Director Alex McLean on building a team focused on game engine development

Recruiter Hot Seat: Engine Room Games

Name: Alex McLean
Title: Director
Developer: Engine Room Games
Country: United Kingdom

What differentiates your studio from other developers?
At Engine Room Games (ERG) we have specifically set about the goal of employing people who are the very best of the best. We like to take on the kind of developer that a typical games studio might have only one or two of – the star performers. There are a number of benefits to this.

Beyond building a team of the best people around, we find that developers of that calibre are very self-motivated and require little direction. They’re usually more than aware of what needs to be done, and how to do it.

How many staff are you looking to take on?
In the short-term, we’re looking to take on three further engineers, all working on projects relating to our partnership with Unity Technologies.

Essentially ERG is presently responsible for the development of Unity for PlayStation consoles and we’re about to broaden this out into assisting with performance and graphics too. One position is for a very experienced principal graphics programmer. This role is at the highest level and we expect the work to take place on the cutting edge of video games and VR graphics development.

We are also looking for two further senior engineers to work across both development and support. These roles will see time split between active development of Unity and working remotely with developers worldwide as they use Unity.

What perks are available to those working at your studio?
One of the biggest perks, for the right developer, is autonomy. We expect our employees to work without micro-management and be able to spend their time working on complex issues in a vast array of problem spaces.

In terms of employment perks, we offer highly competitive salaries and benefits such as private health care cover that includes family members, pension, flexi-time and a generous holiday package.

What should aspiring devs do with their CV to get an interview?
Keep your CV concise and simple. Nobody needs a six-page CV. One or two pages is just fine. We want to know your skills, experiences and aspirations. What do you want to do and what do you most enjoy working on? Where possible, ensure your passion and willingness to learn comes across. To join ERG, a direct application is the way to go as it demonstrates both initiative and enthusiasm. We also don’t presently use employment agencies.

Who is the best interviewee you have ever had and how did they impress you?
I’ve interviewed lots of great people but one that stands out from a previous company is an engineer who was working as a mechanic in the Air Force.

He’d taught himself programming and wanted to make the step into games development. His enthusiasm for the industry and the effort he was putting in to make a difficult career transition between two very different jobs was outstanding. He was very clear about what he wanted to do and came across well in interview.

And who was the worst?
The absolute worst is difficult to call out, but we’ve seen a few curious characters over the years, including one who both answered his phone to a friend (while raising his hand to signal for us to wait) and unremarked, pulled out a Ginsters to tuck into, right in the middle of our questions.

Beyond specific interviews, the disappointing interviewees are those who simply haven’t made even the most casual effort to establish anything about the company or role before visiting, and those who turn up woefully late with no good reason.

What advice would you give for a successful interview?
Get the basics right. An interview is about a company and an individual exploring their common ground to see if they have a future together.

Be honest about your skills and state what you want to do and what work excites you. Do some research and find out as much as you can about the company. Be confident about areas of expertise and acknowledge the areas you aren’t so familiar with.

Nobody can be an expert in all areas of games development in the industry these days and it’s fine to not know something.

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