Sunday, November 23, 2008

How I got my job, part 1of 3

We're not supposed to publicly flaunt what we do at work, so I'm afraid I'll have to be a bit vague about my employer's identity until I'm otherwise notified.

Back when I started at SCAD, I made sure that I knew what my class requirements from beginning to end and I planned out in my head everything that I was going to do. In the end, this really helped me when I had to meet my academic adviser and figure out all the courses I was going to take for my course load.

My major was Interactive Design and Game Development with a minor in Sequential Art. It's a mouthful to say, but it pretty much boils down to I went to college to learn about making video games and comic books.

Pretty sweat deal, if I do say so myself.

In any case, as is the deal with many college game design/development program, there is no unified curriculum yet on what has to be taught to the students. Lots of colleges offer computer science degrees and many psychology so that the students have better knowledge of how to get the player to feel what they want them to feel during gameplay.

SCAD felt it necessary, much to the disgust of several students going there for game design, to make them put up with the interactive design aspects as well.

It's well known that the game design students and the interactive design students don't really care what the other is doing. Many felt that we were unfairly lumped together, but I see it as a good thing; games can really benefit from good interactive design. An easy to navigate interface could be what separates the game from being good or bad.

One of the courses that was despised by some of my class mates was called Interactive Design and it was required by everyone in the major. Before I started, Interactive Design was taught in Macromedia Director. They had just hired a new, upbeat professor-- David Meyers-- to teach the class. He was very proficient in Director and was really excited about the class.

And right before he taught his first group of students, SCAD informed him they were suddenly switching the curriculum to Flash.

This proved an interesting challenge for student and teacher here, as neither of us had much experience in it. I had a brief encounter from a previous class and determined that the Flash interface left a lot to be desired.

Either way, Flash was taught and I had to learn a bit of ActionScript 2.0. I didn't care for it very much back then and simply tried my best to get a good grade in the class. Meyer's was very proactive to the students and even stayed up with us until midnight before projects were due while we hammered away at the computers in the lab. On more than one occasion, he ordered us pizza.

By the time the last assignment rolled around, I had had a rough quarter and didn't want anything else to do with Flash. The final project called for a portfolio website made in entirely in Flash and I was grumpy as hell. To illustrate this, I came up with a self deprocating theme for my website... one filled with lots of disturbing images of myself and blood and even an clip of myself hanging in effigy swinging from a rope. I called it Monkey Death Sketch Machine.

For some reason, Meyer's loved it. But he did have this to say:

"Be careful what potential employers you show this to."

I dismissed it, happy that I was finished with the class and went on to handle other things. One of which was the club that I had somehow wound up being president of (apparently, the decision was made for me). Our club dealt with promoting communication and events within our major and it was mostly managed by the very talented Professor SuAnne Fu, who admittedly did more work than any of our club members combined. She was preparing for the Interactive Design and Game Development Showcase that year, which was to be held in SCAD Atlanta. She was describing the entries that had been submitted and told me something interesting:

"Yeah, your Flash project is in there, too."

"My what??"

"Monkey sketch something, I think it's called."


Meyers had submitted the project to the showcase without telling me. At first, I kind of regarded it as kick in the teeth. Especially after he told me to be careful who I showed it to.

When I won first place in the showcase for best interactive portfolio, I decided it was more of a kick in the butt.

Either way, the quarter was over and things settled down for a bit.

I was done with the class and Flash forever and had no intention of touching it ever again...

Or so I'd thought.

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