Thursday, March 29, 2012

GDC - Day 2

On the second day of spring break, GDC gave to me... A presentation on atmosphere. I went to the Bastion talk on games' usage of mood and experience. He provided us with a ton of references, both for movies and games alike, that had superb atmosphere. Through various images he screencaptured, he showed us the effectiveness of Bastion, Limbo, Canabalt, Dear Esther, Proteus, Thief ('98), Otogi, the Dark Crystal, and Casablanca. All great atmospheric considerations.

Afterwards, I hit up the career pavilion again and decided to try out the Microsoft booth. They had a university relations table that was different from other companies'. The HR person would look over our portfolio, ask us questions about ourselves and our interest in the company, and if they liked you enough, they would sign you up for a meeting with a Microsoft employee.

The person I spoke with asked specifically this: "Why are you interested in us?" I admit to responding slowly in deep thought, not out of ignorance, but from memory. My mind suddenly transported me to the early days of Halo, when my brother would host huge gaming parties with his friends in the basement. I always squeezed in and played when I could stay up that late. We had to hide the games before we could go to sleep, because our mother banned them from the house. She would throw them in the trash if she found them. 'Too violent! There's too much violence in those video games!' To be safe, we ended up - I'm pretty certain - with five copies of Halo in our basement, in case one was taken away. We also ended up with two XBoxes and an array of controllers. Good times.

At any rate, she signed me up for a meeting. While I waited for that time to roll around, I wandered over to the other side of the huge convention room, and found a racing simulator. One of those really fancy, awesome ones, with built-in bumps, acceleration sense, braking, turns, all that jazz. I was pretty good at it, after the first try of crashing my car. The second time, I kept going smooth and strong for a good while. When I had to leave, I aimed for a wall. Set the thing on fire! Pretty cool

Turns out, Microsoft had a racing game in their booth too. As I waited for the person I was supposed to meet, I played the game. It was simpler than the racing sim, but honestly more fun and a little easier to control. I didn't crash once. Aww yeah.

Eventually, the HR lady introduced me to Skip. He wasn't allowed to tell me much more about him than that, but he was a concept artist so I was crazy excited for him to see my work. We said hi, sat down, and I opened my portfolio. He started out by rotating a 15-minute hour glass and saying 'Okay. Tell me about you work. Go!"

like this, but without '' hovering over it

I went through each piece and described it in total detail. From my initial desire to the final product, and all the process in-between. I spoke about how I want to combine aesthetics and functionality. Rather than just throwing cool shit together in a mangled mess, I wanted to consciously consider the features of my design. For the spaceship, specifically, I had to consider where people go. Where do they eat, where do they sleep, where to they go to the bathroom and take showers? Where do they keep their food and belongings? Where can the emergency oxygen supply be so that it's protected but available throughout the ship? That sort of thing. 

With each word, he kept nodding and smiling. He'd often agree and further my definitions and ideas, and talk about how similar my process is to projects he's worked on. I also asked him about how to continue that first piece I spoke of in the previous GDC post. He gave his own advice, after a quick warning: anything he'd say would detract the piece from being my own. He was much more interested in seeing more of myself in this piece, not just what other people tell me to do. He said I was definitely on the right track, and should keep it up with full fervor.

Overall, he was very impressed. I'm so glad to have spoken with him. He gave me a great deal of motivation and positive feedback. The encouragement he provided will stay with me forever as I create my endeavors.

Afterwards, I decided to try the Kabam booth once more, seeing as their line was good and short. They had two people looking at portfolios. I spoke with one of the artists, and directly addressed the things that Skip told me to remember. Gradually, the art director (who had been looking through another person's portfolio) kept glancing over the shoulder of the artist talking with me. When her session was done, the art director wanted to look at my work as well. She was very nice - one of the first things she said is that she could tell what I was passionate about. Having seen so many student portfolios, she emphasized how apparent it is when an artist is just 'doing what they're given to do.' Seeing all my personal work really sparked interest the most. The Kabam ladies were awesome, and I'm so glad to have met them.

This post is already getting long, so I'll cut the rest of the night short. We went to the Ringling Alumni party in the International Hotel right by the convention center, then walked to the W again, where we randomly met three super cool guys from Naughty Dog. Total partiers, let me tell you. If any of you three happen to read this: keep calm and party on.

That just about summarizes this day. Day 3 coming up soon!


  1. cool to hear about your interview. I remember you shared that halo being banned story before in class. It's a good answer for Microsoft. How will you be following up with these interviews?

    1. It wasn't an interview - more of a meeting - but they said applicants need to sign in on their website. I'll do so with gusto!