A Gamer’s Story

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Turning Ideas Into Hundreds of Hours of Fun

Ep. 4

Any college degree can be helpful to get into the gaming industry; every professional will be handy in any gaming company. But to Erik Willis, the best thing those interested in creating a game can do is create a game themselves. We can find online and free the same tools triple-A studios use, Unreal Engine and Unity, for instance. He believes that it doesn't need to be a big game; it can be a simple one. But someone that can show they have what it needs to build a game from scratch has many chances of getting hired for a gaming company. 


Erik Willis is an Associate Producer at Funcom. He holds an A.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Central Community Piedmont College, a B.S. and B.A. in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Master's Degree in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management from the University of Utah. He worked on many cool projects like Disney Infinity, Looney Toons Dash, and he also worked at React Games on PC, Mobile, VR, and Console projects. 


In this episode, we discussed his role as a project manager in Funcom, what happens when a project goes beyond its budget, and how he manages to turn what game creatives think into what game developers create. We also talked about his favorite games and what project he enjoyed the most. He spoke about the massive importance of game testing and how boring and challenging it can be. He also shared his view on the future of VR, consoles, and the gaming industry as a whole. 


Tune in to find out what it means to create a video game from a producer's standpoint.


Some Questions I Ask:

  • Is it hard to stick to the original budget? Have you ever gone off the budget? (2:25)
  • How do you start managing a team of artists to get everything done on time and on the budget? (6:25)
  • What was your favorite game to playtest? (15:08)
  • How did you get into this career of being a game producer? (17:17)
  • Do you think that VR games will eventually replace console games? (33:35)


In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What happens when a game exceeds its budget (3:25)
  • What is an Art Pipeline, and its role in the creation of a game (8:17)
  • Why playtesting is so critical, and why most testers don't last long in their positions (16:21)
  • The difference between being passionate to play videogames and being devoted to making them (21:52)
  • Where Erik believes the gaming industry is heading (43:09)


Resources:


Connect with Erik:


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More Episodes

11/17/2021

Concept Artist Christopher Hayes Turns Ideas Into Powerful Characters

Ep. 15
Although every part of a video game is indispensable, from storyline to animation, the looks are the first thing we get access to, even before seeing what the characters can do. That sounds like a lot of pressure for those creating the blueprints of how a game would look, doesn't it? Actually, concept artists, those in charge of designing those blueprints, love their job, and we have the pleasure to talk to one of them in today's episode: Christopher Hayes.Christopher Hayes is a concept artist; from his imagination and how his hands translate his thoughts into drawings is how some of the games we've spent hours playing look like. Currently working as a Senior UI Artist at Blizzard, he also worked at Epic Games as a Senior Artist and spent over 6 years at Blizzard as a 3-D Character Artist and Concept Artist.Christopher created weaponry, armor, and characters of World of Worldcraft, Hearthstone, and Disney Infinity.In this episode, we hear tons of incredible stories from Christopher about the characters he created, how fun it is to work at Blizzard, and his journey to becoming an artist. His father, a musician, and his mother, a painter, certainly encouraged him to work with art, while his grandfather would ask him if Blizzard was a good company to work in. We also talked about the projects he enjoyed the most working in, his and his kids' favorite games, and the things he prefers to design. Christopher also shared his thoughts on the importance of reading and constantly stimulating creativity, the tight connection between concept creation and storytelling, and much more.Tune in to Episode 15 of A Gamer's Story and join us on a journey into the depths of a creative mind.Some Questions I Ask:As a concept artist, how does a typical day at the office looks like? (1:24)Do you take inspiration from a specific artist or from several? (5:24)Hearthstone is a great game. What did you work on in that game? (16:30)What kind of designs are the ones you enjoy doing more? (41:44)In This Episode, You Will Learn:Where does someone like Christopher get inspiration from (7:01)About the hundreds of possibilities to get into the gaming industry besides being a professional player (12:04)Christopher's favorite games to play (21:49)Why storytelling is one of the primary parts of creating the concept of a video game (47:52)Connect with Christopher:LinkedInInstagramEtsyLet's Connect!InstagramTwitterYouTube
11/3/2021

Tod Fennell Discusses His Acting Career and Using His Voice in the Video Game Industry

Ep. 14
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10/20/2021

Taking Taino Culture Into Outerspace through the Imagination of Nico Pengin

Ep. 13
Just like nature, inspiration always finds its way. We might think every story has already been told or written, just as we think there is no way a plant would grow in the middle of a concrete wall, but it happens. Nico Pengin, our guest today, is an excellent example of how amazing stories are still to be told. His imagination takes us to outer space, where an alien city/spaceship rescues humans from their dying planet for their own amusement, to play a game called Batey.Nico Pengin is a Speculative Fiction Author, Podcast Host, Geekier Gamer, and Creative Content Creator. He has always been a super active kid, getting into all kinds of trouble because he wouldn't stay still. His life changed when one of his mentors suggested that he use that energy to play video games or create something with it. Nico channeled his intense energy, passion for reading, and wild imagination on a book series he is working on called Batey.In this episode, we talk about the origins of Nico's book series, his decision to go through the self-publishing path, his passion for gaming, and the importance of receiving support from our loved ones. Nico shared details of his heritage from the Taínos people, a group of Caribbean natives who played the game which inspired the books. We also discuss the importance of gaming, its benefits and it can help develop abilities that will be extremely useful in the workplace.Tune in to Episode 13 of A Gamer's Story and join Nico Pengin and me on this inspiring space trip toward imagination.Some Questions I Ask:What type of games do you like to play? (6:34)What drew you to gaming? (12:37)How did you decide on the characters in your comic? (18:15)Do you think that playing video games is helpful in any way or any other aspect of your life? (29:51)In This Episode, You Will Learn:What is the Batey comic book series inspired on (2:51)Regardless of your level of expertise or abilities, you can always have fun in gaming (12:53)About the Taínos culture, which inspired Nico's story (25:57)Some of the benefits gaming can offer to someone's life (32:34)Resources:Nico Pengin websiteArgue Bros - The PodcastBook: Nico Pengin - Batey Descending: Chilly's Story - A damaged girl who is used to looking after herself finds life among the stars is anything but romanticBook: Nico Pengin - Batey AscendingComic Book: Nico Pengin - BateyConnect with Nico:FacebookTikTokLet's Connect!Instagram