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July 31, 2004



Rob Fermier is who I want to be when I grow up. (Well, not REALLY, but you get the idea.) I think the fact that he's blogging (and that Ensemble seems to be cool with the idea) is awesome. I can't believe how many great game development blogs have started up just in the last year!

I like to listen to Rob's web lecture on data-driven engine design while I program. It's available on Gamasutra at http://www.gamasutra.com/features/slides/fermier/index.htm .

Patrick Sullivan

I've always prefered a variant of that hiring strategy. The team the person is getting hired into votes on the hiring. If they are some sort of lead (team or otherwise) then the rest of the games or companies (depending on where in the dev process things are) decide. This way more people are happy but it doesn't become quite so... overblowm a process to hire something as simple as a concept artist heh.

Tom Henderson

One problem with this system is that it assumes that everyone in your company knows how to interview, which is hardly likely to be true. Interviewing is a skill although this fact is often ignored, especially in our industry. I've been interviewed extremely poorly several times by game companies.

On the general subject of hiring my pet peeve is companies that set absurd hoops to initial submission. This includes designing whole levels and taking 10 paage questionaires just to be able to submit a resume! The idea is to filter out frivilous candidates but what your really filtering out is people who value their time. I'm not talking about some sort of test later on in the hiring process, when BOTH sides are commiting their time, but just to submit a resume. Even if I had the time I wouldn't submit to any company that arrogant.

Rob "Xemu" Fermier

Badman, you're making me blush! Glad you enjoyed that GDC lecture -- I hope to do an updated version of it at some future GDC with all the lessons learned finishing that project and since then.

Anyways, yeah, it's true, Ensemble's hiring processes is wholly by consensus. I totally agree with Jamie that it has it's cons... it definitely isn't for all companies. Fortunately once you reach a critical mass that can support that kind of hiring process, it can become self-sustaining. It has undeniably cost us a few hires, but IMO one bad hire is a lot more devastating to your company in a small, close-knit environment than very slow growth.

Paul "Gamegeek" Stephanouk

Ensemble's success with the group-hire process was a major factor in Big Huge Games' decision to go with that style of hiring. It's not as easy to do as it sounds but the results are worth the effort.

Tom Henderson

It also seems like a system whose success is hard to measure. How would you know? Your certainly expending more resources in the form of developer time. On the other hand Rob Fermier's point about bad hires being expensive is well taken.

Jamie Fristrom

You can't prove stuff like this, of course - sample size too small and all that. But I'm more than willing to do crazy things on the basis of a couple anecdotes, because that's really all we've got...

Tom Henderson

In that case I should tell you the story about the coworker named Jamie who gave me all his mooney.


Oddly enough, I was recently reading an article on Blizzard's history and Blizzard's hiring policy is that you must be a gamer. If you're not a serious gamer then they wouldn't hire you (this article was a few years old, I'm not sure if that policy is still in place). They also said this lead to them having to turn down some very talented people, which was painful...but it did an effective job of promoting the company culture they desired.

I'd love to go to a job interview and be asked, "What are your five favorite video game characters?"


Doh. I broke the first rule of the internet - if you mention a site, post the URL:


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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game