Day in the Life: Creative Director

We’re very excited for this next stop in our Day in the Life series as we got to talking with Sam Mussett-Harford. Based in England, he’s one of our Creative Directors at Magic Media. Sam has been in the gaming world for about twelve years now and with Magic Media for nearly two. Let’s take a look behind the scenes at what a day looks like for Sam.

An Average Day for a Creative Director

Sam’s main workload is working on game development projects and the teams delivering those services. Currently, one team he is leading is creating a fun and interesting RTS game involving a group of humans surviving on an alien planet.

A lot of his day-to-day is spent in calls and conversations with Team Leads and Directors. “I maintain correct workloads and the direction of work. There’s a lot of pipeline reviews which means keeping communication effective and efficient is really important. Basically, it’s like spinning clay into a pot. I’m keeping it spinning but also maintaining its shape. I’m there to keep things on target.” His day also involves a lot of work reviews and playtesting as he ensures the teams have everything they need to keep making magic.

Becoming a Creative Director for Games

“I didn’t think I wanted to work in games when I was younger. I actually wanted to be a Disney animator.”

Sam spent a lot of his younger years working on stop motion animation, art, and drawing. He joined clubs and groups to hone his skills. Around 15, he joined online communities that were making games. He did so to continue growing and improving as an animator. From there, he ended up doing Animation in university. While he was attending however, he found an elective for Game Development. This is where he learned about creating games. While he already loved gaming, this began the saga where Sam pursued it as a career more aggressively.

“I liked the design and art side of things, I loved how it all came together. Getting to put multiple skills to use was really satisfying.”

It ended up being quite beneficial to Sam’s work that he began as an animator.

“I have an internal timing now. I can look at art or animation and get a feel for how it flows. It gives me a good basis to work with the artists in particular. I know a lot of game designers can shy away from art or animation because it’s quite complicated and not their area. But I love it. I can chat to them about their work and understand it, I think it helps my work a lot as I can offer guidance and assist in coming up with creative solutions to technical issues.”

Highlights with Magic Media

Sam has led several projects to successful completion during his time with the Magic Media team. “Goombles was an interesting one. That was some efficient and smart work from our team, I feel.”

The client came to us with a very specific and interesting idea. A PvP tower defense game for mobile. There was a call for a big 3D environment, allowing players to pan around it and see everything that was happening. Unfortunately for mobile, that can be quite taxing and often a negative impact on user experience.

“We did a lot of research and analysis on the audience and competitors. In the end, we distilled it down into something achievable and that the client was very happy with. I always try to get a unique mechanic in there, something to help games stand out in the saturated market.”

In the case of Goombles, it ended up being the ability for players to swipe the camera around and see the opposing player’s progress and activity.

“It meant they could get a look at the enemy, see how they were doing and what they were up to. I was really happy we could squeeze that in while keeping the client’s fun and unique idea intact.”

Tips & Tricks for a Game Creative Director

“Clarity is king,” Sam says.

“Being clear and direct is so important. A clarity of description and concise delivery makes a huge difference. In an ideal world, you have a GDD that can answer so many questions but it’s not always that easy. Clarity is king is answering the questions and the guiding light of ‘what am I doing and how am I doing it?’”

Sam emphasizes that while he has skill and knowledge in different areas of game development, he says it’s important to have good leads and directors to guide those expert areas.

“They’re there to give the clear, precise, and definitive answers to me. Once I have those, I can gather up all these pieces and ensure the whole team is on the right track.”

As for key learnings, Sam returns to the review process. Taking up so much of his day-to-day, he says that pipeline review helped change the way he worked. Keeping it clear who is reviewing what, how that review occurs, and how it goes back into iteration. “With those elements locked in, it makes the review process easy. They’re so important in this job and it makes life easy once you have an easy pathway to addressing the brief or challenge in front of us. And if it isn’t addressed, how do we fix it? Simple!”

Highlights of his role at Magic Media

Sam laughs and says he feels that the answer is a cop out! “The people, one hundred percent. I get to work with people from all over the world.”

He says at the moment, he is chatting to a lot of his Serbian colleagues as they have never had the chance to sit down and talk with someone from England.

“It’s so amazing and funny. We learn so much from each other. Even silly stuff like hearing that ‘Allo ‘Allo!’ is the most popular show there for decades. They have conventions and everything for it, it’s mad! The people absolutely are the highlight.”

Thanks, Sam! If you’re interested in leveraging the game development expertize of our team lead by people like Sam, get in touch with us today. We provide dozens of services including but not limited to full-cycle game development for all platforms, real-time VFX, and game trailer production. Reach out to us today, and let’s create magic!

let’s Create MAgic

At Magic Media, our strength lies in our size and diversity, allowing us to offer gaming services including full-cycle game development, co-development, video production, trailers, and comprehensive artistic services. Whether you’re in need of innovative technology or a team driven by creativity, we are prepared to put our skills and knowledge into your project.