Senior Designer David Feltham has a four parts series going up on the Bioware Blog. It summarizes his journey into Bioware's offices and what exactly he does there:
Feltham wrote: I’d love to tell you that I worked hard on learning Unreal, made lots of maps, created a ton of Neverwinter Nights maps and modded the hell out of some engine. I’d love to tell you that it was this that helped me get a job in the industry and that if you keep it up you too will join us in the fray. But this isn’t the case. In fact, my ass in this seat at BioWare, working on Mass Effect 2, the sequel to the number one game of all time on the Xbox 360, is due to equal parts Luck, Networking and Determination.
Although it isn't a modding 'rags to riches' kind of story. It's an interesting read from the perspective of someone who started our in broadcast design. Bioware has been hiring a ton of cinematic designers lately, picking up a couple of the lads from Lit Fuse (remember the ME2 teaser?) and the infamous Monkey Junkie (congrats!). They are part of the communal level design process David details in part 3:
Feltham wrote: A level at BioWare, and specifically on Mass Effect, starts with a writer’s rough overview for the plot. After everyone involved with the level (artist, Level Designer, cinematic designer, cutscene artist and writer) are in agreement with, on paper, what will happen on the level, the Level Designer takes that and begins to craft the level. Sometimes a sketch is made in the meeting, other times not. But the narrative playable, the 3D version of what was discussed in that writer’s overview, is the goal: show how the level looks, show me how the mission is paced, and show me where the conversation and combats happen. And if this is approved, then everything evolves from this.
To read all three parts released so far, hit up these links:
The Long Road to BioWare: A Designer’s Origin Story