Today’s Inside the Vault is about one of our associate producers, Tim Lamb. His main area of focus is programming. Tim is the pulse of programming and he works hard to keep us on track. He is also known for his prowess at Call of Duty and Halo, in addition to wearing stylish visors every day.
What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am the Associate Producer for programming. I work with the coders to lay-out and keep the schedule up-to-date. I assign the majority of bugs and tasks that go to coders, modify the priorities, get them dated and scheduled, monitor the status, shift them when needed, rinse and repeat. I also perform a number of other miscellaneous tasks like firing off and tracking builds, updating kits for meetings, and pretty much whatever else I can do to keep the development process moving along.
What other games have you worked on?
There are a bunch of other titles from my early testing days, but I’ll just list the one’s I spent the most time with.
Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter
Cat in the Hat
Sid Meier’s Pirates
What was the best part about working as a producer? The worst part?
It’s never boring. This is the best part and sort of the worst part. There’s always stuff going on like new exciting features going into the game, shifting focus to clean something up, tweaking some numbers to make the game feel better, new work that needs to scheduled, etc. Sometimes the pace can be frantic. An example being something like: I need to talk to these three people, assign these bugs, help the person who’s in my cube, respond to this email, respond to this chat, answer a call from Mr. Howard, and get to this meeting in 15 minutes. All you can do is fire down some more coffee and make sure it all gets done. Honestly, it is a small price to pay to be right in the thick of it. When you start seeing the pieces coming together and you know you are part of something that is going to be awesome, it gives you a real sense of pride.
Another good thing about working here are the people and the conversations we have. We talk about games all the time. Since I love games, this is great.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
Right after graduating from college with a degree in 3D art, I tried tirelessly to get a job as a game artist. My portfolio was in no way up to snuff with the competition. I wasn’t going to let that stop me, so I did what everybody told me to do, which was to try to get a job in QA. I sent my resume to a company that did testing and tech support. They called me in for a tech support interview. I was very confident in the interview because I knew I wasn’t going to take the job. I figured if I interviewed well they might keep me in mind when a testing position became available.
Two months later they called me back and I started testing games. I worked hard trying to find the most and best bugs. I tried to make sure my steps to reproduce were accurate and my language in the bugs professional. I made my self available to be a “go to” person. “Sure I’ll come in and work 4am-4pm”. I quickly moved up to a project second and then a Test Lead. I did that off and on for about two years. Then I got “The Call”. One of my former team leads, who had already taken a job working here, asked me if I would be interested in coming to Bethesda to lead a small project called Oblivion. I couldn’t send my resume fast enough. I tried to keep that “Go To” work ethic all through the entire Oblivion project. After Oblivion was done, I was offered a position as an AP on the dev team.
So I guess my advice is this: Work hard. The people around you notice. You want to get your foot in the door? Take a job in QA. It gives you a good understanding of the flow of a project. It also gives you a chance to “get noticed”. More and more of our team are people who were once in QA.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
There is no way I could narrow this down to one game. I figure I’ll list the games I spent way too many hours with.
BurgerTime (I played this all the time with my dad when I was a kid)
Populous (Finished all levels on SNES)
Twisted Metal 2 (The best in the series if you ask me)
Ninja Gaiden (First game is years I played through multiple times)
Halo 2 (Many, many hours)
COD4 (I play it way too much for it not to make the list)
What games are you looking forward to?
Ninja Gaiden 2, GTA IV, Mercenaries 2 and Fallout 3, of course.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Coffee. Followed by another coffee. And… maybe a Red Bull and the drive to keep things moving as smoothly as possible.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Tech Support. This was the only job I ever had where I thought, “Maybe I’ll get lucky and hit a deer on the way to work today”. Dark, dark times, indeed. I dreaded the anxiety of waiting for the phone to ring always wondering if it was going to be a good or bad call. I’m sure you can talk to anyone who has done “The Support” and they will have interest/funny stories to tell about calls they have taken. Just when you thought you had the worst call EVER, something tops it.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m a big fan of golf. I try to get out and play as much as I can. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up. There is no better Saturday/Sunday for me than playing a round and then coming home to watch golf on TV and falling asleep to the quiet commentary. Afternoon golf nap: Priceless.
I also follow college basketball, though not as much this year. Still, March is an exciting time and I can’t wait to fill out my bracket.