Daniel Matros drew in the crowds to the Digital Art’s Seminar room last night and by no means were they disappointed with his talk on producing one of the biggest AAA games to be launched this year: Battlefield 4. Aspiring students, game designers and producers listened intently to what it is like to work for a major games company such as Dice and producing blockbuster games that are expected to sell more than twenty million copies and have budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars. Matros also expressed his experiences of living in the first-World country of Sweden and all the benefits that come with working there, contrasting it to his many experiences of a faulty Garmin in South Africa and Johannesburg with his local fiancé, which he describes as a ‘great place, dangerous, but great!’
Matros, a self-confessed non-PowerPoint designer, who works for Dice, has produced titles such as Bad Company 2: Vietnam, Battlefield:3 (Strike at Karkand; Close Quarters and Armoured Kill) and Battlefield: 4. I can definitely identify him as the Swede that he described: relaxed, calm and methodical. This made the talk relaxed and enjoyable, with a welcoming feeling when someone wanted to ask challenging questions or just wanted a chat afterwards. Matros even gave the second-year games a look at and a crit, inspiring the students to work for the opportunity to work for a big company such as Dice.
Although explaining the joys of working at a company that makes AAA games, Matros puts a major emphasis on the fact the indie market is opening up and that students should feel excited about entering the games industry through other means. Internships are hard to nail, and getting hired as an international artist, designer, coder or producer requires you to have a lot of experience and talent. He also described some of the games that were less exciting to be a part of: Bratz, Barbie and Shrek games to name a few.
The overall advise he gives to those who aspire to be a part of the games industry is: make something great; put a lot of effort and money into marketing it; know that you are expected to work ridiculous hours, especially during crunch time; and, if you want to work for a AAA games company, find an employer who cares about you and your happiness. He just seems to have it all figured out, a lesson here in South Africa that may need to be learned, for as I see the current industry, there are a lot of talented game-developers with potential of reaching the same standards as the international AAA companies.
Author: Michèle Dykes
2013 is the 2nd iteration of the A.MAZE/ Johannesburg international festival of digital games and art. This year we are very pleased at the inclusion of 8 game designers and digital artists from the rest of Africa who will be demonstrating their work, leading workshops, and participating in the panel discussions. Wits Digital Arts are official partners with the festival and we plan to be involved with the next 4 years of A MAZE in Johannesburg.
The opening event and party is on Thursday evening 5th September in the new Apple iLounge in Melle Street, followed by music at Kitchener’s. The rest of the events will take place at venues around Braamfontein, including the Alex Theatre and Digital Arts.
Please go to the festival website - www.amaze-johannesburg.co.za for the programme and to book for the events. Although free of charge we do want participants to register.