Time for a blog update! Almost a year since the last update... to be fair I started about 5 posts that are sitting as drafts. Who knows, maybe this will become another draft. *long sigh*


Let's start with the website. Updated! Tons of new work (we'll talk more about this later), a store page WHAT?!?!, restructured site layout, new banner, removing old work, consistent concept sheet layouts, sweeeet little link icons above, and the 3d modeling page still sits as a WIP. All in all not bad progress over a year-ish.

So "Mike, why are you doing this? if you're working 8 hours a day at Treyarch and then doing this much personal work, you're basically working two jobs?". Yep basically. I don't totally enjoy working so much, life gets unbalanced pretty quick, but I sleep well at night because I'm always tired. I can't talk about all the reasons I'm doing this just yet but we'll touch on it. So at my current job we don't get to post any work we do, and I've done hundreds of concepts there over the last couple years. There came a point in December when I started feeling irrelevant in the industry, becoming one of those artists nobody knows about. I watched as some of my other friends work was bringing them better gigs and building their reputation in the industry. Most of them have the advantage of being able to post their work. So that's the core of why I'm doing so much work. I won't be at Treyarch forever and I need to make sure that I have a well known reputation to fall back on. So 2014 portfolio is out the door and 2017 portfolio is coming in with a vengeance. Feels good, feels safer. Hopefully in the next few months I can talk about the other reasons because I think they're very important, and have helped me mature in my profession.

I spend a lot of time studying studio management, all the aspects of game development, film, story development and structures, and building a road map to follow when the time comes to dig in. Preparation meets opportunity, as always. Some of my buddies, hell lets plug them because their super amazing, at Gadget-Bot are working on their first game. Oh my god is it inspiring. Small team with huge ideas and most importantly a solid plan. Anyways watching their game develop has really put a fire under my ass and helped me refocus my goals. I want to get one, maybe two more AAA titles under my belt where I can really be in the project's trenches. A medium sized team where I can ask more questions and observe more aspects of game design. I really wish I was younger so I could justify working on more projects from other studios, see how everyone does it. I just hope I can gather enough information to build a successful project with as few obstacles as possible, and from my own first project I can fund more projects for the rest of my life. That's really what this is all about. Honest projects that are less built by the corporate world, and more built from a pure interest in humanity. We're at the dawn of humanity driven projects and I'm doing everything I can to be there as it rises.

Let's see what else. Oh yes the "Store" page. So I love the idea of hitting a shit ton of birds with one stone (not literally), and I've been treating all my work like that. Trying to multipurpose everything so a single image can update the portfolio, build some industry cred, create a bigger fall back net, and improve my skills. Then I realized there was another bird, the tutorial bird. I'd never hit tutorial bird but I knew he'd reinforce everything I was doing. So I'm throwing rocks at him now too. I need to give a little shout out to everyone that's gone and purchased things from my store, I'm super flattered you'd trust my instruction, and I genuinely hope the information is helpful for you. Thanks so much! Making these products has also helped me grow and develop new ideas and workflows, something I didn't realize would be so impactful. The tutorials will keep coming because of this.


So what's this low poly map thing above? This is my modular grid system in action. This is version 4, yeah 3 failures at this haha. It doesn't take long to start building things and then to discover some of your math isn't lining up. I did a bunch of studies and mathematics to get this thing working the way I need it to. A GDC talk on "Fallout 4's Modular Level Design" really gave me the extra information I needed. The goal is to have a system with enough diversity and flexibility but component based so that a small team can build relatively complex environments quickly. We're getting there.

I think that covers most of the important stuff. Thanks everyone for the support and also to my Instagram followers. We're approaching 1,600 right now, and I love you guys. I'm proud to say that the people who like the work I'm doing seem like just the coolest people. Just a lot of positive energy out there.


Recent first Success building a top down shooter game :)
A quick update before I get into my next big bit of news for the blog section of my site. First, yes I'm doing great. Work at Treyarch has kept me crazy busy but I absolutely love it. I turned 30 in Febuary which here we are on lap 30 around the sun. I got cubital tunnel syndrome actually on my bday which was a big welcome to being 30. It's basically carpal tunnel but based in your elbow. It comes from doing the same motions over and over again. I had to sleep with a brace for a month but we're mostly better now. I took a break from rock climbing since the last post and just started up again ever since the cubital tunnel and it seems to be helping greatly. blah blah blah. Sorry I've got Game of Thrones on the brain right now. Dammit Hodor!

I've got a lot of work under my belt at this point with way more to come. Eventually I'll go in and screenshot all the parts I'm responsible for in game but for now here's the trailers for the maps I've worked on. I tried to get embedded video but blogger isn't having it tonight. It's been very enjoyable to continue working at Treyarch. I'm trusted and responsible with a lot of things on these maps, and very grateful to be apart of it.

So the big bit of news is that I'm starting a Game Development Blog right here just like I did for becoming a concept artist. From here on I will record my progress of learning game development in it's entirety. The end goal is to know how to operate my own AAA studio where I can build my own games. I've already started this journey and wish i'd have started recording my progress sooner. Too bad but have no fear I've got a shit ton of things to learn and probably a couple years before anything meaningful comes out of this. Eventually I might switch over to a vlog.
Learning UV and Texturing using MODO and Substance Painter. My crappy model haha. Dec 2015.
So what have I done so far? I'll catch you up. I've got concepting down pretty packed. 3d modeling is a bit shaky but I can get around pretty well even if my topology is a bit rough. I've dabbled in UVing and 3d texturing, nothing super impressive but I sorta know what I'm doing there. So that's what I've studied so far and as of now I'm cracking down on the Unreal Engine. I've messed with it before but now I want to understand it fully. So I'm learning how to put games together by following every tutorial I can get my hands on. Right now I'm focused on learning the blueprint system. I'm constantly having to remind myself to take a deep breath and not let it overwhelm me. It is slowly getting less intimidating. Most recently I put together this Twin Stick Shooter game from a tutorial I watched. That's the first image of the post. Man was that cool to just mess with and see something complex show up like that.
learning how to assemble levels and lighting. Not my geo.
 I've come a long way and It's relieving to be at this point in my life, making plans again, having something long term to work for. I need to be prepared for opportunity, just like before. It feels good to write like this again, it's time to throw down some good old fashioned hard work. 

OCT.22.2015 - Treyarch

Oh noooooo, I can't believe I've neglected this blog so long. My life has changed so much in the last 6 months. Let's get to this.

So above is an image I literally just finished. I won't be officially releasing it for a few days but i'm excited to post it here early anyways. I'm really trying to get in more personal work and also working on some high quality 3d kits I'll be selling for a pretty fair price. There will be more on that in my next post. ...and yes I promise I'll post again sooner than 6 months.

As many of you might have noticed I work at Treyarch now helping finish Call of Duty Black Ops 3. Ive been there for 4 months now I think. It's been a real ride and privilege. Leaving One Pixel Brush was no easy decision but I feel confident I made the right choice. So now I'm working these crazy hours, practically living at Treyarch. I should have something to share from this with in the next few months. The image below is the art test I submitted to get the job.

At the moment I starting to look for ways to help out the art community. I'm building up a few kitbash kits, probably some tutorials. More word on this in the future.

Oh and then there's real kitbashing which I got into and built my first model (below). I'm always in awe over the models that were built for the original Star Wars movies. I did some research on how they were put together and started to build my own. Once I get settled into my new place I'll start building another and build some Marquette as well. It is so rewarding to see one of these to primer like this. Just look at that dreamy detail.

As far as personal stuff goes well I have a gym membership. Never had one before but I kinda love it. I mostly put on some music and run the treadmill. I'm moving soon. Oh and I moved about 6 months ago, and I'm moving again, in like a week. It's not far from where I'm at now, and the new place is perfect. I'm also getting back into writing music again. My new place has a few notable places, a dedicated jam/art loft, a solid floor dinner room for building shit I can clean quickly, a living room for kicking it, and secret access to the roof from the window. I'm pumped as hell. What else, oh yes and I built a new desktop computer. It's a beast compared to my 2 year old laptop. I can't believe I was able to work professionally off a laptop for so long. I definitely owe that laptop some credit though, it helped me be able to study at work when I was driving school buses. If I didn't have that thing there's no way I'd have gotten to this point in my career so quickly. Now the laptop has become my dedicated station for recording music.

So yeah things are going great here, and life is getting pieced together nicely.

APR.10.2015 - Perspective Change

A lot has happened in the last several months, I've been so busy and preoccupied with work and life I neglected to update the blog :( but we're back! So the above piece is the first image I did at One Pixel Brush almost a year ago for the game "Breach and Clear: Deadline". The image was also displayed on IGN which pretty much blew my mind. I've come a long way since then in artistic confidence, efficiency, and execution; its been such a fortunate experience. I've done dozens of images at OPB at this point and really enjoy it. Hopefully I'll have some more OPB work to show after E3.

Lately I've been focusing on learning how to create 3d assets for in game use. The weapon above is the project I started to learn how to do it. You can see the original concept and the high poly 3d model that I've started for it. The goal is to prep it at current gen level and AAA quality then bring it into the Unreal Engine as a functioning in game weapon. Berry exciting.

I was in the weirdest funk for the past few months and normally I don't share stuff like this but on the chance that someone can relate to this and maybe get back on track I think its worth talking about. I've had a lot of changes in my life the past year, as a result the meaning of my life has been scattered around. I wanted to get down to the bottom of it.

I took to my journal. The entry started with me complaining as my journal has also been a kind of literary punching bag since as far back as I can remember, but ultimately it's where I go to organize my thoughts. I have too many to manage sometimes. In the middle of my onslaught of complaints I took a deep breath, my entry suddenly shifted focus and I wrote:

"...but I'm grateful to exist. I like existing, I'm certain it's better than not existing. I'm grateful for the amazing people that pop in and out of my life. I'm grateful for the variety the world has to offer..."

In that moment I realized how meaningful these things I was writing were to me. I realized I had been so caught up in hamster wheel type problems of life I neglected to slow down and acknowledge how kickass this moment of existence really is; the wealth of experience, opportunity, and possibility all around. These are the things that should be getting me out of bed in the morning, these are the things that make this very second so important. This is what makes life worth struggling and working through. I recognized something constant to hold on to, a solid foundation, through gratitude I find a lot of meaning in my life.