Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sparkypants




Game design is something that I have been passionate about for the last few years. This past semester I did an independent study where I joined the Project Studio IA class and made a game with student Nick Clinkscales. I was curious to see what working on a big game with an actual development team was like, and what things I could learn to be more marketable to people in that area. Luckily enough, I was contacted by Braden League, a former graduate of MICA, who was given my contact information by Mark Sanders. He put me in contact with Dave Inscore, Art Director at Sparkypants, who I talked to to secure my internship. 

Sparkypants is a AAA game development studio located here in Baltimore. It has a moderate team of about 35 people on site (with many more offsite) who are creating a RTS/MOBA game called Dropzone. The game takes place in a sci-fi setting and asks the player to control 3 pilots in a 1v1 battle to upload ‘cores’. Whoever uploads the most cores at the end of 15 minutes wins. I had 2 supervisors during my time at Sparkypants: one was Mike Legrand (Senior Programmer) and the other was Ryan Wolper (Senior Ui Designer). Legrand would check my code that I submitted for mistakes or for an easier way to do the task I was trying to accomplish. While Wolper would give me feedback on art assets I created and made sure I was making the correct things to fit into the game. 

As soon as I joined the team I was tasked with many different things to do. I created in game keyboards, options menus, objective icons, the draft buildout, portrait picker menu, friends list and main menu panels. I also had to keep up with multiple bugs that surface from implementing all those things as well as localization work to make sure our game could be translated into any other language. Over my time there I am most proud of the objective icons that I created. The company loved the icons I made and they are still being used in the game currently. My biggest take away from this experience is how crucial it is to know code when going into game design. It was something that I was asked to do over and over again, and it helps a ton to be able to do it. As far as new skills I am much more familiar with html/css/javascript now that I was before starting at sparky and it is clear to me now that I want to pursue these skills during my final year at MICA.

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