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An Epic life at Epic games

Posted by on in Artists

 

Hi guys, my name is Min Oh. I'm a 3d artist focusing on game environment art. I like all elements of computer generated art. I'm originally from South Korea and have been in the United States since 2010. Earlier this year I made my 3d environment set called 'Sting like a Bee'. This scene was inspired by one of my favourite boxers Manny Pacquiao and a film by David O. Russell's called The Fighter. I submitted this work to the CG Student Award 2014, and as a result I won the internship for the "Next Gen Gaming" category. I was privileged enough to get the opportunity to do my internship at Epic Games in Cary, North Carolina. I would like to thank the Alwyn and Andrew from the CG Student Award for organising this amazing opportunity. Words can't describe what it means for me to have won this internship, the CG Student Awards has changed my life and I am forever grateful!

 

Everything is Epic!

After I heard from Alwyn that I was going to be doing an internship at Epic Games in North Carolina, I had to plan for a big move from the West Coast of America to the East Coast. The transition was going to be difficult, but it was a small price for the opportunity to work at Epic Games, to work at company that created many of the games that I grew up with. To make the move less painful Epic Games helped me to coordinate the trip, in the end the process went very smoothly and the anticipation of working at Epic Games was really starting to build now!

 

You soon discover their amazing passion for what they do. It's that passion that allows them to make such amazing games

The first day at Epic, I tried to act cool, but inside I was very nervous. The strange U-shaped building has no signs that it was, in fact, the Epic Games building but as you get closer to the building, you start to see the Marcus statue from Gear of War and Malcolm from Unreal Tournament through the glass curtain wall. Passing through the main entrance there is a hallway that has the history of all the games that Epic Games has ever made. From Jazz Jack Rabbit (this was the game that I used to play as a kid) to Gears of War.

After you pass the game history wall, there is a cafeteria which is known as the ‘Arena’. It is full of great food, snacks and drinks so that employees never need to leave the building while they are working. Oddly there’s a climbing wall on one side of the Arena and a big slide from the second floor down to the Arena. I think this gives the office a more relaxed atmosphere and makes the employees feel more at home.

The facility also includes a gym, yoga room, pool table, ping pong table and a games room which is full of console machines from old school Atari 2600 to the new generation X-boxes and Playstations. Once I began to be introduced as an art intern I was able to meet many artist and programmers. The employees at Epic are very nice and once you get to know them you soon discover their amazing passion for what they do. It’s that passion that allows them to make such amazing games.

 

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A Day in an Unreal world

Currently, I am working on the team for the Unreal Engine’s new “Marketplace”. The Marketplace is a store where any UE4 subscriber can sell their assets for game developers using the engine. The asset can be characters, environment, weapons, 2d sprites, materials, audio and game system as blueprints (the node programming system in UE4). Many of the top sellers on the UE4 marketplace are making an impressive profit. It really highlights the potential benefit the marketplace has to the asset creators and the game developers.

Since I was new to UE4, many features were attracted and powerful to me. For instance, how the same art asset can be turned into a physically accurate look asset, compared with other game engines in the market out there. Its Interface is intuitive and easy to get used to it. Artist can simply set up their art for advanced stuffs. Blueprints help non-programmers like game designer and artist to get their code working without actually writing a code. UE4 makes sense to be a tool for everyday game developers.

 

Words can't describe what it means for me to have won this internship, the CG Student Awards has changed my life and I am forever grateful!

 

As you may know already, Epic Games started making a new version of their well-known historical franchise game, Unreal Tournament (UT). What’s special about this project is, it’s not only being made by the internal Epic Games developers, it’s doing what it’s called community-based production which any UT fans out there can participate and contribute to this project. It can be any type of game elements. If you are capable of doing at a professional quality, then that’s great but even if you can’t, that’s totally fine too. There are loads of talented fans on the UT forum that can help you to figure things out and there is the guys from Epic Games will help and guide you as well. It is like a project that a bunch of close friends who have the same interest, get together and make something cool.

 

I like the way Epic Games opens the communication channels to interact with their fans and developers.

 

Because of this community base project, even if I’m not officially on the project internally, I can participate in it, and it makes my night. I don’t have much experience yet, but I gaining experience in working in a professional environment. Every company has a unique culture that makes that company either strong or weak. Epic Games has one of the best atmospheres to work in that I could have hoped for. All the amenities that Epic games provides are not just for show, they are there to allow the employees to focus on their work. It’s like I don’t have to worry about anything else other than working while I’m here. Sometimes it’s hard to find time or a place that I can focus on the work because this place is just like an amusement park to passionate developer. Also besides that the company does many social events to let employees interact with many other teams that you usually don’t get to work with. Even if the company does keep expanding, they do good job in keeping all employees feeling like we are in one same family.

 

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Just a few side notes

Twitch, Communication.

Epic Games does keep a number of channels open to communicate with fans and developers. Online video streaming "Twitch" is one of them. They regularly stream 2-3 times a week about UT and UE4. In the UE4 twitch stream, they talk about the engine's new features, discuss the engine roadmap as well as community stuff like what can be made with UE4 etc.

It is not just one a sided broadcast, but anyone can participate and communicate with them. During the twitch stream, you can join the channel and shout out questions and opinions. There’s also Trello board for UE4, if a feature gets more vote, that can be on track of early development. They have this confident that everything can be done, but it’s matters of more needs and wants.

UT twitch stream, they talk about what’s going on with UT development process like Level design, Weapon creation, competitive players and prototype game systems etc. Now UT is at the pre-alpha stage where the game is just started to be made and twitch stream reveals the progress of it bit by bit.

Also, UT has a number of other community events, they invite community people to Epic HQ here in Cary, NC and play the game together and share their ideas and thoughts. I learned that making games isn’t created by only developers, but also it’s made by fans who passionate about it. I like the way Epic Games opens the communication channels to interact with their fans and developers.

 

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Epic Friday / Game on / Movie night

 

Epic Games also has number of internal events that help boost creativity. Epic Friday is for that time, you can work on anything that is not your official project or, position responsibility. For example,  a 3d modeller can work on a 3d animation project or artist can work on game design etc. I’ve seen different types of art and features for the engine that was presented in the Epic Friday. It's very inspiring and refreshing to me. At the end of the day, we are all working for the same game company, they emphasize the fact that if you don’t have fun, what’s the point of it! "Game on" is so you don't lose the fun of playing games, it’s the time they give you to play any game you want. After I started to focus on my career, I never had time to play any games. So "Game on" is good refreshment time for me to think and reflect on the real reasons why I want to make games.

Also, there’s movie day/night once in a while, they screen some good movie that everyone is invited to. Conveniently, the Movie Theatre is just next block over from the office building. What a perfect location for a games company. I think all these events is not just about having fun, but it gives the employees inspiration and the drive to keep making amazing games.

 

Conclusion

Initially, I came here for a  2-3 months internship experience but have been fortune enough to get my internship extended into a full-time position. I am more than happy to be here working at my dream place and will continue to find a way to participate and contribute to the company. I hope one day soon to tell you that my name is on a game made by Epic Games. Hopefully, that makes some kid somewhere happy, like it did me when I was a kid.

Thanks again for the amazing opportunity that the CG Student Award has given me!

 

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Min Oh

Associate Technical Artist at Epic Games
Cary, USA



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