Blog Post #1 - The Beginning of the End (of College!)
My guiding question that I had defined as freshman was something along the lines of: "How has the advancements of technology changed the development of video games over time?" Although this was wholly answered in the History of Video Games course I took, my guiding question does not need to be completely written off just yet. I had used this as my guiding question because I was genuinely interested in the answer; I wanted to know more about the origins of my field. I'm fascinated at current game development technology, even though I'm not sure how most of it works. But, it all had to start somewhere. . . Video games have changed so much, even in just the past 10 years, let alone since their origin. In hindsight, I think my guiding question speaks to my interest in how video games will continue to change into the future, and how much I want to be a part of this growth.
Entering the field of game development will be a big leap. I'm thankful to say that I've learned a lot over the past four years, but an important distinction to make is the different between how much you learn, and how much you apply yourself. You need to learn the skills, retain the knowledge, and apply it. Working on projects that you're passionate about is empowering and fun. I'll find myself in agony after spending a half hour writing a paper, but if I'm working on a game, I can go on for hours without realizing it. I'm proud of the work I've been able to accomplish over the past couple years.
Coming to college, I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do with game design, but I think I figured it out. I don't claim to be amazing at programming, art, sound, or narrative. But, I have always found the design of games to be interesting; the idea that every little thing is intentional, serves a purpose, or has a meaning. I have a particular attention to detail, and a tendency to be a perfectionist. Psychology pairs well with design. I find it important to understand how a player may perceive and react to stimuli, and to be able to follow the thought process of your player as they interact with the game. In short (but in the long run), I would like to be a creative producer.
My goal is to get a job in Los Angeles. I got an internship in LA and traveled there through the QU in LA program. It was an incredible, life-altering experience; I would really like to move there and work in the heart of the US game industry. In terms of finding a job . . . I feel okay I think. I had gone through the excruciating process of tossing out job applications in order to get my internship; I know what to expect. I think it would be amazing to work for the company I interned for. They're a small company that keeps everything pretty informal and relaxed. I already know how some of their stuff works throughout the studio, and I like the people. Fingers crossed! Let the job hunt begin.
Blog Post #2 - Company Research
The company I've always looked up to is Naughty Dog. I've been playing their games since I've been a kid, and I feel as though I've been growing up with the company. As a kid, I loved Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The Uncharted series had accompanied my teenage years, and The Last of Us followed as I've transitioned into adulthood. I continue to wonder how the company will keep growing, and what new games they'll make along the way. I've been following Naughty Dog & Naughty Dog Jobs on Instagram and Twitter for a while now. They post what positions they have open, and shed some light on what it's like being an employee there.
From looking at what they share, it must be great to work at Naughty Dog. They have various monthly events and celebrate their new employees on social media. Their Santa Monica office is in a beautiful location where they can host fun outdoor activities. The employees show a sense of community and it seems like they genuinely enjoy working there. From the documentaries I've watched, the workplace looks very casual and laid back. Even so, they still make revolutionary video games.
The documentary on the making of The Last of Us demonstrates the passion and care that is put into their games. TLOU is what made me want to be a game designer. The story and the characters had connected with me, and playing it for the first time was an incredible experience. I hope one day to create that same feeling in others. I know that Naughty Dog has the power to take each game to the next level, and I want to be a part of that process.
Blog Post #3 - Job Positions
I've been searching for positions as an entry level game designer. From working on projects throughout college, I believe I have the knowledge and hands-on experience to be able to design fun gameplay, my attention to detail and understanding of psychology support my process of doing so. In the long run, I would like to be a creative producer. I want to be deeply involved in the creative process, but I find myself to be good at leading, organizing, and thinking ahead. In terms of other game industry jobs, I could maybe be an entry level C# programmer.
I have been able to explore many different aspects of game development and other art-related fields, like film and graphic design. I've learned how to work in a professional fast-paced setting as an ESPN+ camera operator and news cast technical director, and gained a new perspective for films as an art by handling film equipment and helping on student projects. I have a lot of fun working in the film & TV world. Photoshop has become an important asset in my tool belt, having used it for over 6 years creating video thumbnails, player icons, game art assets, personal branding, etc.; graphic design has been a long-time interest of mine.
This position pertains more to UX / UI, but I feel qualified given the responsibilities and requirements. I have experience in a fast-paced work setting, and 4 years of creative experience. I have strong problem solving, communication, and teamwork skills. I have a passion for graphic design and knowledge of related software. Overall, the job requirements are straight-forward and generic, but I feel very confident that I fit them.
This job is somewhat close to home. I demonstrate the necessary skills: communication, time management, work ethic, HTML, Photoshop, video editing, design team experience. Although, I do not have an extensive graphic design portfolio or work experience in this industry. But, I believe my strengths in the skills I do have will outweigh those that I don't.
Blog Post #4 - Surmounting Creative Obstacles
Today, my team deliberated on the best way to teach players how to play our game. It would be best to avoid a screen that simply lists the controls and mechanics, and try to make it as intuitive as possible. On my previous game, Beat 'Em, we learned that Ready-Up screens are not especially intuitive if it's interactions are not in-line with the games core mechanics. Sure, it could be a simple "Press A to Ready Up!" but we want to kill two birds with one stone. These birds are 1. A ready-up screen and 2. An interactive tutorial area. Our game involves some simple platforming mechanics: Jump, Dash, Wall-Jump, Pickup / Throw.
Our solution became creating a simple platforming section that must be completed by exploring the game base mechanics. In order to ready-up and play the game, players must complete the quick & easy obstacle course to get to the ready-up "zone." This allows players to get a grasp of the controls before getting launched into a fast-paced competitive party game. What will keep this fresh & fun is that players' times to complete the course will be timed and ranked. This will not contribute to their score of the game that follows, but will be an added challenge and mini-competition between players: who can beat the ready-up arena the fastest? This will also speed up the process of mastering the controls in order to truly make the game a skill-based contest; everyone will be on the same playing field. By having the arena have no real stakes (unless you're dedicated to become first place in the tutorial), players can take their time to become familiar with the game without needing to read a menu, practice in an arena, exit the tutorial, click play, and ready-up to start the game.
Move + Jump + Pick-up + Throw + Dash + Wall-Jump + Book it to the finish = Ready-Up.
It'll be quick, clean, and fun every time!
Not only will this be an effective ready-up / tutorial level, it will also serve as the testing grounds for reworking and refining the movement and mechanics of the players. Once we build the simple level layout, we can use it to create tight, grounded platforming controls and then actually use it for our game. By thinking ahead and combining obstacles, we are streamlining our development process and creating a better experience for the player.