Every month, we pick the brain of an up-and-coming talent. This month’s Rising Star is Abigail Flores, QA technician at Ustwo Games, who highlights the benefit of working collaboratively and talks about her ambitions of creating a game for people may not consider themselves interested in games
How did you break into games?
I didn’t take the most direct route into games, with A-levels in science, a diploma in illustration, and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies, before completing a Master’s degree in Games Design. But I’ve been told that’s what made my application stand out and helped me land my first role in the industry: in quality assurance at a triple-A company.
What’s your proudest achievement?
I used to struggle with sharing my ideas and opening myself up to criticism but in 2017, I took the leap and uploaded Moonlight Fortress to Itch.io. I created this game over three weeks as part of a university project.
My short, unpolished survival game became featured on the front page of the site and received far more attention than I had ever anticipated, reaching thousands of people around the world.
What’s been your biggest challenge to date?
Last year, I decided to work full time on developing Moonlight Fortress into a full game. Without external deadlines to stick to or colleagues to challenge me, my focus was on trying to create a beautiful and detailed pixel art world and this meant that I frequently had to extend the timeframe I had set for myself to complete the game. I now understand why most games have a production team to keep them on track! My experience with this project has emphasised the benefit of working collaboratively with others. I am now working on this game in my spare time with a friend who motivates me and together we have created what will be far better experience for players.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
At Ustwo Games, all areas of production happen in one space so I get to see the whole process from start to finish. It’s so cool for me to see how a doodle on a post-it note can transform into an exciting new feature or puzzle. I am the only QA technician in the company and this has given me the freedom to take on additional responsibilities outside of my role that help me develop my skills as a games designer. My colleagues are incredibly supportive of my ambitions and I am constantly provided with opportunities to learn from the experienced designers, programmers and artists on the team.
What’s your big ambition in games?
One day, I’d like to creatively direct a cooperative game for players who want to play games to relax, free from stressful objectives involving time limits or combat. From my own experience, I have found that games can be a powerful tool to bring people together. I’d love a game of my own invention to be an experience that creates wonderful memories for friends and family to look back on together and encourage those who may not consider themselves interested in games to pick up a controller and join in.
What advice would you give someone trying get into games design?
Don’t be afraid to show your work to others! It can be really easy to let the fear of receiving a negative response prevent you from seeking feedback. After sharing my work with the internet, I learnt so much about what players enjoyed or found frustrating about my games. Player feedback has definitely made me a better designer because I can use their experiences to inform my future design choices.
If there’s a rising star at your company, contact Marie Dealessandri at firstname.lastname@example.org