When I think about my history at Santa Monica Studio I see it as the past 15 years condensed into a cerebral photo album filled with remarkable moments.
I am talking about both happy occasions and situations where we overcame struggles and surpassed expectations as a team. Santa Monica Studio exists and thrives due to the contributions of every individual who has ever been a part of our family. Every line of code, brush stroke, and character motion lives on to drive and inspire future talent to create unique games which have elements that seem familiar.
As a technical artist I interact with every individual on the team. I remember their faces, their names, and ultimately their personalities. When you work on a large team it is crucial to find the right approach for each individual. Some people are quirky and others are known to be grumpy before lunch. I really enjoy meeting new team members, particularly those who are fresh out of school. They tend to bring so much positive energy and enthusiasm, and they tend to surprise me with their proficiency and professionalism. I certainly don’t remember being that sharp when I first walked through the Santa Monica Studios’ doors.
In 2009 I made the tough decision to leave the studio, and after being away for almost a year I found myself with the urge to come back. On occasion I think about why I came back, and there are many intricate reasons, but a few stand out. Simply put, I was drawn back to the people and the studio culture.
When I started working at Santa Monica Studio the team was small but we already had grand aspirations. This meant that we had to work efficiently, which resulted in boundless communication and the need for individuals to be involved beyond the boundaries of their discipline.
At first it seemed strange, but then I found myself (a junior technical artist at the time) having discussions with the likes of David Jaffe, Tim Moss, and Mark Anderson. These guys were already industry legends and there I was, learning from them and collaborating on God of War.
They were approachable and always made me feel like I mattered. This was my first exposure to a professional environment where I truly felt like I was part of a team. I grew up with this studio and quickly learned that successful game development is not about pushing pixels to the screen, it’s a reflection of the journey and soul of the team. The game industry is always changing and the team has grown both in size and talent. We’ve had tremendous success and learned from failures. People have come and gone but all of them contributed to establish an environment which encourages inclusion, communication, and respect for every individual on the team.
I would like to leave you with some advice which can come in handy for some of you who are just starting out in your career. Game development is exciting but does not come without challenges — remember to have fun along the way. Take care of your teammates and treat them as if they are an extension of your family. Set people’s expectations and make sure to follow up if the expectations can’t be met in any way. They will understand and appreciate your professionalism.
Please visit sms.playstation.com/creatives or follow @SonySantaMonica to learn more. Santa Monica Studio Creatives is a series focusing on 4 unique individuals of our family whose journey to our studio is as inspiring as their creative talents within. While their stories are candid, raw, and anything but normal, their expert crafts and collaboration within our creative walls hits the heart of what matters most to our studio culture – the team is everything.