Systems Design Lead


Hinterland Studio
May 17, 2019
Job Type


As our studio and team grows and our Director is pulled in various directions, we’re looking for the best candidate to help him -- in this case, an experienced Systems Design Lead to take on design ownership for The Long Dark’s Survival Mode, the “sandbox” which forms the core gameplay foundation for both Survival and Story modes.

As Systems Design Lead, your role is to collaborate with the other discipline leads while yourself leading a team of designers in executing on the Director’s vision for The Long Dark. You will be responsible for both preserving the existing gameplay vision for the project, which has a foundation of over five years of community-informed design iteration, and evolving it in new directions according to an internal roadmap defined by the Director.

As Systems Design Lead for Survival Mode, you will supervise the output of a team of generalist designers (who in turn work as part of a multidisciplinary team) whose work focuses on heavily systems-driven “sandbox” gameplay. You will also work on close concert with programmers, animators, UI artists, sound designers, etc. in implementing a variety of gameplay systems. It is critical that you have extensive experience in a breadth of design areas, including, but not limited to: systems/gameplay, AI, progression, level design, and encounter design.

You should be a strong communicator, able to articulate a clear point of view but also flexible enough to take other people’s feedback into account. Unlike in some studios, at Hinterland the Systems Design Lead does not supercede other discipline leads -- you are an equal partner and must work as part of a cohesive team to execute on the Director’s vision for the experience, therefore you need to be a strong collaborator with a healthy respect for the various craft areas that go into the creation of a compelling interactive experience. You will also be expected to work closely with your design lead counterpart on the Story Mode side of the project. In short -- you have to enjoy working as a team!

In this role, you’ll be expected to function effectively in both strategic and tactical areas. This can mean organizing and collating feedback from external playtests, providing high-level design frameworks for new systems, working with programmers to architect new tools, writing detailed design specifications, and then digging into the guts of Unity to do a tuning pass on a core system. This is not a “documents and meetings” design lead role, but a working, hands-on design leadership position in a live production environment. You will be expected to produce content that ends up in the game, and be able to help move gameplay and missions forward in collaboration with your designers and fellow leads, be able to provide feedback and direction to the designers you are responsible for, all the while being responsive to feedback and direction yourself!

The ideal candidate has extensive experience in the creation of core gameplay systems for high-quality open-world experiences. We are looking to add someone to the team who has worked on award-winning interactive entertainment and who can help elevate the quality of work being done at our studio. We would like you to help strengthen the design culture in our team and to be part of a leads team that advocates for player experience in everything we make and do. We also need you to be a forward-thinking leader, able to thoughtfully guide and nurture designers in the studio, taking a keen interest in their skills progression and general well-being.

Specific Responsibilities and Requirements include:

  • Lead the design of a series of complex gameplay systems, under the Director’s guidance and according to the Director’s roadmap.
  • Work in close collaboration with a cross-disciplinary team, tasked with executing on new Survival Mode systems and content, including (but not limited to) new gameplay features, AI, new regions, Challenges, etc.
  • Supervise and mentor a small team of systems designers.
  • Collaborate closely with the Missions Design Lead to ensure Story Mode gets the gameplay systems and tuning support it needs to be successful.
  • Work as part of a Leads team to help ensure the success and well-being of the team and project.
  • 10+ years of experience as a game designer. 3+ years of experience as a lead designer, with a gameplay/AI and systems focus.

This is a full-time salaried position in our Vancouver (Gastown) studio. We’re able to provide relocation assistance for the right candidate, including immigration support, although we will give preference to candidates who are legally permitted to work in Canada.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this long and detailed description, and you feel like you might be a good fit for this role at our small but growing studio, we invite you to submit an application to Please include your resume, a cover letter, LinkedIn profile (if you have one), and a link to any relevant portfolio pieces or other information you feel might be helpful to use learning more about you. Thank you for your interest in joining the team at Hinterland!

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