Lead Content Designer
I love video games and telling stories. I’ve always known I wanted to be a Game Designer, and I always hoped to end up leading a team in a large project in creating new content. Being a part of making a massive multiplayer Elder Scrolls game is a dream come true.
What is your role at ZOS?
I am The Elder Scrolls Online’s Lead Content Designer where I run five different teams: three overland, one dungeons, and one monster. I am responsible for and play every piece of content in the game multiple times before it’s released. I also review every pitch and I get to play everything at each phase of completion (pitch, draft, implementation, iteration, polish, Live).
How did you come to work for ZOS?
Out of college, I worked as a game designer for Serious Games before working on a virtual chemistry game for the Air Force. While I was doing this, I created a startup game company with some friends on the side. We created multiple web-based games for a children’s web portal as well as a character model animator that exported to a number of FPS game formats (Quake, Quake2, Unreal, Half-Life, etc.).
Later on, I made a living as a computer consultant creating websites and maintaining computers and networks for small businesses while modding the latest games in my spare time: Quake (I-III), Drakan, Heretic 2, Fear, Call of Duty, Jedi Academy, Left for Dead (1 and 2), Oblivion, Fallout 3, etc.
In addition to modding many other games over the years, I downloaded the TES Construction Kit for Oblivion and made 50+ quests. I then used the design docs, mods, and videos to apply for a job as an Associate Content Designer at an unknown studio working on a mystery title and was hired for my dream job: Making a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game.
What does an average day look like for you?
I get in early and spend several hours testing our new content and meet with all of my teams for a brief scrum late in the morning. I read and comment on the latest design pitches and meet with the designers to discuss any iteration necessary. I also attend review sessions in our screening room to review quest, fixture, animation, VFX, and audio tasks to ensure that all of the dedicated teams are on the same page. Finally, I check in with my teams and head home around 5pm. I take a break once I get home and hang with the family, but later I log into the Live game and play!
How did your experience modding help prepare you for a role as a Content Designer?
As a modder, I gained experience in multiple disciplines, and since I have insight into their jobs, this experience is invaluable in helping me to interface with other departments. Every day, I work with artists, fiction writers, encounter designers, animators, programmers, and more, and my background helps me with those interactions.
Releasing mods gave me experience with entire development cycles, including planning, creating, testing, iterating, releasing, etc. With modding, I also learned how to scope myself, how to take feedback, and how to plan and organize my work.
Have you always wanted your current role?
Yes, I love video games and telling stories. I’ve pretty much always known I wanted to be a Game Designer, and I always hoped to end up leading a team in a large project in creating new content.
How have you moved around within the studio during your time here?
I was originally hired as an Associate Content Designer where I worked on (amongst other things) Daggerfall, Stonefalls, Alik’r, Rift, Stormhaven, and the Ebonheart starter zones.
I was promoted to Zone Lead and my team worked on Deshaan, Rivenspire, and Coldharbour, and I ultimately was the Live Lead for the Daggerfall Covenant at Launch. Later, I was promoted to Dungeon Lead and my team worked Veteran Crypt of Hearts, Veteran City of Ash, Imperial Prison, White-Gold Tower, and Maelstrom Arena.
Finally, a few years ago, I was promoted to Lead Content Designer where I am now responsible for all of the teams in the content department. Since then, we’ve released Orsinium, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Morrowind, and Summerset.
What is your proudest achievement while working for ZOS?
Being a part of making a massive multiplayer Elder Scrolls game. This was a dream come true. The Rivenspire zone required multiple iterations, but I’m really happy with the way the story turned out. One of the most gratifying things I’ve seen is a forum post with a screen shot of one of its end scenes. We worked really hard to convey a significant story beat there, and it was inspiring to see that it had moved this player. I’m also super happy with how Summerset came out. It was the culmination of a multiple zone story (Morrowind, Clockwork City, and Summerset) and it was one of our most ambitious stories to date.
How do you manage a good work / life balance?
I coordinate my schedule so I can get my work done and still have time for my family. Sometimes I need to come to work early or work in the evening so I can get my work commitments done. I also make a point of volunteering for everything I can in my kids’ lives. I’m soccer coach, cub scout den leader, and volunteer math tutor.
Jeremy Sera's Department
Join a great team and start your massively multiplayer career with us!
ZENIMAX ONLINE STUDIOS is hiring for The Elder Scrolls® Online and future projects. We’re looking for talented, self-motivated people of varied experiences and backgrounds with the desire to make great games. Welcome to ZOS!