Daniel Shalala, PPJ, Spring Week 9: Post Mortem

Wait! Its over!? So soon!?

Its very hard for me to believe that my senior year has come to a close, and with it, my senior project. Where do I even start?

I guess I can say that I think that I got so very lucky with this team, and somehow, I got exactly what I sought to get out of this whole endeavor. I’ve spent the last two years listening to horror stories from past SPROJ teams, only to experience something that I was wholly unprepared for: Things to go somewhat as planned, and for a positive outcome to happen for me. Long story short, I felt like I should’ve done more or done what I did quicker, but looking back there was no way that would’ve happened.

I was brought onto this crazy ship (voluntarily), and set to sail into the eye of a hurricane with a mad captain at the helm as the crew’s character artist. Out of all the things I thought I would do for SPROJ, and all the things I learned on coop, this was the role I had barely any experience in. Yet, when Erin and Sydney left the 20 person conglomerate, they messaged me about switching to their team for this specific role. Looking back now, we had a team filled with people with a great deal of experience, large amounts of extra curricular obligations, and some had no knowledge of what they were going to tackle. If you had told me 2 years ago that this is the team I would be joining up with, I would’ve laughed then had a silent panic attack. Honestly though, even if you told me just that and not where I was going to end up, I don’t think I would ever not have gone along with it. With this all considered, I accepted and made the single goal of making characters that would be portfolio worthy.

What can I really say about my work? As someone who had never learned to organic model, my team was well aware of this fact, they even encouraged ways for me to use my hard edge modeling skills to the best of my ability. There were so many times when this stressed me to the breaking point, I would shut down for a day or two if I felt like I was behind because I didn’t know how I would move forward, what path to take. It was this process that taught me my most valuable lessons that I learned from this whole endeavor:

adaptability
how to use marvelous designer/clo3d (and that whole saga)

I don’t think anything has tested me more in all of my time of being at Drexel than this experience, a woefully ignorant modeler who knew nothing about character design and its nuances forced to meet deadlines as a single point of failure for his team, desperately trying to learn what he needed to to make sure his team survived. Now that I think of it though, I shouldn’t say learned when I talk about this, I didn’t learn adaptability, more like it was there already and just awakened. Back to what I was getting at, I was so very uncomfortable with this whole process, because I had no idea what I had to do. I was terrified that I would let my team down, and I probably did at some points, but no one ever yelled at me, or got mad at me, everyone knew that I had to move at my own pace to learn this from the ground up. Because I didn’t know how to work in the way that Drexel teaches organic modeling, I looked for ways around it. This led me to Marvelous Designer, and Professor Kathi Martin. A meeting which has changed me for the better in all ways. I make the joke to my friends and family now that “when I signed on as a game designer I didn’t think I would leave a fashion designer”. I jest though, Its been such a wild and an amazing ride that I would never want another outcome other than this one. The moment that I started to use this program, everything started to click into place for me. The path to making these characters, which had me tying my stomach into knots over figuring out, suddenly became clear, and with it, the uncertainty. It wasn’t a question of “How?” it was only a question of “When?”. An answer that I falsely gave more than once. It was such a terrible feeling, having to push back my estimates when I realized I underestimated something. But, my team understood, because they knew I would give them the best thing I could possibly do. For the first time since I’ve arrived at Drexel, I can look at my work that I’ve handed someone and not only say I’m proud of it, but mean it.

Its hard to believe its over, and it may be selfish, but I wish it could continue on for a bit longer. I’m so very proud of us, and while I know this was not exactly what we had planned to do, I know we did the best with what we had, and I can’t wait to see what we do in the future. Maybe that first game idea we had in those early fall weeks? maybe something completely random and as fresh as a kayaking simulator was when it was first announced 2 years ago.

Wherever we go or do, i’ll look back and be proud I worked with this team and was able to work with such amazingly talented giants on their level.

 

Until then, its been my utmost pleasure,
-Daniel Shalala

 

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