Tuesday, June 4, 2013


In late March of this year, I had the opportunity to attend GDC, the Game Developers Conference, for the first time. Not only did I get to attend with some of my co-workers at SideFX, but I also got to catch up with a lot of my ETC friends! I had a blast! I was able to attend quite a few interesting talks.

My favorite one was part of the Technical Artist bootcamp on the second day of the conference. Game studio Slant Six Games talked about the tools they used to create procedurally generated cinematics for their game Galactic Reign, a turn-based strategy game. Essentially, they used animation sequence templates in combination with actual events from the player's game to generate the ending cinematic to the player's game. One thing I found interesting was Slant Six's use of Maya to create the different fleet formations of ships for the game. The studio wrote their own plugin to generate different formations, but I think this could have been accomplished much more efficiently if they had used Houdini. You can read more about their work here. Double Fine Productions gave a talk on rapid prototyping that was part of the Technical Artist bootcamp as well, which I also found interesting. Hearing about their work inspired me to pre-order a Leap Motion controller for myself. I'm pretty excited to play with it when it gets here in a month!

Another talk I liked was "Equality or GTFO: Navigating the Gendered Minefield of Online Gaming Spaces," given by Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian spoke about her experience with sexist online harassment and cyber mobs as a result of her Kickstarter campaign to create a series of videos exploring tropes vs. women in video games. Hearing about her experience and the internet's reaction to her Kickstarter was appalling, but it was definitely an eye-opening talk. You should read more about her talk here.

The last talk I saw at GDC was "Achieving Real-time Synthesis in the Musical World of FRACT," a first-person, puzzle adventure game inspired by electronic music. The developers talked about how they used Pure Data with Unity and wrote their own sound libraries to achieve a high level of control with which the player could create their own music in game, rather than using pre-recorded loops. This game recently was greenlit on Steam, so I'm excited to see cool things from them soon! Check out the videos on their website for more information!

Overall, I really enjoyed my GDC experience. I learned a lot, and I would love to go again!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Final Semester - Recap

Near the end of last semester, I was fortunate enough to be offered an internship at Side Effects Software Inc. in Santa Monica, CA, as their Houdini Gaming Intern. I've been here about 5 months now, and I'm really enjoying my work! I've been working on a few projects to demonstrate how Houdini can be used in the games space. We'll hopefully get to show off some of my work at SIGGRAPH in a couple of months! Though my internship work does keep me busy, I've also gotten some time to learn Houdini on my own using SideFX's vast library of resources. I'm currently learning more about procedural modeling, and creating assets in Houdini that would be useful in games.

Other news: a few weeks ago, I traveled back to Pittsburgh for a weekend to graduate. I now officially have a Master of Entertainment Technology degree from Carnegie Mellon University! I still have a few months left of my internship, so I will be in Santa Monica for a while longer, but it feels good to finally be finished with my degree and done with school!

Overall, I really enjoyed my final semester, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the internship!