Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 12 — Pulling the Trigger, Lead Engineer

Tuesday we finally pulled the trigger on the game we were going to make. We got lots of good feedback at GDC and we believed that we could do either. My favorite feedback was what Sean shared and that was when he pitched Ragwheel with projections (instead of as ghosts) the persons he pitched it to immediately grasped the idea and liked it.

We were split though and had to get the faculty to help us vote. The deciding factor was a weighted vote: each person got three votes that they could put towards whichever game they wanted. The vote was close: 17 to 13. Make a Man Thinketh won. I was fine with either game so I am not disappointed.

We then immediately had an engineer meeting about which engine we would make the game in. We discussed several: flash, flex, unity, gamemaker, flat red ball, and scratch. We also got our artist in on the conversation and we all decided the same thing: Unity.

I then organized the team into writing and design teams.

Most of our class time was taken up on Thursday with a lecture. Directly afterwards we had a meeting to choose leads. I was surprised by the overwhelming nominations I received in getting voted in as engineer lead. While others who got nominated for their lead roles got passively voted in by others, I had multiple people nominate me, giving reasons and support for the role. I felt very honored.

I then went to my desk and thought about what had happened. I was lead. That’s a huge responsibility.

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Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!, Helping Hand

Game Projects I: Week 11 — Game Developer Conference (GDC)

GDC was amazing. This was my first time going and I’m so glad I went! I would have loved to be there for more of it, but family business took me away for two days in the middle of it. However I got to listen to some amazing talks. The Friday before GDC I actually pulled out my Mathematics for 3D game programming and Computer Graphics by Eric Lengyel and read throught chapter 2. I’d been avoiding linear algebra stuff since most of it didn’t fall into my area of math expertise and I remember some parts of the class being very overwhelming even though I did get an “A.” However, when I got to the part in chapter 2 about Vector Spaces I knew I wasn’t in the same place I was as a freshman in college. Vector Spaces are just special groups. It was group theory! I’d taken Modern Algebra my senior year (study of groups) and I’d never had a reason to look up my linear algebra theory until then. It made so much more sense. It’s funny what sometimes how new knowledge makes once difficult things simple. After taking modern algebra and lots of time for my to think on the idea, Vector Spaces got a new slot in my brain.

Well Monday morning of GDC I was looking forward to a day of math tutorials. I knew my friend Skip would be there. While I was riding the escalator up to the room I took a look at the day’s speakers. First up, Eric Lengyel on grassman algebra. No way! I was just reading his book! It was so cool to get to hear a talk by someone who’s book I was readig. Eric’s talk was by far my favorite and I can’t wait to implement the grassman algebra he showed us into my game engine.

There was one other talk during GDC that I loved. It was the post-mortem on the Human AI for The Last of Us. It made me feel so much better about all the crazy meshes and ray casts I was doing and thinking about doing for the projections (previously known as ghosts) in Ragwheel. It made me feel like it was doable as well and that I was on the right track, so to speak, to making the projections a reality.

I had a hard time at the career fair my first day there. I ended up just going to a couple talks instead. Then I went to my school’s booth. I’m so glad I volunteered to work there! It helped me break out of my shell and start talking to people. It was fun being on the other side of it and I understood both sides. It got me really excited to go to the career fair the next day and talk to some people!

The career fair was awesome in that I wasn’t looking for a job from there, just feedback on my resume. After breaking myself to talking to people again the day before, I was able to get some excellent advice on my resume.

Advice for people going to GDC: take some printed copies of your resume and ask people to give you feedback. The very least you’ll get some good advice on what to make better, the most they may LOVE your resume and you could get an interview! I didn’t stop by anywhere that I was sold on working for, and most places weren’t looking for interns or weren’t taking resumes, but I got what I wanted. It gave me what I needed to improve myself as well as a game engineer. It gave me more focus and I got to learn about some companies and whether or not I actually wanted to be there.

Also, if you have the opportunity and you’re a bit shy, like myself, and just need a kick start to talk to people, then volunteer at a booth. It will really help you see the otherside and help give you the confidence to go talk to other people. Getting a wingman to go with you is always helpful to. I chose to go by myself so that I wouldn’t chat with my friends and possibly miss opportunities. This also allowed me to meet some cool people in line while we waited. However the wingman thing isn’t a bad way to go either. It’s best if you go with someone in a different area of expertise. For instance a game designer and an artist. A producer and an engineer. Or if you’re two engineers than make sure to distinguish yourselves. That way you’re not competition to each other. Even if you’re both game engine, which areas do you focus on. Or perhaps you’re both graphics but one does more gameplay and the other more engine, etc. Just always present yourselves as doing two different things, even if you overlap in what you like. You’ll hear about more job opportunities and have more to talk about with the recruiters.

 

Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!, Helping Hand

Game Projects I: Week 10 — Spring Break

Spring break was amazing! I got to go to my brother’s work and meet his team and bosses. We set up a meeting with his bosses and I got to interview Christina. She was really nice and open. She, like myself, had a degree in something other than computer science for her undergrad and then switched to computer science for her masters. She was doing really well in the company and had excellent experiences. She asked me what I wanted to do and I told her I was open to new experiences. Then she gave me some excellent advice: make a list of all the things you want in a company that you want to work for. For herself, her company met everything she wanted.

She also told me, in talking about being a woman in engineering, that she’d never experienced discrimination. Being in the workforce in California where they’re more forward-thinking and woman are urged to seek more professional jobs, if anything she’d experienced anti-discrimination where she was actually helped out a bit more because she was a woman.

On that same note she told me to always think of myself as an asset.

“You’re an asset to the company. You are. You’re worth every dollar they spend on you. Be confident.”

Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 9 — Industry Panel

The industry panel was awesome! We were one of the only teams where the industry panel couldn’t decide which of our games we should move forward with. They were very polarized: very passionate about both the games. We got, “You must make this game!” for both games! Rory from Eat Sleep Play came up to me after the panel and we talked about the difficulties of the ghosts. He’d worked on a game with the same idea and they had finally scrapped the idea because they were never satisfied with how it felt. It was also very time consuming engineering wise which meant it took a lot of time away from playing with other things in the game. It was very reassuring to me that even industry professionals struggled with what I was trying to accomplish because it meant that I wasn’t the only one having issues with it!

The industry panel told us to get rid of the ghosts (for aforementioned reasons), but Owen, Binoy and myself still felt they were a valid part of the game. Especially with our playtests where when the ghosts were missing the players got quickly disinterested.

The following day the faculty gave us some feedback too. They were again mixed. The one thing that crept up continually for Make a Man Thinketh was that it should be mobile. Roger gave some great feedback for Ragwheel as well. He said that the ghosts weren’t a bad idea they were just pitched poorly. He then suggested the perfect new name for the ghosts: projections. 

The following days we got together and discussed the possibilities of both the games. I had spoken with several people on the MAMT project, and the game was about to be abandoned. Then I pitched the game as a 3D mobile game and everyone jumped on board: Shane, Sean, Binoy and myself. Binoy told me I was killing it with the ideas. Even Dayna said she’d go for it, and even though Hailin loved the 2D she was willing to try out 3D for the sake of our artist who is a 3D artist.

Casey also approached me and asked if I was going to be lead writer on Make a Man Thinketh and that got me thinking about another aspect of myself that I love.

Ultimately we couldn’t decide on a game and so decided to take spring break and the week of GDC to think over the possibilities.

 

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Armadillo Smash N’ Roll! Awarded!

Armadillo Smash N' Roll

Just got the news from our amazing producer Brad that Armadillo Smash N’ Roll! won an Editor’s Pick Award on the Windows 8 store!

WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!

So grateful I got to work with such a great team and to have our hard work recognized for the awesomeness that is adorable little Armie! MADE MY DAY!

Check out the FREE game awesomeness from the adorable little Armie who won an editor’s pick award on the Windows 8 store!