Towards the tail end of Vicarious Visions‘ work on Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for the 360 and PS3, I contacted my old boss Steve Derrick and asked if he could use me for anything. The timing was right – they were a bit short on folks to do FX production. Since I had some experience with the tools and processes at VV, Steve asked me to come on and build some cutscene FX.
This was a blitzkrieg of a job. Entering crunch from the word go, it was 3 weeks to get set up, learn the new system, and produce a series of effects. For the most part, the scenes were entirely set up and just waiting for particles and corresponding effects, like lighting, screen flash, and physics chunks. I was given some solid direction by Brent Gibson and I had creative freedom in deciding how to execute the work which kept my motivation level sky high.
As with any large project, there’s significant overhead in integration. Checkins were only allowed after a team member had completely validated their work locally. This means lots of syncing, lots of building, and lots of waiting. At that stage of the project though, you do not want to be the sucker that breaks the build. Luckily I escaped the ire of Aaron, the lead engineer, and my checkins all cleared.
Overall, I would’ve been more productive had I been local for the duration of the contract, but with my wife ready to go into labor at any moment, I wasn’t able to go on site except for a day to ramp up and pick up a devkit. Still, what I was able to provide even under those circumstances was a win for everyone and I enjoyed the work immensely – even carrying a rekindled love of particle explosions into the creation of Detonator after my son was born.