Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

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Apocalyptic Hamster
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Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

Post by Apocalyptic Hamster »

Hey, I noticed from your bio page that you were a programmer for WD for awhile. Nifty. I'm a big fan of all the games that WD did such an outstanding job of localizing (as are many of the other members here, I'm sure), especially their Lunar and Growlanser releases... *dreamy sigh* :3 So anyway, I was wondering, would you mind telling us a bit about your work there?

For example: How did the opportunity to work there arise in the first place? What projects did you work on while you were there? Was your work mostly in adding new features, improving/debugging existing code, or other work not directly related to the games (maintaining company databases, writing developer tools, etc.)? Were specific tasks and guidelines laid out for you, or did you have some creative leeway with the overall programming portion of the localization process?

And you mentioned in your bio that video game design was one of your goals in college... Are you still hoping to find a career as a designer, in which you have more creative control over your projects, or do you find the programming part of the game development process more interesting? What language(s) (and IDEs and developer tools, if any) did you work with? Also, how much did your university education prepare you for your real-world career? And how much of your programming knowledge was self-taught (throughout high school & college, in your spare time outside of class), and how much had to be learned on the job?

Sorry, too many questions, I know, didn't mean to turn this into an interrogation. >_< It's cool if you don't feel like answering any (or all) of them. I'm somewhat of a (newbie) programmer myself, and currently working on a CS degree, so I really find this kind of thing interesting.




Oh, and I apologize in advance if you've already done interview topics or answered similar questions before (forum search didn't bring up anything obvious). <_<;
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Re: Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

Post by webmaster »

How I got hired at Working Designs:
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... ng_designs

While there, I mostly worked on the games. I started with Silhouette Mirage, then moved on to Vanguard Bandits, Arc the Lad, Arc the Lad II, then Lunar 2, then back to Arc the Lad II, Arc the Lad III, Arc Arena: Monster Tournament, Growlanser II, Growlanser III, and finally Mystical Ninja Goemon. I also did a couple non-game projects, such as the script to print out whole batches of Fed-Ex reports off their website. And I wrote a bunch of tools to help with game development, such as word wrap and data extraction programs.

Most of the work on the games was first getting it to work, then getting it to work with English text, then adding features and modifying the game until it just felt as close to perfect as we could get. Sometimes there were requests for changes and features, but often times we'd all be on the same page, so I'd end up making the changes before being asked to. And then sometimes I added features that nobody else thought of. There were never any guidelines, though. I could work on the games however I wanted to.

Video game designs was one of my goals, but only because I didn't know about the wonders of localization at the time. I have always loved videogames, but I would always find myself saying "I wish they would have just done it this way, it would have been so much more convenient". That's why I wanted to get into videogames, to make them just a little better. And that's exactly what I get to do with localization. I have little desire to make a game from scratch. I mean, just writing that little secret Slime Time checkers game for the Making of Arc the Lad Collection was plenty time consuming.

PlayStation and PlayStation 2 both used the C/C++ language, and I assume most other systems probably do as well. There are different environments available, but I'm pretty much stuck with whatever the Japanese side was using. For PlayStation 1, this was done on Windows. For PS2, I believe Growlanser was done on Windows and Goemon was done on Linux. And of course every project has some custom tools in addition to the standard development tools provided with the development kits.

My university experience was absolutely crucial. It taught me not just about the technical stuff that I needed to know, but it also taught me how to problem solve and face difficult situations. Most of my programming knowledge came from schooling, but then you're always learning, on every project, so I did learn a lot on the job as well. All of my HTML and JavaScript knowledge was self-taught. I never took any classes for that.

I have done e-mail interviews before with students interested in my line of work. Here is one such interview:
http://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken-innes/#interview

And if you want to more about some of the project specifics:
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... career_day
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... tte_mirage
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... ty_bandits
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... he_lunar_2
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... ith_fed_ex
https://www.absoluteanime.com/about/ken ... collection
Apocalyptic Hamster
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Re: Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

Post by Apocalyptic Hamster »

Whoops, didn't notice that part of your bio page... But wow. Sounds like you had a lot more freedom with your work than I was expecting. That's just awesome, especially for a job you got straight out of college. Ooohhh, I'm terribly envious. @_@

Ever since I started dabbling in programming (around middle school) I've always thought it would be incredibly cool to be part of some sort of game development team, but I've never really thought of it as a serious possibility... All the CS graduates I've talked to tell me that most of the opportunities available to me immediately after graduation will be rather bland and monotonous low-level positions that I'll be stuck with for at least my first 4-6 years or so in the working world. And from what I hear, getting the more interesting work is a matter of having exceptional skills and experience beyond your college education, having the right connections, and/or just plain luck... none of which I have, really. And it certainly doesn't help that most if not all computer science & information technology-related fields are getting increasingly competitive every year... =\

...But anyway, thanks for replying, it's really cool to hear from someone with actual game programming experience. :D I mean, really, there are only so many people out there who get to combine their interests and pastimes with legitimate careers...



Oh, and one more random question- I understand a great deal of work went into Goemon before getting the axe... Who currently owns the rights to all that work, and is it pretty much doomed to never see the light of day again?
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Re: Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

Post by webmaster »

I don't know who owns the rights. I never dealt with any of that kind of legal stuff. I wouldn't say that it will never see the light again, just that it is highly unlikely, especially since the next-gen systems are basically here.
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Re: Questions to the webmaster about Working Designs

Post by Theo »

Yeah, low level development posistion suck. I've worked in several of them. I actually worked with Ken in 99 before moving into the Dot Bomb world.
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