Senior Level Designer

Valve Corporation
Bellevue, WA
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Job Description

Can you turn a whiteboard concept into a sensational gameplay sequence—or help us figure out why players don’t ever look up when they’re trying to solve puzzles? If so, we need you! We’re looking for level designers to help us create exciting new gameplay experiences. In collaboration with peers from all disciplines (artists, programmers, animators, writers, etc.), you’ll use your skills and knowledge of game design to create imaginative gameplay, produce creative solutions to playtest issues, and quantify and analyze feedback to ensure that players get the most out of every Valve game.
Duties:

 Participate in design sessions to create outline of game experience.
 Build the game world in 3D.
 Use entity scripting to create cinematic sequences of gameplay.
 Work with artists, animators, writers, and programmers to implement elements such as art, animation, story, and design requirements.
 Participate in observed playtesting and create work items based on observations and analysis of playtesting data.
 Manage and prioritize bug lists.

Requirements:

 Working knowledge of a professional level design tool
 Three years industry experience (or equivalent)
 Experience with programming, art, or architecture a plus
 Experience with shipping projects (professional or amateur) a plus
 Please include recent examples of levels or environments you have made

Company Info

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    Challenging, chaotic, interesting, surprisingly similar to other great companies

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Engineer in Bellevue, WA
    Former Employee - Engineer in Bellevue, WA

    I worked at Valve Corporation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Valve offers extremely generous benefits and perqs, and affords employees high levels of trust to do whatever they need to be productive. It is a privilege to work with the folks at Valve because nearly all are exceptionally accomplished, competent and eager to build something great. The environment really encourages employees to be positive and to focus on work that will directly impact the customer. Productivity is rewarded in part by peer review which makes employees accountable to their team. Changing teams/projects is usually easy, and is usually each employee's own decision. Employee autonomy is inherent in Valve's process.

    Cons

    Many of the ways in which Valve seeks to differentiate from other companies are not actually so valid. While it's true that Valve has no official job titles or promotions, compensation varies greatly among employees and many teams have an obvious pecking order. There is no formal management structure, but it's clear that some people have substantially more control over project direction and the work of others. Even though productivity is said to be the only metric that matters, people who are already connected or are accomplished social engineers will do just fine. Denying that all of these social forces are at work makes the problem intractable and difficult to even discuss.

    For a company that makes so much money, Valve is surprisingly risk-averse. New projects, internal tools, dev infrastructure, and anything that doesn't contribute to a current product are met with disdain. Because teams are intended to be self-forming, it's rare that enough people will want to assume risk to all collectively embark on a new project. It's too safe and too profitable to just contribute to something that's already successful. Even though failure is supposed to be tolerated and even encouraged so that employees will try new ideas and experiments, there is little evidence of this. After a few rounds of bonuses, folks learn quickly what is rewarded, and what is not.

    Valve's success has made folks arrogant, and this contributes to the problem of how new ideas are considered and discussed. Dogmatic thinking is actually common because people can always point to a great success in the past and use this to justify why everything should continue as it is. Some folks at Valve do not want the company to grow. Valve already has an incredibly strong profit/employee ratio. Why dilute it? This line of thinking crops up in project discussions as well, and causes many ideas to be dismissed because they seem too niche/unprofitable (at the time).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I think that funding separate companies would be the best way for Valve to invest in new/different product areas. Identify capable teams who already work together and let them make their own rules and set their own goals.

    Be more honest about management structure. It will go a long way toward helping people make better decisions and will create more trust among employees.

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    Disapproves of CEO