Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Girls Make Computer Games Too

Pssst! Stef! I iz got cameraphone!
Another day and I have another person to write about on F5 Quicksave. Today I would like to introduce you to Stephanie Yong, one of our resident 3D artists. Usually I approach these encounters the same way any good journalist would – with an agenda and a set of cunningly prepared questions.

In other words I conduct an interview with the person. However Stephanie was a difficult one to interview- she kept insisting on having a ‘casual chat’ instead because my questions were too ‘rigid’.

Rigid she says! How dare she discount MY corporate journalistic integrity?!

I who sat down with directors and CEOs of large corporations and prepared them for many media interactions. Held their hands and impressed upon them that that unfortunate issue with the cleaner’s underwear and the mixing vats should be avoided at all costs and denied vehemently!

I, who prepared press conferences with media seats rigged with remote detonate nail bombs - set to trigger if any journalist got out of line.

I know exactly how to conduct a professional interview! There’s nothing wrong with my list of questions!

By Gum! Chris put
on some pants!
These creative types put too much stock in “casualness”

Just the other day our writer Chris came in dressed like he just jumped out of bed, put on a pair of flip flops and walked to work in his pajamas. Any typical CEO witnessing this would howl in pain and gauge out his eyeballs, all the while cursing that Chris should be put to a swift death by the corporate attire police.

 But that’s corporate for you and I was no longer in that rat race.

So I gave in and followed her beneath the blazing hot Malaysian sun to the furthest café from our office.

Well, it wasn’t that far away but I’m generally too lazy to walk anywhere.

We had a pleasant chat- we discussed how things were at work, the progress of the game we were developing, the unique personalities in our studio and so on. These topics are great, however better suited for separate blog posts. My plan is to write about all my colleagues, one by one, and this includes Stephanie Yong.

So with sheer will and all the charm of a slug, somehow I managed to steer the conversation to her music interest. 

Stephanie joins the ranks of many sensible adults who agree that Malaysian radio stations suck eggs and might be the spawn of devil. So she prefers listening to her private selection of songs which include a lot of new euro bands. She mentioned some; I knew none of them and only remember one called Múm. I was not taking notes you see, because I thought it might rupture the whole ‘casual’ bubble. 

Fortunately she was a big fan of Smashing Pumpkins. Since I myself was once a whinny teenager I knew plenty about Smashing Pumpkins and we got into a discussion on the bands progress through the ages.

We also talked about games. 

Like the rest of us at e-One Studio, we were gamers from a very young age and Stephanie is no different. She started in the early dark ages of pc gaming, where VGA monitors instilled awe and wonder. Floppy disks were handled so carefully out of an irrational fear it would suddenly burst into flames. She fondly told me about her first purchase- Bullfrog’s “Theme Hospital”. She recalled fondly how the game accused players of being cheaters whenever cheat codes were punched in.

Stef:"Oh no, its that weird new guy"
By the way Stef likes fish. Not the way you and I like fish (with plenty of soy sauce and ginger). She likes them alive, well and happy and going about their usual fishy business. So if anyone wants to take her out for a treat, seafood aint the way to go. 

Her favorite movie is “Lock Stockand Two Smoking Barrels” by Guy Ritchie. It’s an awesome movie and is high up there in the ranks of my personal favorites. For those who have been living under a shell licking moss for nutrition, I recommend you watch this flick. I asked her what she liked most about the movie and as I expected; it was the dialogue. 

Who could disagree? The movie was jammed packed with fantastic quotes like this:

Eddie:They're armed.

Soap: What was that? Armed? What do you mean armed? Armed with what?

Eddie: Err, bad breath, colorful language, feather duster... what do you think they're gonna be armed with? Guns, you tit! 

We chatted some more and there’s plenty to write about Stephanie. In fact I get the feeling there's so much more to Stephanie that you could write a whole saga of her, but a young lady must have her secrets. 

So that's all for now and I'm signing off!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Artwork Plumber

Things are full steam ahead here in e-One Studio. Everyone’s so busy that it’s still taking some time for me to really get to know the team, so I thought it best for me to get to know the man who helped me set up this blog.

He looks busy. Lets go bug him
The poor soul being forced to put up with me sits on the desk to my right. His name is Shahrul Nizam and he hails from Pantai Remis in the central state of Perak, Malaysia.

Sporting a grey denim jacket and a thin beard, Shahrul calls himself “The Artwork Plumber” for e-One Studio. Any artwork or marketing materials for the studio’s intellectual property (IP) is sent to him and he enhances them. How this is related to pipes and clogged sinks is beyond me but if that’s how the man thinks of himself who am I to argue with him?

Shahrul:" Kesh, you need photography lessons bro "
I can’t share with you the stuff he is working on but you can check out his artwork by following this link: syarul.deviantart.com or check out his blog kloverfx.blogdrive.com 

Trust me, the stuff he comes up with will blow you away.

Shahrul is an all round good guy and I was keen to learn more about the chap. So I bombarded him with questions that would make any inquisition proud to have me as a member.

ME: How long have you been attached to e-One?
Shahrul: How long? Er.. for some time actually, around 4 to 5 years I think

ME: Where did you study?
Shahrul: I studied Industrial Design in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. 

ME: Industrial design? That’s way off from what you are doing now. How did you manage the change?
Shahrul: Well I was always interested in art so that helped. I am a self-taught digital artist - I dabbled in everything from 3d design to coding.

ME: Do you play games? What kind?-which is your favorite?
Shahrul: Before I was married, I spent a lot of time playing RPG’s such as Baldurs Gate, Diablo and Morrowind. 

ME: I love Morrowind too! I thought the island of Vvanderfell they created was truly unique and not your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting. 
Shahrul: Yeah, I didn’t enjoy Oblivion too much but I got the same good feeling when playing Skyrim though. I even felt the ambient sounds and music of Skyrim was a reach back to Morrowind. 

However these days I just play fast paced games like DoTA and some browser games.

I guess I would have to say that Baldurs Gate 2 was my most favourite game. I had initially bought it on a spur of the moment; without knowing much about the game. A very random buy. I played it for a while, got bored and left it. After a year, I loaded it up again and really got in to it. It certainly deserves its place as one of the greatest PC RPG’s ever created.

ME: What are your key interests?
Shahrul: Drawing and doing some web coding on the side.

ME: What is your favorite band/musician/ artist?
Shahrul: My favourite artist, as in painter, right now is Craig Mullins. However I also admire the works of Jean-Léon Gérôme and Ludwig Deutsch

As for music, I don’t have a specific taste. Definitely not pop music though….

Shahrul: ….but I do get easily bored with music, I never enjoyed a song for too long so there isn’t much for me to share in that category.

ME: What is your favourite movie?

ME: Awesome flick. Which was your favourite scene?
Shahrul: I think everyone loved how he busted out of the prison. That was really inspiring. How the main character Andy, devised an escape plan with the few options he had and stuck with the plan for years and years.

That's incredible perseverance.

Andy had a good set of friends in prison who unsuspectingly helped him escape by providing him with the tools and support to achieve his goal. Andy got out on his own but never forgot his buddy's, and they were happy for him. I guess they realized how they helped and the events that transpired after Andy's escape gave them hope. They were his family after all. 

Shahrul is not impressed with me having my finger on the lens when taking this shot
Movies are inspiring stories about other people; fictional or real but nothing compares to real life. The battle field is here and now. Did you here that a blind activist in China escaped from confinement recently? Imagine that! A real life Andy Dufresne. These stories and people keeps me inspired and motivated to do what I do.

We spoke some more but there is only so much you can learn about a person in a day. I will surely be writing more about our office “plumber” as I spend my days and experiences with him in e-One.

To sign off this post I asked Shahrul to share with me his favourite quote. It’s from Eleanor Roosevelt; 

“The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Nicely done Shahrul.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Day 1 at E-One Studio

On the 6th of April 2012, My girlfriend Pauline handed to me what looked like a pass to “Kreative Asia Master Class”, an event organized by MDEC and X Media Labs. The event served as a platform that brought together the world’s top creative minds to share their experience, insights and knowledge in the field of creative multimedia and animation with us budding Malaysians.

Before that day, I was completely ignorant and unconcerned about the arena of the creative; I was content to provide my PR (public relation) skills to corporate clients and the consumer businesses. However Pauline knew how much I enjoyed playing games and she figured I could make use of that entire time spent dwelling in digital worlds into something more constructive.

So in an attempt to humour her thoughtfulness, I accepted the pass with a smile and began to dread spending my luxurious weekend in a room full of photoshop geeks and multimedia nerds.

E-One Studio ( by the way, I suck at photography)

How little I knew and how quickly perceptions can change. Today, I am in the employment of e-One Studio; a Malaysian game developer for multiple platforms.

You walk in and you're greeted by this pretty face
Its my first day and I am excited and possibly talking too much and freaking people out.

But I can’t help it! As I go around the office of 30 (I think) and introducing myself, I can’t remember their names but I can see all the stuff they are working on.

Its freakin awesome!

There this one guy, I believe his name is Eric, has all kinds of Japanese “Mechs” lining the top of his desk. He didn’t hear me the first time as I introduced myself. Probably because of the headphones he had on and his unblinking focus on the image he was creating on screen. His left hand was on the keyboard while his right was scribbling away on a digital drawing pad. I kinda stood there and witnessed him pay intense attention to the smallest details to what appears to be a poster of e-One’s upcoming game.

There’s this other guy, I believe his name is Iz, who walked in with a leather jacket and plopped himself down at a desk which was decorated with figurines of Kratos from “God of War” and “Skyrim’s” Dovakinn riding a dragon. He’s a technical artist (whatever that means?). I asked him what horse he rode in on, and he told me it was a Harley.

Look! we got a white board!

By the way, there is a pool/billiards table and foosball table in the office.

For those who are reading this and are going “So What?”- please bugger off.

You probably are already working in the industry or just jealous. This is a big change for me. For years I have been walking into white washed offices with MS WORD or XCEL flickering on pc screens and cheap “Abstract Art” hanging on the walls.

Check it out! we got a water cooler too
Checkered on the walls of e-One, there is concept art of fantastic worlds and each pc screen shows me some part of those worlds taking form.

As I mentioned, I dont remember everyone’s name just yet (probably because as a child I was dropped by my mum), but I believe getting to know my new colleagues is going to be an adventure in itself. Each person here has some uniqueness that is rarely exposed in other white collar offices.

So stay tuned, there's just so much to write about and who knows? You might find out how little you know about what goes on behind the doors of a little game studio.