Interview With Gavin Goulden
Well, in 2002 I moved to Vancouver to be closer to an industry hot spot. After taking on a few different odd jobs, Scott Balaban gave me my first contract gig. It was doing graphics for a casual game, from there I did some certification testing for a while until my contact with Scott landed me a full time art job making mobile and casual games.
Feeling that I really wasn’t developing my skills, I left that job to focus more on character art for high end games. After a few months of development, Piranha Games hired me as a Character Artist for their next generation title in development. While there I really enhanced my skills, worked on a few different titles, made some great friends and learned a lot about the industry. After spending some time there, I wanted to try going freelance after talking with some folks at Shadows in Darkness and Liquid Development. This was, by far, the best career move I could have made at the time. Taking that leap allowed me to work with companies such as Bioware, Big Huge Games, Garage Games and Monolith. It also allowed me to team up and learn from artists I admire such as Andy Nisbet.
Finally, after doing the freelance thing for a while, I was starting to get bored working alone all the time and was really craving working with a team again. Blue Castle Games approached me and gave me an offer to work with them, I accepted and have been working with them for about a year and half, releasing The Bigs 2 with them and now helping out on Dead Rising 2.
Like many people in my position, I just loved games. I’ve always been artistic to some degree, trying to mimic drawings in comic books and drawing Doom fan art when I was a kid. I considered different careers when the time came, but none of them fit as well as game development.
I followed, at first, a very standard path into the industry. I graduated from high school, went to a throw away college for a bit and tried to get into the industry knowing practically nothing...but thinking that I was pretty hot stuff. After a few years of personal development, mod work and small contracts I landed a fulltime gig. From there it was just moving up to where I am now and, hopefully, further still
Honestly, it’s nothing spectacular and I have been meaning to upgrade. P4 3.2, 3gb Ram, Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS…Wacom Intuos 3, dual widescreen LCD monitors (Samsung 940nw)...all pretty standard stuff, nothing special. I feel as though I’ve been just upgrading a rig for years now and, eventually, would just like to buy a new system straight up. Maybe a Christmas gift to myself, hah.
I also have an Alienware m17x laptop but I can’t stand the setup…so I barely use it for work.
3D Studio Max, Pixologic ZBrush and Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is a standard and I really don’t know anything outside of it for 2d work (though Alchemy helped me out in DW4, I don’t think you can use it to the same extent as PS.)
ZBrush is the first sculpting package I’ve used. It’s fairly standard in the industry, at least I’ve never worked in a place that uses Mudbox or any other sculpting package…so I’ve never really had to use anything else. I have tried Mudbox and, though it is a great application, I’ve just become more accustomed to ZBrush and how it handles things.
As for 3d applications, I’m fluent in 3 major packages (XSI, Max and Maya) and HIGHLY prefer Max to all of them for what I do, though if XSI became the industry standard…I would be pretty happy too. Max is a well known app with a large user base that can supply information to new users. Out of the box, Max is pretty much ready to go and, unlike Maya, doesn’t need a ton of customization to be useable. To me, it seems that whenever someone champions Maya they often follow it up with ‘After you install this ‘ or ‘Once you have this script.’ That just doesn’t jive well with me. Maya may be more accessible and friendly for the advanced user who isn’t afraid to get into scripting but, to me, Max is much faster – much more stable and much much more friendly to game development pipelines.