Melbourne International Games Week 2017

International Games Week, a time in the games industry where we all come together, like one large family reunion. The amount of things happening around the city is crazy, I spent a lot of it doing work related tasks, besides attending conventions, which ended up as work anyway. 

I found myself quite overwhelmed as always, I spent the week before MIGW, rearranging the office to accommodate us moving our other office into this one, an office merge if you will. I had already pulled some over time during that week, but things just got more hectic. 

The entire studio was blindsided by the Australian Game Developer Awards, walking away with Studio of the Year, and co-winning Game of the Year, along side Defiant Dev, which is just the most insane thing. The work I've done on Earthlight, soon to be out there in the world, for others to play. I spent the rest of the night, just stunned, it took so much to process those feelings. 

Touching on my drinking, during Games Week, there feels to be a lot of pressure for drinking, but I held strong, I didn't have the urges I usually do when it comes to being around places I used to drink a lot, it was nice to have everyone support me wholeheartedly. 

I'm currently on leave from work, just to get my head back in order, after last minute booth preparations, and moving the office, also the emotional toll the week takes is insane. I achieved my goals that I set out for the week. Successful meetings, booth, events, and many other things. 

I am incredibly excited for the next few months, and what takes us into 2018...I don't have a lot planned, but here's hoping for some more successes.

Meeting an Astronaut

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Dominic "Tony" Antonelli, an astronaut. I even got to demo Earthlight to him, which was an amazing moment in my life. Since being at Opaque I've spoken to people from NASA via skype, had lunch with their engineers, and now I've even met an astronaut. It feels like things just keep one-upping them self. We've got some massive announcements this week, and probably even more news over the next few months. 

There isn't much to say other than, I love the industry I am working in, I'll be doing my first talk ever at GCAP Loading, that's a little nerve wracking, and will also have my family coming down for a weekend just just as Games Week starts. 

The Scienceworks event where we showed off Earthlight was a little tense, but we got through it. What a wonderful night it was, having so many type of people play Earthlight. This was nothing compared to what Emre and Jenny were doing over in Japan, who had like the likes of Palmer Luckey go through our newly announced Earthlight: Lunar Mission. 


Unreal Engine + Prototypes

Over the past few weekends I have been using Unreal Engine to make a few prototypes, experimenting with ARKit, and building to mobile devices.

I've really missed working inside of UE4, there has been nothing stopping me, so why did I stop? That doesn't matter, it's the fact I am working in engine developing prototypes, stretching my legs a little so to speak. 

I'm hoping to get something pretty snazzy happening with my ARkit + Endless runner, we'll see if I can pull this off! 

The Australian Unreal Engine Meetup organisers have banded together to create an Unreal Engine Australia Discord channel for those who love Unreal Engine, who need help, and if you just want to talk to other devs.
Visit the link below: 
https://discord.gg/m2NEdmn 

Also, the Unreal Engine Melbourne Meetup group:
https://www.meetup.com/unreal-engine-melbourne


I've been using an App lately called Lyf, where I talk about my sobriety, check out my journey.
 lyf https://goo.gl/uNNK12


Reconsidering University

It seems I've dived into something without giving it much thought, as in, is this what I should be doing? I sat down to have a coffee with Emre to discuss this, he gave me some pretty sound advice. This just leaves me pretty torn, I did some solid thinking about weighing up the pros and cons of studying for a Bachelor. It's something I want to do, but maybe the subject matter is wrong. 

I'm going to defer until next Teaching Period to think this over, it does mean I won't meet the goals of my Five Year Plan, it's only one goal I will have missed the mark on. Maybe I should transfer to something that I find more interesting, I honestly don't know. 

 I jumped into something that I don't believe in, something that doesn't inspire me, or fill me with joy, I did it because I felt obligated. I still wish to obtain my Bachelor at some point, but that will be when I figure out what it is that I want to do. 

In other news, back to training, figured if I am not studying, the least I can do is try and ramp up how much I train each week, may even go everyday if my body can handle it. 

Thank you to all who stick with me through my journey. 


63 Cups of Tea and a Rainy Day.

Since Earthlight: Arcade went gold last Friday, I took some time away from work. I pushed my mental health aside for too long and hadn't dealt with a few issues. 

Massive thanks to Emre Deniz, and James Bonner of Opaque Media Group, who have been really supportive of me to take some time away from the studio to try to get a few things in order mentally. It's hard to just switch off from work mode, especially when you love doing things there, so when I return tomorrow it will be a pleasant change of pace. 

Things are generally looking up, I haven't been to training in over two weeks, so feeling a little bummed about that. I have spent the past few days bingeing on New Girl with my best mate and drinking tea which is genuinely an amazing time. 

I've spent it going over my university work, and part of me feels like I have got in over my head, but I need to do this a personal goal. By the end of 2018, I will have finished my five-year plan. It's time to start planning the next five years after that. 

Over the next few weeks I want to try and monitor my mental health a little better, and figure out what triggers my really harsh spikes in depression. Just so I can get a better handle on myself, and try to find better ways of managing all of this. 

Baby's First Game Credit

I write this blog at 216 days sober, I will still continue to count the days until I reach one year.

From all the buzz on social media yesterday, you may have gathered that Earthlight: Arcade went gold. Obviously a crazy time for us at Opaque Media Group and Opaque Space. I spent a lot of time supporting the team throughout production, which was crazy good fun. I ticked off nearly every goal for this year I have had. Once I get through Games Week, showing off more things I have worked on. There'll be more news to come what I'll be doing over Games Week. 

Starting my bachelor has been a nice wakeup call to get everything balanced and sorted out in life, adding Muay Thai into the mix as well has been interesting. I feel pretty crappy when I don't go, so forcing myself up to attend classes. 

On another note, my depression has been pretty bad the last the few weeks, I find it hard to get up in the mornings, but I have requested time off from work so I can potentially get my head in order. 

I'm always excited to see where things go over the next few months, I tend to play a lot of Overwatch as well, so come play with me on PC or Xbox. 

Something different...

Trying to go back to updating this every so often, just wanted to discuss adding Muay Thai into my weekly routine. I first wanted to get into a fighting/contact sport as something to help me build confidence and push me out of my comfort zone, I knew little to nothing about the sport and I believe that's why I am enjoying it. As I am coming in completely fresh, and each morning I am at training I learn something new. 

I spent the morning practising my wraps on the balcony in the sun, this was quite calming. Learning something completely different has been great for my mental health, where I am not completely absorbed into the game development life. 

Recently found I can get some pink hand wraps from the Fairtex website, so when I get a chance I will purchase something that isn't black. 

Adding in something like Muay Thai into my routine, as I do with Yoga and meditation, it has given me an outlet, one that I have never had. For the first two weeks I only did two sessions each week, I'll be ramping it up to three sessions this week to see how I go. Eventually I'd like to be doing it daily, but that's a down the path goal.  

And a song to show my current mood....

164.

One hundred and sixty-four days since my last drink. This isn't a special number, it's not even an important date today. Though I still deal with the repercussions of my addiction to this day. 

I've recently moved house, and I am in the best mindset I think I've been in ages, a lot of my focus has shifted to work and career. The pathway forward is still unclear, but forging ahead has work, I am laying out the ground work. Teaming up with professional contacts working on a mobile game, and getting a few other things up and running. 

This morning I started Muay Thai, never thought I would do something like this. I know what you're thinking, another white kid doing a martial arts, yeah that's totally fair. I just needed an activity that had nothing to do with my career or what I usually do outside of work. 

I've removed myself from all dating apps, I don't usually talk about my love life to everyone, something that is generally quite private. I usually found myself just continually scrolling or swiping, generally wasting too much time on it all. Shifting my views to be more self-orientated. 

I'm looking forward to the next few months here at Opaque Media Group, things are changing all around the place. There'll be some exciting announcements coming out in the next few weeks from myself and hopefully work. 

 

GDC: Everyone, The VR Expert.

As negative as my title is, the news that comes from GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco, is overly positive. This was the very first time I have gone to a large scale event like this, and my first time I have been outside of Australia. 

Entrusted to represent the company to some big names in the industry, demoing a project I have worked on, and also engaging with the community/industry I love. I was there for personal and professional reasons, representing myself, representing the company, and showing the world that we Australians have got what it takes to develop something great, that impresses the likes of NASA. 

I attended a few Production talks, about running studios and leading projects. All which were a trove of information, A lot I feel I can apply to my methods of work, and hopefully, that will, in turn, help the company as a whole. 

Now, I did not attend any networking events, I do not feel ready enough to be around partying/drinking. I will work my way up slowly, being able to enjoy myself once again around those situations. 

I've pondered what GDC really is, I've had FOMO for the past two or so years when everyone else went to GDC. It all melted away when I finally got here, we all talk about GDC as if it is the pinnacle of the year, of our career, of our life. It is nothing more than another week, five days out of a whole year. 

On the show floor, that was amazing, the kinds of people I met there was absolutely fascinating. People from the state government, Microsoft, HTC, Riot, and so many other companies. It was a great experience, just talking to these people, like they were people and not just for them for their connections or achievements.  

I have grown in just the short time I was there, it has put so much of my journey into perspective which I am really happy with. I know the path I wish to take, still a lot of things are unplanned, I have a lot of goals I wish to hit this year, and so much I want to do. 

Let us take this journey together. 

San Francisco: I am so in love with you.

It's been a fantastic start to my time here in San Francisco for GDC (Game Developers Conference). I thought I would have been a lot more anxious than this, but the entire time I've been here I have felt so content with everything. 

I wrote about this earlier in the month, game developers being more of a family than a community. Tonight I saw it again, we were all sitting together, on the other side of the world eating food out of trucks. 

I see how much I love this community, how they have supported each other. I don't feel anxious about being away from my blood relatives. It's not often I open up to say how much I love something, but giving up alcohol it has become so much easier to say, "Fuck man, I love you all". 

The simplest of actions as well, eating ice-cream in the park with Kamina and Tony, eating Brunch with Kit and Christian. There is just something amazing about doing everyday activities with those you love halfway across the world. 

I am looking forward to more exploring, more discovering and understanding myself, my role and my future. 

This was nothing more than a post where I can gush about those who I love. 

Journey to the West: The Northern Heat and The Teeth of Roosters

RTX has just passed, and the convention was a hit. Opaque's booth wasn't like it usually is, there were no two hour lines, no filled out booking lists. This time we had the smallest booth we've ever operated out of, and it was a complete success. The first convention where there were zero errors, the biggest issue we had, was forgetting to pack AAA batteries. 

Showing off Earthlight: Episode Zero was fantastic, people absolutely loved it, especially if it was their first time in virtual reality. I did my first proper interviews at the events. I was incredibly nervous, but I can learn from this. Representing Opaque Media Group is something I take pride in, which means I have to get better at this skill of talking to the public. 

Cernji and Donny who were helping out at the booth, were absolutely fantastic, none of this booth would be possible if it weren't for Cernji. He teed everything up for us, yes work paid for it all, but this opportunity presented itself because of the work Cernji did. 

It was great hanging with all the VR kids, and going out to dinner. When conventions are on, it's like you're in a different world, and when it's all over, even if the weekend was exhausting, there's a part of you who wishes it was always like this, because there is nothing better than watching someone play the game you've created and actually enjoy it. 

The weekend just passed, was a successful one. Here's to many more in the near future. 

More than a community...a family...

The Melbourne Games Industry and me. 

This week started off a lot crazier than I expected, when some of my closest friends surprised me with something I thought people would never do to me. Showing such great support through my trying time. Stories of which I have posted all around the internet. 

Something I have been wanting to talk about, is how the Melbourne industry isn't just a place to build a career, but also a network of friends, who have become close to me like family. The people who have been there every step of my journey. Watching me struggle and succeed. It always seems to be the game developers who reach out first. Whether they do this because they feel obligated out of some unseen contract or do it because they genuinely care for the people in the industry. 

Either way, everyone has been supporting everyone as of late. Events around the world have shaken some of us to the core, but we stand strong together fighting whatever may try to bring us down. Yes, we have our own local problems that need to be solved, but there is always what feels to be larger threats to our industry from abroad. 

The start of this week I found out my new title at work, Studio Manager, I have a long way to go, until I can stand there proudly with experience behind me saying this is who I am. For now, I prove to all that I can do this, to the industry that has supported me, who the company who gave me the opportunity, and to the people who are the wind beneath my wings. 

The first test I have coming up is RTX, as we show off Earthlight: Episode Zero. This opportunity wouldn't be anything if it hadn't been for Cernji. Having been trusted into organising most of this has been a big deal for myself. Given the opportunity to run this booth. 

Having reflected on how badly my drinking affected myself last year has been a great learning curve, understanding where I can improve. Each day we make a choice, whether to let our addiction control us or we take control of it. The journey will never end, it's a path we follow until the last breath we draw.

With exciting projects coming up, working with musicians and close friends to put our love into this world the way we know how to, it'll be a bright year this year. 

Journey to the West: First We Go North

I had no idea what to expect this year, I approached it with caution. As I had my time off from work, I scrambled to write down the path I wished to take. I may be able to read myself well at times, but I look over some traits and over step my bounds. Knowing my limits helps when I need to say next time, and wait for an opportunity. 

I was preparing my business case to head to GDC, and I decided I couldn't offer the company a return on their investment for sending me to GDC. I emailed both the CEO and Emre, about it, which the CEO, James commended for having the insight. Later that day, I got an email about GDC Assist, meaning I got paid tickets for entry to GDC. Which blew my mind, as someone who doesn't often enter promotions like that. 

First, I head to Sydney to RTX, where we will be promoting Earthlight: Episode Zero, which will be entirely on my shoulders. I have had Cernji supporting me the whole time, though I am nervous. A new challenge will help me grow either way. 

I've had some deep discussions over the last few days, about passion, and introspection. This has caused me to look back at how I got to where I am, what made me passionate about what I am doing, and where I go from here. 

It's time, instead of sitting around after work and one weekends, to back into the swing of everything. Making immersive levels, collaborating with others. Showing my talents, proving how I got to where I am. 

Three years, two graduations, one career...

I started writing this post last year in November, after Games Week and leading up to us showcasing Earthlight and Genesis at Future Assembly. 

Three years, three years I have been in Melbourne. Daily I reflect on what life could have been like if I had just stayed in Brisbane. Less than a month into this third year I quit IKEA, as it no longer brought anything positive to my life. This may have burnt some bridges, but I do no regret the decision. 

What has been accomplished in the last year year? 
Depthless, originally titled Subsurface is to thank for a lot of what I accomplished over the past twelve months. People doubted this project, others loved it and in the end it got a select few the opportunity of a life time. It started only as a student project, our goal was to get it on Oculus Share, which used to be where people would share with other developers their projects and ideas. 

The group was offered a post to show off our game at Future Assembly, an up and coming tech festival. Surprisingly we had the most popular booth, entertaining crowds of people who were lining up to try out Depthless. 

I have worked in two different companies, I've spent almost a year making games at Opaque Media Group (@OpaqueMM). I cannot believe how much I have accomplished in 2016. Within two weeks of starting, I got to be a part of a Skype calling involving NASA. Games I've worked on have been on national television, in articles, newspapers, websites and radio shows. I'm employed full-time in the games industry. 

I do have a lot to say about my time at Opaque Media Group, but you've all seen this before, as I never stop talking about it on Facebook. 

Looking to the future! 
This year has started off rather smoothly I have goals to work towards, as I always have. I am into the fourth year of my five year plan. Almost all of my goals have been met, besides not wanting to go to uni this year. I got accepted, I just never enrolled as I couldn't learn anything new. Onto, learning new life skills that can better help me get through my career. 

Sobriety
I've given up alcohol, this is the greatest challenge for me, I have had endless support from the local industry. I'm honestly amazed by the response. It will be a very long journey, but I had to choose between my career or be held back by alcoholism. 

I know this post is about a lot of things, and doesn't have too much of a point, I just need to get a lot of what is in my head out. Writing these blog posts helps me cement in how things are going in my life. It's been months since I wrote a post, getting back into the swing of it all will help keep me on track, so I have a visual representation of my progress. 

The Human and The Pedestal.

Over the years, I have struggled with the idea of holding people to a higher standard than mine. People like my mother, father, friends, supervisors or even just idols in general. This first become apparent to me in 2010 when I realised that my mother was just human like myself, it's something I couldn't comprehend for such a long time. 

This year has been a real eye opener, especially working under someone I respect so greatly and then coming into contact with someone who I've idolised since I was fifteens years old. I've had a lot of time to think over this, there has been a lot of anger towards people, and maybe it was anger towards myself. I didn't know how to react to the idea that all these people who inspired me were just human. 

The biggest step with all of this has been my father, he was never a big idol to me, we never really saw eye to eye when growing up. Though, my mother was a big influence on my life, and I still keep in contact with her all the time. Last night my father as down in Melbourne, we went out had some dinner. It could have been like it usually was, a tense awkward conversation about how things are going. Instead it was a great experience, I showed him around Melbourne, took him to the bars I frequent, even made him try the drinks that I like. 

Breaking someone out of their comfort zone has always been my favourite thing, I think this is the first time in my life that I can remember, besides the time my father and I went to go see Clerks II or Death Proof at the cinemas. Where our interests aligned, though last night I found what I had been looking for, my father who could be considered more of a friend, someone to catch up with and talk about how our lives are going. 

Every time we catch up, I am reminded of the jokes we used to have when he was still together with my mother. References to the stupidest things like, Hot Rod or Star Wars. 

Now,  I've written a lot of things about my mother. She has supported me so much through life, emotionally, physically and financially. It's something I will hold my father to as well, but not expect it, there have been times where he has let me down in those regards. He also should hold me to the standards, as one of his children, his eldest son. 

I've had discussions with people from industry about putting people on a pedestal, where I find someone who holds the same values as I do. They make me feel something that I can't find anywhere else. It's something I am learning, to treat them as an equal not someone who is better than me or on some higher level. 

Life is always a learning experience, I know that some part of me holds onto anger from when I was younger, but as an adult who has forged his path in a city alone from his family for almost three years, this is a great step forward...

"Fuck off, we're full!"

I write this with a glass of wine to my right, and three empty bottles around me. Which have accumulated over the week. It's only half way through the week and this shows how my week is going. It feels like this is how the whole local industry here in Melbourne feels. 

This blog will be discussing the disparity between games academia, their colleges and the amount of students they churn out into an industry where there are little to no jobs, well even entry level positions. 

There is also the issue of students taking of full-time work experience or internships. I completely understand the difference between both, it's the the idea of the sacrifices that students are expected to make. I've personally done full-time work experience, and it was hard for the next few weeks after it not having my usual funds available. 

The problem we are facing right now, is that in 2016, studios think it is okay to take on students for a full-time internship, full working weeks, and not be compensated for their time. I've heard things about colleges allowing this, but I have also spoken to students about this, and they seem to be okay with doing it. 

Look there won't be any answers in this post on how to fix it as I am just at entry level for this industry. I've noticed the big guns talking and discussing this kind of thing, and they are not happy with people allowing this to happen. As I have the belief that we are different in Melbourne, our ideologies are different to everyone else's games industry, we respect the little man, the underdog. 

This week has been a hard one for all of us in the local Melbourne industry. I am unsure how it all happened this way, but we are all so in sync, we are all experiencing this pain together.

At the end of the day can we all just make some fucking video games...

Real world UI in VR and God Games...

As we approach the last few days of this sprint for Genesis (@GenesisGodGame), there have been a few interesting challenges that I have come across. Especially when it comes to designing user interfaces for virtual reality. 

This blog post has been inspired by one I recently read by Max Pears (@MaxPears), 'HUD: Barrier for Immersion Hide the Numbers'.

It really got me thinking about how I designed the UI for Genesis, and overcoming the problems that come with what UI is in traditional games, and translating that to real world space. If you want the player to be truly immersed within your worlds, and want no disconnect you as the designer need to find cohesion. 

When I first started at Opaque Media Group, Emre (@Emre_C_Deniz) tasked me with designing a system for Genesis which would typically be represented by numbers. This proved to be quite an interesting challenge, as I had always assumed information should be represented in number form. How much faith a player had gains from their villagers could be represented by the size of their idol or how you're treating your villagers could be represented around the idol, if there was a lot of death, skulls would pile up around it. 

So the idol has become more of a Hub or a living player progress bar, it knows how well/bad you're going depending on what you set out to do. 

Using more exciting ways to display information, with the in-game menu for Genesis. The design became more like a halo that follows the player, and they must reach up into the heavens to use their all-powerful miracles, raining destruction down from the skies. 

Making these kinds of decisions will change the way a player interacts with the world. There are VR games that I have played and they have a similar HUD to what you would see in RPG/RTS games.

A new way of thinking is needed...you as the designer can change how your players interact with the world around them by implementing a new UI idea...