This semester has been crazy fun. And I mean it.
Like the title of this blog says, I’ve partaken in 10 game projects this semester – 4 game jam projects, 2 large group projects, and 4 indie projects. Four of those projects are still being developed, and I’ve gotten involved as Composer or Sound Design for those projects while handling school and maintaining my GPA of 3.8. What might be hard to believe is that I’ve only been seriously doing game audio for about 4 months.
Here’s a disclaimer: I’m not here to boast about how many games I’ve worked on, but rather to record exactly what I did to maintain my busy schedule throughout the semester. It’s also not specifically for game audio people, but for everyone. I hope whoever is reading this may find it helpful and applicable to their own schedule as well.
I set a Goal.
At the beginning of the semester, my dad sat me down and taught me an important analogy that I took to heart. “A ship that knows its destination eventually get there, while a ship that doesn’t may be traveling at its fastest speed in the opposite direction”. This translates to how life works. If you take a look at lives and autobiographies of successful people, you’ll notice that they all stress the importance of setting a goal for yourself.
This made me realized that I cannot start my ‘career’ if I didn’t have a career objective in my life. Yes, I was playing games, writing mockup battle music, but I didn’t know where to go from there. I decided to get off my butt and make something happen. So I found a Composition Notebook and started writing down my career objective on the top, and brainstormed 20 things that I needed to do to get to my career objective. It was about objectifying life and breaking it down into tasks, rather than being awestruck at the composers who’ve made it to the top, wondering how they got there. Every day, I would continue to write my list – and try to accomplish at least 5 things on that list. My 20 list eventually started to thin out as I matured in person. Things that were not necessarily supposed to be on the list disappeared. Some things got added on. On some days when it was hard to keep up, I would write little notes about what good things happened that day, and it worked like a journal as well.
I had a sense of urgency.
I agree with the statement, “If you aren’t feeling pressured, you’re not doing enough”. My understanding of the fact that I am simply graduating in less than a year and that I would like a job that I can love doing pushed me toward collecting every information I can find about the game audio industry. The more I looked outside of my own little well, the more aware I became of hundreds of passionate composers training to compete with me.
Because of the sense of urgency, I began to value my time. My video game addiction that I’ve had for my whole life suddenly disappeared, because of how many things I realized I needed do. I began to prioritize tasks. Sometimes, I had to put less focus on to school to finish a track for a game. I began to fix times spent unproductively and stayed away from sources like Facebook, YouTube, and other social media that would prevent me from working on my things.
A study shows that after being distracted by a simple distraction, such as a notification on the phone, it takes about an average of 26 minutes to get back to the task. Imagine all the times that we’ve spent distracted because of Facebook messages and texts that were simply not necessary.
Videos are worse. I used to really get sucked into it for hours without realizing that I’m drowning. A useful tool that I use for Facebook is “Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator” which is available in the app store if you’re using google chrome. This has probably saved me from hundreds of hours of me being distracted. You can use AdBlock to disable specific elements from YouTube. This way, you can’t let them influence you on what to watch.
I cherish my relationship with friends.
I learned that without friends, I couldn’t go far. It is important to make friends early on, and even more important to not to burn bridges with anybody. The game industry is full of friends who help each other. Nobody wants to work with someone who is mean, untrustworthy, dishonest or lazy. Words do get spread around.
I highly value the people that I worked with, and not the project or the title. Sometimes it’s important to meet up and have lunch with them while discussing important issues about the game. I do more listening than talking and thank people for their time. A book that I read “How to win friends and Influence people” was a gold mine of useful social interaction guides of how to be liked by everyone and become a great friend.
Here’s a little preview of it. I’d highly recommend getting a physical copy.
Finally, I’ve been fortunate to have been selected as a G.A.N.G. Scholar and was granted full access pass at Game Sound Conference, where I got to meet Chance Thomas, Paul Lipson, Penka Kouneva, Neal Acree and so many other people who I desire to learn from.
The truth is that there are many talented young artists out there, and almost everyone is better than me. I was truly humbled by the experience and was encouraged to work even harder after seeing who were there at GSC. To have been seated among these talented people and reckon my inexperience was a prize itself.
It’s never too early or too late to start. What matters is that you start today with your own goal, manage your time and make friends along the way.
Check out the full OST above for VGDA’s 5th game: Voodoo Cheval!
Play the game for free: https://vgda.itch.io/voodoo-cheval
This was my first time scoring music for a game. I had a wonderful time collaborating with VGDA during this semester and writing 7 electro swing themed tracks for levels and 4 cutscene music! An Obsidian developer at SGDA even complimented the music and encouraged me to continue working hard! I think that this was the starting of my career.