Graduate Profile - Matt Peadon

Graduate Profile - Matt Peadon

Graduate Profile - Matt Peadon

09-Nov-2013 AIE graduate Matt Peadon returned to the AIE Campus to discuss the projects he has worked on since graduating, his experience with Unreal Engine and advice for current AIE students. 

What did you study at the AIE and how did you find the experience? 
I studied the Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media in 2009/2010.  It was enjoyable to work in a group on my major project.  That is a strength the AIE possesses - you’re with people that are like minded and you’re all working towards similar goals. In a group environment theres a compulsion to improve just so you can contribute as much as possible. I definitely learnt a lot, mostly thanks to teachers Tom Magill, Allan Geddes and Mitchel Platt. 

You’re now working in the Games Industry, was it hard to make the transition from Screen? 
Speaking from my own experience, not really. There are obviously different challenges associated with both but given the next-generation engines and tools like Mari/Zbrush, the lines between the disciplines are getting blurred. As system specifications are getting higher so we can do alot more in realtime - the techniques, workflows and tools are all very similar.  With a bit of study, your skills transcend disciplines. 

What projects have you worked on since graduating? 
After graduating, I kept practicing.  Later that year I worked on a Canadian indie MMO called ‘Origins of Malu'. We were working in the Bigworld engine, and eventually partnered with Dell/Alienware. 

After a year of working there, an indie team in Melbourne named ‘Pub Games’ was working on a mobile game with Unreal Engine 3.  I knew that they were in ‘Crunch’ (working hard to meet a tight deadline) and I offered to work for them for free , with the possibility that I could work onwards after ‘Crunch’ had finished and they said; “Yeah sure” – as they needed all hands on deck at that moment. I tried to make myself as useful as possible. Not many companies would take that kind of risk so i'm incredibly lucky. My experience there has been invaluable. 

Because I joined toward the end of the project I was kind of the ‘fix-it guy’; I did a lot of odd 3D jobs and texture work, or redid temporary assets.  I'd been training myself as a character artist but there weren't any characters in a spaceship combat game, so I created a lot of ships and other assets.  I'm now a character artist for Pub Games. 

We launched ‘BlastPoints’ on iOS at the end of 2012 and then android followed shortly after that.  We're currently working on two unannounced projects also using Unreal Engine. We also do a variety of contract work.

What has working with licensed Unreal Engine 3 and next generation engines been like? 
From the perspective of an artist, It is worth the wait for anyone wanting to work with them. The art tools are incredible and the differences between Unreal 3/4 and community-centric tools like UDK/Unity3d are significant. Its humbling to have to start fresh in a new tool. 

As for next generation tech, It’s different - alot is new or drastically improved.  For instance, some texturing pipelines have been altered with physically-based shaders and materials.  You are spending less time eyeballing materials.  It’s been fun so far. 

How do Unreal Engine 3 and Next-gen engines compare to Unity 3D? 
It’s really a case of apples and oranges.  Unreal Engine 3 and 4 are complete packages.  You know exactly what you have been given and you work within the constraints and limitations of the package , that really suits some people and pipleines.  Other people want to completely tailor the package to suit themselves and that is what Unity offers.  

In Unity you have a basic software package with limited features -its great for rapid prototyping but often you can’t complete a project with just that, so you grab what you need from the asset store to augment it.  In that sense it becomes the ‘Wild West’ because you’re always searching for packages that are better or newer, and everyone on the store is competing for your business, Unity's community is arguably its best and worst feature. Both unity and unreal cater to different crowds, and have different strengths. You choose whats best for your specific project.

What has been the most rewarding moment you have had? 
When ‘Origins of Malu’ was being revealed to the public at the PAX Prime Alienware booth.  They had a big playable demo on the show floor for 15 v 15 player matches. While I wasn’t physically at the show, I was able to see my character models being played on the live stream and see player reactions as they competed. In retrospect It wasn't much, but it was incredibly validating.   

Can you share your advice for current and future students? 
One of the things it took me a while at AIE to realise was that  instructors aren’t there to teach, so much as to facilitate learning.  If you are simply following the set curriculum you're doing the bare minimum and not doing yourself any favours. Art qualifications have a comparatively low intrinsic value, as all industry art jobs are awarded based on your portfolio. If you aren't graduating with a solid folio of work, then you haven't worked hard enough or taken advantage of the resources AIE has.  

You really have to be doing your own work and research outside of class, and constantly pick your instructor's brain to accelerate your learning.  They are the best resource you have; they are what you are investing your time and money in. They've been in the industry trenches and have a wealth of knowledge that the basic curriculum won’t expose. Take full advantage and squeeze out every drop.  Apart from that, always hold yourself to an industry standard of speed and quality, and treat your co-workers/classmates with respect – it’s a small world.