Microsoft Games Van.

I worked at Microsoft Games Studios from March through September 2010 as an art generalist on the Relic Rescue Facebook game. Coming from almost 8 years of console development at Radical the project at Microsoft was a cool oportunity to gather new skills. The only full time gameplay artist on the team, there was a huge learning curve as I needed to produce content immediately and get up to speed on art style, game design, Flash, 3DS Max, and the prototype web development pipeline at the Vancouver studio.

I was responsible for creating, iterating, and integrating the following Relic Rescue assets:
  • Terrain Tileset
  • Rock and Vegetation Tileset
  • Basecamp maps
  • Museum backgrounds & displays
  • Processed Inventory icons
  • In game pop-up window icons
  • Animated cursor icons
  • Animated the travel screen
  • animated the load screen
  • Animated HUD Bar icons
One of the biggest jobs was optimizing workflow. Coming aboard there weren’t any pre-existing art tools and because the team was too small to support a dedicated tools programmer, code support was not always available in a crunch. It was therefore necessary to automate export & processing where possible.

Initial estimates pegged each Tileset at 36 terrain tiles per level (3 terrain-types of 16 tiles each). After closer review I determined the design team actually required 212 images per Tileset and I desperately needed an exporter if I was to have any iteration time whatsoever. As programmer support for a plug-in wasn't available I turned to Photoshop Actions and Bridge's Batch Renaming tool:
This process allowed me to export over 210 images less than a minute

A Museum and Inventory feature was added late in the project. Completed artifacts needed resizing for the Museum screen and incomplete pieces needed both resizing and dirty versions for the Inventory screen. I looked at Photoshop Actions but with hundreds of images in varying shapes and sizes, Actions weren't enough. I'd read Windows 7 had powerful search syntax and the ability to save these searches to a file. Combining saved searches with corresponding Photoshop Droplets (programs ordering Photoshop to run an Action like a batch script) I could complete image processing in minutes instead of days:
This process allowed me to process hundreds of images less than 5 minutes
These processes weren't ideal but as temporary workflow band-aids they were extremely effective in automating the majority of export and image processing tasks on Relic Rescue. The time spent creating them was paid back many times over, giving me freedom to focus on the needs of the project.