JAN.7.2018

Aiming System for V5 Prototype. Built from scratch without reference.
I've been pushing myself extra hard this past year to learn how to build a video game. This last year was about learning programming and animation mostly. I keep telling myself the hard part is almost over, as if the difficulty ends before the game is finished. haha. I'm currently building a prototype but it's more of leaning programming that building an actual game. Something always goes wrong... always. I think I could sum up the last year with a lot of my life as "Close but no cigar". I wonder where that expression comes from? Anyways between what seemed like close calls getting dream jobs between two of my favorite studios, trying to get the foundation for my own game up and running, and most of my personal life it's been so much failure.

Health system for V5 Prototype, also built without reference.
Yeah I'm smarter and better than I was before but the frustrating part is knowing you have so much farther to go and not knowing that distance. Having UE4 crash and basically disabling my entire version 5 prototype this morning really hurts. I was so confident this was the one but here I am waiting for this headache to go away so I can start version 6. I think version 1 was built around March of 2017, it's been a hell of a lot of work learning this. Version 5 was built during my holiday break, I spent almost every waking second building it, 14 hours a day for a little over a week. I mean learning programming without any real training is such a bitch. It's like trying to learn Japanese in your English speaking hometown. Moral of the story do multiple hard backups of everything you do in UE4, the program is not bullet proof. Just the thought of how many simple lessons like this I have yet to learn is so daunting. How many builds will it take to get this right? Programming is so deliberate, there's not a lot of room for experimenting at the foundational level. You can break things real quick. I was so close this time though. I needed to implement one last system and then it was on to the art phase. Dammit. Hopefully I can have this prototype figured out by summer.

Sorry I can't share anything really cool yet. I've shown bits of what I'm doing to a small handful of my closest friends and peers and the responses have been meet with a lot of enthusiasm and everyone can't wait to get their hands on the prototype build. Sometime this year I will be showing the prototype though, and I can't wait to share the specifics of it!

Here's to 2018, the year I finally get my shit together and by the end officially start my own game studio!


DEC.31.2017


I'm not a New Years resolution person. What a lot of people do once a year is part of my life on a monthly to weekly... even daily basis. I'm already hyper focused on future resolutions on the regular.

So what is the New Year for me you didn't ask? It's more about reflecting on the last year. Asking the tough question, "Did I meet my own expectation last year? Was I the person, the machine, the energy I expect myself to be?" New Years becomes more about creating fuel for combustion, rather than combustion itself. It becomes more about finding incentive to achieve goals, rather than making them; because you know damn well you should have been working on this goal way before New Years.

So let's say this idea sparks you but you don't know where to start. "Mike please have mercy, I wanna get shit done this year but the world is so big, and there's lootboxes out there, and how could anybody not like the office, let alone tell me they did when they actually didn't?" I know *exactly* what you mean, which is why I've got your resolutions all figured out this year!

...

RESOLUTION 1A. Be honest with yourself. Easier said than done I know. For some it's hard to admit to themselves when they screw up, for others it's hard to admit when they're kicking ass, and some struggle to notice the middle ground in between. Just look at it for what it is so you can approach your resolutions efficiently.

RESOLUTION 1B. Life spoiler alert! You're going to die. Hopefully not anytime soon, but whether you like it or not you have X amount of time to live. Sorry if this is your first time hearing about this. This whole process hinges on steps 1A-B, so take them super cereal ok.

RESOLUTION 2. Make some goals that are really easy for you to get excited about and think how they will improve your life! Make goals that benefit you in the short or long term. Don't be afraid to get crazy with it, because you can't get resolution 1B out of your head now.

RESOLUTION 3. Make a plan. Getting anywhere fast requires perfect directions, just like the fastest way to any goal requires a plan. That's not to say your GPS won't send you to JCPenny instead of Chuck E Cheese, but take a deep breath and if you're plan isn't getting you to your goals, reroute again and again until you reach your destination. It's as easy as going from point A to point B.

RESOLUTION 4. Make it a habit to work on your goals even if you don't want to, even if its a minute a day, hell even a few seconds. You NEED to do at least a few seconds a day! In that moment just trust in the habit, if this is something you actually care about the habit will consume you eventually.

RESOLUTION 5. Go unadulterated fucking beast mode! It's probably going to hurt and you might even question if it's worth it at times, but you haven't forgotten about Resolution 2 and the universe's gift to planet Earth, Resolution 1B. Work your ass off and never give up, but if you start to waiver for any reason go back to resolution 4 until you're ready to play with the big boys again ;)

Happy New Year everyone! I love you guys!

APRIL.08.2017

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.

MAY.23.2016

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. 


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