Yasmin Curren, associate tech designer at Creative Assembly talks about her start in the industry, her ambition to tell important stories and the importance of asking questions
How did you break into games?
It’s been a long journey getting into the games industry. It started with me working as a web developer straight after leaving school and spending my spare time volunteering as a game journalist; interviewing developers and travelling to events to produce videos. I kept this side-hobby rolling while I made the decision to go to university for Computer Game Arts where my previous knowledge in front-end programming aided the development of my game design skills throughout my degree. The connections I had made and maintained throughout the years helped me to achieve my goal of breaking into the industry, not just through their advice and insights, but also by keeping me inspired with their own projects. I was lucky to join Creative Assembly who offered traineeships for Design, meaning I could train while working on their brand-new FPS IP, being surrounded by experienced game devs which was invaluable.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
In university I was able to design a game based around my own insecurities called Perfection. This horror game focused on atmosphere while also tracking the players playstyle, giving them a small variation of endings and jump scares. But, it also led the player to become invested in the narrative because it was based around a universal insecurity of wanting to be someone subjectively better than themselves. After releasing the game on itch.io I was surprised to see so many people download and resonate with the game, with it being played by large YouTubers such as Jacksepticeye and Markiplier and being described by Kotaku as ‘A horror game that’s also a personality quiz’. Nothing pleased me more than the conversations that came from those who completed the game and spoke about their experiences with wanting to be seen as ‘perfect’ and realising that, just like in the game, you can never be perfect. I felt I had shared something important with others on a whole new level. Of course, I can’t talk about what we’re currently working on as it’s not yet announced, but that’s something I am really excited about.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Understanding the difference between developing something playable and something performant for multiple platforms. That has been a giant learning curve. The games industry is always evolving, providing players with more realistic, larger and more advanced games to play. The tools provided to developers through engines such as Unreal and Unity make it a lot easier to create games but using these strategically with performance in mind is key.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the multiple hats I get to wear as a tech designer at Creative Assembly. I try to keep up to date on the technical side of the project to be able to communicate this to other designers and artists which means I’m constantly asking questions and learning new things in my day to day job. I also get to dip my toes into multiple different fields, assisting with design, prototyping gameplay or helping to identify and fix bugs. There is never a dull day.
What’s your biggest ambition in games?
I’m in the industry to be a part of an interactive medium that can impact its audience in a lasting way. My ambition is to tell stories that explore important narratives, which can help educate and have a positive impact on the world, in a fun way.
What advice would you give to an aspiring associate game designer?
Never feel embarrassed to ask questions and keep asking them. In an industry as fast-paced as this one, there’s no use in trying to learn everything alone, reach out to other developers, show an interest in their work and always keep in mind that everyone that you speak to has something to teach you.