【SQEX Report Lev.3】Passion for games meets an exciting challenge in a one of a kind place.
Creative Business Unit 1 Game Designer SHANE CANNING
Please tell us your background and the reason why you chose Square-Enix.
I started my career as a Level Designer at Disney Interactive. I was part of the team that launched Disney Infinity and shipped seven titles. After spending almost a decade there I took a new challenge and joined Insomniac Games where I spent several years there working on Sony’s surprise hit game Marvel’s Spider-Man. After the huge success of that game I transitioned to the Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart team. It was during this time I learned of an opportunity in Japan working at Square Enix. Game development in Japan has always been a mysterious world I’ve always been curious about. Square Enix is a huge name in the industry with massive hits like Final Fantasy. Although, a lot of the draw for me was how much the company branches out into so many avenues of media and entertainment. I wanted to design meaningful games here, learn more about how Japanese studios work, and also be surrounded by Manga, Anime, Animation, and everything that can help inspire you to be creative when being a part of somewhere this big.
Please tell us about your current job.
Currently I am a Game Designer on the Level Team of an exciting new IP Square is introducing. On the Level team my responsibilities include creating play spaces in the engine that are fun to explore while providing enough space for the mechanics of the game to take place in. These block out levels focus on scale, scope of an area, landmarks, shape language, atmosphere, storytelling, and flow. I pitch ideas and build the world up and then present that work to the team and director. I am also responsible for creating missions and quests for the player to do in our world. With 3D world building we also use the visual script editor in the engine to script game events, combat scenarios, and any game actions needed. Communication is important in games so the team is constantly showing our work and receiving and reacting to feedback the team and director has.
Please share your successful or failure episodes at work.
Square Enix has really allowed me to tackle hard challenges while maintaining a lot of creative freedom to express my ideas. I feel like a lot of success in the project so far, has come from the team and director allowing me to express ideas and present them to the team. The All-Hands meetings (Zentai-kai) create a platform to create presentations and videos to show off to the team and get an immediate feeling of how people feel about your work and I feel like I’ve had a lot of success getting the team excited about the Quest and Level Teams endeavors.
Please tell us what makes you feel rewarding at work and attractions to work at our company.
The work environment at Square Enix is probably the most encouraging and positive space I’ve worked in my career so far. We have a team from all over the world coming together to share development ideas and make the most exciting game possible. The office space feels creative with people expressing their interests with figures, artwork, and plushy. The team gathers for stretching work outs together, or the company hosting activities like making mochi with a hammer or gathering at a shrine or festival really creates a vibrant work place. On top of the creative freedom and sense of making a difference on the game I feel like it’s a company you can rely on.
When do you feel your work is challenging or tough?
For a non-Japanese speaker I was worried about how I would communicate with my team. It hasn’t been as worrisome as feared, but one of my toughest challenges so far has been expressing my ideas when my Japanese is still weak. This can create road blocks in my tasks or slow down my timeline but the best way to overcome that has been to reach out as quickly as possible to those who can help translate or facilitate meetings along with using text translators myself to send emails and messages without waiting. We have many bilingual members. I’ve also been enrolled in the company offered Japanese Lessons along with taking lessons outside the company. Each week things feel slightly better and it’s important to keep progressing.
What kind of person you think fits this position?
The type of person who can thrive at Square Enix is someone who is self-sufficient and doesn’t need to be told exactly what to do before they can get started. Being proactive and showing new ideas to help where you see something is lacking goes a long way. You should be patient with the team, as feedback and direction from leads and directors can take time but is crucial to make sure the game’s vision is aligned.
Teamwork and communication have been absolutely key to making progress and meeting our goals so it would be good to be able to express yourself to your teammates as well as not be afraid to reach out to others for help, feedback, or also be willing to provide those same things for others.
Please tell us your goal and dream.
After being surrounded by so many talented developers here, and getting to get a feel for Japanese development, I feel like my spirit has really been invigorated and I find myself wondering what goals for the future would look like here at Square Enix. I see this company as my home for the foreseeable future and in 5 years I hope to be leading the Level Team along with having my Japanese at a level that allows me to comfortably communicate with team members.
Someday it would be exciting to take part or be involved in creating a new idea or IP that gets created here at Square Enix. It’s a company where an abundance of talent resides and I feel some of the most exciting games of my career are waiting for me.
Please write a message for people who are joining.
Working for Square Enix has really blown my expectations out of the water. The company communicates well with its employees and I feel like they have a strong grasp on the industries future. You can expect to have a real sense of purpose here, as well as working with a diverse group of some of the most talented folks in games. My work-life balance has never been better than it has been here at Square Enix. They respect people’s time in the office while respecting our time outside of work as well.
If you’re wondering what Japan and Tokyo are like, all I can say is I have zero regrets coming here and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. Be open to change and embrace new and scary things and you’ll find there wasn’t much to worry about after all. 頑張って! (Good Luck)