Sometimes it’s handcuffs and cheese, or, art isn’t always glamourous

Sometimes I see it in people’s eyes, I tell them that I make video games for a living and they get all glassy eyed and  assure me that I have such a great job. They don’t ask if I have a great job, they TELL ME. Because they know. I’m not sure what they think I’m doing all day long but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with what I really do.

(As an aside, it was worse when I was at Ubi because then they would also tell me how awesome Ubi is as an employer, and how great of a company it is, oh, and they always know someone who works there, but most of the time, they either don’t know the name of that person or that person was a contract tester for 6 months. I’m not saying Ubi isn’t great, but getting people who have no clue telling me how great my employer is gets old.)

That’s not to say that I’m complaining. But clearly, it’s hard to imagine what I do for a living, except if you are my long suffering boyfriend who hears about it everyday. Imagine having someone explain the challenges of encoding text in Thai using a proprietary font tool and the unicode standards over dinner. Yes, in the wonderful world of video games, we still get to make fonts “by hand”. And sometimes you get to make these fonts in languages that no one ever used to make a game before. So you are pretty much on your own to figure out how to do that. That happened to me last week and the programmer (hi Nara!) and me ended up working closely and figuring out how to handle some of these more exotic languages. I whipped out my Google Fu and sent resources to Nara who parsed the info I sent her and together we made it work. I’m actually quite proud of that even if it doesn’t have anything to do with knowing how to draw. In my job I also have to use After Effect and last week I even got my first request for a file created in Illustrator (in 11 years of working in games, so you can guess Illustrator isn’t that popular.) It did make me swear a lot. Sometimes I get requests that go “you know that image that’s 960×600, well it needs to be 1024×600, and you can’t stretch it” so I have to “paint” the new bits of image to fit what we already have.

Every once in a while I get to design completely new stuff and do neat illustrations but most of the time, what I really need to do is make old stuff look better.  Back when I did a lot of DS work, a lot of our time was spent trying to figure out how we could make as many images as possible use as few colors as possible, specifically, wrestling 16 colors palettes until we could reuse them for many images and reuse some images by swapping the palettes.  And then we’d have to wrestle the images until they worked with those palettes. The DS is a very finicky machine. (But as far as I can tell, the 3DS is not!)  But hey, that’s my job and I do it as best I can.  

(Title to this post after Tim Minchin’s “If you really loved me” )


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