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Portfolio Update

Since the latest game I’ve worked on (Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit) is about to be released next week I decided it was time to give the portfolio a little update. I’ve included my work on Battlefield Heroes and NFS: Hot Pursuit.


Battlefield Heroes Release

Battlefield Heroes, which I’m currently working on, has just released a night setting.  I was in charge of taking three existing maps and converting them to night versions.  This involved painting sky textures, adding glow effects and lighting.

Seaside Skirmish Night

Buccaneer Bay Night


New Apartment

Well, I’ve just moved into my own apartment, quite near the Hornstull metro station. It is on the north west tip of Södermalm, near quite a nice park area. So far I have just been settling in, so I haven’t had too much time to wander around and explore the area. Check out my Flickr page for some new pictures.

I visited the tall ships that were coming in to Stockholm for a weekend on their way to Poland. It was quite interesting, but very crowded. I got to go onto one of the ships, the Europa.

I had promised a list of odd people, and here it is so far:
– A guy wearing an “Athens 2004 Olympics” flag or towel as a cap, complete with laurel wreath on his head
– An older man in a suit, with a note sticking out of the breast pocket that said “Monkey reject the moneky”
– A man on the subway who came up to my group of seats, made a little speech, then moved on to the next group to repeat it (the speech was in Swedish, so I don’t know what it was about)
– And last, but certainly not least, Horst, the harmonica man of Sweden, who is faithfully out on the same spot every day Video


Settling In

Well, I’ve been in Sweden for a while now, so I had better write something about it.

The trip over had a bit of a rough start. I first noticed something was odd when the plane had taxied around in a complete circle and came back to the gate. It turned out that someone was having heart problems, and had to be taken off the plane. This caused me to miss my connecting flight in Toronto to Ottawa, and my bag was delayed. I got the work permit and went back to the hotel for the evening. The next day I did some sightseeing, including Parliament Hill, the Canadian War Museum, and other places in downtown Ottawa. It’s quite a nice city, lots of green space and interesting architecture. You can see some pics here.

After that it was off to Stockholm through Heathrow, which went off without a hitch.

I’ve been living at a temporary apartment for the past few weeks. It’s one that the company has for people who are just arriving. For the first week I had some people from Spain staying with me. It was quite nice to have some people to hang out with and help me get acquainted with the area. One interesting thing from the first few days was a restaurant that included garlic in every item on the menu, even the beer! I didn’t have any of that, but someone who did found it quite disgusting.

I’ve managed to get an apartment lined up starting on August 1st. It’s still in Södermalm, and right near a metro station. It has quite high ceilings, something like 3.5m, as well as a TV and DVD player, and all the utilities are included in the rent, including internet. I can’t wait to move into it.

Work has been going great, making games is so much more fun than TV commercials. I can now use the skills that I have in the way that I really enjoy using them. It’s also really nice to work with a bunch of people that share my interests and creative passions.  It’s also really quite nice that my boss actually has a clue of what I do now, and how long these sort of things actually take (there is no “make good now” button).

The weather has been cooler, and with more rain than back home in Saskatoon, I’ve heard that it was getting up to 32 there, and it’s somewhere around 20 every day here.  It’s quite nice living in a larger city, there is a much greater variety of things here, and the metro system is quite nice, it only takes a couple minutes to get to work from the station near where I live.  The old town, Gamla Stan, is a very nice area.  It has a bunch of narrow, winding streets, some only 2 meters wide.  It is also where the palace and parliament buildings are located.

I’m going to try keeping this updated more often, as there is always something going on with me. I’ll have to write up my list of odd people I’ve seen around town, it’s getting quite extensive…


Lighting Tutorial

I’ve written a tutorial on using texture lights in the Source engine. It is more of a general overview than a step by step tutorial. I may add more on to it if people request it. Hopefully this will be of help to someone. You can find it in the tutorial section.

I’ve also added a page with some useful links dealing with the Source engine.  Let me know if you have one to add to it.


Hurry up and wait

Well, now I’m just waiting on a work permit before I head off to Sweden. Apparently this will take 6 to 8 weeks, so I’ll be moving back in with my parent’s later this month. This is so that I can hopefully get out of two months of rent, provided someone moves into my apartment. Also it’ll be much easier to have a more relaxed time frame to get all my affairs sorted out.

In the meantime, I’m going to try doing some more 3D stuff, so I wont be completely out of practice by the time I start working. I’m going to try doing a bit more on the modeling side of things, as my demo reel was focused more on textures. I want to try doing some high poly models and baking them to normal maps.  I’m also going to do more shader work, using the phong shader in the Source engine. I found a parallax shader, so I’m going to check that out as well. I’m thinking of possibly writing some tutorials that I have been asked about while working on the factory level. I’ll try adding a bit more on to the factory level as well, possibly blocking the whole thing out, so it can actually be a playable map.

Here’s the first object I’m going to try doing. It’s going to be sort of based on the Gears of War style. I’m going to try adding quite a bit of detail into the high poly model.



Comment Spamming

Well, I didn’t think this blog would have been popular enough to warrant the attention of spammers, but I guess it is (or at least in the pathway of some random attack).  Due to this I’ve added in an image verification.  Hopefully this won’t bother people too much, and lower my already almost non-existent  level of comments…


Back Home

Well, I had a great time in Vancouver. It was the warmest February I’ve ever seen. The plane trip over was nice, it was only 2 hours, which is the shortest total flight time I’ve ever had. I went to my hotel, which was in Yaletown. It was quite fancy looking, the elevators looked like something out of a night club, which isn’t too surprising I guess, as half the lobby was a bar. I went out to get some lunch. I ended up eating at this restaurant in the library. The library’s design was obviously inspired by the coliseum. After that I walked around downtown a bit more and ended up at Canada place. I went back to the hotel and got a call from a friend I was going to meet up with. We went to Granville island, which is sort of a little marketplace area, with lots of art galleries/stores/schools/you name it. We got something to eat from the indoor market and went outside to eat it. There were warnings to protect your food from seagulls, and they weren’t joking around.

After that, we headed back to downtown and walked around for a bit. There were a fair amount of people around for a Sunday night. We stopped by the library shaped like the colosseum to drop off a book. The library was closed, and the after hours book drop off was located in some odd corner outside. There was a large smokestack looking thing, and a chute just to the side of it. It looked suspiciously like an incinerator. We went to get something to drink and talked a bit about being the only people doing 3D from Saskatchewan. It’s an odd feeling being one of a very small group of your profession where you live, and then going off to find large pockets of it in other cities. It’s so nice to be able to talk to people about what you do and they actually have a clue about what you’re talking about. I went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

The next day was the day of the interview. It was raining, but still fairly warm out. I took a cab to the office, which was just a little bit outside of the downtown. I had my interviews which finished up at about 2:30. I decided to walk back to the hotel, as the rain was letting up a bit, and I wouldn’t want to miss being outside and not freezing in February. The Telus World of Science was about a block away, in the direction I was heading, so I thought I might check that out. I got there and saw that the admission was about $15, and it seemed to be mostly involving showing movies and something about making chocolate, so I gave it a pass. I walked along a path by False Creek. There was some construction at the end connecting to downtown, and I somehow ended up wandering into a casino’s parking lot. I made it back to the apartment with a very wet left foot, that shoe must have a hole in it. The rest of the day wasn’t too eventful.

The plan for Tuesday was a trip to Stanley Park, and the aquarium. It was fairly sunny when I got up and headed out for breakfast. I stopped at a Tim Horton’s, across from the courthouse. It was so nice that I decided to eat my breakfast outside. I’m sure the locals thought I was a fool, eating outside in the dead of winter, at a chilly +8. I walked towards the park along Georgia street. The west downtown is a collection of steel and glass condos, and some very nice little gardens. If I were to move to Vancouver, I think this area of downtown would be on my list of places to find somewhere to live. I’d imagine that it would be extremely expensive to live here however. By the time I got to the park it had started to cloud over a bit. When I got to the park I saw a few blown over trees, but the level of destruction really didn’t seem as bad as they made it out to be on the news. I went to the aquarium, which I had apparently visited when I was 1 year old. It was quite interesting. I saw the beluga show, but I just missed the dolphin show. I did manage to see some of the dolphin training however. It consisted of one trainer pointing the dolphins one way, and someone else hitting the water. The dolphins would then rush over and get a snack. After the aquarium I walked along the water’s edge across from North Vancouver. When I came in sight of Lion’s Gate Bridge it started to rain a bit. That’s when I came across the Kids’ Dryer, and I briefly considered using it. I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. When I got back I got a call from the studio with an offer, which was surprising, considering I had been told to expect a call on Friday. I spent the rest of the day doing a lot of thinking about which offer to pick.

On Wednesday it was back to Saskatoon. When I landed, I was expecting the extremly cold temperates that I had left behind. It was only about -9, so I didn’t have that big of a shock, that was the first time it was above -20 here in the past few weeks. For the pics from this trip, check this link out: Vancouver Flickr

I decided to take the offer from the studio in Sweden. The one in Vancouver was really nice as well, but that one seems to be a better fit for me, and moving to Europe has been a goal of mine, I never thought I would be able to accomplish it so soon. So now I’ve got to figure out how to move overseas in one month. Watch this space for more info, things are going to be getting quite intense.


Now off to Vancouver

While I was away in Sweden, I got an email asking if I’d like to come out to Vancouver for another job interview.  I gladly accepted.  A trip to Vancouver and a chance to compare and contrast companies would be a good opportunity, besides, I was almost all packed already.  With the game’s industry being spread out all over the world, its possible to travel all over the place just with job interviews!

At this rate, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be moving away from my hometown quite soon.  I’m quite excited to be able to finally do what I want to be doing, making video games.  It’s coming up on two years since I’ve graduated from my 3D course, and I feel that the time spent learning it all is finally paying off.


Trip to Sweden

Last weekend I went to Stockholm, Sweden. It was quite the unexpected event. I was checking my email on Friday the 2nd, and saw an email from someone saying they liked my portfolio and would like to talk more with me. Much to my surprise, I ended up being booked for a trip out to Sweden leaving on the next Thursday for a job interview.

As I’ve always wanted to go back to Europe after a trip to Greece, so I welcomed the chance to visit again. I was planning to save up and take a trip in a few years, so this really fast-tracked my plans. Living in Europe was also a goal of mine, and this brings it quite close to being a reality.

The plane trip there was pretty rough. I can’t sleep on planes, and the overnight ones going east are the worst, as you end up staying awake for more than a day. When I arrived, I felt almost at home, there was still snow and similar landscape. There were more pine trees and bare rock, but other than that, a bit close to home. When the taxi started passing by some buildings that feeling went away however, they were much nicer than what we get here. The architecture is a very nice mix of old and new, with the old being the more dominant style.

I got to the office and met with some people there. Three other guys also came at the same time as me for interviews. They went to have their interviews, as they had only come from the Netherlands, and I went off to my hotel for some sleep. I crashed at 5:00PM, and got up sometime in the middle of the night, jet-lagged. I did some reading and managed to get some more sleep before morning. The breakfast was served in a covered courtyard in the middle of the hotel. After that I went out for a walk to take some pictures. It was warmer than where I live, but still on the cool side. I was always amazing people by telling them it was -20C when I left home. I wandered around and almost made it to the old town when I had to turn back to go for my interviews at the office.

The company was amazing. Their whole focus was on the artist, which is quite a refreshing approach for the games industry, which seems to value profits more than the people making the product. After the interviews we all went out for dinner at a nice fish restaurant. Unfortunately, fish isn’t really my favorite, so I went with the only non-fish item on the menu. Two other people ordered it as well, so I didn’t feel too out of place. After that some of us went to a club. I’ll have to say that Sweden’s reputation of very nice looking girls is fairly well founded.

The next day I had slept through the breakfast offered at the hotel, so I went out to grab something. I ended up at a Burger King I’m sorry to say. Just when I was heading out the door, I saw a group of some employees from the company and a few of the other guys being interviewed. I tagged along with them for a while.

That evening I went over to an apartment shared by two people that worked at the company and had some supper and watched The Corpse Bride. I found it rather clichéd, and somewhat aimed towards children. Certainly not as good as A Nightmare Before Christmas in my opinion. After that I managed to make it back to my hotel on the metro by myself.

On Monday morning I went into the office at 7:00AM to have one last interview that I didn’t manage to fit in on Saturday. After that it was back to the airport, and a quick jump back over the Atlantic. I find the flight west much more manageable, as when you get back, it’s night.

Sweden was a great place. The people all spoke enough English that I was able to have a conversation with everyone I met. They were quite friendly and inviting. Stockholm is a beautiful city, I could definitely live there. You can find some pictures of it on my Flickr account.