Hello there! My name is Christian de la Cruz, and I’m happy to announce our new interview series where we’ll be interviewing each of the team members of Petricore. They all have their own backgrounds, views, and skill sets that combine and work together to make Petricore the thriving company it is today.
However, before the series starts, our CEO, Ryan Canuel, has suggested that I make a blog post about my experiences of working for Petricore, as well as giving insight into the steps I took to get started. An important thing to mention is that I’m currently a Senior at Becker College majoring in Game Production & Management. Therefore, this will be more intended for those still going to school. However. I’ll try to make this more relatable for those who don’t go to Becker College, and I’ll explain things so that you can find parallels for at own your school, as well. So here are few things that helped me start my career.
As close friends of mine can probably tell you, I’m a very difficult man to make plans with. Freshmen year, I started getting involved in clubs and attending industry events that showed me there’s much more going on outside of the classroom. I gained a desire to discover and learn all I could about the game dev scene. I began to question, “What games were coming out and why?” The game development world is constantly evolving because of the way people’s interests change. Additionally, game developers are using new development methods to capitalize on these changing interests. By going to these industry events, clubs, and meetups, you’re engaging in an everlasting discussion on development and the scene: which brings us to our next topic – networking.
Starting a career as a student is intimidating and frightening, perhaps even nerve racking. When I started, there were all of these people who’ve accomplished great things, and I was a freshman who’d just learned what a “Unity” was. But in order for me to get that start, I began by getting to know upperclassmen – they remembered that same feeling of “barrier to entry.” As an underclassman in college, I knew they were more accessible to me because I saw them around campus or even in my classes. Also, they posted an open invitation for anyone to join them in the 24 hour Game Jam hosted by Becker IGDA. I didn’t even know them, but I knew that meeting them would allow me to learn from someone who’d gone through 4 years of education in Game Design. I asked them the questions “too dumb to ask,” and I made a peace with it; they knew where I was coming from, and they gave me simple tasks that even I could do. Eventually I started making my way to more professional events like the Gameloop & became Becker IGDA’s Vice President.
Not the most relatable topic, but one that’s important to not only me, but also to the rest of Petricore. I know, because I was in their class. The class was a chance to dip my feet into real-world game development. I was a level designer for a Tower Defense game called Midnight Terrors, which I also did Quality Assurance for. We were launching a game commercially, as opposed to just doing a group project for a class. I had a scary boss, I had deadlines, but most importantly, I had a goal. By having a goal, instead of tasks, it really pushed me from being a person who was just told what to do to being the person figuring out how to do it. In fact, it’s probably one of the most important skills I have developed as a producer.
The class also brought to my attention just how much work goes into making a game – a very necessary perspective of how easily a game can go from planning to launch in 2 months to a game that’s “not quite done yet; let’s give it 2 more years” (Meow). Additionally, I learned about user retention and analytics, and the difficulties in managing a team of programmers to work with a team of artists. But of course, looking at how our team worked, and was managed, I was able to later apply it to all of my class work. I demanded of myself that I’d put in the same effort in my other projects even when it wasn’t as serious, because only when you’re putting in that work and you make a “genuine” mistake you can learn how to avoid that mistake again.
Now I know some of you reading this don’t have this kind of class at your school so I advise you to work on your free time. Developing a game on a schedule that you’ve created is probably one of the most valuable growing experience you’ll have. It’ll teach you discipline, work ethic and when you realize you’ll get to have a post launch experience with your game.
Staying in touch with the upperclassmen who went on to go start Petricore I learned how they were doing. What being a startup was like and what it meant for how they needed to present themselves, but that’s a story for another post. They’d posted a position for QA and I got it. Later When I asked Ryan, he told me I got it because by constantly showing up to events I proved myself to be dependable. I worked along side Josh and Francesca, who both made the experience fantastic, so special shoutout to them. Ryan contacted me to help run the PAX East Booth and that’s where I got to become “The Merchant”. I offered gold (chocolate coins) to people for playing the game, but I invited them in a way that was in character and a form of acting, which many people seemed to really enjoy! I got this thrill from the showmanship and during the summer, after the QA role had ended, I asked Ryan for a job that so I can pursue an education in marketing, sales, the business of it all at Petricore. He agreed, and said that my
determination and ability to get things done would contribute strongly to Petricore.
It’s been quite the journey, I hope that my story can help some of you younger folks out there to start working your way into the game design industry. Remember to look beyond what your school can provide you and look to further your education in personal ways. Maximize all the situations you’re given, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there because there’s people who remember what it was like to be in your shoes; they’ll just be happy to have someone passionate enough to take the initiative to get out there and start working towards their goals, like we all are.