So… I’ve actually already posted once before in this thread.
It’s a quick silly introduction off from GDC '17. I was not ready at the time to give a full detail of why I’m here, and my story in getting here. That said, there is far too much detail to give a true full version. You’ll probably have to buy “that book I’m working on” for that.
So here is the abridged version. Yes really.
Halo. To think, I was never going to play this game. Then Halo PC, and while in a multiplayer match, I found out about “Mods”. Through happenstance at the same time, I got my hands on Photoshop, and the next thing I knew I was able to mod Halo PC. After making all sorts of mods, and finding my self apathetic at making the same stuff again and again, I decided I wanted to mod something that had yet to be modded. No one had modded effects, so I figured I would give it a shot. After extensive trail and error, I made a mod that altered and improved the effects of Halo 1 by altering both the texture cards and values. When it was all said and done I was amazed. Flabbergasted on how making simple tweaks in a speed of a particle or adding a little spin can change how things feel. It truly did feel like a whole new game, and nothing else I ever did, sans an unreleased A.I Mod, came close to the sheer game play impact. Yet, I had done nothing to the game play, just how it looked. “This is the COOLEST thing ever ever ever”, I exclaimed. Yet, getting a job in this, or really any other job in games was at the time a forbidden dream. Absolutely a forbidden dream. I’m not smart enough, nor artistically skilled enough. That’s a fancy way of saying I can’t math nor art, so a real one two punch.
That said, this Photoshop thing was… just the 2nd coolest thing ever. I wanted to get better at Photoshop. So I read a book on Photoshop, cover to cover. I find I enjoy using this program greatly. I understand it well enough, and enjoy using it so much, that I feel I can get a job that uses it and excel at said job. So I go and get my AA in Graphic Arts. In the process of doing this, and choices made, I learn the entire Adobe Suite sans Flash. In retrospect, this is a bummer considering where I’m posting this, but at the time HTML5 was THE brand new thing and it didn’t make sense to learn something that was to be dying out. I didn’t know. The sheer possibility of getting a VFX job wasn’t even on my radar. In my mind the immediate goal was to be a Graphic Designer, or at least a Designer of some sort.
I then go for my BFA in Graphic Arts, and after two or so years in this action, provenance made a play. Just like some sort of “Liquid Luck” I asked the right questions, to the right people, at the right time, right when it would matter the most. Next thing I know, suddenly, * poof *… I’m in that trade school I found out about by happenstance in Secondary/High-school. The one that teaches VFX for Movies. How in the world did I get here? I have now crossed the door labeled impossible, and I was looking forward to learning programs like Nuke & Realflow, though sadly I never did. I did learn Maya from a guy who LITERATELY, I mean LITERATELY, wrote the book on Maya, so that was rather boss. If I can become the living encyclopedia in VFX, as this man was in Maya, I’ve probably “made it”.
Just as I was changing my goals to work for either Blur or Blizzard for CGI VFX, another opportunity presented it’s self. A few months in at this school, the Dean, who I had told my Halo story to, set me aside and mentioned to me that they were testing out a Videogame Program. They needed guinea pigs to test out the program the school made. It would reset me into the Videogame Program, and the fee would be waved. Basically put, it was more education, for “free”. Seeing this as getting me ever closer to that impossible dream, I said yes. After all, if I had joined the school at any other time, I would have missed this. I was going to learn from industry veterans ( mostly from Terminal Reality ), and do this Hands on! I couldn’t pass that up.
Unfortunately, as would be realized in the guinea pig phase, Realtime VFX has abit more nuance then Movie VFX. It would have added far more time then the school was willing to put into the course. In the guinea pig phase it was decided to focus on the Environment/Object portion of the video game professions and create Generalists for the Videogame Program. So I learned everything I ever wanted to know, or could learn about making video games… except effects. * SIGH * . A real bummer, but it’s not all bad through.
In the process of my time there, I also learned 3dsMax, which is my current go to modeling wise, as well as Modo, Unreal 4, Unity 4, Perforce, Scrum, Agile … all sorts of programs, skills, and workflows. What it should be like (and shouldn’t be like) in a well functioning game studio. As unfortunate as it was that I learned everything but the one reason I went to the school in the first place, the numerous experiences I gained, the things that I learned that you can’t learn from a video or a book are priceless. It may be a little strong for me to say this, but honestly if I wanted a job in anywhere else in the creative industries, I would have it right now. I already have those skills and know how. Yet, after coming so close but so far…
I want it, dam it! I want to be a Realtime VFX artist. So that is my task here. To absorb so much knowledge, ask many more questions, ask many more questions after that, try to not be obnoxious with my brains unyielding hunger, make a kick-ass demo reel, and get-that-job-in Realtime VFX !
Ok! And it’s as simple as that. That’s the abridged version!
Yet, I also want to throw out one more thing. I had found this place September '16, but there was no reason to sign up, as I had no computer. I mean I did, but… take my word on it, I didn’t. If it was anything else holding me back, I would have problem solved up a solution. Yet for this, well… no computer tends to be a rather absolute stopper. A real showstopper, if you will. As such, coming to this site, or any thing else VFX based, was just a painful painful reminder of what I wanted to do, but couldn’t. Having said that, I would like to deeply thank Christina Wun of Riot Games for her suggestion of looking into older styles of drawn FX. I burned many a post-it note due to your suggestion, and while I didn’t make anything I feel worth showing right now, it was at the very least a valuable learning experience. Thank you again.
…and now you know, the rest of the story.