Katya Pateva is a level designer working for Ubisoft Sofia. She’s worked exclusively in AAA development, and earned her first credit at the ripe old age of 21. She currently lives with her cats in Sofia, Bulgaria working on an unannounced project.

Name: Katya Pateva
Vocation: Level Designer
Years of experience: 3
Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Shipped Game Titles:
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

1. What are you currently reading and/or playing? 
I just started reading The Knights of the Cross by Henryk Sienkiewicz and I’m currently playing “Civilization 6,” about to start “The Last Guardian.” I’m also playing a bunch of mobile games constantly.

2. First time you knew you wanted to work in games was…?
I don’t think I can really pin-point an exact moment – There was always something guiding me in that direction, I guess. Both of my parents are IT specialists, and I have been playing games since I was very, very young. At some point, however, I discovered that some games my parents and I used to play had editors – so I began to create maps for Age of Empires and some other strategy games, and it was the best thing ever!

Later when I was close to finishing high school, I was very confused over what I should do next, what field of study I should go into. Everyone seemed to already have a plan, but I just could not see myself becoming an accountant or a lawyer – at all. I went and looked up universities abroad, and suddenly I stumbled upon universities offering Game Design programs?! I honestly did not even think that was an option before. So I immediately applied, got accepted, started studying Game Design and Producing, and met so many absolutely amazing and unbelievably talented people, which sparked my flame for game development even more. Sadly I had to leave after the first year, because of personal matters, but the flame was already burning and I knew game development is exactly what I wanted to do! I soon managed to get my first industry job.

3. What was your favorite mistake?
I would say that all my mistakes are my favorite, because it’s through mistakes we learn the most. The important thing is to keep making new ones.

Now if I really have to pick a particular one, it would be skipping school to play more video games. 🙂

4. What was your favorite success?
My current favorite success is where I am at right now – I managed to get into the AAA industry almost immediately after I was forced to leave university, and I had my first AAA game shipped when I was 21 years old. Aside from that, I am very proud that after Rogue got released, reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and the game was very well received among fans. An area I have worked on was used as a great example of the game’s player choice freedom, in reviews.

5. What’s the best advice you ever got?
It’s a famous saying I first saw on the desktop of a friend’s laptop. It said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I try to follow this guidance in every aspect of my life… “Make the change you want to see in your game world.” 🙂

6. Share one thing few know about you.
I used to break dance when I was very young. I was extremely bad at it, but it was still very fun.

7. What’s one thing or trend you’re most excited about in the industry?
I am very excited to see what the future holds. We have gone through so much, yet still have so much more to go. Every day I see so many innovations.

Bonus: 8. Anything else you want to add?
Back in the day, when I was playing a lot of World of Warcraft, there was a server event – a 10 man raid race for killing the Lich King, between the best guilds on the server. Every raid group consisted of 2 healers, but I insisted on being the solo healer for my group, so we can take an extra damage dealer (I didn’t even play as a healer at the time). Everyone was skeptical, thinking we wouldn’t make it even past the first bosses, but I managed to convince everyone and kept the group alive at all times. In the end we completed the whole raid, finished with a great time and I got so many praises for my performance!

So, what I’m trying to say is – if you know your limits and set your mind on something, everything is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Feel free to reblog with a link back to this post. If you are a lady dev who’d like to be profiled or would like to nominate one, please contact Anne [at] igda [dot] org