Moonlighting with Insomniac – New Year Edition

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Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year!!

With the New Year comes a new direction for our interactive blog, Moonlighting with Insomniac, that we are pretty excited about!   2016 will be all about bringing more focus to diversity in the game development industry.  While Moonlighting with Insomniac was developed to give you face time with our recruitment team and ALL of our developers, we are choosing to highlight female developers at Insomniac and have them provide us with their viewpoints/advice on careers in the industry and their particular discipline.

Happy-New-Year-Wallpaper-Wishes

We hope that by featuring the awesome, talented women in our studio we can inspire other women developers both working and aspiring to work in the industry.  This is an open forum where you can come speak freely on the topic.  We’ll be advertising our blogs via Twitter and LinkedIn so if its something you’re passionate about as well – please help us spread the word by sharing, re-tweeting and re-posting.

Our first guest this year is Nina Fricker, Insomniac’s very own Animation Lead.  Nina has been working in the game industry for over 15 years, 8 of those at Insomniac. Up until two years ago her primary roles had been providing rigging and scripting support as a Character TD. Now she is leading the animation department in the North Carolina studio.

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Nina Fricker, Animation Lead

As always – Moonlighting is the first WEDNESDAY of the month. January’s will fall on the 6th at 130 pm PT / 430 pm ET.

The comments section is open now for your questions so feel free to post away and we’ll answer you when we log in on 1/6/16.  Please remember, we want to encourage open communication and informative discussions but we also need to be respectful around the subject.

Talk to you next year!

-Kerri & Angela

 

  • Chris

    Hello Kerri and Angela and a Happy New Year!!!

    If you had to give a grade to the industry on how well it treats topics in diversity what would you give it and how could the score improve?

    • Kerri Zinkievich

      Hi Chris, I think like most STEM or Tech based industries, diversity and inclusion are always a hot topic just because of the “typical demographic” that tends to get into these fields. I don’t think its an issue of how the industry is treating diversity as much as its an issue of getting MORE minorities and females interested/into the industry in the first place. Overall I think a middle of the road grade – C – would do. I know that Schools and industry leaders are starting to encourage young women in particular to get more interested in STEM careers – I guess we’ll see if that plan pans out or if we continue to see the same type of issues pop up in 10 or 15 years.

  • Greetings Kerri and Angela. Hope you all had a great break! Now to some questions!
    1. What are some of the biggest challenges working in the industry? Biggest rewards?
    2. What section would HR roles be under (if offered)?
    3. Do you know if any internships will be offered in 2016?
    4. Does Insomniac offer work from home positions?
    5. Has Insomniac ever had game nights? (For Ex: Playing Ratchet and Clank for fun)
    6. I know things are under NDA, but can we Insomniac fans expect big things this year?
    Well, that’s all for now. Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂
    – Donte’

    • Kerri Zinkievich

      Hi Donte, Thanks for stopping in. Lets tackle these in order shall we.
      1. For myself some of the biggest challenges in this industry are how niche the skill sets are to recruit for. I think the biggest rewards tend to be in the fact that I get to work with people all day who are doing what they love. Also, specifically at Insomniac, the inclusion is awesome here – everyone gets input into whats going on in our games. It’s pretty sweet.
      2. HR roles would fall under the Administrative heading if they become available.
      3. We don’t yet have an answer to that. But typically if we post internships they get posted end of January, beginning of February – so keep your eyes peeled on our careers page.
      4. Insomniac currently does not offer work from home or remote roles. As a pretty fluid team, we like to have everyone onsite. It just makes working on projects easier when you can bounce ideas off of each other and get critiques about work in real time off the cuff.
      5. Of course we have! we have tournaments and impromptu game play all the time… during lunch breaks, after work, just for a quick break… we play our games and others we’ve not developed. It gets pretty intense sometimes!
      6. Always 🙂

      -Kerri

  • Kerri Zinkievich

    Hi Everyone, Nina and I are logged in now for the first Moonlighting session of the year. Unfortunately Angela is OOO today so we’ll be filling in for her as well. Feel free to ask you questions of Nina and I whenever you’re ready!

  • Nina

    Howdy!

  • Happy 2016 Kerri, Angela, and Nina!
    Thank you for setting up this moonlighting session today and I’m stoked for the new direction the blog is taking.

    I’m currently a game art student focusing on 3D Environment but I enjoy learning all different aspects that go into game dev.
    A few questions for Nina:
    1. How did you get into the industry and how did you learn rigging and scripting?
    2. What are some of the most common technical problems you run into when rigging?

    Thanks!

    • Nina

      Hi Lauren! Thanks for joining us!

      I got my start in the industry through the school I went to, Full Sail. I was a
      Computer Animation student at the time and found myself really enjoying the one
      class that all my peers really hated. For me, that was the clue that this was
      the area of production that I wanted to specialize in. During the rigging
      class, one of our lab instructors left to join a company called Turbine. At
      that point, he was the only person I knew in ANY industry remotely 3D related,
      so I asked if he would be willing to look at the rigs I was working on for a
      personal project that myself and a hand full of other students were doing for
      fun.

      Once I was finished with school, that same lab instructor
      informed that they were looking for an entry level rigger to join the company,
      so off I went to Boston!

      • Nina

        More replies incoming…

        • Nina

          I don’t know if this is necessarily a technical problem, but the most common things I’m working with both character artists and animators on is to figure out our character movement mechanics. Going from concept to something functional in 3D requires us all to sort out how to break down a character into something we can all execute on, especially give the crazy creatures our concept artists come up with.

          • Thank you so much! Your story is inspirational. Just looking at some of the rigging out there like from Evolve, Uncharted 4 and of course Insomniac just sends my head spinning. Totally cool stuff!

          • Nina

            There is a lot of really amazing work being done by incredibly talented teams out there! They inspire me too!!

      • Nina

        I started learning both rigging and scripting at school, but it was really once I got to Turbine that my skills and knowledge really started growing. Rinse and repeat for many years and eventually I got to where I am now. Honestly to this day, I’m learning and growing in both areas.

  • Bert Ferrero

    Greetings, and a happy new year. What can you tell me about getting in as a game tester. I currently do not reside in the states Insomniac Games reside. Suggestions, and ideas are welcome. Thanks.

    • Kerri Zinkievich

      Hi Bert, Happy new year! In regards to getting into the industry as a game tester I can tell you that its important to highlight game related skills on your resume. Do you try to break games on your own, play on twitch or other streaming platforms. What skills do you have a finding bugs and reporting them or writing test cases? If you don’t have any testing experience in the industry it’s important to highlight the skills you do have. Also, if you have an education in Computer Science or Game Design, that always helps! As far as becoming a tester and not residing in a state that Insomniac is in… feel free to apply to any permanent role for a tester. If its a Temp role though we do typically only consider local candidates – We don’t want you to pick up and move for a role that might end in a few months. That doesn’t make sense for any of us 🙂 Hope this helps!

      • Bert Ferrero

        Thanks for your reply, yes I am aware of the streaming platforms, I’m conformtable with camera, I prefer being

  • Bert Ferrero

    Second question, as a developer, whom struggles with coding, designing, and character development are strong suits, in what ways can I find a coding structure to help accentuate my design sensibilities?

    • Nina

      Hi Bert! Can you tell me a little more about what you’d like to be doing with your coding skills?

      • Bert Ferrero

        I’ve learned C, C++, and PHP. Having some other areas of learning via Code.org and CodeAcademy, Java, Ruby, and some Perl. I ended up buying a domain and trying out the HTML/CSS, and learning some pretty basic PHP and Javascripting. I understand the base functioning, and rules, but having little to no mentoring, its been challenging. I know there is no easy route to learn a new language as it takes baby steps. From those experiences, I’ve learned I’m not a programmer, but a designer. Having some knowledge of code is helpful but I am not sure if this is the right avenue for me. I tend be very visual with my learning. So, the question more or less is there a program that doesn’t have a lot of the backend hardline coding learning aspects, I prefer to jump in and learn. I really did enjoy the code.org site for designing, debugging, along with its visual aid, and layout. Is there a program like that? Hope that helps. Thanks.

        • Nina

          Perhaps visual scripting would be of interest to you? You may want to check out Unreal’s visual scripting system called Blueprint.

          • Bert Ferrero

            Is this a pay per month? I’ll check it out.

    • Kerri Zinkievich

      Hi Bert – sorry I don’t think I understand this question. Are you asking that if you don’t code – Design and Character Dev. are your stronger suits – how do you learn coding to help make those designs reality? In that case, outside of learning how to code – or hiring a programmer – you could always study source code that has been released freely. Our programming lead mentioned that he thought Doom 3’s code was publically released – if you studied that it might help you find what you’re looking for. I’m not really sure if that answered your question though.

  • Happy New Year’s to everyone over there! Congratulations on another year of Moonlighting blogs and hopefully this is another strong year. Thank you so much for continuing to host these amazing opportunities for insights into your studio.

    1. Are both of the studio branches working on the same games at the same time or is one working on specifically Edge of Nowhere, for example?
    2. What was your personal highlight of 2015 for Insomniac Games?
    3. Where would you like to see Insomniac Games by the end of 2016?
    4. Is there any special Insomniac does to stand apart from the rest of the industry as far as promoting diversity goes?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Kerri Zinkievich

      Hi Mahreen – we are going to answer your questions individually 🙂

      #4 – Besides this Blog (wink, wink) Insomniac Games has been a corporate sponsor for Women In Games International, We’ve hosted their mentor-ship program, we visit schools and encourage more females and minorities to consider Games as a career field, we’ve even had some of our Insomniacs participate in a round table discussion at GDC on the topic. So yes, I think we do do some things that encourage the growth of diversity in our industry and we continue to do so.

      • Yeah you’ve got a good point there. I keep seeing Insomniac Game’s name popping up everywhere as far as sponsoring WIG and talking at GDC goes. Really makes me happy to see you guys putting yourselves out there and giving such talks. For minority females like me, it’s really inspirational to see.

    • Nina

      Hi Mahreen! Happy New Year to you!
      1) This really depends on the project, but both in the case of Ratchet & Clank, and Edge of Nowhere, we have people at both studios working on the projects together.

      2) My personal highlight of 2015 was announcing Edge of Nowhere and in general being at the bleeding edge of VR production. It’s the first time in my career working on something so revolutionary to the industry.

      3) By the end of 2016, I’d love to see Ratchet & Clank, both the game and the movie, bring in a huge new generation of Ratchet fans, and I’d like to see Edge of Nowhere knock the socks off of VR skeptics.

      • Pretty admirable goals for 2016! Hopefully all goes well – I think everyone is excited for both Ratchet & Clank as well as Edge of Nowhere. It really excites me to see everyone charging forward with the possibilities of VR and running with it. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity myself to work on a VR game as well one day soon.

  • Kerri Zinkievich

    Thanks everyone for stopping by today and a big thank you to Nina for being our guest and answering some questions today.

    • Nina

      Thanks everyone!!!

  • Tim Coker

    Hey all trying to start this year off right I graduated 6months ago with a degree in game design now trying to get my foot in the gaming industry if anyone has any pointers that would be awesome I would love to hear what everyone has to say. I have a portfolio with two small games on it nothing to wow the crowd but it’s a start. Art is my passion and what I would love to do in the industry. Hope to hear back from you guys soon! You can email me at timcoker88@yahoo.com