Alex Kowalski, a game and UI designer at Electronic Arts was nice enough to stop by and spin us a tale of his experience working at EA, in particular The Sims 4. Alex is also an ETC alumnus and began by telling us how when he first started out at the ETC he didn’t know what he wanted to do; he just knew he wanted to be a game designer.
He thought it would be wise to first tell us what his job as a game designer entails. His main duties involve writing design docs, providing feature support, hooking and tuning, and actually playing the game. Providing feature support encompasses at least half his day. This process involves going over the design document with those involved line by line. During this time others in the room will try to poke holes in his design and talk about execution. In the end it creates a stronger design. Hooking and tuning is actually putting content in the game and balancing it out with the rest of the content. Finally playing the game to make sure the entire game flows correctly.
The other portion of his job is UI Design. His duties for UI design are wire framing, providing feature support, and again, playing the game. Wire framing is creating the layout and flow of the UI buttons on the screen. He provides feature support by constantly talking to those involved in the execution of the UI and making sure he has accounted for any edge cases. Again, playing the game is important to make sure the UI is functional and has been executed correctly.
Alex finished off his presentation by answering question from the class. These questions ranged from what skills are needed as a designer to the difference between play testing in EA and in smaller groups. The class genuinely enjoyed his presentation and was glad to have him visit.