Wow. What a crazy few months.
I’ve just finished my internship over at the most excellent LucasArts. While I can’t give any details on what I was working on, I can say that it was one of the best times I’ve ever had before. I’ve met a ton of amazing people, worked on an awesome project, and did a TON of stuff while I was over there. Like my fellow Game Design Intern Patrick Wren, (One of the awesome people I met during my time there) I felt I too would write a post mortem with my own take on how I felt at the end.
The Jedi Academy is Lucasfilm’s internship program hiring people from all aspects of the Lucasfilm companies. The Jedi Academy is unique in the fact that it also allows you to have a much deeper understanding of how all of the different parts of Lucasfilm works as a whole. Lucasfilm really is a magical place, and it is also one of the few areas that you can have so much talent so close within each other. As part of the Jedi Academy all of us got to meet many times over the internship and I must say I’ve made quite a few friends while I was there. The program also gives plenty of opportunities to explore the city with tours of places like Alcatraz, and going to baseball games with our mentors. Even outside of planned activities there were plenty of times that all of the interns would get together either on the weekends or the evenings.
LucasArts is also a global company with campuses both in the US and Singapore. I got the wonderful opportunity to work with their other campus doing a video project with some of the other interns that were working over there. Working with the time difference was an interesting challenge towards getting work done, but I was very happy with our finished product.
Internships are an extremely important part of the game industry. Most jobs require a person to have 4 years experience to even be eligible for a job, (Hint: send in your resume anyway, you have nothing to loose) so internships are one of the few ways to get that experience and one of the easiest ways to “break in”. I believed this so much that I actually lightened my load of courses last year to make myself eligible for certain internships. (Many require you to go back to school to be eligible) In reality, an internship is really a longer job interview and gives your would-be employees a chance to see just what you can do. Even if you don’t get a job with the company at the end of your internship, people are still more thank likely to recommend you if you did a good job; the game industry is a small world after all, and word does travel.
Going on with that line of thinking, LucasArts’ internship program gives you ample opportunity to prove yourself. My experience in Unreal, as well as my programming background became a very valuable asset while I was working on our team’s project.
In terms of the project, I was the only Junior Designer on the otherwise All-Senior team. At first, I felt a somewhat daunting feeling, but soon I realized just how lucky I was. While I was working on prototyping various features and levels, I had a constant stream of experience guiding me and giving me advise which made my end products so much nicer. Everyone was super nice and I loved meeting all of the team and I really thought that we worked well together. As time went by, I realized just how valuable my classes at DigiPen as well as the time I spend learning Unreal were, as I feel it prepared me really well for the things that I did there.
In a junior-level design position however one must be really skilled technically in order to do one’s job well. There are many different “idea guys” out in the world, but ideas aren’t something that is going to get you an entry-level job in the game industry (at least I haven’t seen it happen nowadays). Everyone that works on a title is a “game designer” whose ideas contribute to a bigger whole. It is far more important to be someone that can actually implement the ideas that people have and iterate on them to be the best that they could be.
Overall, my time as an intern at LucasArts was an amazing experience, and I am so glad that I was chosen for the opportunity to be work there. I’ll certainly have very fond memories of this summer, and hope that I’ll return to San Francisco again.
Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Indiana to spend some time with my family before school starts, however once I get back to DigiPen I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated. Cheers!