Final Presentations were on May 8th. Over 35 guests joined us to hear about the three projects this semester.
Current Issues in Entertainment Technology and Design, this Silicon Valley unique elective class is substantial and designed to help students on their careers.
The class is basically formed of three parts: independent study, industry professions’ keynotes and company visits.
For the independent study, which was the first try on this semester, worked out really well on stimulating students to consider job seeking early and under guidelines. So the path we took to get here was: we were asked to choose a topic related to career at the beginning of this semester, and students not only learning by themselves, choose whatever material they need, but blog posting their milestones twice a week. In addition, a topic introduction, a midterm and a final presentation are also providing a platform for others to know about your topic, as well as learning from you. Independent study, at early stages, played the role of motivating us to keep improving ourselves, while later on the knowledge we kept accumulated pave our way to handle interviews and talk professionally. And the presentations really equipped us hands on experience of best-selling ourselves, express our opinion clearly, and then to impress those listeners.
And the keynotes that industry professions gave exposed us to work of other disciplines, and some really practical and useful skills. Some talks were also great elaborating about entrepreneurship and refreshing our mind of making games was not just for fun, but also a business. Moreover, they were very good opportunities for networking, while networking were seen as the most important approach of finding a job in this industry. Some very interesting topics included: Producer’s workshop by Shriley Saldamarco, Stage Manner by Anthony Daniels, WebGL by Tony Parisi, Interaction Design by Josh Seaver, Data Analysis in Game by Ben Medler, Networking Skill by Susan Timko, Common Problems of new artists by Hoyt Ng, to name a few.
Company visits were of the most exciting part of this class. This semester, we went to Kabam and Double Fine, these trips were proven to be the most efficient way to know a company and its culture. If employees are happy with what they are doing, company’s scope and asking them questions. Additionally, to already be “on-site” there, networking and job application would be way much easier. Because it would be just reasonable to say, I am really impressed by your company, because we visited.
To sum up, the course designer and teacher-Jiyoung Lee works really hard to bridge the gap between our ETC program and the industry. And we did benefit a lot from this class. Good luck to everyone who takes this class! Have fun!
Stone Librande is a video game designer currently working at EA. He was the Creative Designer on the recently released SimCity (2013). He previously worked on Diablo 3 as the Lead Designer, and worked on Maxis’ Spore as a designer. He studied Animation at CalArts, and went on to study at MIT’s Media Lab.
Stone swung by the ETC-SV campus last Monday and gave us his GDC 2013 talk titled “Simulating a City, One Page at a Time.” At his GDC 2010 talk about “One Page Designs,” he showed one-page design examples that he previously made for games such as Diablo 3, Spore, and the Simpsons. His goals for one page designs are that they should be contained within a single page, printed and displayed prominently, and communicate a core idea clearly, concisely, and thoroughly. Due to the success that he had with one-page designs on previous games that he worked on, he decided to challenges himself and put all of his design work for SimCity on one-page documents.
During his presentation, he went through the design process, explained the different sections of the SimCity design, and showed how he broke each section down into one or several (if needed) one-page design documents. He explained his process for creating the isometric images and text and laying them out on the page to best communicate the design of a specific part of SimCity. He shared tales of the various methods he used to make the designs visible and accessible to the others on the SimCity team. He printed the documents out on small or large paper and stuck them up around the office, and updated them as needed. He even made magnets out of images of the buildings, so that the team could move them around on a whiteboard.
In the end, Stone found that it was difficult to maintain the pace of producing the meticulously-created documents, that they were difficult to organize, and that the one-page design doc format is not suited for use by all members of the team. However, this goal of pursuing one-page design documents was ultimately worth it, because it really helped him to thoroughly understand the design.
Stone said that a designer needs the ability to communicate well, especially through writing, and needs to be able to document what you talk to your team about. He recommended that a designer go from the top down. The designer should first make a big picture document, then drill down.
Stone’s talk was great for gaining insight into design, learning best practices for effective communication, and learning about the process of designing SimCity.
On Friday, April 19th, 2013, ETC students in Silicon Valley campus went on a sailing adventure in the San Francisco Bay! Filled with excitement and curiosity, we headed to San Francisco downtown and gathered at Pier 40 to wait for the departure. We were lucky enough to have Captain Kirk to take us to a wonderful sailing tour around the San Francisco Bay, which is considered one of the best sailing venues in North America.
With the beautiful sunshine along with the breeze, we enjoyed a sailing cruise with stunning views of famous San Francisco landmarks, AT&T Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the splendid scenery of the San Francisco bay . We also saw the famous and adorable sea lions laying on the dock at Pier 39, where it was a lot of fun to see them making loud noises and sunbathing around. We had a small party on the yacht and enjoyed the scenery. During the cruise, we sometimes saw the sea lions floating and lifting their heads above the surface around the yacht. While passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, we yelled as loud as possible to make ourselves echo. “Yah!” everyone shouted with excitement.
Captain Kirk also taught us how to sail by giving us hands-on lesson. He let us hold the helm to feel the boat and gave us sailing instructions. We had an excellent chance to become the helmsman and steer the boat! We had a wonderful and relaxing time for our 4-hour cruise in San Francisco Bay. We are glad to have Captain Kirk to bring us on a sailing adventure!
On Thursday April 18th, 2013, ETC Silicon Valley was lucky enough to host Nikolas Orion Alixopulos. Nik is currently a Creative Director and Producer at UC Santa Curz. He is working on putting together their 3D visualization of course materials for a variety of different subjects. This work is part of a new initiative to bring alternative methods of engagement to traditional learning.
Nik spoke to us at length about his career in VFX and teaching. He told us about the importance of being a generalist as a VFX artist working in film and television, and contrasted that with how people typically specialize heavily when working in games.
Nik began in the industry as a modeler but as a generalist he got into all sorts of areas, from crowd simulations to rotoscoping. Nik gave us a taste of what it was like working in the industry. For example, he told us how challenging it was to work at a studio like ZOIC, but how much that impressed future employers and helped him stay employed (in an industry where artists move mostly from one contract position to the next).
He had a lot of advice for those of us who were graduating concerning how to find jobs. He told us to get creative in our job search, made good suggestions about how to manage our time, and pointed out a lot of good job searching tools that we might not all have been familiar with. His perspective on the industry was invaluable, and it was nice to have a speaker that was so responsive to questions and honest about his own journey. Unfortunately Nik was unable to show us any specifics of his work with the new film Elysium as all that work is under NDA until after August 9th. But, we did see the trailer and it looks really fantastic.
It was a pleasure to have Nik come and share his knowledge and experience with us.