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  • Preparing for GDC 2015

    - Jose Abalos

  • 3. Make the Content Reflect Who You Are: What are your passions, both games and not-games related? Do you like architecture, theatre, cheesy sci-fi series, folklore, arcade games, whatever? You need to answer this question because bringing those passions into your projects is what will set you apart, what will make others look at your stuff and say that only you could do something like this.

    As a personal example, I grew up playing adventure games like Monkey Island or The Longest Journey, so when the chance showed up of doing whatever we wanted in the Gears of War engine, I immediately thought of doing an adventure game. And since I love scripting and adventure games, it was the perfect project for me. While the end result is not nearly as good as those classics, it's still a unique experience.

    For artists, it's the same thing. Environment artist and like horror movies? Then make a creepy environment like an abandoned cabin in the woods. Gameplay programmer and like Doctor Who? Theme a game set in that license. It's already happened, you know? It is possible to distinguish yourself from other people, no matter your especialty.

    Maybe not as flamboyant, but you get the idea.

    There is an important question that needs to be answered: what about music, or licensed material like art assets and the like? Since the purpose of its use is to show your skills at an online portfolio and not making money, ALWAYS CREDIT EVERYTHING. A txt file that includes the sources of the borrowed assets is more than enough, for portfolio purposes. If you use music in trailers, always credit it at the end. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

    4. Make Screenshots of Your Work-In-Progress: This applies mostly to artists and designers, but showing your models or levels at different stages of completion gives prospective employers a good view at your thought process and how you can take an idea from conception to completion.

    5. Make Backups: Keep many backups of the work in an external hard drive, so you can always go back and take more screenshots if you need it. For example, I tend to keep my backups in a different drive with names like 01- Project Name_Descriptive Text. That way, I can take a look at the folder and know immediately which one to open to take screenshots. Besides, engines can be buggy at times, and there's nothing more heartbreaking than having a corrupt file and losing +100 hours of progress.

    Your face when you lose all your progress. I wish I was kidding

    6. Register Your Contributions in Team Projects: Although companies will (hopefully) hire your for the skills you show in your individual work, showing them that you can also work (hopefully) well with other people is crucial. As such, showing your team projects in your portfolio is fair game.

    HOWEVER, when talking about your team games you need to discuss your especific contributions to the game. This involves showing levels, models, game features, AI engine, whatever it is you did. Again, know what you want to focus on, so you can do exactly that in your team projects! You might be in a project where you might not be able to do exactly what you want, but there are always opportunities for doing tasks related to your especialty, and you should jump to do those whenever you can.

    More portfolio pieces AND you get to be of more use to your team.

    7. Start Making Your Resume: Let's be honest, writing a resume is boring. As such, it might be tempting to focus a lot on the portfolio and give short thrift to the resume. That is a fatal mistake, because although the portfolio is crucial, every single company will ask you for your resume, including most of the companies at the Career Center. And having a crappy-looking resume will be a huge buzzkill, no matter how good your portfolio is.

    Why? Because, in the end, your presentation to companies lies on three pillars: Portfolio, Resume and Cover Letter. If the quality of one of these components is low, the message you're sending to a company is that you don't care about them. And if you don't care about them, why should the care about you?

    As such, one way you can start building a good resume is start making one today. There are plenty of good resumes out there (here, you can even use mine as a starting point), which you can later revise with faculty so they can help you make it better and better. Once you have a basic resume, updating it is gonna be much simpler. You don't need to make it look unique, but be sure to put your most important skills on top.

    PROTIP: Once you have your resume in Word format, make a .txt version of it. Many times, you'll have to type in a plain text version of it, and having it already available is just gonna be much easier.

    Incredibly risky, but certainly unique. If I were making a MLP game, I'd hire this person right away


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