Who are you?
My name is 周舒珺 (Zhou ShuJun in Chinese) but here everyone calls me Vivian, which is much easier. I’ve been at Criterion Games for two years, working as a Technical Artist and, more recently, as a Development Manager on our new game.
Did you work in games for long before coming to Criterion?
This year, 2015, is my tenth year in game production. I’ve been at EA for nearly five years, and worked as a Technical Artist on Dead Space 3 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare in EA’s Shanghai office.
What does a technical artist do?
Tech art is a big job family and every TA role is different. When I started at Criterion I was fixing up artwork so that it could work on different platforms. Now I support the internal and external art teams during prototyping and production, helping them to produce high-quality artwork that will also work in the game. To be honest, I am kinda scared and excited at the same time!
You have a lot of experience of the art side of game-making. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Always think “game first”! Great game art makes the player’s experience more enjoyable but not if it’s so complicated that it slows the game down or takes up too much memory, for example. You have to find the sweet spot between making things look beautiful and making them work – and on lots of different hardware! The same applies to things like game cameras, environment lighting – all kinds of things that will make the game look better, but only if you know how to make the best use of the technology at your disposal.
Are you surprised there aren’t more women working in games?
In many computer science classes, there is only one girl out of ten students. However, I have to say, game development is not that different from other careers that most girls are taking and I think my job is more interesting in many ways. Making games is fun, exciting, always changing, sometimes emotional, and you don’t have to be a geek to fit in as long as you have passion. You don’t have to be superb at playing games to be able to make them!
What games do you play, Vivian?
I’ve always enjoyed the Castlevania and Contra games, but now most of the games I like are not about killing, winning or showing off. I like the opportunity to be the star of a story, exploring a world that’s impossible in reality, so it’s no surprise that I love RPGs. I especially like Asian ones, because I enjoy the stories, and the music and graphics are always impressive. And I love customizing my players; I spent hours creating 30 different characters in World of Warcraft, just to make sure I got all styles, races and genders.
As well as playing games, what else do you do in your spare time?
I love art, so after spending the day with detailed game artwork in high-end 3D software like Maya, I like to do small paintings at home to balance things out. It keeps my brain fresh and I really enjoy it.
Pride and Prejudice (2005) (the one with Colin Firth)
Most touched games:
XianJian (1995) and The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (2004)
Passion about fashion:
I love rejuvenating classic clothes
I went on holiday to a German national park but I arrived at midnight and the hotel was closed so I had to spend the night in the forest on the lookout for wild boar!