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Ben Hunter

Ben Hunter
Course studied:
Computer Games Design
Year of graduation:
2009

‘My degree has taken me to one of the world’s leading names in computer gaming’

“I spent a great deal of time researching universities that specialised in games-related courses, specifically 3D modelling and art. I had friends that attended Staffordshire University and they highly recommended I take a look at the curriculum. I read the module descriptions and was sold on the BSc Games Design Degree. I applied for an interview, booked the flight and did my best to convince the course leader that I would be a hard-working student.

“I knew which university and course I wanted. I was laser-focused on this and had only applied for Staffordshire University, so failure wasn’t an option. To my delight, I received the call a week later saying I had been accepted on to the course. The Game Design Degree had a good combination of theory and practical modules that allowed me to gain knowledge and experience in new fields, thus allowing me to make further choices in my career path. I was able to establish key areas I enjoyed such as games engines and physics, and choose the more advanced modules for the next semester.”

“At the age of 18, I got into the Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) gaming scene and was given a chance to alpha/beta test a game that would later become one of the most popular sci-fi MMOs on the market. It was this experience, through dipping my toe in the waters of games testing and development that set my mind in motion: I would end up in the games industry no matter what it took.

Motion-capture suite

“The learning environment at Staffs is one I will look back on fondly. I thrived under the rich feedback that lecturers were able to provide me with and constantly had lecturers giving me tips, resources and advice that I could take away after the lecture or workshop and work on in my own time. There aren’t many places where you have access to a £300,000 motion capture suite, but Staffs has one and it was a blast to use. I had heard of and knew a bit about motion capture technology, but actually getting to use it was a real experience that I still remember and would love to try again.”

EVE Online: The World’s Largest Game Universe

“Throughout my studies I remained involved with the MMO I had beta tested years earlier, EVE Online, by CCP Games in Reykjavik, Iceland.  It had become quite a popular game after its release in 2003 and I had plenty of friends – and even some lecturers – at university who also played. I joined the player volunteer program during the beta testing phase. As a volunteer, I was able to become involved in areas such as bug hunting, customer support and storyline writing and player events. Several years of being a volunteer put me in good stead with CCP.”

“I nurtured this relationship by attending the annual Fanfest conference in Iceland organised by CCP to help maintain old friendships and contacts and to make new ones. When I graduated, my studies gave me the understanding and experience needed to get started in the industry and these contacts really helped me get my foot in the door.”

My role at CCP

“To paraphrase a colleague: ‘Working on EVE is like swapping the engine out of a freight train going 100mph with 60,000 passengers onboard.’ You can’t just take the game world down while you develop, which makes EVE a very unique and challenging game to develop for.”

“At CCP I specialise in graphics testing and assure the quality of the 3D environment artwork and rendering technology being released in our upcoming EVE Online expansion ‘Incarna’. The main focus of my testing is related to compatibility with supported hardware, game performance and the visual experience the players will receive. Working closely with the 3D artists and graphics programmers helps me gauge the level of testing complexity when the team implements new game engine features such as screen space ambient occlusion or refactoring our anti-aliasing system from MSAA to FXAA for interior rendering.

I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else in the world

“CCP is the most epic of games companies to work for. Employees have a deep passion for the product as well as the company itself. With offices in Reykjavik, Atlanta, Shanghai and Newcastle, many diverse cultures converge into one with lots of colourful characters to add plenty of spice to the mix. I truly wouldn’t want to work anywhere else in the world.”

My advice to you

“The best advice I could give to anyone wanting to break into in the games industry wouldindustry conferences and fan events to make contacts. Your degree will give you the initial knowledge and understanding to help enter the industry but it is a competitive area where you must stand out amongst the rest.”