Secret interview techniques [what they dont want you to know]

Disclaimer: this personal blog is full of unsupported claims and spelling errors and as such should not be taken as fact, by anyone, ever.

If you took my advice from my blog on making money and used glassdoor to find an appropriate company then you should now have an interview lined up. (good work, getting the interview is the first, and one of the hardest hurdles!) If you aren’t even slightly anxious over the outcome, then you probably have never had an interview before or are unaware of how these things go down. Let me walk you through it.

Step 1: the night before your interview make some preparations on how to get there on time, maybe do some research on the company and find out its difficult to find any real information on the company anyway.

Step 2: get up either way too early or a little too late, get lost on the way to the companies worksite, start sweating too much. When you finally get inside, get told to sit and wait for about half an hour until you get dragged through the entire office and sat down while someone important quickly skips over your CV.

Step 3: get asked a question that should be easy to answer but makes you sit there in silence for 5 minutes as you search your soul for something that isn’t just disappointing. You know at this point that you are not suited for this job and you are just wasting this extremely important persons’ time.

Step 4: never hear from these people again, despite how you feel the interview went.

crying
– me, after every interview, except I can’t afford such an expensive bottle

The reason this keeps happening to me, and possibly you, is with step 1. There needs to be much more preparation than that. It also helps to go for jobs that require skills that you actually have. So put more time and effort into your interview prep, like finding out what the company produces, what your job will consist of and any questions you have relating to that (other than how much will you be paid, or how often you will get a smoko) and, of course, ensure you get there on time fresh and smelling like daisies. At least have a shower with soap, not a deodorant shower.

Make sure you do well in the ‘phone call’. This is usually just the first point of contact, where an employer will be setting up an actual interview with you. You may be asked about your employment history, and ask about yourself. This is usually kept as informal as possible, and they will try to find out how ‘in-demand’ you are. An issue I have with these is that they may get sprung on me at any time, whether I am prepared or not. Was I sure to get a good sleep in the night before, so I sound coherent? doesn’t matter, the trick here is to practice the common questions you may have to answer.

Here is a website full of common interview questions.

Now, on to the important part: the secret interview questions you will most likely never have used on you unless you go for a job at EA or Microsoft, for example, If you were a part in a car, which part would you be and why? Questions like these are set up to find out more about your personality, to help work out where you will fit into larger teams and to help avoid clashes in the workplace.

Here is a video about the experience and meaning of these secret questions:

You will most likely never come across these, as there is a huge workload behind the psychology of each question. This means that only very large companies can afford to draw any useful meaning out of your answers. The best way to handle these questions is to treat them as a problem: how do you answer in a way that paints you as a person who works really hard and is worth the time and money the company will invest in you, without being obvious about it?S4MYFQO

Here is some simple material on the most common questions to use as a starting point. If you practice, then you won’t be anywhere near as worried, and you will find the answers will come to you much easier. This, of course, can be applied to all sections of every job you apply for and surprisingly enough the answer is always practice. If you can get tips from anyone successful that helps too.

Further reading:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Four Interview Techniques in Qualitative Research | Opdenakker | Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2015.
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Clump Soul

Katamari Damacy (塊魂, Katamari Damashii ?; lit. “clump soul”)

– For your reading pleasure –    

I set up a Trello account, which is very useful for keeping track of what you need to do now, and what can wait. I’m looking forward to also being able to sleep more, as any late night ideas I have can go straight up on that, in the icebox/feature creeps. This is also going to help me make sure I complete the important core of the game before I start messing around with getting everything all pretty.

While I did have some trouble getting the gravity and movement working, it feels reasonably smooth right now. Controls are very important in a game, I myself have turned down games because I couldn’t play them the way I wanted at the time or were too clunky and strange. There should feel like there is no barrier between what the player wants and what happens in-game. Gamasutra has an article on control schemes here, and they talk about the ‘twin joystick’ or ‘tank controls’ schemes, that is used in Katamari Damacy (pg.5).

While I have run into plenty of problems, most of them being I could not remember how to use something, I have found the Unity scripting API to be the solution to all of my problems. Knowing how to use it has saved me hours of scrounging around in the forums trying to figure out how to interpret and apply peoples specific solutions to problems that may or may not apply to me.

Problems that did apply to me was the world rendering strangely at large distances. This was because I had several objects passing through each other for the planet. I found out in the unity forums that this strange rendering was caused by your camera’s near clipping planes being too low. having a very low number caused small inaccuracies that are only seen with large objects and great distances, and even a minor increase in near clipping planes has a great effect.

So the center of the player ball contains an old model I had from a previous project, I called him gravity man. If I have the time, considering his skeleton is already set up, I will grab his animations, and give him his crown back.  He is royalty, after all. It wouldn’t be Katamari Damacy without it.

Another thing I would like to touch on is the usefulness of skype and its screen share, something I had not used before, for helping out my classmates (or getting help) with problem-solving.

The next issues I will deal with is time management, figuring out what will stay and what can go, coming up with explinations as to why the invoice is so dear, trying to top my last title screen, and finding a ‘funky jazz fusion loop with unintelligible lyrics shouted over a megaphone that isn’t just annoying’. there is no search tag for that, sadly. (there is one for ‘annoying BG loop’)

Income and art – 5 easy installments of $99.99

Just getting a job, working for a company is one of the easiest ways to keep a stable income. Glassdoor is amazing for this, providing the job you are looking to work for is on there. Getting a small amount of insight into the inner workings of a workplace before you even go for the interview can be an extremely powerful tool. Unfortunately, my main issue with keeping a job is myself. This is why I am getting my bachelors, but I am also building a small network of colleagues so that I may learn to get on with people better.

Another method of making money is through crowdfunding. For games, this would mean Kickstarter or Indiegogo, however, these require a large amount of effort to get any real outcome, and are heavily reliant on your pre-existing network. Another issue is the possibility of them ending up costing more money than they make, through excessive rewards or unobtainable stretch goals. Patreon is a crowd funding subscription service, normally used by youtube creators. This could be used as a subscription service to the ‘newest games’, where your patrons would receive access to a database service of all of your released games, preferably over multiple devices, like IOS, PC and the Xbox arcade area. If you could pump out a new game every month, It might be worth it. If you offered a decent quality as standard and grew a decent fan base, you could start taking on more teams. Essentially you could end up offering a curated apple store content, on PC, Xbox or other platforms.

I imagine flipping burgers at maccas may still be in my future, that’s not really a problem as long as the bills get paid. Psychic income does not pay bills. I would rather a Pepsi sponsorship (so refreshing!)

I’m currently studying programming, which means that there are a lot of opportunities outside the creation of my own games to make some money, especially as a contractor. I have worked as a contractor in the hospitality industry years ago for Drake International in Canberra. It had its ups and downs, like much more stable work; if a job ran out of work for me, there was another job lined up. I had my own handler, and never had to find someone to fill in for me. Any training I required was provided, but being sent to new sites as often as I was was very jarring, and I was the ‘new guy’ every other week.

So I have a possible future of inconsistent jobs, but there is no contracting company for the games industry in Australia. This would be useful, as It could streamline the job finding process, helping to provide a steady income. It could provide any training or information required by a job site, and minimalize the risks a company has to weather (such as falsified CV info, no shows, injury claims processes and, with a close relationship to the contracting company, staff personality clashes). It could also provide structures for conflict resolutions, social get togethers, sick coverage, holidays and even support unions.

At the end of the day, I am aware that I am not just a content creator, but also a salesperson, if not in my projects then in my available skills. We must all be aware of our worth, so we can charge for it appropriately.

Nobody understands quaternions

So I finished up working on glitchenstein. I added smooth transitions between the title screen and the playable scene and found out how to get a looping track to loop properly. I had some fairly interesting ideas to make it feel like more of a game, and less of a tech demo too, for example:

the background/sky would have a chance display a bunch of strange repeating animations, in the style of me! me! me!

I also planned for a large boss fight, and a ranged weapon (a rocket launcher that did no damage but launched things around with high force from its explosion) alas, I was spending too much time on it and had to wrap it up. It’s still a good base to work off, at a later date If I can.

I am now working on the first assessment for my scripting class, which requires I build my own Katamari Damacy game. For those who haven’t yet, experience it now!

So of course I’m doing it on a fully traversable planned instead of just a flat world. Because I hate myself. I have only just started and the biggest issue is working out the players movement that mimics the original games but works with spherical gravity. I even have twin stick controls. Once I have that figured out, I will need plenty of objects to collect, so the world doesn’t feel too samey, it would be nice to generate their placements randomly, although hand crafting the world may be nicer for the player. My plan for the AI is to create use invisible game objects as waypoints, placed in a list for each AI to use. They will then move to each point while using my gravity system. If I keep each waypoint close enough together, the world is large enough that they won’t seem to be moving through the floor.

I would like to avoid animating the animal or human objects, as this will require a large amount of work. If I have the time I will.

Quaternions are jerks, to the point that the Unity scripting API basically tells you that if you don’t know, you won’t know. I found that very interesting.

More on (insert Katamari Damacy clone name here) next week!

ME!ME!ME! feat.Daoko / TeddyLoid (HD) from LeinhartKUF on Vimeo.

Katamari Forever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbAM_Po00Bk 

Featured image: https://twitter.com/sean_htch/status/432224871301386240

GLITCHENSTEIN

https://itch.io/embed/27818?dark=true

We get told to make our own version of Wolfenstein. It has to include weapons, simple search and shoot AI, working doors and a nice map. I sit down and think “make my own map? why would I do that, that sounds like work. I’ll just get the computer to randomly make one for me each time I start. That will be easier.” well I was right, it was reasonably easy and only consumed about 4-5 days to get it all nice and polished.

Here’s what the game does:

It starts making a map, square by square (each being 5x5x5). In each square, if it’s clear, it will do a couple of rolls. It may roll for a wall section, and just places that down. If not, but it has a wall section behind it, it may roll a door section, and place a wall ahead of it (so the door fits nicely). If that doesn’t happen, then it gets the chance to place enemies. Of course, none of this happens on the player’s tile or the goal tile, and the whole arena is surrounded by walls.

Pretty simple, and it is generated pretty fast, as all it has to do is instantiate based on random rolls. The map is usually set to about 50×50 blocks, but generation only slowed down on my PC when I was generating a map larger than 200×200 blocks. It would end up generating over 28,000 objects in that situation, which is a fair amount.

The next fun thing that I got it to do, was to regenerate the map at the push of a button, and instead of just wiping the previous map, it got every single wall, door and light, stored them in an array and set them all to non-kinematic. As they were set to not use gravity this caused them to violently explode into the sky, eventually slowing down to softly float around. This was later moved to only occur when the player touches the goal, exploding the map and spawning a new goal. That is the core game loop.

game1

Seen above is the first of two enemies in the game. They both billboard towards the player at all times, and when close enough start raycasting at the player to test if they have direct line of sight. If they do, they become aggressive, letting out a shrill scream and keeping a perfect distance between themselves and the player (using addforce, so they seemingly ‘accelerate’ towards and away from the player, they have an eventual higher movement speed), begin to shoot at them. The two variants of enemy are blue and red, the blue having a slow but powerful projectile and the red having a low but constant damage, that moves instantly.

The player can instantly kill both of these enemies by stomping on them (running over them). I felt like I had done a better job on the controls and movement compared to the last game, and found myself more confident in my ability to use c# and unity.

HOW WE ARE (not) THE SAME

Last week I was given a homework task to create  a wolfenstein clone. I put around 50 hours into it over the long weekend, making a self-generating map and making it look as pretty as I could, all for a game that wasn’t even going to be assessed. The teacher was impressed, which made me happy, and I put it up on itch.io, however while I got 400 people to look at the game, the only feedback I received was along the lines of ‘this is not a game’.

We are not the same. The creative industries require people to work more hours for less pay, as a labour of love. I have worked 80-hour weeks for a pittance, trying to sell donation subscriptions to people just trying to get the shopping done. Luckily, I was able to keep that job for as long as I needed it, unlike in the creative industries, that have very minimal job stability, owing to the project like work that is on offer.

The creative industries expect you to have a passion for your work, almost as though it were a lover. I have worked desk jobs, as IT support or as an admin assistant. These jobs were most often seen as an end to a means, just a way to pay the bills, which is fine, but this was their entire career and was treated as some dull grey place that they spent approximately a sixth of their lives.

So here is the gist; to work in the creative industries, you have to be insane. Here are a couple of video’s by extra credits on the working conditions of and information about working in the games industry:

Here is some information about salaries in the games industry hosted on gamasutra:

http://www.gamasutra.com/salarysurvey2014.pdf

In our face to face, we went over the internal nature of the industry, and its social aspects; mainly that jobs are not particularly advertised and instead jobs are attained through who you know, your connections. While this may be prevalent in positions of power in other industries, it is not the only way in, nor is it as widespread. One of the most significant things to realise is how close the community actually is. The people you are studying with and under are the people you will end up working with and for, providing you don’t piss everyone off of course. So what we find is that as you are in such a small community of people who were all brought up to work in such harsh conditions, not only are you expected to work like that by your boss, but also your co-workers, who all have a part in ensuring whether or not you get another job.

We briefly spoke about the lack of unions, but what I understand now is the need to temper oneself, socially and with my work.

FML PONG

IN THIS WEEKS LECTURE:

“you have 45 minutes to make pong, get to it. Also, here’s GitHub and itch.io, they are your world now”

FMLPONG2

It took me about 10 hours finish making the game, but the end product is quite fun. The paddles are nothing special, and the enemy AI just moves towards the ball’s height, with a limited speed. Nice and simple. However, the ball itself is a tricky character; it rotates by a random amount every time he hits a paddle, and every frame adds force to its local positive x axis, meaning that the ball travels in sometimes very strange patterns.

I spent ages refreshing myself with how to use certain bits of code with the unity API’s, but found that the plan of what had to be done came fairly easily.

There are four scripts, one for the players paddle, one for the AI, one for the ball and one for a game controller. The game controller, ball and AI all run methods from each other, and the ball is a prefab that is destroyed and spawned for each new set, the AI finds the ball every frame by searching for its tag so that the ball can be destroyed when needed. The game controller keeps track of the scores, sets the text boxes to the appropriate messages and handles exiting and resetting the game.

so It’s all working fine, I fixed a bug where the death zones were too small and the ball could escape, and I had a browser version running too. Then my brother suggests multiplayer. So I got that done with very little fuss too!

Itch.io is awesome, has simple to use tools to present my game in a nice professional meets gamer style, and helps me keep track of the popularity of those games.

I’m looking forward to learning more about source control and how to use GitHub more effectively (like committing every 20-30 mins instead of after 10 hours of work. I was on a roll, will avoid from now on).

Here is a link to the game, for free!

http://benwelsh.itch.io/fmlpong

I got the font used in game here:

http://www.fontspace.com/codeman38/press-start-2p 

And followed this tutorial to figure out how to display text on screen:

https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials/projects/roll-a-ball/displaying-text

I made the game sounds using this:

http://superflashbros.net/as3sfxr/