How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Art:

My Summer Internship at Behaviour Interactive

RyanL1_CCMan, talk about out of the fray and into the fire. I had no idea my first two weeks at Behaviour Interactive would be so intense. I felt like had no idea what I was doing, what my tasks were, or what the game was supposed to look like. I had never worked on mobile-level graphics before (let alone anything in a real production environment). There was one view of how assets in a game were supposed made in my head. It took awhile for me to throw those preconceived notions out the window.

So for weeks I struggled in doing things the “right” way (if only to me), worrying about all the small details that I would later find out would never even be seen by the player. If there’s one thing I’ve learned that summer, when making art in a production environment you just have to make it look good from the player’s perspective in-game.

You wouldn’t believe how different things looked in Maya compared to how they actually look playing A2M-Changes-Name-Behaviourthe game. In the beginning I would see an error that is glaringly noticeable to me, having worked on it in Maya for the past three hours fully zoomed in, then I would ask someone else if that error was too obvious and they would respond by asking me where it was. Over time I had to force myself not to sweat the small stuff like little mistakes or shading errors. I had to just make sure my art looked good in the game and didn’t have any obvious problems.

Game development is an iterative process, and it took me awhile to actually realize what that meant. It may seem great to spend lots of time adding detail to an asset and making “perfect,” but 90% of the time it’s going to have to be changed or tweaked later on anyway. There was an asset I had to do my first week there, an Ireland-themed golf clubhouse. I ended up spending forever on it and knew it wasn’t my best work. Later near the end of my internship I was asked to optimize it. That time it only took me a few hours, and the difference was night and day. Fixing that first asset the last week I was there felt like my internship swan song. It showed me just how much I had learned over the short time I was there.

Over the 14 weeks I was at Behaviour I did a gauntlet of different tasks working on Pro Feel Golf. I tackled everything from optimizing terrain, lightmapping levels, making trees, props, decorating levels, and lots of other random things. Being on a mobile project I was never stuck doing one thing for too long; it really kept me on my toes and constantly learning.

Working on a mobile game like Pro Feel Golf was a really cool experience. Having so much visual affect on a game and being able to point out so many things and say “Hey, I made all of that!” really gives you a sense of pride and commitment to make it good. And the work environment at Behaviour was great. We had less stressful deadlines than many of the other projects, and no artist ever had to work overtime. But it was also an environment where people didn’t baby you, expected you to pull your weight, and to keep to the deadlines when they were given. I was expected to make my own creative decisions and base them on the inspiration given by our art director, what it looked like in the real world, and by what the other artists on the team were creating.

But I honestly can’t give enough credit to my colleagues at Behaviour. It’s fantastic to work alongside talented people, and there is nothing better than working alongside people more talented than you. It drives you to become better yourself, especially when they make it look so easy. Some people pushed me to work faster, others pushed me to amp up the artistic quality of my work, and all of them were just awesome people to work with.

Looking back at my experience at Behaviour it’s pretty hard to imagine being in any other industry, if not just for the relationships made that summer. I met a lot of different people working on different projects, and made some great friendships. My internship at Behaviour was a tough, fun, and intensely educational experience…I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

– Ryan Leslie, Game Art Major, Fall 2013/Spring 2014