Say Hello to Susan Oleinik
User Experience (UX) Designer
What do you do at Undead Labs?
My job is to help people understand our game and help them enjoy it as smoothly as possible. My day-to-day drastically changes depending on what the team needs. Lately, it’s been a lot of information architecture and prototyping for new features coming down the pipeline! I also occasionally whap designers, Geoffrey and Brian, with a rolled up newspaper when they want TOO MANY THINGS on a screen. Lovingly, of course.
What made you get into the game industry?
Sit down and hold onto something, because this is gonna shock you: I loved video games as a kid.
SURPRISE! Behold my amazingly original answer. What, you want something more detailed? Okay okay:
I have the classic memories, for my age demographic, of playing games for many hours propped up on my elbows, or lying on my stomach on the family room carpet. Then I entered junior high and… well… all my galfriends who used to play with me stopped, and all my guy friends were at LANs where they ran around blowing each others brains out… It felt like there was nothing in the market for me.
I almost stopped playing games, you guys, and it really makes me sad to look back on that!
But then, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came out, and I discovered that games could be magical, beautiful, emotional and meaningful! This game is the linchpin of my game industry career.
I bounced around with a ton of other career dreams (Bio-Chemist, Graphic Designer). I don’t regret in dabbling in a other fields, in fact, I think it makes me holistically a better game designer! Eventually, while home sick from school and playing some FFX, it hit me like a lightning bolt… I wanted to make games!
So I switched schools and majors, and started off in the industry as an Environment Artist. From there, I essentially got roped into User Interface (UI), which I learned to love, and then specialized in UX.
Ten years later and I’m still here, helping support my team in any way that I can! I’ve never forgotten that feeling Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gave me, and I strive every day to make something special and unique to pay it forward.
Also, shout out to my loving, wonderful parents, who always encouraged my love of art and technology!
From a time of gods and magic, to the apocalypse and zombies; how did that happen?
One of my best buddies from college, Matt Heiniger (Lighting Artist), had been trying to get me to come work for Undead Labs for years. I’d heard nothing but awesome things about the team and was a fan of State of Decay.
One day out of the blue Matt messages me, “Hey we have an opening for UX at Undead, you interested?” he asked. “Oh awesome, yes! Lemme take a few days to update my resume and portfolio.” I responded. “Don’t bother, I showed your stuff to Doug (Art Director) and Foge (Design Director) already and they want to talk to you. What are you doing in 20 minutes?” Matt asked. GAH MATT!!!! You gotta understand, my resume and portfolio were like three years out of date because I was in the thick of another job and hadn’t officially started looking elsewhere, this was just a random opportunity.
Four days later, I got the job! Fastest turnaround I’ve ever experienced! After I got my first paycheck, I treated Matt to a giant cauldron of cheese at the Melting Pot.
TLDR: Be friends with the awesome people you meet, connections are everything!
What is your favorite part about working at Undead Labs?
I really adore my coworkers here at the lab, this really is an exceptionally bright and talented bunch!
Any interesting facts about you (outside of work) you’d like to share?
My side hustle, when I’m not making and playing games, is designing adorkable pins and stickers. I’m also a DIY-er, (I DON’T HAVE A YARN PROBLEM, I CAN QUIT ANYTIME I WANT!) chaotic-good alignment and unapologetically femme. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m 90% made of cheese. Also also, I’ve internally pitched an Undead Labs stream called State of Rosé where I drink a bunch of sparkling beverages and play our game, and have officially been told “please don’t.”
From everyone at Undead Labs, thank you for your hard work Susan!
(Also, thank you Matt for bringing her to us!)
Have a question for Susan? She would be happy to answer it. Just comment on the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post this link was on, or join our Discord network (https://discord.gg/AZVkR3v) and send your questions to Undead Megan. Susan will be answering these questions on our live stream, Tuesday, February 5th, from 2-3PM PST.