Hello there! As stated in the summary, this is the first installation in a series I'll be writing that dives into every facet of the game I'm currently doing contract work for - Crashnauts. This first piece is simply talking about how I actually managed to get the gig.
A little bit of a preface dealing with my personal experience: The game industry can all be very intimidating and a job itself can seem like a mythical creature that only exists for the heavy hitters you see walking around chatting up old friends at GDC. That is simply not true. I made the mistake of entering the work force as a naive college graduate who couldn't wait to "break-in" to the AAA industry. Over the past year and half, I can still say that it is my goal to land somewhere in-house at a major game studio, but I have realized I have to be willing to take the proper steps to get there.
Upon that realization I turned to the indie game scene. The independent game market is absolutely exploding right now. According to Kotaku, 4027 games were released on Steam in 2016. That is an insane amount of games!! That's 40% of their entire library from last year alone. And guess what? Every one of those games needed audio. So don't hang your head too low because your first application to Company X got denied. There's a sea of Indie developers out there working, so get involved!
Okay, preface/rant thing over. Now to give insight on how I personally got my first gig, Crashnauts. It is my personal opinion that if you don't have Twitter, you should get one... like right now. Twitter is an amazing tool for getting in contact with that sea of Indie Developers I was talking about. If anyone reading doesn't know how to operate Twitter, just go to the search bar and type #indiedev, #gamedev or my personal favorite: #gameaudio. You will be amazed at some of the projects and ideas that show up - not to mention the people.
One day I decided that I would begin messaging every single Indie developer and asking them if they needed sound for their game. A common message would read, "Hello! My name is Dylan Hairston and I am a Sound Designer. I came across your project on Twitter and was immediately drawn to the art style. I was just reaching out to let you know if you need someone to do audio for your game I'd be more than willing to help! You can view my portfolio at dylanhairstonsound.com I look forward to hearing back from you!" Short. Sweet. And most importantly, contains a link to your work.
I messaged around 50 developers before I landed my first gig. Most of them won't message you back, almost all of the rest will let you know they already have someone for audio, but then there will be that one that wants to work with you. I messaged Fueled by Rockets and honestly forgot about it, but they messaged me back about a month after the fact, saying they would love to have me on board. We then proceeded with the bidding phase (Which I'll talk about in my next installation) and now I can say I'm working on a project that will be shipped! It's exciting to land that first project, but to all of you out there who feel demoralized by the process, I promise there is work to be done by you out there. So go get it!
There are obviously other ways at landing gigs, but this is how I got my first one so I figured I'd share my experiences in an effort to help those who were in my shoes a few months ago. I'd be curious to hear if anyone else has any thoughts/ideas for picking up indie work. Or if you'd just like to chat more about the topic then by all means start a conversation! I love to talk :D Stay tuned for Part 2: The Challenges of Bidding as an Indie Contractor.