Lessons From the World of Indie Games

Zachary Flores Computer Science, Internship, Video Games, Virtual Reality, Viterbi Summer, Why USC, Work, Zachary Leave a Comment

I can’t believe summer over and is school is starting back up already. I have a lot to look forward to this next semester, but before I start I thought it’d be good to reflect on the lessons that I learned from my internship making games this summer.

I spent this summer working as a game engineer intern at independent game studio Funktronic Labs located in Pasadena, CA. If you’re wondering what exactly goes into being a “game engineer intern”, there’s not an exact definition. Because the studio is so small, I found myself rapidly switching between projects and doing different work on each one. Sometimes I was debugging, sometimes I was updating a finished game, and sometimes I was working on gameplay for a brand new project. Some of the cool stuff I worked on that I can talk about is my work on Fujii including the addition of save slots and free locomotion as well as patching and updating the game upon release. I had to work in a lot of different roles over the summer, so I think I learned quite a bit.

Fujii

I already knew this for the most part, but I learned what it was like to really make games as a professional with other professionals. It blew my mind how talented everyone was and how quick studios work and develop projects when it’s your full time job. I thought I would have a hard time keeping up, but I feel like I did a pretty decent job all around not slowing down projects when people were waiting on me. It was insanely fun to see my work and other people’s work come together at such a high quality in such a short amount of time. It gave me a glimpse into the life of people who make games for a living, and it was awesome.

Out of the engineers I got to meet at the office it seemed like each one had areas that they thrived in and preferred to do their work. Seeing people get to work in the areas that they enjoyed within engineering was always fun to watch come to life. Since I was an intern and had a pretty specific project for the summer I didn’t necessarily get to pick what I wanted to work on all the time, but I did still have some freedom to choose the way I approached problems and did my work. Seeing the kind of work the engineers were doing there reminded me that there’s such a high level of creativity you can achieve having a technical background. I now have a few different tools in my toolbox to go explore with now, and will report back here if I find an area that overlaps creativity and coding that I really enjoy.

Overall, I had an insanely fun time and got really close to all the people that I work with. I’m so glad that I was asked to go back part time in the fall with new projects that are completely outside of areas I’ve worked with in the past. In addition to learning a lot, I really learned what kind of game developer I want to be, and the environment and freedom that I want to have in the future.

About the Author

Zachary is a sophomore studying Computer Science (Games). Click above to find out more!


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