Today, we dive into the head of one of our Game Developers: Dino (pronounced as Dee-know, so he’s not a dinosaur). He started working in the games industry right after he graduated college, so he’s the perfect example of the hobby-passion-career transition most aspiring game developers out there dream of.
Who are you and what do you do in Altitude?
DD: I’m Dino Gerard Diaz, a game designer at Altitude Games.
What’s it like working at Altitude?
DD: Working at Altitude is really fun because of the people you work with. You’ll never run out of creative ideas; there’s so much to learn just by talking with my colleagues. If you need help for anything, there’s always someone ready to assist. Altitude is indeed the best place to work as a game developer in the country!
What is your nickname? (Can also be your favorite name you use when gaming)
DD: You can call me Dino! I use the alias “RockZilla” when playing online.
How did you get started as a Game Dev?
DD: Right after college graduation, I was hired as a game tester at Anino Games. My first year there was all about hunting bugs and testing games that we developed for the PC and Nintendo DS. I became a game designer in my second year. I was able to work with the creative and talented people behind games like Mind’s Eye: Secrets of the Forgotten and Mysteries of Cleopatra. But the highlight of my tenure at Anino was when I became the lead designer for the Grave Mania series.
After working at Anino for 6 years, I decided to move on and face new sets of challenges. Soon after, I was hired at Boomzap as a game designer. Although my stay there was short, I learned a lot about new tools for designing games. After just a year, I decided to go to Altitude….and here I am today!
What are your favorite games growing up?
DD: Stealth action games are my favorite, probably because of the tension and suspense they create as you sneak past enemies and complete objectives. I really enjoyed playing Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Syphon Filter, and Tenchu!
What was the first game that you made?
DD: Jumble Madness, a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. I was the game tester for that project. I made sure that the game is free of critical bugs and blockers – basically that the quality of the product is good for release.
Throughout your career, how did you go about improving your skills as developer?
DD: Learning from my mentors, having discussions with fellow gamers, and analyzing/playing as many games as possible across different genres. As a game designer, I also realized that learning doesn’t stop with just playing video games. You’ll learn more and come up with great ideas by immersing yourself in other types of entertainment media. Watching movies and TV shows and reading books definitely expands your pool of knowledge, which is very helpful especially when you are about to create a new game from scratch.
What are some of the favorite projects that you have worked on?
DD: Grave Mania would be at the top of my list. It was my first project with original IP and I learned a lot; I was deeply involved from the conceptualization stages right up to its release day. Grave Mania actually started as just a joke among my colleagues back in Anino, which makes it more unforgettable! Back then, time management games such as Diner Dash and Sally’s Salon were the big hitters. I was having a conversation with fellow designers Jay and Aldrich (who now happen to work with me at Altitude) and we wondered why all these games were set in a cafe or salon. Why not make it inside a mortuary or a graveyard? At first, we thought it might be too gruesome or morbid, but we found a way to make the theme not too serious.
What are you working on now?
DD: I can’t tell you details yet, only that I am working on something very cute (and cuddly) at the moment 😛
Tips for aspiring Game Devs out there?
DD: Have fun, keep learning, and be a good teammate! If you aspire to be a game developer (or a game designer in particular), be observant and get yourself involved in as many types of media as possible. You’ll never know where, how, or when the next great idea would come up. And when you come up with all kinds of cool ideas – simple, complex, unique, or crazy – at the end of the day, you need to test and prototype it over and over to prove the awesome idea. Be patient and you’ll eventually get there!