Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Its about the Team πŸ†

Onegai shimasu (γŠγ­γŒγ„ します)  πŸ™‡

Once you get into the industry you might come in with a naive notion that you're gonna make the game/film you want to make. Better build a bridge and get over that ASAP. More than likely you were hired to do a specific job (unless of course you own the company which is another conversation). Keep your life dimple. Do the job you were hired to do. Other opportunities will arise.

Working with other people as a team can sometimes be challenging, especially if there are personality conflicts. With luck, the company that hired you has similar people like yourself. Do all you can to remember that the studio's work is about the project and that everyone has a common goal. There will be times where you will have to work with someone that you'd rather not work with. Make the best of the situation. I guarantee you'll learn something. I've had to work with people I was not a fan of in the same office. I was able to find something in them that I could respect. I mean, there's a reason they got hired. They were good at their job, and I learned a lot from them.

The shipping of a product should never be reliant on just one person. It takes a team to complete a product (there are exceptions of course, like some indie studios). Nor should the product be beholden to whether or not the teammates get along with one another. If it's so bad at the work place then it may be time to find somewhere else. And that's OK. A workplace, in our industry, should be conducive to creativity and solving problems, not feeding one person's ego.

Working for yourself is another matter. It can be very fulfilling, so long as you treat it like a job. Example: You have to ship your product at some time, therefore it just has to be good enough. You have to have limits and maintain goals, otherwise you can go on forever on whatever you're making. Even after you ship you still have to rely on others to be successful. Like those who purchase what you make.

Everyone on the team takes their victories and lumps together.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Perfection is a MYTH 😱

Onegai shimasu (γŠγ­γŒγ„ します)  πŸ™‡

I've come across art directors who want all of the art in the game perfect. 
Guess what: THERE'S NO SUCH THING!!! We are only human, and nothing humans can make is perfect. Ask anyone in any industry and you'll hear the same thing: 
"Man. if only I'd have changed X, Y, or Z..." 
"I could have done it better"
"I almost got it right"

All you can do is get it (whatever it is) to good enough because there are deadlines to keep and budgets to stay in.  The consumer won't care much (or even see the perceived mistakes) as long as you did your best. And that's what really maters. If anyone asks you that they want perfect (or you chase perfection) it's asking for the impossible. All you can do is your best, and nothing more should be asked of you or asked of yourself.

Yet I see the opposite all the time. From so many people in lead positions asking for unreasonable goals and those under them striving for the impossible. I've seen artists and programmers slave themselves to achieve perfection only to be crushed by self disappointment and then the self-doubt, which leads to making your craft worse.

All the should be expected of you and is your best efforts. What you should give is your best effort. Always. Even if it's not glamorous. Say you've got your first job in the industry and you're goal is to be a character artist. Well, when you start chances are you'll be making crates for a while. So make the best damn crates you can, on time, and within the budgets. Ten be ready to take on the next oddball task.  Remember, no one starts at the top and succeeds. You need experience to get to the top. So hone your craft and make those crates as best you  can. Not perfect. Just good enough.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Reputation is Everything

Onegai shimasu (γŠγ­γŒγ„ します)  πŸ™‡

Right now is Spring Break for my students an Several of them are at GDC this week. So I feel that this would be an appropriate time to talk about reputation.  The moment my students walk into my classroom (aka The Dojo) I tell them that their reputation begins at that moment. That they should not aspire to become a professional artist. They have to BE the professional artist. Their fellow students will be their first connection in their nascent network and they will be remembered by their actions and what they say long after graduation. Their reputation will precede them. This is especially important should any of their classmates be in a position to make or break hiring decisions. And they don't even have to be the hiring manager.

I found out last year how I got my first job at FASA Interactive/Virtual World in Chicago. I had submitted my portfolio and one of my images caught the eyes of the Art Director. I had photoshop'ed a mech in a photo of the desert near where I used to live. OK, I showed that I had technical know-how with artistic chops. The next thing he did was ask around the office about me. I was known there and folks said good things about me. I had no idea that my reputation went that far! After that he took a chance on me as an intern. And the rest is history. I still keep in contact with that AD, Dave McCoy, who became one of my mentors. This was my first lesson into having a good reputation. It didn't sink in until years later when I changing jobs and good things continued to be said about me by people I didn't know.

A bad reputation will go further and do some serious damage. I have seen people get black listed from the industry due to their behavior (these are few and extreme cases). Most of the time the bad reputation prevents them from fully succeeding.

Remember that you are just 2 people away from your next gig.
And the rule is simple: Don't be an asshole. It takes work and persistence to be a decent person yet it WILL pay off. After a while it becomes second nature to treat others the way you want to be treated. Just remember that all it takes is one really bad episode to the wrong person.

On the flip-side a good reputation will take you further than you can imagine.
And that will always be a Good Thing™  πŸ˜‰

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Failure is an Option 😱

Onegai shimasu (γŠγ­γŒγ„ します)  πŸ™‡

One of the things I constantly see in the industry is stress. A lot of it. Much of it is early on in a person's career and it's usually about failing at something. Especially in young developers. Here's the ting: it's OK to fail. So long as you learn from your mistakes in order to never repeat the same mistake. The place to really make mistakes is in school because you will (or should) have a support network to help you figure our what you did wrong so as not to do it again. Google has a team where they're job is to fail:

The pros make mistakes all the time.
"Whaaaaat!?!? Lunacy!" I hear you say. It's true.
Most people, with untrained eyes, will never see the mistakes. It happens all the time, it's how you react to your mistake that will result in a good or bad outcome. I made a big one once. I used the wrong collision volume for an asset that was everywhere in a city scene we were building. The game went from 60fps to about 5fps after my submission. This was all due to a miscommunication on my lead's part. It took down the whole game studio wide for almost a day. We found Ethel problem and I redid the collision volume in 5 minutes and re-submitted. Problem solved.

There was no finger pointing, no accusations, no hiding or crying. Just people who wanted to solve the problem. And it's ok to feel like you screwed up. Everyone does. What is important is how you deal with the fallout. That being said, it's also important for how your teammates deal with it.

Now, it can get messy when everyone is crunching and nerves are frayed. It may be one of those times where you, or they, need to take a moment and step back. So long as everyone works to resolve the problem.

Remember, it's about the project. Not an individual or their ego.