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090 m M A K I N G T H E L E A P _ D a w n R i v e r s a n d B e n j a m i n Ta y l o r MAKING THE LEAP WHEN PROFESSIONALS FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES WANT TO ENTER GAMES I ALWAYS THOUGHT THERE WAS A CONVENTIONAL PATH FOR GETTING INTO the game industry -- until of course it was time to pursue game art as a career, leaving behind my existing profession. Dawn's path I knew I wanted to become a 3D artist sometime between 1998 and 1999, when the masterful use of polygons immersed players in Ocarina of Time's Hyrule, and the cut scenes of Final Fantasy VIII enchanted us. In 2005, I choose to attend the Ringling College of Art and Design, both for their competitive Computer Animation program and their connections with game industry recruiters. I was certain that if I came out on top, I could get into game art with ease. By the time I graduated in 2009 with an animated short and a portfolio focused on cinematography, it seemed specialists such as myself were not in high demand in the game industry. But as it turned out, lighting specialists were in high demand at Pixar Animation, and the rest of the film industry at large, and I was quickly invited to intern at Pixar that summer! Following the internship I became a full-time lighting technical director, and stayed there through 2012. At Pixar, I had the incredible opportunity to learn under some of the best directors of photography and lighters in the animation industry. My portfolio was filling up with landscape paintings, character renders, mood studies, and everything needed to make a well- rounded 3D lighting portfolio. The internship was very intensive, and we learned to light based on the artistic stylings of the film, "Up." I couldn't help but think with this kind of experience I'd be able to apply for any lighting, environment, or post-production job, and I could easily make a beeline to my dream career in games. I was horribly mistaken. I still had important lessons left to learn, but at the time, I didn't know it. I thought I was set. game developer magazine D a w n R i v e r s a n d B e n j a m i n T a y l o r 090 game developer magazine Trying to apply Between the internship and becoming a full time employee, I took that opportunity to apply again to game companies. I was passionate. I had a strong cinematography portfolio, demo reel, and great credentials. I quickly applied for dozens of game art jobs and even more quickly got rejected by all of them. Most companies reflected the same tone in their rejection letters; they claimed I was very talented, had a great resume, but they couldn't see where my specialty fit in to their pipeline. They saw that I had no real game development experience or a portfolio that even reflected that I understood a game art pipeline. This feedback only solidified when I went to apply to companies in person at GDC 2010. I received glowing portfolio reviews at every booth hiring 3D artists, but as soon as the reviews were finished I would often get asked, "Are you really interested in making games?" "Is this really what you want?" "I have friends at (...insert film company here...) that I could put you in touch with." Admittedly, it was crushing. I couldn't think of a person who wanted to be a game artist more than I did, but I had no way of showing it! So when those questions came up, I was certain to ask, "How do I show you that I can make games." And the response that I got from everyone was the same; "Make games." Now that I had a clear objective, it was time to take action! The first steps I took toward building a better understanding of game art and broadening my perspective was The Global Game Jam. In case you're not familiar with it, the Global Game Jam is a 48-hour event hosted at various cities across the world that's devoted to nothing but game making and collaboration. There's a new theme every year, and often company sponsorship helps provide things like free Unity Pro licenses for the duration of the jam, or

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