WHO WORKS HERE
People Staff Interview
Game Script Engineer
After working for an image production company, and as a mobile app developer and game developer, joined Polyphony Digital in 2005. Responsible for the game script since "Tourist Trophy" and "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue".
How can I become a game programmer?
I wanted to make games from when I was in elementary school. But there were no friends or teachers who know how to become a game programmer, there were no PC shops locally, and time kept passing by without knowing what to do to become one. When I was in Jr. high, my father bought a PC, and though I thought "Now I finally have access to a PC!", he told me that its expensive and important so I can't touch it.
Before I knew it, it was the summer vacation of my third year in high school, and I was studying for college. It was then that I discovered an ad for an introduction seminar in a trade school, that advertised "The top admissions into the industry, you too can become a game programmer!", and I applied immediately. Because I decided without consulting them, I thought my parents might oppose my decision, but they might have succumbed to my passion for it, and they supported me - telling me that I should do what I wanted to do. So I was admitted into the trade school, and finally started programming.
Never give up
Once I was in the trade school however, a world very different from what I imagined awaited me. At the time, 3DCG games were already the mainstream, but the equipment in school was too old to run 3D programs, and though there are many schools now where their sales point is that you can learn from active creators in the industry, the school then had a lot of teachers who didn't even have actual working experience in game production. So it was difficult to gain real skills that would be useful in the field.
After a while, the content of the classes were no longer enough for me, and I bought programming books myself to read. In the latter half of the trade school, I convinced my parents that I needed a PC for getting a job, and got them to buy me a PC.
The 40 classmates that I had at the time of entry were half gone by the second year, and by graduation, there were only 5 left. But I didn't know any other way to become a game programmer, and more than anything there was no choice for me to quit, having convinced my parents to let me go to that trade school in the first place.
My first job was with a game movie production company that was looking for engineers to make games on their own, but I had so little useful knowledge and skill that I was let go after the 3 months trial period.
Next I joined a mobile app development company; two in a row, but even there, from a week to half a year after joining they told me "Sorry, we're getting an experienced guy so we need to let you go", or was let go in their downsizing. But I still wanted to make games, and even in the short time I had learned a lot, so that was my motivation for the next challenge.
When my dream came true
I found another image production company that was starting a game dev department, and I joined the company. They took a style in which a plan would be drawn up, a demo would be made, and then the idea would be pitched to various companies, and I myself wrote project proposals as well.
But when a client was finally found for a project, and things started moving towards developing the product, the project was cancelled by the client, and the game development department was dissolved at that time.
The person that was the leader in that department was going to work for Polyphony, but they were looking for motivated young guys as well; and looking for a job myself, I was lucky to be invited.
My career expanded after joining the company
This was when "Tourist Trophy" was being developed, and at the time, I made the license acquiring screens using the game script since the first time.
After that there was the "Gran Turismo HD Concept" where I worked on the Arcade mode and Options, and in "Gran Turismo 5 Prologue", I handled offline events. The range of work I was given responsibility for expanded like this, and in "Gran Turismo 5" and on, I've been working on the game sequences and user interface.
Character of Polyphony Digital
I am still surprised by the high level of motivation that the people of the company have in regards to learning. And though when I joined, I still lacked the skill, experience, and knowledge as a programmer, no one ever told me "you don't have it". I still remember an older colleague telling me, "If you don't know, just learn it". So naturally, I acquired an attitude where I would not just "handle" a job, even when assigned to a job that exceeded my skills. I now "try working at it".
And this might be a feeling I get from my background, but a company having "a level of development that actually leads to the sale of a product" is very important. There are many projects out there that are cancelled during development and disappear, like the products I worked on before joining Polyphony which never saw the light of day.
The user interface I am responsible for in "Gran Turismo" was remade from scratch several times during the development process, and there have been moments when I thought "isn't this a waste?"; but when I look back and see that in the end, something better was sold as a product, it makes me feel really glad that I'm in such a privileged environment.
Regarding hiring for the Game Script Engineer
An in-house script language is used to create the game sequences and user interface. The internal code is written in C++, and is expanded upon every day. Because it is in-house, there are no thorough documentation as there are for Python and Perl script languages, and to check the internal implementation of the interface and to expand features, you need knowledge of C++.
You of course need programming knowledge and tool development experience, but I think you also need good communication skills as well. The game script is like a bridge that connects cars, tracks, and design, and it involves speaking to people from each team to put it all together.
If it is a proposal that would make it easier for the artists to design, and make it easier for the game player to use, you can speak out. At Polyphony, you are never tuned down totally when putting out ideas. Someone will always listen, and sometimes even Mr. Yamauchi could say directly "that's a pretty good idea", and that idea could become implemented.
One satisfaction you get as a Game Script Engineer, is that you can feel those moments where the game really comes together faster than anyone else. And the maintenance of game development environment and the creation of support tools is part of the job, so even outside the game script, there is a stage where you can put your strong skills and areas to use.