Recently I was asked to tell how I got into games and for the curious here it is:
In the last four years I have gone from being a stay-at-home mom , jeweler, and clothing designer to an environment artist on a AAA FPS MMO. I have been busy. Not only have I learned Maya, Photoshop, and Unreal, I became the person that trained new hires and interns. I create assets that are both visually appealing and technically proficient. I am just as comfortable in Unreal making levels as in Maya making props. I helped test out tilesets and ended up making our final solution to tileset happy-ness. Thus I became the person that design went to first when they had a special need or an unusual case. I became very knowledgeable in Unreal and how the engine likes to work.
I was the only environment artist on our team that wanted to deal with the very complex destructible system. I ended up helping FX and engineering re-architect that system, all the way from deciding what features we needed and how we wanted it to work to testing the code. I wrote the WIKI for destructibles and was in the process of training the artists to place them. Our FX guy (Johnny VanZelm) was teaching me to use cascade and let me do a couple of FX that made it into our Monastery level.
Since our Tech art team needed someone on the environment team to test out new tools and help isolate issues with our process I did that too, and learned a bit of MEL along the way. I even got to write a couple tools myself to help the environment team with small Maya problems.
Other than our leads I was the only person on our environment team to interact with Design, Engineering, Tech Art, and FX on a daily basis. It gave me a much greater understanding of our tools, process, and limitations, it also gave me the chance to learn so many things, and share that knowledge. That’s the whole point isn’t it?