Archive for the ‘Meet the Trendy Team’ Category

Meet the Trendy Team: Aleasha Ford

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with 3D Artist Aleasha Ford about what she does at Trendy, adapting to different workflows, and her love of art.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

I am Aleasha Ford, a 3D artist. I do environment props that can range from a simple box to something much more complicated like a building.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

No, my first job was at 38 Studios. I was an environment artist and worldbuilder there.

What drew you to Trendy?

I went to college at Full Sail in Orlando so I already knew the area well.

When and how did you decide to pursue this line of work?

I’ve always been a big fan of video games and I have always been into art. It wasnt until I went to college that I realized I could marry the two together. I didn’t decide to be an environment artist until I went to Full Sail and tried a few different things. Environment art stood out to me and I loved working in UDK.

What’s your daily routine?

I usually have a concept to start with. From there I build out the model and texture it. Then I put the prop in the game engine to check scale and see how it looks in the level. Once I have the prop in the engine I make final adjustments to the model and texture. When the prop is finished I have the art lead check it and give final approval.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

At work I get my inspiration from our awesome concept artists. They help us define the style and mood of the levels.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The first time any of my professional work had been released was at 38 Studios when we released the teaser. It was very exciting to have my work seen by so many for the first time.

How has your work developed over the years?

I’m always on the lookout for different workflows and short cuts. When I find a workflow I am interested in I try to adapt it into my own. When it works and improves the result then I keep it in my normal routine. From doing that all the time my workflow is always changing and evolving with the new tools and programs that come out.

What do you love the most about your job?

I love making art. It’s always been apart of my life, I am just happy that I found a way to do it and get paid for it.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

It can get really stressful when you are getting close to major deadlines. If you have a short development cycle, you don’t get to have as much planning as you would like, which can cause even more stress.

What are your top five favorite games?

In no particular order: Silent Hill 2, Morrowind, Halo 2, Mass Effect, and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I try to do traditional art when I can. I also like to hike and be outdoors.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Before going to college for games I had a couple of different majors in college. First I was a zoology major then I was a music major.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Always try to improve yourself. Post your work online and take the advice of the people out there. Don’t be afraid of critiques and don’t take them personally.

You can check out Aleasha’s work here on her website.

Discuss this post here!


Meet the Trendy Team: Javier Eduardo Barreto

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Senior Gameplay Programmer Javier Eduardo Barreto about what he does at Trendy, what the minimum cups of coffee required for work are and his background.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Who am I? This is a tough one. Javier is my name. Everybody calls me Javo; or at least they used to do back in Argentina. Now it’s Javier, and it sounds weird. (Not sure that is because of the pronunciation or just that it is not Javo.)

Married male, 31 years, 1.75m, 74kg. Programmer … gameplay programmer.

I like all sorts of videogames, not only FPSs, I’m playing a really old school game called Legends of Grimrock (a Lands of Lore inspired game).

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Nope, it is actually my third. I started making mobile games in J2Me a while ago. 2004, I believe.

There was no iPhone back then, so you can imagine what kind of games I was making, although some of them were quite fun. I’ve even got the chance to work in a Zelda-like game!

After that I leveled up to PC game making on NGDStudios. My first job was an unpublished football game in 14mb. It was an incredible experience with one of the most talented teams I’ve ever worked with. It’s a pity it never got published.

And after that, I worked on Realms Online adding scripted AI, point-and-click control (that nobody uses), some quests and well a few other things.

Finally, I’ve (we) got the chance to make our own game. While working on Realms Online, some friends and I started working on our own project: a third person shooter called Bunch of Heroes that eventually got published by NGDStudios. They liked it, and after a few meetings we decided to finish it with NGDStudios resources and time…. TIME.

What drew you to Trendy?

We were working on a UDK game and having problems with matchmaking. We needed to contact someone who had solved that very same problem using UDK. So I went through my list of games Steam looking for a game developed in UDK (we had already posted enough questions on the Unreal Forum), and there it was … Dungeon Defenders. So I Googled it and that took me to Trendy’s page.

I was surfing through the page looking for contact information trying to find some friendly tech contact that could point us to a solution to our problem. I had no clue as to what I was going to ask for nor if I was actually going to do it. But then I found something that I wasn’t looking for; “we are hiring”; that is still there….

Bottom line: I never asked Trendy about our problem, I sent them my resume instead and here I am. =)

When and how did you decide to pursue being a Programmer?

I was 15 I guess, and I liked math. I still really do. So when my dad asked me, “Which school would you like to go to?” I chose a technical school (a six-year-long school with a focus on electronics and mechanics). It’s fun.

My memory was (is) no good for dates, facts, nor names of people who I haven’t met. What I’m trying to say is, I was never good for history or grammar. I liked math and drawing and also singing under the shower, but that didn’t work out.

What’s your daily routine?

Coffee in the morning, coffee before lunch, coffee after lunch… some more on the afternoon… and well, sometimes before bedtime, too.

This isn’t what you want to know? Oh! Eh, well, coffee, download changes, review today’s tasks, open 9gag (scratch that; no 9gag while at work), and well, bug tracking first, adding new features next. Some meetings in the afternoon and by the time I should be going home, I’m totally engaged on some task.

How has your work developed over the years?

I could begin with how I started…

What are some of the bigger challenges that you face?

Moving away from Argentina and leaving my family and friends behind. The language and culture. It’s a lot harder than we thought at first. We are getting used to it, but it is not easy.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

When things work as they should from the very first code drop.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

Working hours. I wish we had regular working hours. But this is something not meant to be for game developers.

What are your top five favorite games?

X-COM: Terror from the Deep, Monkey Island 2, Quake Arena (although I can no longer play it … it’s kinda old), Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Dig, Final Fantasy Tactics, Darksiders (I so want the multiplayer co-op version of this game),

Well, there are a lot more but thats enough for a top 7. =P

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

Does playing videogames count? =P

I like throwing the frisbee every now and then. I also like to discover new places … travel … walk (is this an accountable hobby)?

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m from Argentina. I get that question all the time. “Where are you from? I don’t recognize your accent.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

If you want to make them, make them. Stop whining about getting a job in the industry and start making your own. That “simple” task will get you in, and you’ll learn LOTS.

Discuss the post here!


Meet the Trendy Team: Eduardo Lev Guerra

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Engineer Eduardo Lev Guerra about what he does at Trendy, what it means to be a generalist and tips on programming.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hi! My name is Eduardo Lev Guerra. I’m a software engineer from Costa Rica and started at Trendy last September after obtaining my Master’s in Interactive Technology from the Guildhall at SMU. My position at Trendy is engineer. More specifically, I’m a generalist programmer, mostly dealing with all sorts of engine-related tasks.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Indeed!

What drew you to Trendy?

I was initially approached by Trendy’s development director a few months after graduating from the Guildhall, which led me to interview and meet the team. Trendy has a hugely capable team of engineers working on some very interesting challenges right now. The atmosphere of the company felt very dynamic, and I thought that I would have many opportunities to do high-end, challenging programming here.

When and how did you decide to pursue being an engineer?

I’ve been fascinated by gadgets since before I can remember, and by computers specifically since my uncle gave me his old Commodore 64 when I was a little boy. I didn’t have any software for it, so all I could do was type in commands into this blinking text prompt on my TV. I’m pretty sure that counts as the first programming I did, even if the extent of it was changing the color of the screen.

As far as making games, I’ve known I wanted to make games ever since I was a teenager. There wasn’t really any doubt in my mind that I would program games for a living. That was the main driving intent behind getting my undergrad in software engineering, and my master’s degree immediately afterwards.

What’s your daily routine?

After waking up and getting ready (and optionally getting extremely distracted by our cat), I bike to work fairly late in the morning. At work, I generally have a long-term background task, but day-to-day tasks and bug fixing tend to take higher priority. I usually work a lot with other departments, since it’s my job to add, fix or improve engine functionality and relevant tools.

How has your work developed over the years?

I mostly work in C++, and over the years have come to realize the immense value of proper object-oriented design and execution. That and general programming good practices (such as proper variable and function naming, encapsulation and separation of concerns) are much more important than cleverness or low-level optimization in the great majority of the code I write. If I can read and understand my code a year later, I’ve done a good job.

What are some of the bigger challenges that you face?

As a generalist, I’m often required to “live” right between gameplay script and native engine code. That intermediate area makes debugging a little awkward. Another big challenge is tracking down and fixing old bugs in a very large and complex codebase, particularly when reproducing them is unreliable or restricted to an environment where debugging tools aren’t readily available.

What do you love the most about your job?

Working deep in the guts of the Unreal Engine is an endless learning experience. It’s even better when surrounded by other engineers who know their way around the codebase backwards and forwards. I’ve had opportunities to work on an extremely broad range of tasks, from input to graphics, streaming, audio, pathfinding, you name it.

I also really enjoy being able to add significant new functionality to this massive codebase, and have it be appreciated by other people — be it engineers, artists or designers — on the team.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

As I mentioned before, there are usually a large number of small, high-priority tasks and bug fixes that take precedence over the larger, more complex implementation tasks. Sometimes I wish I had more uninterrupted time to work on the long-term stuff, since it tends to be more interesting.

What are your top five favorite games?

That is by far the hardest question. I’m a big fan of open-world games, and Morrowind was one of the first games of that type I played, so it holds a special place in my heart. The Elder Scrolls series in general is pretty great. I also enjoy combat flight sims, so I have to give the DCS series a shoutout. Currently I play a lot of PlanetSide 2 — a dream I thought would never come, even if needs a lot of work yet. I used to be a huge Final Fantasy junkie (I played XI for the better part of five years), but I can’t say I am anymore. Super Mario World was probably my first real addiction, and I like to replay it every few years.

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I’ve played piano for most of my life, and I’m about to start flying lessons.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been happily married for almost two years and have been together with my wife for almost nine, since we were both in high school back in Costa Rica.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Make some games. It doesn’t matter how small. Make a Pong clone, or tic-tac-toe, then find an easy framework to use (XNA is a good start) and make something a little fancier. Take them all from start to finish, and don’t get too ambitious. For this, the journey is the entire point — the final product is mostly irrelevant.

For programmers specifically, I’d recommend not to underestimate the importance of a proper background in software engineering, even if you don’t get a degree in it. Being able to hack your way to a complete game is a great testament to your perseverance and talent, but maintainability and code quality are much more important in a team environment.

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Meet the Trendy Team: Ben Greene

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Art Director Ben Greene about what he does at Trendy, what drives him and his thoughts on creativity.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hey, thanks for having me! My name is Ben Greene, and I am one of the art directors here at Trendy. I started as a lead concept artist and have been with the studio for about 2.5 years now. I’ve helped in varying capacities on many different projects since I’ve been here and have gotten the chance to work with a number of amazingly talented people along the way.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Before joining Trendy, I worked with a few other studios on their projects , some that launched and many that never will. That’s just how it goes though!

To be in a leadership role like I am (even if I got here sooner than expected), it requires some amount of previous experience. Without that previous experience I would not understand what a good leader looks like in this industry. It makes all the difference.

What drew you to Trendy?

Trendy offered a cool opportunity. They had some cool projects that aligned with my interests, in fact those kinds of projects were a career goal at the time. I was introduced to Trendy through a former workmate (our lead level designer Ben Burkart), and Trendy happened to be looking for a lead concept artist to help out. I was talking with a couple of other studios at the time, but Trendy was the only one offering the project that I really wanted to be a part of!

When and how did you decide to pursue being an artist?

I’m not quite sure. I mean, art has kind of always just been my thing. When I was about four, I started making bad drawings of dragons, dinosaurs, alien cat beasts and so on. From that point on, I just kept drawing and quickly decided that being an astronaut, race-car driver or fireman was child’s play!

Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

First it was mostly dinosaurs, then at about 8 I discovered superheroes and comics. In my early teens I got back into dinos and dragons (while still loving superheroes), and then, in my late teens, I started getting into more visually bizarre, psychological horror stuff like Silent Hill and the works of Brom. I mixed those themes with illustrations revolving around theology, emotion and storytelling. These days my inspiration comes from trying different themes, styles, storytelling, design exploration…whatever. I’d say all of those inspirations from my past still accent everything I do today.

What’s your daily routine?

Haha, man, I can’t say that I have one, really. I get in and check my email, check in with my artists, and either start replying to emails, helping with visual development needs (concept art mostly) and trying to keep track of my head as more things pile on throughout the day. It gets crazy sometimes, heh. I like the business though, and it always feels good to get a solid day’s work in before heading home!

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I was once nominated for a British Sci-Fi Association award. I made it all the way to the finalist round, too. That was unexpected and cool. There have been other little things here and there, but nothing amazing has ever really happened that I can recall. Every artist wants to be known and make their mark. Sometimes it happens early on, and sometimes it happens later. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. I’d like to see something big happen with my work someday, but for now I’m just doing my thing and trying to make a living.

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork that you made?

A personal favorite of my own? That’s always a difficult question to answer. Most of the time I don’t care for my work a couple days, maybe even hours, after I complete something. All I can see are the problems with it. I also don’t have a lot of time for personal work, so most of the stuff I do I am not allowed to show off. I’ve included a couple of pieces with this interview (both personal and work done for clients) that I dig though.

Do you have any preferred subjects, and why?

Like I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy mixing elements of humor and the macabre, exploring abstract ideas, and telling a bit of a story. I tend to veer towards the fantasy and horror genres or alternate/parallel reality stories. There is just a lot of freedom of interpretation and visual design when you explore worlds like that. I can’t get enough of it!

How has your work developed over the years?

I think it has gotten more consistent. I explore fewer stylistic options as I have found what really does and doesn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I continue to push myself and explore and grow, but I am less unsure of how to approach an image than I was a few years ago. I think it should be noted that when I switched from an interest in working in comics to an interest in working in games, film and illustration, I thought I needed to drastically change my approach to art, my style, my thinking, when in fact, that hurt my art for a couple of years…maybe longer. I could have been where I am today a whole lot sooner if I’d been true to the foundation arts and drawing abilities I already knew. I’ve certainly learned a ton from personal study and practice since then, and because of learning those lessons the hard way, I have a better ability and passion to help younger artists move past those difficult and sometimes confusing hurdles more quickly. Sometimes all it takes is someone to point you in the right direction.

What do you like the most about your job?

I really enjoy design challenges. Like when gameplay needs a prop to function the same way in multiple environment settings, and we have to figure out how that might change the way the prop looks or animates. It’s like a visual puzzle, and it’s a fun challenge… or it can be after it’s solved, haha.

Besides that I enjoy the artists that I get to work with here. They are some of the best and most driven I have had the privilege to know.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

Well, let me take a look at the broader industry and comment on what I have experienced and am seeing/reading about (whether from friends or articles) and quickly comment on that.

There are a lot of creative, talented, driven individuals out there that are, sadly, experiencing the heavy hand of people under the influence of money fever. I think few people get into this industry because they want to become rich. This is a creative industry, most of us want to do just that, create. Most of us just want to make a living, and there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money, unless that becomes your goal and you lose sight of the creative industries beginnings… to explore, to discover, to create and to share for the enjoyment and delight of others.

Creative people (and if you are one then you probably already know this) thrive in creative environments. Companies need certain amounts of structure to guide the production of creative projects, but what we’ve been seeing a lot of is large, money-focused companies turning their “teams” into disgruntled, unappreciated logs for the money machine. Small, creative, money budgeting teams (team is an important word, too) have started rising from these ashes or as a result of a distaste for the lack of truly creative endeavors being pursued. We’re seeing odd and innovative projects continually capturing the spotlight and winning the awards and making plenty of money, sometimes more than enough, for the teams to live off of and continue to inspire the world.

I think that the game industry in particular is at a point where it needs to grow up. I’m not talking about it becoming corporate. I’m saying it needs to get its jive together, realize what has been working for the best studios and get rid of the trash that hasn’t. One successful studio I was acquainted with had a wonderful slogan, “You’ve got to have fun to make fun,” and it’s true. The creative spirit needs to be energized and cultivated in order to make great entertainment for the rest of the world.

Put succinctly, I think the industry needs a bit of a revolutionary infrastructure overhaul. I am trying to do my part to try new methods of team organization and leadership.

What are your top five favorite games?

I’m going to cheat a bit on this, sorry. Baldur’s Gate (both of them), S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (wonderful mood), Silent Hill (1-3), Mass Effect … and either Borderlands (1 and 2) or Dead Space (1 and 2).

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I really enjoy collecting animal skeletons. I have several that I want to reconstruct and display eventually. My wife and I are working on a trilogy of illustrated novels. I love watching movies, playing games, hiking (if I get the chance) and hanging with friends and family.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m kind of a Brony, haha.

Are there any particular artists that we should know about?

The art team here at Trendy is super diverse, driven and talented! You should get to know as many of them as you can, because I’m sure they will all make big names for themselves one day, if they already haven’t. Here is a selection of links from some of the artists.

Jordan Kerbow
Mia Goodwin
Aleasha Ford
Daniel Araya
David DeCoster

As far as artists I find inspiring right now:

John Foster is always amazing.
Daniel Dociu has epic vision for environments.
Dylan Cole is an inspirational matte painter.
Ian McQue nails it every time.
Paperblue (can’t remember his name). Drool.
Laurel Austen is just too good.
Kazuo Oga blows my mind. (Please Google him.)
James Jean has a wonderful mind.
Ruan Jia is dreamy.
Jaime Jones — wish I could paint this freely.
Bruno Gentile is a long-time favorite.
Zdzislaw Beksinski was wonderfully dark.

As if that wasn’t enough, here are some awesome friends of mine (besides the people I work with):

Sean Andrew Murray
Nate Hallinan
Mike Bear
Josh Abegglen

I’m probably forgetting people, sorry. :S

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Dream big, work hard, study, practice, reach out for help when you are lost and be suitably persistent. Don’t be a bother to companies or persons but keep submitting new work or updated portfolios. If there is a kind of game or a kind of company you want to be a part of, build a portfolio that shows it! Be flexible, considerate, and as much as possible, get rid of your pride because that can be a “team” killer.

You can look at more of Ben’s art at his websites:
http://linesofsanity.blogspot.com/
http://mrblackcap.cghub.com/
http://mrblackcap.deviantart.com/

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Meet the Trendy Team: Steven Collins

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Level Designer Steven Collins about what he does at Trendy, his insight on level design and the value of practice.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hey, my name is Steven, and I am a level designer and scripter here at Trendy. I create nice gameplay spaces and then fill those spaces with tidy scripting to make the gameplay work.

Where did you study?

When it comes to my knowledge of level design and scripting, I learned a lot from practice and internships. I never actually went to a game design school, but I do have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history. So practice, personal research and more practice have lead me to my job today.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

It is not, I have worked at a few different studios with a variety of different games that were being developed.

What drew you to Trendy?

Coming to Trendy was something that really offered me a challenge. It is a different game than I have ever designed levels for and something fresh to my skillset.

What’s your daily routine?

I get in the office in the morning and usually start my day by looking through any tasks that I have been assigned. As a scripter, sometimes there are some quick tasks that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. I usually then move towards whatever current level we are working towards.

How long have you been designing levels?

I’ve worked in the game industry since 2010. I started as a junior scripter and moved up in a couple different companies to level design and gameplay scripter.

What are your criteria for deciding whether a level is designed well?

I always look for the fun. Since I assume you are playing this game to have fun, I want to make sure all levels contain some fun moments. Also I look for any memorable moments. Things you can tell your friends, “Hey, remember when such and such happened at that one time?”

Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

I am really interested in architecture, so a lot of my maps usually take a ton of inspiration of different architectural styles. My favorite is medieval architecture. Castles, forts and old cathedrals all having amazing architectural qualities from which I draw.

How has your work developed over the years?

Earlier on, my levels were pretty basic. Get red key, open red door. But then I kept reading and researching on level design theory and trying to think outside the box. So getting more complex while sticking to more classic level design roots.

What are some of the bigger challenges that you face?

One of the major challenges is creating both fun and challenging levels. You really have to think about how the player is going to react and play around in your levels. Then you have to challenge that player but to a point where it is still fun. So making sure the levels are created in such a way that players can feel accomplished as well as having a fun time.

What skillset does today’s level designer need to have in order to become the great next-generation level designer?

It really depends on what the studio you are looking to join is searching for. Some level designers look to create their own assets and be an artist as well. As for me, the skillset of being a level designer and the ability to script your own levels is something that is proved invaluable.

What do you like the most about your job?

I love designing spaces, buildings, and then making them work. The constant state of progress when creating levels is really rewarding. The challenge to be creative in all new ways is something that I look forward to every day.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

Honestly, I love what I do. Creating game environments and adding life to those environments is really something I only dreamed about as a kid.

What are your top five favorite games?

Hmm, always a difficult question.
I think top 5 would have to be the following in no particular order.

1) Just Cause 2
2) BioShock
3) Halo 3
4) Uncharted 2
5) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I enjoy some outdoor activities such as Ultimate Frisbee and soccer. Other than that, I enjoy watching some basketball and playing some Xbox with the friends.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I didn’t go to some sort of gaming school, or that I was homeschooled for most of my life.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

I know it’s cliché, but practice, practice, practice.

And then show what you’ve done off on some sort of portfolio or website. Also, don’t get discouraged by being turned down by game companies. It isn’t personal.


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Meet the Trendy Team: Ben Burkart

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Lead Level Designer Ben Burkart about what he does at Trendy, his advice on getting into the industry, and Trendy’s lack of a certain delicious treat. He might even tell you, in his own words, what he’s currently working on.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

I’m the Lead Level Designer at Trendy. I started working at Trendy back in February 2010 in the very early stages of Dungeon Defenders. As the Lead Level Designer it’s my job to ensure that all of the levels going into our games follow a specific set of rules/quality, both visually and gameplay wise. Working with such an awesome team of level designers and artists makes that a lot easier ;)

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Trendy is actually my 3rd job in the gaming industry. I worked on Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway at Gearbox Software, and Damnation at Blue Omega Entertainment.

What drew you to Trendy?

I was on the lookout for new job opportunities back in 2009 and most required moving across the united states, or even across the world! Jeremy originally contacted me through the epic games forums with the possibility of offsite paid work and the original dungeon defense prototype looked interesting so I jumped on board! After working off-site for about 2 years I moved to Gainesville FL to work onsite.

What’s your daily routine?

About 20% of my day involves going over other peoples levels, 10% of it goes to talking with the artists and going over what’s needed in the current, and sometimes future levels. The other 80% goes to eating cake obviously. Currently I spend most days working on ****** :O

What do you love the most about your job?

My job is all about creating worlds that other people can find both beautiful and fun to be in. While most people dream of these locations, its my job to create them!

What do you wish you could change about your job?

As much as I enjoy working, 10 hour days all year long can be pretty extreme. There’s also an overall lack of cupcakes at Trendy, you can never have too many cupcakes!

What are your top five favorite games?

- Unreal Tournament 2004
- Unreal Tournament 1
- Command and Conquer series (except for C&C 4)
- Dungeon Siege 1&2
- Guild Wars 2

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I’m a pretty boring individual while I’m not at work. I usually spend my free time with my wife (Which isn’t boring!!!) playing video games, and working on making custom levels for various games.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

You can’t be afraid to work hard. The most important thing for people looking to get into the gaming industry is to focus on one specific discipline. Companies don’t care if you can program, and make fancy art if you’re applying for a level design position and they also don’t want somebody who is only decent at all of the above. The only way you’re going to get hired is if you can prove that you are the absolute best at a single job in the gaming industry. If you’re interested in programming go entirely into programming, if level design go entirely into that. Be prepared to work the long hours it takes to get good at what you enjoy because at the end of the day the only way you’re going to get hired is if you’re better than the other 500 people applying to a company (Which usually means competing with other professionals for the same job). Don’t be afraid to start out at a smaller studio and move your way up as well, very popular companies are far more competitive and will often times put a lot higher requirements on the quality of your work. If you want to be noticed you need to put a portfolio together with only your best work on it, a few awesome pieces will look a lot better than a few awesome pieces mixed with some poor pieces, quality over quantity 100%. Also don’t be afraid to reach out and communicate with developers from companies, some might ignore you but overall most are very friendly people who will be more than willing to give feedback and to help out! Don’t try and get a job as a game designer or a lead game designer, this is the number one position I’m asked about. Game Designers and Lead game Design job positions are not entry level spots, they are usually senior positions that people have worked up to over many years from another position.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

If anyone has any questions about anything level design related or just wanting feedback on any of your work feel free to contact me, I don’t bite!

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Meet the Trendy Team: David DeCoster

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Environment Artist David DeCoster about what he does at Trendy, his advice on getting into the industry, and Basketball.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hi, my name is David DeCoster, and I am an environment artist here at Trendy. I’m originally from Kansas City, Kansas. I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator there for about three years before deciding I wanted to pursue a job in the video game industry. I moved to Plano, Texas to attend the Guildhall at SMU so I could train to become a 3D artist, and now I help build environments and fill them with interesting props.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Yes, it is. I was fortunate enough to have been hired right after I graduated from school.

What drew you to Trendy?

It was mostly the art style of their projects. Most of my portfolio is pretty realistic and sci-fi based, but I’ve always loved stylized games and hand painted textures. I was really excited about the opportunity to work on a game that had that kind of art direction.

What’s your daily routine?

Usually I start the day by reviewing my task list for the week and speaking with the lead environment artist or lead level designer about the specific needs of the pieces I’ve been assigned. I then dive into modeling whatever it is I have to do that day, whether its a modular set, rocks, trees, props, or anything else the concept artists come up with. Once the asset is modeled and unwrapped, I import it into the game and check that it works for the needs of the level before I start texturing. The rest of my day is generally spent painting the piece. Our environment assets are generally pretty low-poly due to the technical restrictions of our games, so a lot of extra detail goes into the textures, rather than the geometry of the models. I would say that 70% of my day is spent painting textures, which is great for me since that’s my favorite part of the job.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I have a pretty big collection of artist portfolios bookmarked that I look through regularly for inspiration. One good way for me to find inspiration is just to go onto an artist’s deviantart or cghub page and look through their favorites list. Its a quick way to find a variety of art, and it usually leads to a lot of great stuff I haven’t seen yet.

What do you love the most about your job?

I work with a very talented group of artists. The work can be very demanding, but I’ve learned a lot just in the short amount of time I’ve been here because the other artists are so strong and always willing to share their knowledge. We all work really closely, and I never feel like I can’t ask for advice about how to approach a problem I’m unsure of, or if something’s not working and I just need another artist’s opinion.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

I’m required to work pretty long hours regularly, which makes it really difficult to have much of a personal life during the workweek. I’m required to work from 10 a.m to 8 p.m., but unfortunately its not unusual for me to still be at the studio at 9:00 or 10:00 pm. Needless to say, I wish that were different.

What are your top five favorite games?

It’s hard to narrow down a top five, but here are some of my more current favorites:
1. Bioshock 2
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee (Brawl has nothing on Melee.)
3. The Binding of Isaac
4. Pokemon White 2
5. Muramasa: The Demon Blade

Concept by Tuomos Korpi

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

I like to paint, and I practice making 3D pieces so I can try to keep up with current techniques and technology. I’m also a huge college basketball fan. I attended the University of Kansas, where basketball is a really big deal, so I watch every game I can, and I keep up with most of the other Big XII conference teams. Also, its really cool to live in Gainesville because the University of Florida has a very strong team as well. I plan to go to at least a couple of their games while I’m here.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

First of all, make sure its what you really want to do. It is a very competitive, young industry. There are a lot of techniques and technology to learn, and you have to constantly work to keep your knowledge current. Also, research companies you are interested in. There are great companies to work for, and there are also a lot of not-so-great ones. Making video games is a job, just like any other, and no one should have to work for a company that abuses them just for the “privilege” of making video games.
As for breaking into the industry, focus on creating a strong portfolio. It is better to have a few awesome pieces that showcase a wide range of skills, rather than a large portfolio filled with mediocre work. Once you have a strong portfolio, send it out to every game company you’re interested in working for. Try to get feedback, and don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals for critiques. I’ve found that most industry people are kind and willing to give newcomers a few minutes of their time if they’re asked in a professional manner.
Finally, go to events like GDC, IGDA meetings, and other places where you can meet and run into professionals. Its a small industry, so sometimes getting your foot in the door just comes down to who you know.

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Meet the Trendy Team: Alex Polefko

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, we spoke with Merchandising Manager Alex Polefko about what he does at Trendy and his love of cauliflower.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

My name is Alex Polefko. I have dark brown hair and eyes, my favorite color is black, I cannot dance and I do not like cauliflower. My job title is merchandising manager. Basically I handle research of creating merchandise for Trendy Entertainment.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Yes it is. It’s very exciting.

What drew you to Trendy?

I actually played Dungeon Defenders, and I was interested in getting involved with it.

What’s your daily routine?

I constantly check my email. Depending on the project, I’ll do research, call people, email people. I also make lots of lists.

So Mr. Merchandise, what kind of merchandise are you trying to get?

You know, this and that…

What do you love the most about your job?

I would have to say the overall environment. I’m around some very creative and like-minded people, and that’s very motivating.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

Nothing…well. Maybe a hot tub.

What are your top five favorite games?

Hmm. In no particular order:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Half-Life
Half-Life 2
Counter-Strike: Source
Honorable mention goes to the Mega Man Battle Network series

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

Movies. Lots and lots of movies do I watch. I also like biking and reading. (I recommend anything by Terry Pratchett.)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Don’t be afraid to send an email or call someone in the industry. It can’t hurt, and, you never know what might happen.

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Meet the Trendy Team: Esther Ko

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, I spoke with Junior Animator Esther Ko about her career at Trendy and why she runs around all silly-like in her office.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hello, my name is Esther! I’m the over-enthusiastic junior animator that makes those pretty characters and objects move around. My family is from Taiwan, but I grew up in Gainesville. (Go Gators!) I speak three languages, play the piano, sing, dance and love to learn. I spent my undergrad studying economics at UF (I know, I know, it’s so random) and will receive my MS in Interactive Entertainment this December.

As junior animator, I work closely with my buddy Mike, the other animator, to animate everything from savage attacks to heartbreaking deaths. Our job is to bring our characters to life and give them some good ol’ sparkle!

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

Yes! I just learned to animate this past January and am definitely just getting my feet wet in the awesome world of game animation. Working at Trendy has already been a great experience in being a part of a team and the game pipeline.

What drew you to Trendy?

I love doing stylized games and the broader creative range they give you. When I saw what Trendy had done with Dungeon Defenders, I wanted to get a chance to be a part of their next project! Also, as part of my masters program, we were split into teams to make a capstone project game, and my team happened to reference DunDef for many things.

What’s your daily routine?

Mike and I normally start our day with a quick chat about who is animating what on the current list of “To-Dos.” And then we just dive right in! Periodically, you’ll see one of us run around and do awkward things like rage or pretend to die – but don’t worry! That’s just our way of practicing animations and figuring them out in real life.

Whenever a chunk of animations are complete, we go through reviews to make sure everything looks great in-engine, in-game, and that there is no funny business happening. Usually we do a few rounds of revisions to fix interpolation issues or to compromise for any gameplay restrictions that come up. Once the animset is complete, we move on to the next one!

What do you love the most about your job?

I get to do the type of animations I like on the coolest of cool characters! I know other animators who are stuck with a million other duties on top of animating, but I get to JUST animate to my heart’s content. Also, I work with the best team. If I ever have the slightest issue in a rig, I can literally turn around, ask Abe, our baller rigger, and he’ll have the most ridiculously awesome fix in about two seconds. Mike and I constantly bounce ideas and critiques off of each other, and we teach each other new animation tips every day. And all my other coworkers are also very cool.

What do you wish you could change about your job?

To me, the hardest thing about game jobs is that your schedule isn’t very consistent, which makes it hard for me to keep in touch with other friends. Or do obnoxious yet very important things like … the laundry.

But then again, I get to make games for a living. So it’s still a win!

What are your top five favorite games?

Ocarina of Time (or Wind Waker, I can’t pick!), any Harvest Moon game, Super Smash Brawl, Okami and Final Fantasy VIII minus those unskippable GF cutscenes.

I know, I’m SO hardcore!

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

So many things! I love to cook, travel, read, and draw… and about a million other things, but I won’t bore you with the list. My latest hobby is helping with refurbishing my parent’s house because I’ve decided to become “handy.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! If there’s someone whose work you love, give them a holler. I was actually very confused on how to get into the game industry until I swallowed my awkwardness and reached out to a lot of professionals.

Also, everyone and their mom will tell you this no matter what profession you’re in, so I’ll just tell it to you too for kicks – keep improving! Keep that hunger to expand and develop your skills. Even if you think you’re the most horrible, untalented, disgustingly shameful artist/programmer/designer/whatever to ever exist – you’re getting better every day. GOOD LUCK, KICK SOME BUTT!

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Meet the Trendy Team: Abraham Abdala

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

In this week’s Meet the Trendy Team, I spoke with Abraham Abdala about his daily life as a character rigger/technical artist, how he arrived at Trendy and what advice he would give to those on the outside looking in.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?

Hey, I’m Abraham Abdala. Born in Panama, raised in many different countries in South America and the U.S., yet I consider myself Colombian. Why, you ask? Because my family lives there. :) I have a background in electrical engineering, B.A. in Fine Arts & Computer Animation and a Master Degree in VFX and Animation.

At Trendy, I develop all character setups and any other asset that needs to be animated. Pretty much, my job consists of facilitating the animators a clean working character rig that will deform properly meeting our technical expectations.

Is this your first job in the gaming industry?

In the game industry? yes. But I’ve been in the entertainment industry for the past four years doing stereo compositing for feature film, motion graphics, lighting and rendering, some modeling and animation. I was also an instructor at the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego, CA.

What drew you to Trendy?

A good friend of mine told me they had a position open as a character rigger, and well, it’s kinda hard to say no to a dream job.

What’s your daily routine as a character rigger/technical artist?

As soon as I come in, I check all the animations done for the current character in the pipeline. Checking if it’s deforming correctly most of the time. If something needs to get fixed I’ll quickly get my hands on it. Now, if there is a character waiting to be rigged, that’s a bigger priority that could take my entire day, involving meetings with the animators to decide how the character will move, any limitations, rigging process and implementation. When not doing that, I’m creating tools for the animators and myself to streamline our process.

What do you love the most about your job?

As I mentioned before, this is my dream job, and I’m so blessed and thankful to have it! I love everything about it, but if I have to choose, I would say problem solving. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when you get to solve problems. Oh, and I love the people I work with! They’re all crazy. :p

What do you wish you can change about your job?

I really wish I could work less hours. But this is the price you pay to be in this industry. Although, when you love what you do, time goes by really, really fast!

What are your top five favorite games?

Man, this one is hard. So many good games, but my current top five are:

1. Assassin’s Creed Series
2. Splinter Cell Series
3. Battlefield 3
4. League of Legends
5. Super Smash Brawl (Donkey Kong FTW!) / King of Fighters / Street Fighter

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while you’re not working?

Absolutely! I won’t mention the obvious one. (Games? Haha!) Now that I have a little bit more time than when I was in school I’m getting back to an old hobby I had — building realistic scale models of medieval times. I love watching TV series and going to the theater. Another field that I completely enjoy is lighting and rendering, so every now and then I’ll make a project.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?

Do a lot of research, look for what companies are looking for out there, what skills sets are they asking for, and if you decide to study this, please do yourself a favor and specialize in what you feel you do best. Don’t compete with your classmates. Look at professional portfolios and try to achieve their quality. This is a very competitive industry. If you’re not literally pushing to become the best, don’t even bother. All that, and also network — go to conferences, keep in touch with your talented friends. Remember how I got into Trendy? ;)


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