Monday, March 7, 2016

Over-due update: a couple professional articles, GDC, and a promotion!

Hey folks,

Since I've last updated, there have been a few exciting updates. First, I've written a couple of professional blogs over on Digital Tutors and Pluralsight. The first post is about the importance of maintaining trust on your team, and can be found here.

The second is about the importance of standards, both technical standards and standards-of-practice. That post can be found here. Regrettably, it seems that the image links are broken, but they're not too necessary to the substance of the post. Both of these posts pull a lot from my experiences as a tech artist at Riot, including some challenges we've faced as Riot has grown over the years.

More recently, I'm excited to say I've been able to take on additional responsibilities in a more senior role. I am now an Art Lead on the Personalization team, currently managing seven artists. I'm learning a ton, and am incredibly thankful for the resources and mentors I've had available to me on this journey. Not that I've been super diligent about updating this blog, but as I continue to update in the future, you can expect some content related to the challenges of mentoring, setting expectations for your team, etc.

Last note: after taking a three-year hiatus, I will be returning to GDC this year! In addition to the general sessions, I will be attending the tech art boot-camp. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Trial and Error

This is a great TED talk by Tim Hartford. It has some solid advice, both for how to view the world and how to practically navigate complex problems. I won't explain too much of the talk here (watch it!), but one core take-away I'd like to drill into: some problems are so complex that our reason and logic will fail us. We can't solve the problem in a theoretical space. This is a scary thing to admit. Don't worry! In these cases, we can lean on trial-and-error.

When we say trial-and-error, what we're really advocating is a healthy acceptance of failure. We know we won't get it right the first time. That's okay. As long as we keep course-correcting and trying new things, we're moving toward a solution. As Tim points out in the talk, this is how nature works - it's evolution.

Evolution, however, can take a very long time [citation needed]. To practically apply the idea of trial-and-error to my work, the key question I keep coming back to is, "how can we make iterations cheaper?" This is similar to another question I've heard repeated: "how can we fail faster?" Here are some things that can help:

  • make better tools. As a tech artist, I may be biased, but I think most people under-invest here. Automate what's worth automating, be thoughtful about your process. Eliminate needless steps.
  • understand your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). What's the least amount of work you can do? If you're designing a character, do you care about the materials of the clothing? Probably not before defining the body shape. Focus on the broad problems first. Don't waste time on the details you'll end up throwing away.
  • don't be timid - go too far, then dial back. If something is too small, make it bigger than you think you need it to be. If a color is too cool, make it fire red. It will ensure that you've tried every option and, if it still doesn't work, maybe you didn't understand why the first solution failed. Tweak something else.
TL;DR - Don't be afraid of failure. You won't know all the answers. Try new things, fail faster, innovate more. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Derp Planet 2

Bah! I'm working on some unity stuff, but haven't made enough progress to post anything with a character controller or anything today. :I 
Now with twice the planet! See if you can get a double-orbit going. :D Random win condition I made: Get the black moon orbiting both planets, ideally in a figure-8, with the orange objects on one planet and the yellow on the other. GLHF.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wengar the Wion

Not sure if linking to a video counts as my daily post, so without further ado...
Wengar the Wion. 

Inventing On Principle

This talk is utterly captivating. Through some brilliant visual examples, Bret Victor talks about his core design belief ("Creators need an immediate connection to what they create") and gives advice on finding your own mission in life. Very thought provoking, very inspiring. 

Quick 40 minute sketch of what I had in mind when I first started working on Unity again. Quick pitch: fast-paced platformer combat on shifting asteroids. This is a very, very lofty goal, but allows for progress and occasional check-ins along the way. I have no idea what form my experiments will actually take, but this was the seed of the idea.
I like this mental target, as it provides several learning opportunities. From here, I'll need to learn about:
- 3rd-person camera systems. Account for large foreground elements, enemy targeting, etc.
- Moving a character with rigidbody elements through a space
- Attacking, hit boxes... the entirely of a combat system. Tracking stats.
- UI elements
- Lots, lots more.
My next step, I think, will be starting my control set-up and camera for my character. Wish me luck!

I’m getting back into unity. Eventually I want to move towards a 3rd-person adventure type project with some crazy physics shenanigans. For now, you get a derpy planet as I learn the ropes. (Click here to experience the magic)
1) click-drag to shake planet around
2) Shift-drag to rotate camera
3) enjoy! :I