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Dungeon Defenders II game Status:
09-26-2012, 11:29 PM
Lead Community Manager
Meet the Trendy Team: Geoff Sholler
In this weekís Meet the Trendy Team, I spoke with Geoff Sholler, technical producer at Trendy, about his job here at the studio.
Hi, Geoff. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First of all, who are you, and what do you do at Trendy?
Hey, Iím Geoff Sholler and Iím primarily in charge of asset integration, as well as a varied list of other things that combine to grant me the title of ďTechnical ProducerĒ.
What exactly does a technical producer do?
Basically, my job is knowing the UDK toolset well. More specifically, I primarily set up new items and characters in terms of media integration. This boils down to taking the art from the artists and the code functionality from the programmers, and putting it all together so that the item or character is functionally complete and ready to be balanced. This generally involves sound effect setup, visual effect integration, and making sure everything is scaled appropriately.
Outside of that, I also do cutscene work, subtitle setup, testing, balancing, level scripting, and a bunch of other things. Pretty much any type of task that is handled in the editor, I can do and have done to varying degrees.
Is this your first job in the gaming industry?
It most certainly is. I was fortunate enough to get hired on here as I was coming out of the University of Central Floridaís FIEA (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy) - and yes that is a shameless shout out, haha - program. So I was fortunate enough to be well prepared, as a large number of the projects I worked on in school had me filling the same role of ďknowing UDK well.Ē
What drew you to Trendy?
A few things. Early during my grad school program, a team I was on played the old Dungeon Defense demo to get an idea on what sort of non-FPS things could be done by a small team using UDK. It served as a good bit of inspiration for us on that front. Later on, when we were all looking for jobs, our school pointed us towards Trendy. Thatís when I discovered that they made what we had used as our motivation AND were in Florida, which was also a plus. Reading over the openings they had, there was one that was looking for someone with a technical background (Bachelorís in Computer Science, check) and experience with UDK (double check). Sounded like a better fit than pretty much all the other openings I had looked at, so I went for it.
Whatís your daily routine?
I live about a five-minute walk from the office, so I usually leave and get in between 11:00 and 11:30, which is nice, and grab a snack from the break room to serve as breakfast, which is also nice. Then I sit down, look over my task list for the day, and start on the most urgent task. Throughout the day, Iíll likely get called away for several tasks not on my task list whether it be some new thing that popped up or playtesting or bug fixing or whatever. End of the day usually comes between 9:30 and 10:30. Somewhat long hours, but I donít mind them and was fully prepared by the many all-nighters spent during school, haha.
Whatís the atmosphere like in the development room?
Pretty busy. The dev room houses all of our programmers and gameplay related people, which allows for pretty rapid iteration on things when any issues are found or ideas had. We joke around some, too. All in all, a pretty solid work environment.
Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while youíre not working?
No, Iím all about work, all the time....kidding. But yeah, I like to play video games (Borderlands 2 at the moment), watch TV and movies, play basketball when I can, and I generally go running 2-3 mornings a week before work.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the industry?
Thatís a tough one. I suppose Iíd say if itís really what you want to do, then donít give up on it. I got a degree in computer science thinking that programming was the way in for me (since I have very little if any artistic talent), but was less interested in programming by the end of it. It took me a little while to find a graduate program that wasnít strictly art or programming, but when I saw the producer track at FIEA, which was described as somewhere in between artists and programmers, it sounded perfect for me (another plug, but 100% honest). One thing leads to another and here I am, doing work Iím good at and enjoy doing in the industry Iíve wanted to be in since I was playing Super Mario Bros on the NES. So keep looking and trying, and youíll probably eventually find a way to get where you want to go.