Employee Spotlight 23/10/2013
Here we are again with our Logic Artists Employee Spotlight, where we feature members of our team, to give you the readers a look at what goes on here in the studio. Our second instalment of the Employee Spotlight Series features our very own Renaissance Man and Game Designer Daniel Eskildsen.
Let’s get started. Where are you from?
Danish redneck country. I was born in southern Jutland but grew up in the boonies on Funen. I moved to Copenhagen when I was 25.
What do you do at the studio?
When I first started, I was tasked with redoing a 2D map they had for our mobile game, as well as designing the UI. As we progressed in that project, I also helped out with some writing and some minor programming. It turned into quite a bit of writing and setting up the game logic by the end, as we neared the release.
I think I’ve pretty much done everything at one time or another, but the vast majority of my time is spent agreeing on game design with Jonas (our lead Designer), and modelling/texturing environment art. Mostly environment art at the moment though.
On Expeditions: Conquistador I also built a lot of the levels, or worked in collaboration with Jonas on them and I also built most of the world map. Expeditions: Conquistador was quite a daunting task – I created the vast majority of art assets and also created all the icons and UI stuff. Considering it took us just about a year, I’m quite please with the results.
How long have you been working here?
Coming up on 2 years. I was the first employee. They found me in a bar.
What was your training for this? How long did that take? Where did you do it?
I have a Masters in Media Technology and Games (Game Design, basically) from the IT University in Copenhagen, a Bachelor in Medialogy from Aalborg University Esbjerg and an AP degree in Multimedia Design from Odense Tekniske Skole (Odense Technical School), which all in all took 6 years (Not counting high school and all that). All my practical skills are self-taught.
An example of one of the levels in Expeditions: Conquistador. The terrains for the battles would first be created in World Machine (Left), and then imported into unity, where vegetation would be generated. After finding a suitable spot in the terrain for a battle, a hex grid would be generated and environment assets would be placed (Below).
Why did you get into this career?
I’ve been hobbying with photo manipulation since I was maybe 16 years old. I got into the modding scene in the early 2000’s and started making levels for mods, specifically Infiltration and The Third Reich, for Unreal Tournament. I started with Infiltration and it was mostly out of interest for the mod that I decided to start designing levels for it. The Third Reich sort of happened by accident, as I was a beta tester for the mod, but ended up re-doing one of the levels based on one of devs’ designs. After that I taught myself 3D modelling, as I started helping on a mod with friends, called 1968 (It was supposed to be a mod about the Vietnam war). It never went anywhere though, except to get me interested in modelling. From when I was about 17, I knew I wanted to make games, so I did what I could to get there.
What do you eat and drink at work?
I eat sandwiches every day. I have a glass or two of soda, otherwise I drink water. Most days I have some snacks at my desk as well, mostly cookies or chips.
What kinds of digital games do you play?
I try to play a lot of different things, though I’m not a huge fan of 4X or RTS games. My favorite genres are definitely RPGs and FPS, or a mix of the two, though it doesn’t have to be. My favorite shooters tend to be tactical shooters like Rainbow Six, Infiltration (A UT mod), SWAT 3, but I also enjoy games like Deus Ex, Killing Floor, Dishonored and Half-Life 2. My all time favorite RPG is Arcanum, followed by stuff like Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas.
What kinds of other games do you play?
I play pen and paper RPG with friends once a week most weeks. It’s a home-grown system that our GM created. It’s in Danish and called Sagn og Legender (Tales and Legends in English). It’s a class-less, skill and trait-based system. Been playing it for about 7 years now, but our current adventure has only been going on for about a year. We also have another campaign we’ve been running for about 4 years, but currently we only play that once a year.
What is your favorite thing to work on at work? Why?
Coming up with cool mechanics and then seeing them come to life, it’s immensely satisfying.
What is your least favorite? Why?
Exporting assets. It’s super boring and can be really time consuming when you’re making a tileset. Other than that it would probably be when I realize I have to make a change that requires me to re-export a tileset, so again, exporting.
Where do you go for creative inspiration or advice?
Movies or games usually, but also forums (Like Polycount, TIGSource) and Google image searches. For Expeditions: Conquistador, we looked at movies like Apocalypto and Aguirre: The Wrath of God for inspiration, but also read up on a lot on Wikipedia about prominent figures at the time, and different stories about Conquistadors.
Where do you go for technical inspiration or advice?
The Polycount forum is really good for seeing what techniques others are using and then adapting the ones that make sense for our projects. I especially like seeing others’ low poly approaches, as they tend to do some pretty cool things when it comes to conserving UV space while maximizing fidelity. I also follow the development of my favourite modelling programme, Wings3D, watching YouTube dev channels, because they usually showcase some neat techniques as well.
Take us through your daily routine at the office.
I don’t really have a daily routine as such, as every day is different and brings new challenges. I usually continue with the task from the day before, or start a new one off the Scrum board if I’ve completed one. Besides my usual tasks, there’s a lot visiting other’s people’s desks as we talk about implementation specifics, or if I’m checking out a new feature that’s been implemented (I usually try to break it, to expose bugs). I eat lunch with the second wave as I usually stay a little longer. I tend to work faster during the end of the day.
Would you share some insight from your experience as a professional game designer?
If you have an idea, talk it out and take notes, then write it down in detail and share it with the relevant people. The more information that everyone has, the faster it goes and the less confusion arises. In an iterative process, this might change several times, but it should be fine as long as you keep the information up to date.
Talk to everyone and ask about their problems and work processes. The more you understand, the better you will be at communicating your ideas, and the better solutions you are able to offer when problems emerge. Understand that failure is also a step in the right direction as you now know which way not to go, and always point out things that work when critiquing others’ work, and make that the new jumping-off point.
Information is Power.
Do you have any tips for people new to the industry?
If you want to be a Game Designer, learn how to do a bit of everything. Not only will it make you more useful and valuable to a small team, it will also help you understand the limitations of the other roles that your colleagues will occupy. Knowing a bit about programming, in particular, is extremely valuable, or knowing how to draw, so that you can communicate your ideas visually, is also helpful. You don’t have to be a master at any of these jobs, but having a basic understanding is valued.
Play games, and play a lot of them, even ones you might not particularly be a fan of, or even games that are outright bad. This way you will have a larger library of mechanics and their implementation, that you can then use as a frame of reference when designing your own mechanics and games.
What are your future plans/dreams?
My dream is to keep making games that try something new and different each time. I hope to stay with Logic Artists for a very long time. Love the team and love the city and I know we’re going to make great things here.
See some of Daniel’s embarrassing past at his Online Portfolio.