Final Presentations were on May 8th. Over 35 guests joined us to hear about the three projects this semester.
Archive for the ‘Current’ Category
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.
On Monday, January 28, 2013, ETC Silicon Valley campus welcomed Hoyt Ng from DreamWorks Animation. Hoyt worked at DreamWorks Animation as a training manager for 10 years. His lecture refreshed our mind about communication issues.
At first, Hoyt let us wrote down what were the current problems we thought at game and animation industry. We wrote mostly about efficiency and time management. But he said, first, communication, second, commutation, third, still commutation. Then, he let us wrote down “what could I contribute to the company”. Our answers varied from getting work done to providing diversity, but no one wrote creativity. Hoyt said creativity was really important. And the problem often lies in how creativity and communication works together. Creativity is not just what we usually thought; problem solving is also a kind of creativity for engineers.
Then, Hoyt asked us to draw an apple within five minutes. We all enjoyed the process and everyone’s apple looked different. After that, we were required to draw a banana within one minute. And last, drew a pineapple within 10 seconds. That was not fun to draw in such a short amount of time and our pineapples were exactly same looking. But we all learnt time pressure sacrifices creativity through this practice. He used a smart way to teach us things without explaining.
Misunderstanding is another common communicating problem he said. But people naturally assume that others think exactly the same way as they do, so they explain their thoughts simply and unclearly. For instance, Hoyt tapped “Happy Birthday” song twice but no one knew which song he was tapping, because he just tapped the tempo without the pitch. He didn’t explain the song well. Hoyt thought the song was easy and famous, so that we could recognize it as soon as he tapped. But that was not true.
Another interesting thing he let us do was to draw as many rounded objects as we could in one minute. Before we started drawing, he gave us three rounded objects as examples. But only a few of us drew the three objects he told us. Someone said it was kind of cheating, and someone said it was not creative. But Hoyt said we misunderstood the intent. Because the main point of this task was to draw as many objects as we could but nothing to do with creativity. Therefore, don’t understand the intent is also a common communicating problem. He also said creativity does not mean totally original. And then, he drew three charts to illustrate different kinds of working process as shown below. Artists tend to be the second chart and programmers more like the third chart.
Last, Hoyt briefly talked about presentation skills. Presentation is important, because it helps us getting supports and trusts for our ideas. According to the research, visual part affects 55% of the presentation, vocal affects 38% and verbal only affects 7%. Therefore, presentation is not about what we say, but what we see. Then, he pointed out ten presentation skills.
1) Pausing (3 seconds)
3) Non-words (en, mm…)
4) Movement (intention moves)
5) Eye-contact (build connection, receive feedbacks from audiences)
6) Gestures (big, above shoulder)
8) Intonation (vocal variety)
9) Facial expression
10) Emotional honesty (really believe what you say)