After taking out the 2017 Australian Game Developer Awards Game of the Year for Hand of Fate 2 it's easy to assume that Cade Franklin was destined to be a success. But he started out just like any typical high-school graduate, unsure of what career he wanted to pursue and confused as to what the right study option was for him.
"After I graduated from high school I explored the world a little bit, then I went to uni for a bit, but it wasn't for me. Getting into games design was really unexpected, I thought I wanted to get into film but I saw an ad for games design at TAFE Queensland and it sounded really exciting," Cade said.
"Coming from uni where I was sitting in front of a lecture hall and getting information thrown at me, one of the cool things about TAFE was that I actually got to do a lot of things. I got to learn a little bit of programming which I wasn't expecting, I got to learn how to do animating, interfacing, art, 2D art, and user interface design — and I still get to use those skills today which is really cool," he said.
Throughout his career Cade has worked for some of the biggest names in games design. After starting out as a designer at Krome Studios — one of the largest independent games developer in the world — he went on to work at Sega Studios Australia before moving to KIXEYE, a San Francisco based company specialising in massively multiplayer online real-time strategy games (MMORTS).
"Over the years I've worked at a number of studios and I've worked on many different games. I worked on a Star Wars game with Lucas Arts. At Sega I worked on a game for the Olympic Games, and the HD remake of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse," Cade said.
"I've worked on so many different games and that's really what's been great about my career — I've had an opportunity to work on all these different things that I probably could have never imagined I would have worked on to begin with," he said.
Cade's current role as Lead Game Designer at Brisbane-based game development studio Defiant Development is his most exciting role yet. After spending two-and-a-half years working on Hands of Fate 2, the game was announced as the 2017 Game of the Year by the Australian Game Developer Awards. These awards recognise and reward excellence and innovation in Australian-made games.
"We put a lot of time and effort into making games so it's really cool to be recognised for the hard work that we've put into making this product," he said.
While it's clear that Cade loves his career in games design, his favourite thing about the industry is the variety in his role. The games industry is constantly changing, and creating a successful game requires a team of talented, passionate people to work together in a collaborative environment.
"No two days look the same in games design. One day I might be coming up with an idea for a feature in a game and the next day I'll be working with animators on how that character's going to fight or act, and that's really fun. I really like the massive variety of things I get to do," he said.
Despite being one of the first students to graduate from the Diploma of Multimedia (now called Diploma of Digital and Interactive Games ICT50215) Cade was impressed with the facilities students had access to — both then and now.
"It's been really cool to come back to TAFE Queensland and see the facilities that they have here. We had cutting-edge technology back then, but it's amazing to see what's available to the students today — I can only imagine where that could take them," he said.
Cade credits his qualification from TAFE Queensland for preparing him with the skills he needed to succeed in the competitive games design industry.
"At TAFE Queensland I learnt a lot of things that I now use in my day-to-day at work. I got so much value out of studying at TAFE Queensland I would recommend it to anyone looking to get into a creative field," he said.
But now that games are his day job, does he still enjoy playing the games that first attracted him to the industry?
"I do still play a lot of games — probably too many if you ask my wife! I think it's really important to remember why you're excited about the industry you're working in. And it's also really fun."