notch, a multitude of external factors can affect the quality of a game negatively – also, games that are niche, underhyped or inaccessible usually score lower. In short, having worked on a “bad” game does not in itself make you a bad developer and I think allowing metacritic more influence on personel issues is a dangerous idea. You can, however, usually make some assumptions about high-scoring titles.

Games that score higher tend to be more polished, usually at least slightly innovative and having a good sense of identity. There are many reasons for why this might happen – enigmatic leads, a well-functioning team, an incredibly strong core idea, a technological breakthrough or enough money not to have to bend to anyone’s will. None of these guarantee success, but usually successful games have at least one of them. Working under these circumstances is different than working without them, and if you are an otherwise good developer you will learn things from it. I think when you are hiring a lead with this requirement you are not looking for someone who will automatically write a design for an 85+ game, you are looking for someone with experience in doing the little things a bit better. Be it prioritizing tasks, finding new talent, making sure everyone is heard, plan social events or anything else – you are hoping the applicant knows something that might give you an edge.

Again, I do not think this kind of requirement is the right way to go and I do not think they will enforce it. But I can see why you would want to hire people who have experience in working with a successful process.

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Posted on Jul 31/12 by Saint and filed under General game development | No Comments »