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Daring to Dev - The Journey from Fan to Game Designer - Page 2

Updated Wed, Feb 03, 2010 by B. de la Durantaye

Ten Ton Hammer: How did your Free Realms designer journey begin? Did you see the position on the SOE site? Did someone from SOE contact you to let you know a position was available?

Luper: Hah, this is one of those "I was in the right place at the right time" kinds of stories and it's a bit long, so bare with me! Originally, I had heard that SOE was going to start hiring some Customer Service (CS) representatives and Quality Assurance (QA) testers for Free Realms. I realized that I was going to have to start at the bottom and work my way up if I really wanted to get into the industry.

At that time, I was still living in Illinois, with over two thousand miles of land distance between me and my goal. It was one of the biggest decisions I've ever had to make. My brainwaves were going through a mixture of emotions- both excitement and nervousness. I'd be leaving all my friends and family behind was it really worth it? What did I have to lose though? It was an opportunity of a life time, so I took it!

All my stuff got shoved into a POD and put in storage. These things are useful! Because I didn't know if I'd get the position, so I had them hold the POD until I knew for sure that I'd need it shipped out to me. Although the thought of returning, being rejected, was a sad one, I had to prepare myself for it just in case.

One of my friends, who I had gamed with, lived in San Diego, so he let me pretty much live in his living room for a few months. Friends are awesome. Always appreciate them! The day after my interview, I received a call and I was hired! My start date...September twenty-second; I was ecstatic!

While I was working in QA, I overheard some people talking about apprenticeship positions that were opening up for Free Realms. I jumped on the thought of getting one of these so called apprenticeships and immediately sent my resume over. Sounds easy right?

Of course, something always comes up last minute. Ah, the hurdles of life. They follow me ever so closely. I was told that I had to finish a design test or my resume would mean nothing. They told me this at around 4:55pm and I had to work overtime till 10:00pm! How was I going to finish this before the end of the day? I wasn't. Had my dream been crushed? No, I was too close.

Instead, I decided to take action. I emailed the people in charge and explained my situation, promising them I would send my document as soon as I finished it. I stayed up until five in the morning completing it and sent it on its way. Man, you think of the craziest things when you don't sleep.

After only working as a QA tester for two weeks, I never thought I'd actually get the position. It was more so, a "hey people...I'm here and I really want to be a designer just so you know". To my surprise, I got it! I wanted to scream; I was so excited!

That's how it all started. I know it's a long story, but I really hope it inspires others to follow their dreams. Just don't give up!


Partying in Free Realms

Ten Ton Hammer: What's been the most interesting thing going from a fan to a player? As players, we all want everything added or fixed "right now". How has your perspective changed now that you're on the other side of the fence?

Luper: The most interesting thing for me has been learning! It's never ending. My experience in design grows each day literally as I'm working, which is very amusing to me.

My perspective hasn't changed much. I know that players want things fixed right away, and although I can't always make that happen, I do my best to avoid making bugs as I implement my content. I appreciate every little thing now. I also notice details that I had never really seen before. Sometimes, this hinders my game play, but often, it helps me make better design decisions.

Ten Ton Hammer: Back in your Vanguard days, I remember teasing you about being the only person to ever "beat" the game since you had leveled every class to 50. How have you channelled that kind of intensity into your current position?

Luper: Haha! Yeah, you did like teasing me about that, but you weren't the only one.

As far as channeling the force in my current position, so to speak...I'd like to say I'm a dedicated and reliable person with a pretty good work ethic. I always try to progress in real life as much as I do in game. I just do my best.

Ten Ton Hammer: From my perspective, it feels like a hundred years ago since you sat down for an interview with me when you were the community's Blood Mage Class Lead for Vanguard. How different does it feel being interviewed as a designer compared to when you were a player?

Luper: I don't feel like it's aberrant. The questions are different, but I still feel like we're just old pals chit chatting about the thing we love--gaming.

Ten Ton Hammer: Can the fans expect to see you at this year's FanFaire?

Luper: Of course! This will be my second FanFaire as an SOE employee. Last year, I had a lot of fun and it was nice seeing everyone again, even though I was working most of the time. I can't wait! Every year is always a blast.

Ten Ton Hammer: Thank you so much for taking the time to walk us through your amazing journey, Luper. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Ten Ton Hammer readers before you go?

Luper: Actually, I do. If you don't read anything else, please just read this one sentence: follow your dreams (because they do come true)!

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