Brittany Beidleman is an alumna of USC Games’ Interactive Media & Games graduate program. She has worked on several amazing projects including Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 and Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War. Currently, Brittany is a level designer at Treyarch, where she continues her passion for gaming and creates innovative gaming experiences that will inspire people the same way they inspired her.
Here are some highlights from our talk with Brittany, edited for brevity and clarity.
What does your day-to-day role as a level designer at Treyarch look like?
Level design at Treyarch is kind of different from other studios; the designer not only will design the levels, but they also detail them. You have to be a designer and somewhat an artist to do this job. When I worked on Black Ops 4, I worked on the Dead of the Night Zombie’s map in which I designed a lot of the interiors of the mansion and on the cemetery space outside. Those areas went through multiple iterations of design and layout. The next step was to work with the concept art team, which would put beautiful paintovers on the level I have created. I would then turn these beautiful paintings into 3D.
My role for Black Ops: Cold War was quite different. I was able to work on the Fireteam maps, and I was basically like a level design project manager.
I made sure the level designers could achieve their goals on time. I would work with the production teams to make sure tasks were getting assigned and tracked. I had to work with the concept art team again to get red lines of the space or paintovers. I also worked with the environment art team to make sure we had textures for the grounds, for models, etc. There is so much involved with this project management role for Cold War. I would say that collaboration is key in this role for sure.
What drew you to the game industry and the FPS genre in particular?
I’ve always loved first person shooters. I kind of grew up playing them. I think I have to attribute it to my dad. My dad worked in the Air Force so I grew up moving all over the U.S. He had to learn about historical battles and therefore became passionate about them. He then started playing games with a PlayStation 2, which was also my first system. He preferred playing games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. I kind of had just played with him, and that’s where my love for FPS (First Person Shooters) came from.
Did you always know you wanted to make games?
In early middle school, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do because all the classes I was taking weren’t really interesting to me. I would just go home and play video games so I had the epiphany of “Oh, I could do this as a career.”
A game very near to my heart is the very first Assassin’s Creed game. Those graphics were very impressive at the time. I remember how beautiful the world was. I realized that it was someone’s job to make this beautiful art I was playing, and I wanted to be that somebody. That’s what got the research and learning started.
What are the most essential skills for working in the game industry?
The biggest one is collaboration. Be able to work with people from all different backgrounds, different departments, and be a team player because you have to be able to do those things in order to succeed in the gaming industry as a whole.
Another one that’s pretty essential is accountability. Accountability and trust go hand in hand. If you prove to your team and company that you’re accountable, then they will end up trusting you with larger and more important opportunities.
Last but not least, problem solving. There would be a problem every day I come to work, and I have to figure out how to solve it. You naturally get that skill by going to USC, which is awesome.
How did USC Games help you prepare for your career?
Being a part of SCA was huge. The alumni network for individuals in the cinema school is massive. There is someone who has gone to USC at every studio ever. That already is a massive opportunity for people who go to USC.
Another awesome perk I saw while I was there was the fact that USC is one of the very first places that game studios will look to for new talent. That’s how I found Treyarch in the first place.
My minors learned from USC also helped me a lot. While my major served as a base of knowledge for everything in the gaming industry, my minors of game animation and business administration taught me other skills that set me up for success – so supplement your major with a minor or two that are different from games to get a more broad-reaching knowledge base that will help you stand out from other people applying to jobs.