Game Front 1-on-1: Natural Selection 2′s Hugh Jeremy
“There’s no formula to it, because if there was a formula to it, it’d be just like any other hiring process, wouldn’t it. It’d be like the stock market. There is no formula, and if there was, everyone would be doing it. I’m was especially, incredibly lucky — I’m definitely not the only one who has been doing great stuff for NS2 in terms just creating videos and stuff. And there’s definitely other people who have been coding and mapping and making mods, that’re just amazing. And it’s definitely sort of, if you are doing something really cool, like Matt, this recent coder bloke was, and you’re doing it consistently, which is very important, you’ve been doing it for a very long time without any expectation of reward or recognition, you will get noticed. It’s inevitable – you must be. Because a lot of people come and go, they’ll do it for two months or whatever. And they’ll do really awesome stuff, and that’s great. We really appreciate it and the game wouldn’t be what it is today without those kinds people who just kind of make content and go. But there some people who really have stuck around for years, so they’ve ended up on the team. So there’s no set formula to it, it happens naturally. And it’s just sort of happened naturally to quite a few people now.”
For a group of people who are working on a game almost purely out of passion, it’s not surprising that Jeremy says he loves the job. It’s the sort of employment for which one shows up at 7 a.m. and has to be kicked out by their boss at 10 p.m. just so they can sleep, he said. One of the biggest troubles he faces is coming off as too eager and excited about the game, to the point that some people think he’s being disingenuous. He assured me that his enthusiasm for the game and its community were all real.
But coming from a place of community involvement and jumping to the other side of the proverbial fence has been jarring, Jeremy said. Like anything that involves a big community of people, there are some who are sometimes negative — and that has been an eye-opening experience for Jeremy, who has always considered himself just a really big fan of the game.
“That’s something I think about a lot. Because when I first came, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m still a community member — I’m still a community member,’ but people do start to look at you a bit differently,” he said. I remember the first time was when someone called me — what did they call me? I hope you’re not recording this, but I think they called me, like, a “f—king f—-t,” or something. Because something had gone wrong with the game, and it was my fault, of course. So the first time that happened, I was like, ‘Oh. Damn. I’m not one of the boys and girls anymore, I’m a target now.’ And that was tough, because you do want to just keep being what you really are, which is, I’m a fan of the game, and I just want to tell everyone about the game and it’s a lot of fun.
“On the other hand, though, I work with at least 20 people and probably more on a daily basis, who are just community members. And when I say ‘just’ community members, that’s the wrong word, because they’re contributing just as much as I am to this game, in terms of hours they put in, it’s just that they don’t do it full time and they have other jobs. And being able to work with them and kind of help them to do stuff is just fantastic because you’re a small part of the puzzle. And now I’m probably doing less directly useful stuff, in terms of making videos and stuff, but instead I get to help other people do awesome stuff for the game.”
Jeremy said he has no idea what the future might hold in terms of his career in video games, or even if he’ll still be a part of the industry in a post-Natural Selection 2 world. It all depends, he said, on whether the game is successful when it’s released (which is expected to be sometime this fall).
But it’s clear that he loves what he’s doing now, at least. He also offered advice for others who might find themselves hoping to work in video games in some capacity some day.
“We’ll be at shows and he (Cleveland) will give this to a lot of people who come up and say, ‘How do I get into games?’ This is what he did back when he made NS1 in his apartment for two years, without having any social life or any income or anything. Just go and do,” Jeremy said. “It doesn’t matter what it is, just go and make something. If you’re an artist in college and you think you want to work on video games, go over to the engineering faculty, find someone who’s just starting as a programmer, make friends with them, and make Pong. It doesn’t matter what it is, just make it. Make a game. And for an example, I guess I am an example, I just went and made videos for the game. It didn’t matter what the endgame was, I just was making them. Matt Soder was just coding for the game because he wanted to make something happen. So just go and make happen – don’t wait for someone to invite you to make something. Don’t wait for that interview to finish and say, ‘Okay, now you can go and make a game for us.’ Just go and make it now. Don’t even wait until you finish reading — just go and make it right now.”
Natural Selection 2 is available as a beta for pre-order customers. You can learn more about the game here.