Friday, October 19, 2012

Animator Andrew Gordon Describes Life at Pixar

Recently Creative Bloq interviewed Andrew Gordon on his 15 years at Pixar. Here are some quotes from the post:

"How has life changed at Pixar over the last 15 years?
'When I first started at Pixar, it was very small. But it was big in the sense of a computer graphics company. I went from Warner Bros, which is a giant company and felt very corporate, to Pixar ,which was kind of like this little family of people that basically started the industry in terms of what they invented, motion blur and rendering. 

I didn’t know too much about Steve but I knew that he ran Apple

'They were like the pioneers, so I was walking around seeing some of the people that I idolised in some ways. I would see Steve Jobs walking around the halls. I didn’t know too much about Steve but I knew that he ran Apple. John Lasseter would be doing walk throughs in your office - everything was very small and very, very tight knit. 

'As the years passed the company got bigger and bigger, going from, when I started, about 300 people to now roughly 1300 people. So it's less interactions with those people just in the way that if any company that grows and becomes successful. But it still has that same great feel as in the beginning; it’s just that it is divided up more. ' "

"...with 3D everything takes a lot more time. You have to build and rig the character then go through the whole process of testing the rig to make sure all the controls work, the textures, building the world, etc. It’s a lot more work upfront but once you have everything built you have a little bit more freedom to change and revise, so I like that aspect. But I also like, as an animator, the subtlety of acting that you can get and the very small minutia of what you are able to get in 3D animation. The polish level and the physicality and really feeling so much like you feel what that character is feeling. Something as simple as an eye dart or a blink, that could be the difference between a thought and another thought. In 2D animation you can do that but you have to be at an incredibly high level of your game. So, in some ways, 3D animation levels the playing field a bit because you’re not relying on your drawing skills as much, you’re thinking more about performance. "

You can read the rest of the Creative Bloq post here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unity's David Helgason talks about Rovio's use of Unity and also the Wii U and Unity

Dave Cook recently posted an interesting interview with Unity's CEO David Helgason. Unity is a great tool for small agile game studios. Here are some quotes from Dave's post:

"Rovio, which has always been an indie company that just turned big. I don’t know how many staff they had when they made Angry Birds, but now they use Unity for Bad Piggies, and I’m sure other games down the line."

"One thing is that Nintendo will take Unity tools that we give them, and bring it to their big ecosystem of studios. Nintendo has first-party, third-party and all of the other studios that they’ve worked with for years, and they know them well.

They trust them because they know how to make awesome games for Nintendo platforms. Historically, none of these companies were using Unity, and they have the same challenges as everybody else – cost effective development and all that stuff.

So Nintendo is bringing Unity to these studios so they can build with it. The second thing that will happen is that, we turn around with the same tools and technology we’re working on, and take them to our community, which is a different one."

You can read the rest of Dave's post here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Long-term focus and Agile

Zac Gery recently wrote a nice post on how Agile teams can maintain a long-term focus while progressing through their sprints which by design are focused on a short-term goal. Here is a quote from Zac's post:

Although Agile lays the foundation for long-term thinking, the framework and execution are left to the team. This is unfortunate but can be overcome. Agile's support of self-organizing teams allows for the proper implementation of a framework. It's important for teams to define guidelines for managing long-term planning, focus, and grooming. The following section outlines a few strategies...
Provide a quick status on long-term initiatives after each iteration.
Setup recurring "long-term focus" meetings to discuss product direction, technical considerations, company goals, and much more. These are separate from task oriented meetings such as grooming.
It's important to openly recognize and clarify short-term versus long-term solutions to areas such as problems, requirements, and conflicting priorities.
If possible, avoid cannibalizing long-term planning for the completion of an iteration. Make it a priority.
Provide an easy way for team members and stakeholders to contribute to the long-term direction.
Build in break levers for team members to red flag work that might have potential long-term effects.
Each team should assign one or two individuals such as a senior developer, team lead, or architect to help maintain the long-term focus. Including all teams members is not an effective use of the team's effort.
Group items into themes and keep them in a visible location for continuous reference.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Constant conversation is key to avoiding long-term pitfalls.

You can read the rest of the post here.