Reanimation

Hello Lovelies!

What a great couple of months it’s been! Between catching up with old friends, getting stuck back into Sentenced, and even squeezing in a couple of little holidays to the Forest of Dean in the UK and Vienna, I've been having a blast! It's been nice to have a bit of space to unwind and find myself again. For my last few months at Weta I was exhausted for most of the time, and now I've recovered it really feels like I'm alive again. 10 hour work days do not agree with me.

As my current accommodation here in my parents place is a little on the small side, I can’t set up my Vive right now. As such I’ve been continuing to focus on art and assets for this month. I’ve created another of the hero characters from scratch, the guard, as well as the first crowd character, whom I've lovingly named Brunhilde, and also some new props and tweaks to the scale of the execution scene.
 

In other news, I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the Sentenced team (which was, of course, previously just little old me). Antoni Kujawa (@blokepainter), an old friend from Industrial Light & Magic, has managed to negotiate a four day week with his current employer. Instead of using that extra day to relax and have fun, as he should, he has offered his services as a look development & texture artist in exchange for the simple opportunity to work on a video game. I’m extraordinarily grateful for his help, and to begin he’s been taking a look at improving the look of the castle walls.

Last week I also attended my first ever game developer’s conference, ‘Develop:Brighton’. I went at the urging of my friend Jasper, @JasperPT , who is developing his own mobile puzzle game, ‘Will it Fit!’. I was slightly concerned about whether I would fit, but it turned out to be a great experience. I’ve got no true insider experience of the video game industry, coming from a VFX background, so it was useful and interesting to get a look behind the curtain. I got to watch some really inspiring and interesting talks on subjects ranging from managing voice actors to AI chatbots and indie game marketing advice. I met some interesting and friendly people and most importantly, had fun.

Finally, I have set date for moving to Berlin now: August 13th. The flight is booked, it’s happening people! I’m very excited.

Keep it weird,
Samuel Gordon
 

There and Back Again

I write this from my parent’s house in Buckinghamshire, England. I’m back in the country after almost a year in New Zealand. It’s a beautiful sunny afternoon, my third summer in a row thanks to my hemisphere-hopping antics, and the birds in the garden are tweeting up a storm. Life is good. 

First, allow me to apologise for the extended silence here on the Phantom Magazine blog. When I work in VFX, I have to sign a strict NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), which prevents me from talking about or showing work from anything I’m working on professionally. In addition, I’ve been working for Weta Digital, (The Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes), a company with a 50 hour standard work week, which often rises to 60 during crunch time.

Some snaps from NZ

Some snaps from NZ

This lead to a situation where I spent the vast majority of my time doing something I can’t legally talk about, which is not a great recipe for social media output. It’s a source of frustration for me, as I love to share the things I’m doing with people, however, in the corporate world of filmmaking, the profit is master and we must obey. It also left me little time to work on my game.

However, all that is changing as of right now! My contract at Weta is up, and I’ve saved up a fat stack o’ cash, hopefully enough to support myself until I finish development on my pride and joy, Sentenced. I’ve already resumed work on the game, and re-assessing some of the work I did last year and bringing it up to standard.

An updated version of the Magistrate. New style!

An updated version of the Magistrate. New style!

Heraldry for the Port city of Sentenced.

Heraldry for the Port city of Sentenced.

I’m going to be staying with my parents up until the end of July while I catch up with friends and family in London, after which I’ll be moving back into a place of my own, most likely in Berlin. I’m also currently in the process of applying for German citizenship, so it seems like a good time to go the country and learn the language. Also, I hear that’s where the cool kids are at. Maybe the coolness will rub off on me? Is that how it works?

Anyway, it’s all go go go again on the Phantom Magazine front, so follow me here on the blog and also on Twitter and Instagram for all the regular updates!

Keep it weird,

Sam

Usual Cosmic Jazz

Since Budapest it’s been somewhat quiet here on the Phantom Magazine front, so I figured it’s past time for another bloggy little update.

When I returned to London at the start of June I was optimistic regarding the amount of work I’d be able to get done, but life had other plans. First, I decided to give myself a week off to cool down after the intensity of Budapest. I met old friends, partied, and lived in London as a simple tourist, something I’ve not been able to do much in the past thanks to the old 9-6 job. It’s worth noting that in my first week back in London I spent more money than I did during my entire second month in Budapest.

I was sharing a pleasant but somewhat diminutive flat with some folks in Dalston, which meant I was lacking the minimum 2 x 1.5 metre floor space required to set up my Vive. This meant I had to put coding and testing tasks on hold and focus on modelling and texturing. This wasn’t a problem, as there are more than enough assets to occupy my time. I decided to pick up the daunting task of modelling a streets-worth of low-poly houses to populate the town with.

However, in a somewhat impulsive decision I ended up flying to Los Angeles to spend one last week with the lover I’d broken up with before Budapest. I suppose it got in the way of work progress, but to live unable to act on occasional romantic whim is to not live at all. 

 
Chilling at Griffith Observatory in L.A.

Chilling at Griffith Observatory in L.A.

 

On my return, I had a friend visit from Budapest, which was a further (though welcome) distraction. I did eventually succeed in finishing my house models, as pictured below, and also made a few props and textures for the dockside.

Before I knew it the last grain of sand had slipped through the hourglass and it was time to leave London. I packed my things (again), and said one more goodbye to that ancient and smoggy city I love. I write this from my father’s computer back in my hometown as I count down my last few days before I hop on the plane to New Zealand for to start my work contract with Weta Digital. 

I’d love to carry on working on Sentenced full time, but the reality is that I need money to live off of while I do it. After my ten-and-a-half month contract is up, I intend to move back to Europe and live off my Weta savings for a year and go full-time with my VR dev, finishing off Sentenced if it’s not already done by then, and starting my next project.

For now my immediate challenge will be to balance work on Sentenced with having a full time job again, but as always, I’ll take each day as it comes and find a way to make it all work. Just gotta go with the gravity flow of that cosmic jazz!

Keep it weird,

Sam

 

It's all Jazz - I shot this in a swing dance bar somewhere in L.A.

It's all Jazz - I shot this in a swing dance bar somewhere in L.A.