Live Story: Meet Pam

Every studio needs a great Developer, and that is where Pam comes in. In our latest installment of our Outhouse Live Story, we introduce you to the talented Pam Werrell.

Outhouse Games: Thanks, Pam for talking with us today! Let’s start at the beginning. When did you start working at Outhouse Games?

Pam Werrell: January 2016.

OH: Can you tell us about the experience of getting this job and what it is like to see the company grow?

PW: Programming games is a dream come true. One of the best days of my life was when Chris called to say I got the job. It has been awesome watching the company grow. It is amazing to see how many years Phil and Chris have invested in order to get the company off the ground along with the respect they’ve earned in the game community.

OH: What made you want to work in gaming?

PW: Atari Computer camp and programming games on TI-99A as a kid. Games like King’s Quest and people like Roberta Williams were the inspiration of wanting to develop games.

OH: Can you tell us what a day in the life of a Developer is like?

PW: The day starts off with hardware setup and check, finding pen and paper, opening text editor and trying to remember where I left off the day before. From there each day is different because each day brings new problems to solve or old ones to fix.

OH: What programs and tools do you use every day?

PW: Paper, graph paper preferred. Pen, Sublime Text editor, Unity, Searching docs.unity3d.com and stackoverflow.com.

OH: Can you tell us about your desk setup?

PW: Exercise ball chair great for bouncing on when thinking and limits carpal tunnel. Paper, paper and more paper. 2 VR headsets and 2 controllers, 2 monitors, one keyboard, one mouse. Lots of cords. Water. Disinfecting Wipes. Small piece of something to manipulate while thinking, current item is a twist tie.

 

Pam's desk here at Outhouse.

Pam’s desk here at Outhouse.

 

OH: What are you working on right now for our latest VR title?

PW: Just finished fire arrows and will be starting dwindling/refilling oil supply for torches and lamps.

OH: Can you tell us anything really fun or unique about our upcoming title?

PW: Juggling objects in VR. One day I will be able to do it.

OH: What has been the most challenging part of your job now that you are creating things for a VR game?

PW: Working with the hardware to make it feel and work like you were actually present in the game.

OH: What is something that you have learned from working with VR?

PW: The new headsets no longer make you motion sickness when you follow some basis guidelines about framerates and how the camera moves versus player’s movement.

OH: What do you like about working with VR?

PW: Holodeck technology is finally being realized.

OH: Any advice for someone wanting to get into the gaming industry and do a job like yours?

PW: Logic, logic, logic – very problem comes down to answering what needs to happen when and what if this happens. What are the responses and how do they interrelate and how is that different for different people. Constantly getting input from as many people as possible is necessary. The logic that makes sense to you does not necessarily make sense to another person. No one person can do development it takes a team of people to make it great.

Live Story: Outhouse Levels Up at OrlandoiX

It has been a very eventful few weeks for Outhouse Games. Last weekend we were at OrlandoiX showing off our latest game, ‘The Ancient Remains’ to attendees. We attended OiX last year, but this year we wanted to create an interactive exhibit to bring people in and give us feedback about our game. We upgraded our standard booth with a new backdrop, two TVs to display active gameplay, an iPad kiosk for surveys, along with a computer to run the VR station with the HTC Vive. “We really wanted the space to feel open,” said Chris Borden, co-founder and business manager, “Phil and I spent a lot of time designing the layout so that we could interact with people more directly instead of over a table.” The layout of the booth was extremely important for the VR experience, as there had to be plenty of room, but also because the team had to get close to attendees to put the VR gear on them. Chris explained why so much thought went into the layout. “The team had to build a level of trust with each person because we were essentially blindfolding them. We wanted them to be comfortable and feel like they were being taken care of while playing the game.”

 

Attendees experiencing our game in our booth during OrlandoiX

Attendees experiencing our game in our booth during OrlandoiX

 

Our mission during the event was to gather information on how we could make the game better and feel more immersive. We did this by collecting survey information, but also by watching the players interact with the game. A great example of this is the wand in the demo. The wand shoots fireballs by pressing the trigger on the controller. However, the team noticed that a lot of people were flourishing the wand and were trying to flick it in order for the fireball to come out. “This isn’t something I would have thought of and didn’t think it would end up being such a thing, but when you watch people do it over and over and over, that means the game has to change,” said Chris. Overall, the feedback was fantastic, especially on the bow and arrow mechanic. In the demo, you were able to use a wand, torch, and a bow and arrow. We wanted to make sure these mechanics felt natural to the player, especially since VR is still a new experience to many people. “We are not only teaching them how to use a bow and arrow in the game, we are also teaching them how to move in a VR environment altogether,” Chris explained, “we are focusing on the quality of gameplay, not quantity. We really want to lessen complication and just allow the player to play.” Quality is a high priority for our team. We spent real time on each mechanic. A month was spent on the bow and arrow mechanic and a few weeks on the fireball and wand. The plan has been to focus on each system individually and think them through all the way to the end, so the player can pick up a controller regardless of having any experience playing a VR game, and have it feel natural and give a positive experience.

 

OiX attendee checks out our bow and arrow mechanic

OiX attendee checks out our bow and arrow mechanic

 

The biggest surprise of the event was the team winning ‘Best in Show’ for our VR title. When we asked Chris about winning the award, he said “It was awesome, I felt honored. I was very appreciative and proud of our team and the hard work we put into the booth.” This is the first big award for the game studio and it means a lot to the team. “It means we are on the right track, we are doing the right thing and it feels great to be recognized for it,” said Bethany Borden, our Sound Designer & Composer.

 

Chris accepting our ‘Best in Show’ award at OrlandoiX

 

The next steps after sharing the demo is to take time and really dig into the data and feedback we got not only from OiX, but from the other events we have been attending. From there, the team will tackle any changes and start adding more features, characters, real-time lighting, additional sound elements, and polish existing systems. “We heard from people who played the demo that they thought it was a finished game when it is far from finished,” said Chris, “what we have looks good, but we want to work on what we have to make it look even better.”

 

Our amazing team, from L to R – Matt, Adam, Pam, Liz, Phil, Chris, and Bethany

 

Stay tuned for our next Live Story where we introduce another member of our amazing team, Pam!

Live Story: Outhouse Gets Out of the Studio

Outhouse Games has had a lot of opportunities these past few weeks to get out of the studio and go to some great conferences not only to get the word out about our newest VR title, ‘The Ancient Remains’, but to also do what we do better. Right now, we are currently at OrlandoiX with a live demo of our game, but at the end of September part of our team headed to the other coast to attend GameSoundCon. Our Sound Designer & Composer, Bethany Borden along side our Co-Founder, Chris Borden, headed out to Los Angeles to take in as much as possible about game sound and design.

Bethany and Chris aboard their flight to LA

Bethany and Chris aboard their flight to LA

We sat down with Bethany to chat with her about the conference and what the team took away from the experience. When asked about the conference itself, Bethany explained that “industry professionals give presentations and sit on panels that educate our community in things like workflow, great tools, techniques, tips, and tried and true practices.” She explained how the conference offered multiple tracks and it worked to her and Chris’s benefit.  The team divided the panels by their expertise so they could attend as much of the conference as possible without getting overwhelmed or miss something they wanted to attend. “Chris mainly went to the VR focused classes, and I went to the Pro Track sessions, which had a variety of musical and technical presentations” Bethany said while sharing their strategy. “Chris has the ability to understand a lot more at the technical sessions, when I can go to the music sessions and understand them.”

One of the big reasons for taking this trip was education. With so much information being shared in such a specific area of game creation, there were a lot of opportunities for the team to find real ways to improve their skills and our game currently in development. “I learned some great techniques for recording voiceover for video games, particularly for VR, such as recording actors in ensembles instead of separately, rigging 2 microphones on the actors’ heads to allow them to physically act out their lines while saying them so the sound is captured accurately, and to be careful how close or far away actors are from the microphone.” By learning these new techniques along with others from the conference, Bethany is excited to apply them as our game continues to down its path of development.

Bethany with Sandy Schnieders during a panel at GameSoundCon

Bethany with Sandy Schnieders during a panel at GameSoundCon

A panel that engaged the team was ‘Beyond Wild Hunt Musical Evolution of The Witcher Series’, which Bethany said personally inspired ideas for ‘The Ancient Remains’. “The composer wrote a simple child’s rhyme song, which was used in the game sung by children, but this also became a theme for the game music and was used in a dark and sinister way. I absolutely loved that idea and wrote a rhyme on the plane ride home, which I’ve since written music to. I plan to record some of the music next week at UCF!”

Needless to say, the conference had a lot of great information to offer both Chris and Bethany and we are excited to see how it impacts and improves our current project.

Bethany offered the best advice she took away from the conference:

  1. “Consistently do things that scare the shit out of you!” -Michael Bross
  2. “Don’t give up. Never give up.” -Stephan Schutze
  3. “It’s okay to make mistakes.” -Adam Gubman
  4. “Find a mentor.” -Caron Weidner
  5. “Be so good that you can’t be ignored.” -Steve Martin

Stay tuned for our next Live Story, where we recap the amazing happenings from OrlandoiX!

 

 

Live Story: Meet Adam

It is time to meet another member of our team in our latest installment of our Live Story. Up next is our awesome 3D Modeler & Texture Artist, Adam Flores!

Outhouse Games: It is your turn for a profile, Adam! To get started, lets talk about how you came to Outhouse Games. When did you start working with us?

Adam Flores: I started working remotely in Novemeber 2015 and started working in office in January 2016.

OG: Can you tell us about the experience of getting this job and what it is like to see the company grow?

AF: Getting the job was awesome! Watching the company grow has been a great experience. I didn’t really know how much went into a small business like this, but seeing how hard Chris and Phil work to keep work coming in is very inspiring.

OG: What made you want to work in gaming?

AF: I can’t really say it was one particular game or experience, but I’ve always loved the art in video games. Knowing that someone would play something that I had a part in making gives me a sense of joy. Hopefully I can inspire someone else to get into gaming through the artwork we create.

OG: Can you tell us what a day in the life of a 3D Molder & Texture Artist artist is like? (

AF: That’s my primary role, but on a day to day to basis it can change. Working in a small studio like this is great because I can do many different things. I’ve had to rig and do some minor animation, very minor. I’ve done a little shader writing, very little, and even a little bit of scripting.

OG: What programs and tools do you use every day?

AF: MODO, Photoshop, Zbrush, and Unity are the primary programs.  Every once in awhile I’ll use After Effects.

OG: Can you tell us about your desk setup?

AF: Currently it’s mess but it has my essentials, a Wacom tablet for texturing and sculpting, and a VR headset to test see how a scene looks in VR.  Also it’s littered with toys.

 

A quick shot of Adam's desk

A quick shot of Adam’s desk

 

OG: What are you working on right now for our latest VR title?

AF: I’ve just recently finished a snake and some broken statues, but today I’m going to be doing some particle effects for the magic elements of the game.  

OG: Can you tell us anything really fun or unique about our upcoming title?

AF: Right now I really love the destructible physics in the game and I’m looking forward to when we implement the magical abilities.

OG: What has been the most challenging part of your job now that you are creating things for a VR game?

AF: Making everything look good and keep the frame rate high. Oh yeah, fire…. Making realistic looking fire that doesn’t look flat has been a fun challenge.

 

Adam hard at work on Bash the Vote 2016

Adam hard at work on Bash the Vote 2016

 

OG: What is something that you have learned from working with VR?

AF: There are so many factors to making a good experience that it’s hard to limit it to just one thing. Your scale is definitely a crucial portion of VR. Being a bit too tall or too short in VR can make the whole thing seem off.

OG: What do you like about working with VR?

AF: Seeing everything we’ve created come together is probably my favorite. The lighting, the interactions, and the sound immersing you in a world you helped create is very satisfying.

OG: Any advice for someone wanting to get into the gaming industry and do a job like yours?

AF: If you want to be modeler/ texture artist, you have to practice those skills everyday. Find something you like and recreate it, then do it again, but faster and better. Never limit yourself to one thing though, at small studios it’s good to be a little knowledgeable of the other things that go into making a game. You don’t have to know everything, but at least be willing to learn and step out of your comfort zone. I didn’t really think I’d enjoy shader writing or particle effects, but it’s been amazing seeing something I’ve created in a virtual world.


Connect with Adam