Am I making any progress towards my Career Goal?

I started this trimester with a whimpering post about maybe this and maybe that and self defence mechanisms and possible AI and puzzle platforms.  There are only two thinks that still stand up as I write this post.  That I am 52 years of age and that I have an animation degree behind me.

I was looking at those statements being a plus and a minus. Plus for the degree and a minus for the age barrier.  After a trimester of working with younger designers and programmers, I have come to realise that the age thing is a plus for me.  I have little to no social life.  All the good days of heavy drinking and late night shagging are well behind me.  I also realise how addictive games are for me and I have the self restraint to “abandon” them over the University trimester.  Not like a majority of the young designers and to a lesser degree programmers that are my cohorts.

I have also had a rude awakening about the dedication of some of my cohorts.  I guess that must be an age thing as well.  I want to learn and sometimes get a bit agitated when I don’t understand a concept…. which explains why I hate pointers at the moment.  It is because I still don’t get them.  I have no doubt that I will become one of the converted who deride c# because of their lack of them 🙂 .. but in the meantime, they suck.

One of the reasons that I was unsure about this whole Studio experience is because I am used to being spoon fed knowledge and concepts and I felt like the spoon was taken away from me.  I have recently realised that this Studio experience means that you can gorge on knowledge and concepts, you just have to find them yourself.

My current goals are to become firstly, a good general programmer, and secondly, to become a solid link between programmers and artists.  My oil painting and animation backgrounds lend me towards that sort of career.  I don’t actually know the job placement name for this sort of position but I know that Indie teams cover it by advertising for programmers with animation experience.  I want to be the guy that you go to for getting the animations right, for effective particle effects and effective shaders.

I would have liked to do more with animations in my last project, but there wasn’t enough time, with the animations coming in at about 11am on the Thursday morning.  I still did something with the “imported placeholder” animation that served the purpose to convey information to the player, but while it would have been OK for a prototype, it was disappointing to see in a “finished game”.  The effects I did for the different smokes were good, I think, even thought they weren’t included in the final game.  I assumed that the level designers wanted them to help break up the background and scenery but they weren’t included.  I was not happy with the puffs of dust from the player’s walking.  It would have been fine for a cartoon, but not for this.  I need to look at more examples of players and objects creating very fine particles on dust/mist.

So … what I am doing between Tri 3 and Tri 4 is to follow up on creating fine particles.  I will be bringing in a few of my old animation models into unity and seeing if I can get the animations to run smoothly.  I will look at getting some free models from the asset store and animating them.  I will also look at working out the best way to animate 2d characters.  Sprite sheets are cool, but I think using mechanim on them as if they were a 3d model looks like a better way – animations look like they can be quickly worked out for unexpected events, or changing events within the game design.  I will of course continue with trying to understand pointers and C++ in general and will post blogs through it all.

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