Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Blog Post on Miva Merchant Blog: "Web 2.0?"

I wrote a new blog post for the Miva Merchant website that talks about Web 2.0 design trends.

Check it out over on the Miva Merchant Blog

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Image Formatting for the Web

We all remember those days when we would sit there and wait for our internet to connect with that awful dial up sound and then view those simplistic websites that would load slow, even with minimal images. The internet has come a long way since then and most of us have super high speed internet connections at home and at work. Even our cell phones can load websites with all kinds of eye candy hundreds of times faster than ten years ago. Not everyone has these super high speed connections in the United States, and especially in a lot of places around the globe. Sure we all have heard about some of those Asian countries that have internet connections 10+ times faster than the average broadband user here, but overall most people still do not have as fast of a connection as you might think.

I am a graphic and web designer who is all about making things look pretty and giving the user a great visual experience. Sometimes for usability purposes, you have to make some sacrifices on the visual side.

Slower connections do not like sharp and fancy images all over the place. This does not mean that you shouldn't have a lot of images on your website, but means that the appearance of your website is held hostage by the purpose of your website and who will primarily be viewing it.

For audiences who are typically younger and more "hip" with all the latest technology, I will go to town with designing a site with images with very little web optimization... meaning they will be super sharp and have very smooth edges. Sites designed for a wider audience (which is generally how it is), I will optimize the images a lot in order to keep the load times down. For international audiences, a site might end up with images even further optimized.

Most people when they hear the word "optimization," in reference to the web, they tend to think of SEO (search engine optimization) but optimization is also used with images to better the load time of a website. Image optimization is all about compression and the use of less and less colors.

Higher quality images might have thousands and thousands of colors used to render that crisp looking image. When optimizing your images, popularly through Adobe Photoshop, mostly what is happening is colors that are similar to each other are getting changed into the same color value. As you decrease the amount of colors used, it is eliminating more and more information within that saved file that assigns each specific pixel to be colored what it is colored. In doing this, the quality of the image is decreased as well as the file size of the image. The smaller the file size, the faster it loads... making it better for people with slower connections. The art comes in where you are able to decrease the file size enough and still keep most of the quality of the image. You want to decrease the size of the file just enough so that it loads fast while making it so that it is really not noticeable that the quality of the image has decreased.

Above you will find a photo where Figure 1 and 2 display different image qualities. Both are optimized and enlarged to show a little more detail. You will notice that Figure 1 has a lot more pixelation/fuzziness where the red of the roof meets the blue sky. This is because the image has mostly red, white, and blue colors in it and similar colors are banded together and the additional colors, mostly the ones used in the transition from red to blue, are missing in order to crunch the file size. Figure 1 is about 1/7th the size of of Figure 2.

Deciding what file format to output your image as can really play with the appearance of the image and the file size. In the image above with the attractive purple buttons, the top button is outputted as a PNG and the bottom is a GIF. You will notice that the optimized GIF does not allow as smooth of a transition in the purple gradient and the edges look a lot more pixelated. This is because a lot of those extra colors are missing and the edges of it are a lot more jagged. The GIF does allow transparency, also known as an alpha channel, but all color must be 100% there or not there at all. The reason why the PNG has much more smooth edges has to do with it allowing different percentages of color in the pixels that appear transparent. This will allow this image format to have that nice drop shadow and the smooth edges because it will have pixels next to where it would have jagged edges, if it was a GIF, that are slightly colored differently and of a percentage of transparency. This is able to appear to be of a higher quality and smoothness since it has those extra pixels and transparency to fill in the gaps where the eye would see a jagged edge. Adding these extra pixels is known as "antialiasing." The PNG is about 7 times the file size of that GIF and overall adds a lot more pizazz to the appearance of the button.

I will always first pay attention to the purpose and audience of the website I am designing but will always try to allow things to look a little bit better, even if the user has to wait a few more moments for the site to load. People know if they have a slow connection and are used to waiting for more modern websites to load more than if they were on a faster connection. A usability expert might disagree with me, but I feel that it is OK to preserve a little more quality in order to give an overall better visual experience.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poorly Listed Gigs

A lot of my nights and weekends are spent on various freelance project from my great returning clients but occasionally if I have some spare time I will hop on CraigsList and see what else is out there. It is becoming an extremely annoying trend for potential clients to post listings in the Gigs section that really do not give anywhere near the correct amount of information needed for someone like me to properly respond and possible land that gig.
Poorly Listed Gigs
Here is an example of something that I found today that inspired me to post something...

Title: Graphic Designer

must be local. put sd in your subject line
Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Flash

sample work, phone number, expected compensation

Now that gives me a ton of information... NOT! I have been using Photoshop and Illustrator for close to ten years now and Dreamweaver and Flash for about five so I am more than qualified to do whatever they are requesting... and from the looks of their listing, any college student with 2 months of experience would also. The thought came to my mind that I would respond to their post but then I realized that it will end up going to some college student who will say that they can do whatever they ask for $20... with out knowing even what is needed.

I charge differently depending on the project. Most things can be a flat rate for the project, like a basic website, a Flash banner, or a logo design, but things like an update to a website or editing images, basically modifications and updates to things already created, I would charge by the hour. Different items take different levels of knowledge, experience, and skill and with that I charge accordingly. I have developed a lot of speed over the years so I can provide a large level of detail (I can make things look good) in less hours than others... so with that, I end up charging more than others might. Basically, they end up getting high quality of work but it it ends up getting done in less time, but they still end up paying about the same because it is done in less time but with a higher hourly rate. A more complex Flash animation might take me the same amount of time as a logo design, but since it is more in-depth and takes a higher level of knowledge, experience, and skill, it can end up costing more money all together than the logo would cost. So with the posting I listed above, there is really no way I would be able to properly give them the expected compensation since they gave really no information. And since the listing has no grammar or structure to it, it shows that they really are not that serous of a client. Such a post would never attract anyone who is capable of creating quality work and things like that will only attract students and those who will not be able to deliver anything worth having your business name on.

I also see a lot of "should only take a couple of hours" with a "compensation $50 max for a couple of hours of your time," and a lot of these types of listings require you to meet in person with them. A lot of students and inexperienced people might jump at it because it is a quick and easy gig, but they do not realize that this quick and easy thing might go over the 2 hours and they still have to take time to travel to the client. In a big county of San Diego and there being a large amount of traffic during rush hours, you could end up spending an hour or two+, round trip, just getting to your client. There is time taken going back and forth with this client over email before you even get the gig. Even if you don't have to meet with them in person, you still have to spend a lot of time communicating with them in order to figure out what exactly what they want before you even end up starting on the project. The bottom line is that nobody should take any of these small gigs that are worth less than $100 since you will most of the time end up working at least $50 worth of that getting to the client or just communicating with them over email or the phone. I have refused business that was under $150 before and tend to only do these quick and easy jobs for my returning clients who I have already established a good working relationship with, in which I am able to efficiently get what they need done quickly and affordable for them.

In a previous post I write about how I ended up meeting with a client 3 times and spending hours going back and forth over email with them about all sorts of change in directions they were taking with this Flash animation I was building for them. Sure, I provided great service and gave them exactly what they wanted, but all of this was just for $200. I received the $100 deposit up front and their check for the remaining $100 was made out to the wrong name (on my invoice in bold I list who to make it out to). I sent the check back and their President has not sent a new one back to me as promised. After several emails and calls, I still have nothing, but for just $100 it is really not worth me wasting any more time on it since I gave them what I can estimate being about $800+ worth of time and efforts.

Watch out for these quick and easy jobs and always account for the necessary time needed for communication and changes. Make sure you put that time in with how you quote them, even if it is an hourly estimate and not a flat rate.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Internships: Don't Give In!

For a lot of industries/professions/jobs/vocations, internships can be beneficial, but for people looking to get into graphic design and/or web design they could just be a waste of time. I will admit that I am lazy, but with that I try to be as efficient as possible and not wast any time. Time management is important and can bring you success. In a lot of cases, for graphic and web design, internships pay very low (and sometimes nothing) and are just a great way for a businesses to get inexpensive labor... which translates to inexpensive creativity that they would otherwise have to pay a lot of money for. A well trained graphic or web designer with really no portfolio still can be very capable to output fantastic work at the quality of someone who would cost a lot more and businesses know it and businesses take advantage of it.

We have all seen those CraigsList, or other listings, for people who want some sort of creative service done for either free or next to nothing. They always say something like: "great for a college student or someone building their portfolio." This is what an internship can be but for many projects and many, many hours of your time.

Everybody starts at some point and everybody needs to take on experience and have examples of that experience (a portfolio) in order to move forward and gain more work in the future and/or make a career out of it. A typical starting point is to start taking classes for it. Photoshop, and the long list of graphic and web design software tools used by graphic and web designers, are not super easy to learn and can take many, many years to learn and master.

So you might start by taking a class or two from a local college or some workshop at the convention center and decide that this is what you want to do. The you enroll in a college to obtain a certificate and/or degree in this. Then you graduate and your portfolio is littered with mediocre class projects you did within school. So with no experience or portfolio with real projects, you have the knowledge of how to work the software and the principles of design in your head. You see all these internships and figure that working next to nothing, or for free, will give you that extra experience and add to your portfolio. Internships do add to your portfolio and do give you experience but they are not the greatest stepping stone in your quest to become one of the more successful designers in your area with a great job and/or list of great clients which is able to pay you enough to live off of or buy you that new Nintendo game.

Graphic and web design is not like being a plumber or being a person who installs roof tiles. I am not saying that those other lines of work do not take skill that needs to be learned but am saying that design takes a lot more experience and training and is not something that should be improperly compensated for. I get so disappointed when I see these listings for people who are only willing to spend $50 on a logo design or an internship paying minimum wage. I know that there is someone who will end up taking that and when that happens, is lowers the overall value of the work all graphic and web designers do. I won't go into that much, but you can see an earlier blog post that talks more about that. We all want to make money to pay the bills or take that trip to Hawaii next summer with the wife, but nobody should work for a small fraction of what their services are really worth.

I have some suggestions that do not include seeking an internship. While you are obtaining your certificate/training/degree in graphic and/or web design, go out there and grasp your own experience. Work extra hard to obtain experience and be properly compensated for it. You do not need that diploma to gain extra work so why start gaining experience once you have it? Force yourself to act as a professional and pull off fantastic work for your clients. Do not act like a student who is just trying to gain experience.

In the beginning, you will not have the speed and quickness that a 10 year veteran has and things will take you a long time to complete, but work through it and study what makes great design what it is. So often I see people who are in school to obtain a degree in design and they graduate with no experience and just a portfolio full of fake projects for fake clients. Your time of training may take years and limiting yourself to only learning from what your instructor shows you and not actively furthering your skills and experience during this time period is only holding you back. Once you graduate, you will be so far ahead of others graduating and get the work before they do... and better, higher paying work.

The job market is very rough right now and so many people are out there competing for any job or freelance gig. there were several instances where there were close to 300 people responding to the same job listing that I was. You need to elevate yourself and show you are worth more than your competition. When finishing your training/certificate/degree, why not already have that experience and not have to go out there to work next to nothing to gain it? You will save yourself a lot of time and be that much stronger in the job market.

Internships can also be very positive but it is always a gamble. It can lead to obtaining a job at that company and with that can come decent pay. All of that is never certain and more often than not, I see that these internships end up benefiting the company more than the individual.

Gain that extra experience by working hard at it in the beginning. In the long run, you will be much better off... and a lot sooner.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting a college degree is important for a graphic and web designer.

Two years before I graduated high school I started a very small business that required artwork to be screen printed onto various things. The artwork that was printed onto such things had to come from somewhere and being that I was only about 16, I did not have a lot of money to pay a graphic designer to do the work for me. I had always been artistic and would draw and also do oil paintings so there was some artistic abilities that I had, but I just did not know how to use a computer to make art. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop soon became things that I had to become an expert at in order to succeed. That was how I got into graphic design and web design.

I graduated highschool and then started taking Illustrator and Photoshop classes at a local community college. I had already learned a lot about how to use these computer programs the past couple of years but these classes opened up a lot of knowledge that I could have only obtained from there. My Illustrator class professor told me that you do not really need school on your resume to land good jobs and that a great portfolio is a lot more important than anything else. Such advice caused more harm than it did any good.

Experience is very important and a good portfolio shows off your experience and abilities. With graphic and web design, your portfolio carries you a lot more than your resume does. My professor was right about that but he was not so correct about leading all of us to believe that taking a few design classes will set us up with some great jobs and make us successful.

Some people take a few classes and then try to snag some creative gigs or maybe even a job in this field. That develops experience but some of that experience is nearly worthless if you are doing things wrong... why show off such work. Other people go to school to obtain a degree in this subject and really do not gain any real experience until they obtain their degree. Both methods are flawed. It is important to combine the two.

A lot of people want that degree to slap onto their resume and they put it up near the top on that sheet of paper. They want to show that they have the professional training, though their portfolio might be littered with almost all their work being school projects.

I spent years thinking I was this great designer and quit school for a couple of years after I took a few classes at that community college. I got into real estate and just thought that I could do design on the side. I found out that I hated real estate so I decided to go back to school and get a degree in design.

A few years later I obtained my degree and looked back at my work I had done before schooling and realized that it was not near as great as the things that I was now creating and found many things that I would have done differently now. I had experience and a decent portfolio before going back to school and while in school I was gaining a lot of experience working full time in the field as well as doing a lot of freelance work.

Sure, those three extra years of experience I obtained while back in college would have still been three years of experience outside of college, but the point is that college taught me the right way of going about creating things and expanded my knowledge greatly in these various areas of expertise that I have. I would have been worse off if I did not go to school and get my degree and I would have been worse off if I would have just started all of my experience the day I finished school.

It is very important to work extra hard to gain experience while you are being trained in anything. If I went to school for learning how to type really fast on the computer, it would be beneficial to start utilizing these skills while I am in that class than if I would only put these new skills to practice against the projects and training materials that were within that class.

I put my information on my professional training now closer to the bottom of my resume. When potential employers see your schooling as one of the top things on your resume, they assume that it is very important and that you only have experience starting from that date you graduated up until today. Such a thing bit me when I got one of my past jobs. I had just graduated then and they were only crediting me for my experience I had from the date I graduated and pretty much threw out the window the extra close to seven years of experience that I actually had.

Such a thing can be a very large road block that can get in your way of getting a higher paying job. Someone being treated as entry level with seven years of experience... something is wrong with that. Put the important things higher on your resume than the less important things. Your experience you obtained while in school is much more important that where you graduated from and when you graduated. Having that diploma is very important but it will not keep you from getting a job if you have a solid portfolio. What will keep you from getting that job is if you have cruddy work because you did not expand your knowledge and skills in college. You can obtain this knowledge and expanded skills outside of a professional institution of learning but it will be a lot harder to get there and take a lot more time and maybe not do as much for you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Deciding What Clients to Take and Making Yourself Shine in a Bad Economy

This is just a quick post (well right now it appears in my mind that it will be but knowing how much I get carried away, it might be lengthy)... this is just a quick post talking about my experience with freelance clients, especially in a "bad economy."

Some of us like to have day jobs with a secure and predictable set income. Others are freelancers and contractors who want to be their own boss and have more freedom to stay up late, sleep in, and just go to the beach in the middle of the day if they wanted to... just live life more flexibly and freely. I have been doing both: work during the day and do freelance work at night and on the weekends, but instead of that added flexibility, I add less free time and more stress to my life. With the bad economy, I was laid off at the beginning of March, 2009. Being uncertain what will happen in the coming months, I ramped up my number of freelance clients in order to attempt to make up for the lack of "secure and predictable set income."

With this economy in the situation it is in, a lot of companies are laying off some of their creative staff to cut back on salary spending and they can easily do this because they are cutting back overall on budgets for advertising and other things that demand creative persons. I was one of these people.

CraigsList.org is a great place to pick up extra clients and some quick side jobs. This has been something that I have been using over the years in my freelance time at night and on the weekend. I have found my past three full time jobs on there as well.

The country is saturated with out-of-work creative professionals and there is a lot of competition. With that, there is a lot of freelance/contract gigs out there. It is a lot less expensive to hire someone to do a quick ad or website change for you than to have someone full time on your payroll who only has something to do once a week. Businesses are hitting up Craigs List and other sites like crazy and posting their ad for someone to do all this work that used to be handled in-house.

I will save this for another post, but even if you are a college student or someone just at very junior level looking to add something to your portfolio and gain experience, please do not do work for 1/10th the cost of what the going rate for something really is professionally done. This lowers the overall rates of the whole creative economy and will bite you in the future. We all start somewhere and we all are super happy to get those first few gigs and earn a few extra bucks, but such low rates gradually make everyone only want to pay these lowered rates since they can have a college student or "my friends son who knows Photoshop" do it. You do get what you pay for though, and that ends up sometimes making people who want better work firing their inexpensive creative person for someone who will get the job done good for a higher price.

So, to really start to get into what this blog post is about... just about all of us could use a few extra bucks in these harder times and we are more grateful for what we have and more willing to take these jobs with a lot lower compensation.

It is not about doing the same job for half the price or cutting your regular fee by 25% but more so what kind of client you will get. I always do these simple projects for friends and family for free and some more complex things for a very discounted rate just to cover some of my time that I have had to take away from other things that pay a little better. Friends and family do not count. What count are the clients who right away say they want this simple thing but for half the price of what the simple thing would normally cost you to do it. Almost 9 out of 10 times these clients end up blowing the project out and making it way larger and along with that, they end up being the most high maintenance and hard to work with. It feels like this is the case every single time and after talking to many other creative people that I have known over the years, they experience the exact same thing.

You get good at golf by playing it a lot and studying how to better your game. The same is applies to all other sports and also the creative trades such as graphic design, web design, and videography. It takes training, studying, and experience to get good at any of these creative trades. If you are just starting out, do not take ten of these small jobs with low pay. That will bring you some experience, sure, but it will 9 out of 10 times give you a huge headache and demand a ton of extra time and effort. Gain experience from taking one of those jobs that does pay well and is a larger project. Clients who are willing to recognize good creative work and properly compensate for it tend to be a bit more organized and easy to work with. These projects go by easier and get finished up a lot sooner. Do one of those then with you extra experience, extra money (that makes you feel much better about yourself), and extra time saved with dealing with a more organized client... go snag another one of these better gigs. Be more picky with what you take... do not just take anything you can get, no matter what the pay is. If you are hurting that bad for money, go work part time at a grocery store or restaurant until you can make ends meet as a creative professional.

It is important to make sure that you obtain a decent deposit for the project before you start, along with a good contract with everything spelled out of exactly what you will be doing and what the process will be. This is added work on your end but will save you from a lot of potential problems. I just get lazy some times on "simple projects" that are low paying and do not create as detailed of a contract. Here are some recent examples...

I was looking hard for some extra cash from some quick jobs that I could do in my free time and was hired to do a "very basic flash banner" for about $200 which is about half of what I normally would charge for anything like that... but I figured it wold be "very basic" and take me a few hours of an afternoon in a weekend. The project took three (3!!!) months to get finally completed and I met with the client three times while making several revisions and changes to the direction it went. Overall I most likely spent just about eight hours or so on it, including the in-person meetings, but for freelance that is a lot more time than $200 is worth. I am fair and easy to work with but low paying clients almost always bring trouble.

Another client wanted to go by an hourly rate for several easy projects and was only going to pay me about 30% of what my desired hourly rate is... but I calculated it would only be about an extra few hours a week that I would have spent watching TV or something non-constructive so I took the gig. Communication was lacking and the projects got drawn out way too long. The client wold give me non-detailed information, hardly email me any information, and would sometimes take half a week or so to return my emails or comment on what I had done... always giving good feedback though. I had also gotten sick three times, off and on, throughout the course of a month and a half so that added some delays due to health reasons. In the end I walked.

Throughout the process the client was very happy with the work being done and would make nice compliments on the quality of the work. In the end, they appeared to have run out of money on other projects with other contractors and changed their whole attitude toward everything and only wanted to honor about half of my hours and not even honor the full hourly rate decided on... but all, of course, only when the project was completed and they were most happy with it (essentially I was working for free if I wanted to finish this and make pocket change). I had dropped the ball a little bit on properly documenting (over email and other provable ways) some of the time spent but the process had been so good and the client was happy the whole way through... until the end. I was not charging them for the hours of phone conversations we had or the in-person meetings we had so in the end, I would only be making $170 out of the potential $500. I walked and closed communication with them. I am not going to take someone to court over something so little. It was just a huge wast of time and something that in the end just added to my stress level, which is high enough already. I assume that the client might have wanted to just steal my finished project and implement it later behind my back but if they do that I could take them to court, but now, I really do not care... I do not want them to know where I live to deliver payment by mail or by physically coming there. Some people are just scary and unreasonable and will use young and talented creative professionals like myself.

It is very easy for these underfunded businesses to prey on people to create something great for them and to then turn around and show complete disapproval and demand to not pay for it, only later to steal the work they had done. With web design, it is especially easy to do this. It is routine for you to sent the client several flat images (usually JPEGs) so the look is decided before any code is put down for the site. If you are not careful, these clients can hate your work all of the sudden in the end and decide not to go with you and just take your images, give them to a programmer, and save that whole cost of the design for the look and feel of the website.

When I was laid off I did the proper things needed to aid me in obtaining another full time job in my profession. I was still sick and my voice sounded like a frog so interviewing was kind of out of the question at that moment. Before I was able to interview, I needed to "make my self shine" in the huge pool of hundreds of people in San Diego in my profession who are out of work or seeking something new work.

Image is everything. How you appear to those seeking someone to work for them is very important. I was not about to send out my resume that had not been updated in two and a half years or email people my outdated personal portfolio website, showcasing all my old work. I was going to take this time that I sounded like a frog and get my image pumped up a little.

I started by updating my resume with my last position held along with my long list of clients and what I did for all of them. I had originally categorized things by what I did for them (such as logo design, website design, etc...) but restructured it by having a Professional Experience section and then a Freelance Experience section where I just listed each business and a quick description of what I did for them. This allowed me to (barely) fit everything all on one page with pages following more of optional pages that were just letters of recommendation and references.

Other restructuring I later did was moving my design degree and design certificate (education) section further down. That was a mistake I had possibly made the mast couple of jobs by keeping it up there. I have been what I do since the year 2000 and this years makes it 9 years I have been doing this. If you stick your "training" up at the top, potential employers are going to think that it is one of your most important features and that you have only been doing what you do since the date you graduated. This was just a leftover from when I first created this when I was first graduating.

I am a young guy and had spent years as a freelancer and contractor even before I entered and finished my Certificate and then Bachelors Degree. Of course the five years of extra education I received for my professions also were five years I was also working in this field. I had a full time job as a lead graphic designer and web designer years before I finished my schooling and was freelancing at night and on the weekend. It is extra important to stick that education further down (even almost last on the page), especially if 80% of the space is filled by your list of positions you have held and long list of clients. If you have little experience and obtained all your knowledge and most of your experience in school, it is a lot more important to place that higher up on your resume.

Next came my portfolio. In the world of a person providing creative services, they need to show off what they are capable of and most of that comes from the visual examples in their online portfolio. Years ago when I first touched Flash, I fell in love with the program and have been extensively using it ever since. Once I learned that program, right away I redesigned my website all in Flash and it looked fantastic. Flash is bad for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes but the only people viewing my website were going to be people I gave my website address to anyway so I decided to make a great looking Flash website for myself (which ended up gaining me more clients). As I gained more and more experience, I realized how hard this thing was to maintain and add new projects to showcase. That site only lasted about six months before I scrapped it and redesigned a nice, clean, and simple HTML website that I could update in just moments.

After getting laid off, updating my website with projects that I had done for my previous employer and for freelance clients was easy. It just took me about an hour or so to nearly double what I had on there already.

I had my resume in order and my portfolio updated so I was ready to get out there and obtain new employment. The day I got laid off, I was already at work looking at what was out there on the long list of websites that companies post jobs on and was amazed by how many jobs were on there. During the time I was updating my resume and portfolio, and getting rid of the frog voice, I was constantly bookmarkng job listings that I am qualified for. Even though the economy is bad and everyone with a job right now is very thankful for it, I was still picky with what I took interest in. Disaster can provide opportunity and this was the case with my situation that many people would call a misfortune or a curse.

A week after I was laid off and after I regained my voice, I remained positive and confident that I could allow this situation to move me forward (and upward). I was confident that God and my resume and portfolio would provide me with a way to prosper out of what looked like a disaster. Having faith and confidence, I sent my resume out to only the businesses I desired to work for. I received a high percentage rate of calls and emails back and attended interviews just days after sending things out.

I was only out of work for two weeks and two days before I started my new job. Hearing that I beat 160 applicants they received within the first 48 hours of their listing, and a possible 250+ overall, brings a smile to my face. I have been blessed and a lot of that blessing can be blamed to have been given to me by God and the resume and portfolio.

It is also important to interview well and to have a good personality. It is also important to "dress to impress" at interviews and when meeting with large clients but I live in California, I am young, and I like to be comfortable. I do still put gel in my hair and do not wear a suit and tie to interviews. I buy a nice sweater vest, a nice collared shirt, and dress pants and cut back a little on the amount of gel (now more called styling putty or something like that) I put in my hair. You can look great like you are headed to the academy awards but if you are not able to prove what you are worth to a business or client you are interviewing with, you will not get far.

Have a great resume, well rounded and awesome portfolio, look nice, and be easy to talk to and you will succeed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Crysis Warhead

Crysis had an amazing singleplayer and multiplayer and my team reached within the top five teams in the world for it but things are slowly fizzling out. People are losing interest now that the leagues are over. (You can see my previous post on Crysis.) It was recently announced that there will be another Crysis game coming out, Crysis Warhead, and it will be out soon.

Crysis was great because it brought the best graphics ever seen in a game as well as amazing physics and... well, pretty much the game just felt like a real world since everything around you acted and felt real. Looking at human skin, you could see the pours of their skin and wrinkles... all the textures and shadows were perfect. The only major problem was that it took a beast of a computer to be able to play the game like it was meant to be played. I got it running on my old Alienware laptop that just has a gig or RAM and a 6800 video card... but on that it was not playable. I had to buy a new video card, an 8800, to get it to work on my desktop and then I ended up just building another new computer that was more beefy. So most folks are not able to run out there and buy or build a 15 hundred dollar computer just to play one game but some did and some were able to experience Crysis the way it was meant to be played.... and it is amazing.

The original Crysis took place from the eyes of some sort of US military special operations guy that went by Nomad. He worked with his team and they utilized these nonosuits that gave them the ability to cloak themselves, add some extra strength, run faster, and have some extra armor -- all of which only one of those features could be one at a time and would be depleted with use. The game is, in a nutshell, about (much like the movie War of the Worlds) an alien ship that was buried inside the ground of Earth (this time in a mountain of an island in the Pacific Ocean). The US and North Koreans have interest in this energy they find in this area and are both fighting to investigate... then they end up 'waking' it, or something, and a bunch of the aliens end up coming out of the ship and using their tactic -- freeze Earth. Nomad only gets so far and the game ends sort of open ended.

The new game, Warhead, takes place from the eyes of another one of Nomad's team mates named Psycho. Nomad interacted with different team mates throughout the game, here and there, but each team mate ended up seeing different things and going a different rout different times. Psycho spent the majority of the game away from Nomad on the other side of the island. Warhead is a story told from the eyes of Psycho. It is supposed to have a lot of new weapons, a ton of more action, and as good or even better of a story that shows what else happened on the other side of the Island. The first Crysis had a lot of exploring and not a lot of gigantic fight scenes with large explosions and heavy firepower. This new one is supposed to.

So... I and my team at 760 are very excited about this new game. Warhead is supposed to be a bit optimized better for people with lower computer specs so that should open the door for a whole lot more people to be able to play it... and of course allow the people with beefy machines to crank up the settings so they can view the game the way it was meant to be played. Keep your eye out for Crysis Warhead... should be out within this year on September 16th, 2008.