Ryann’s Story

Ryann is a student of ours who started years ago with the Ultimate Guide to Game Development.  An avid game jam entrant, her work continued to improve and amaze us with each and every entry.  We wanted to get a better understanding of who she was and how she manages to stay so dedicated to game development.

Hi Ryann, tell us how you become a game developer?

In 2001, I moved from Winnipeg to Montreal and lived there for a year. I was living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford “high-speed” internet, but I had my PC with a copy of Macromedia Flash. I spent a lot of time that year teaching myself how to draw and animate in Flash. I also taught myself enough Action Script to create functional buttons and started making mini games. I would burn EXE files onto a CD, so I could take it to work and then email them to my friends and family. For the “day job”, I’ve worked mostly as a self-taught web designer/application developer. Over the last 5 years I’ve migrated from development into communications/marketing roles developing digital strategies for mobile, web and social media. I’ve always had some form of digital art side hustle. I started creating 3D content (animations, clothing, furniture & props) for the MMO virtual world Second Life in 2008 and was fairly active in that community until I had my son in 2015. Most virtual worlds are currently piloting social VR projects (Sansar, Hi Fidelity, Sinespace), my interest in VR brought me to Unity — and I ended up falling down the rabbit hole and in love with game development as a whole.

How many years have you spent in game development?

I’ve been involved in some aspect of game development (primarily 3D game assets and animation), at a hobbyist level for the last 15 years. Game development with Unity has been my primary focus of learning over the last 2 years.

What was the first game you built and how did that game turn out?

The first game I built with Unity was called Beelieve. I built it for the inaugural GDHQ discord group game jam using the skills I learned while making the space shooter game from the Ultimate Guide to Unity course. 

It had a lot of bugs (heh), and I really had to scramble to get it ready for the deadline. But I got a lot of great feedback from Jon and the community that gave me the confidence to keep at it. I’ve participated in about 7 game jams since then.

What lessons have you learned that shaped the way you build games today?

  • Time management, knowing how much time you have to execute your idea and keeping your scope tight – or failing that, the ability to reset your expectations and edit on the fly.
  • Put your work out there, and get feedback. It helps build your confidence and grows relationships with people in the industry.

What are you working on now? 

The game I have furthest along is Ceres Connection, an asteroid mining themed match-3 game intended for Android. It started out as an idea that came from the game jam themed ‘connection’. About 4 days into the jam I realised I’d bit off way more than I could chew. (Remember that time management lesson I mentioned?) I’m a mom, of an active 4 year old boy, and I work full time. I am lucky I might get 12 hours in a week to dedicate to game development, and I can tell you most often it’s less. I ended up dropping out of the game jam but – I still liked the idea and wanted to complete the game. Over 3 month period, I worked for about 90 hours on the core game mechanics and artwork. All I have left it to develop the level management system, and I have an minimum-viable-product for a shippable game. But… in my typical fashion, I took that accomplishment as cue to switch gears and work on a different project. Currently, I am attempting to build a progressive web app using Angular and Firebase (both of which I’m learning on the fly) this is something not specifically game dev related that has my attention likely for the rest of the summer. I intend to finish Ceres Connection, hopefully with the ability to add in some authentication and leaderboards with what I’ve picked up regarding using Firebase as a backend.

Has game development helped you progress career-wise?

A lot of the skills you use in game development are transferable to other types of development, and vice versa. Animation/Video skills have also been invaluable as a marketable asset for me career-wise. Troubleshooting skills are universal.

If you could impart any tips or tricks to future game developers, what would it be?

I think if game development is your career of choice (assuming you’d like to work for a big player in the industry) then try to find a specialization and be excellent at it. 

I am a generalist, I like to know (and do) ‘all the things’. While being a generalist makes me adaptable, it also makes me hard to place, as I never truly spend enough time on any specific aspect to be considered adept in any area.

Where can we learn more about you and your game?

Your best bet is to follow me on Twitter @ryannmccorkell or https://nascentreality.itch.io/.

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