Game Dev Portfolio Guide

(important disclaimer: this work represents me only & not the company I work for.)

Other than making games and networking, creating a quality portfolio to display your work is one of the most important steps of applying for jobs in the game industry. Luckily, it’s also pretty simple compared to the first two steps! XD

This guide should be helpful for a variety of asset creation jobs- mainly, coding, art, and sound design– as that’s my biggest area of experience and therefore what I can give the most accurate advice on.

Remember that your resume and portfolio are living documents; update them with new work you’ve done and remove old work as you advance in your career.

Good luck!


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Getting Started Learning Tech Art & Unity Shader Writing

(important disclaimer: this work represents me only & not the company I work for.)

I participated in the 2019 Global Game Jam at the University of California – Irvine, and I met a ton of students who were super interested in learning about what tech art is and how to get started learning tech art related skills.

UCI Global Game Jam participants, this one’s for you. This article will be geared pretty strongly towards college students who are interested in working in the game industry and already studying a relevant major, like computer science or art. If you’re looking for more general game industry career advice, try this article.

I hope that you and anybody else reading this feel a little less intimidated by tech art and graphics programming and find one of these resources useful or inspiring 😀

You can always reach me on Twitter at @so_good_lin – my DMs are open 🙂

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How to Be Successful at a Game Jam

The content of this article is guaranteed quality ™: I’ve participated in 4 game jams (all with a 48-hour time span), judged two, and ran one myself! I’ve also been working in the game industry for several years now, and I’m currently an Associate Tech Artist at Blizzard. You can see a couple of the games I’ve created during jams here.

I’m writing this the night before the 2019 Global Game jam, so I’m gonna cut to the chase.


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Color Spread Post-Processing Effect Tutorial in Unity

(important disclaimer: this work represents me only & not the company I work for.)

I was inspired by an episode of the Powerpuff Girls for this effect. I wanted to create this effect of color spreading in a black and white world, but to do the effect in world space coordinates so that you can see the color crawling over objects instead of flatly spreading across the screen like in the show.

powerpoof.gif

I created this effect in Unity’s new Lightweight Rendering Pipeline, a built-in example of a Scriptable Rendering Pipeline. All of the concepts still apply to other pipelines, but some of the built-in functions or matrices might have different names. I also used the new post-processing stack, but I omitted explaining how the basics of how to set it up, as I think other guides already cover this pretty well, such as this video.

For tutorial updates, follow me on Twitter. I also do Q&A coding streams on Twitch, and you can always DM me on Twitter or ask me questions in the Twitch chat about shader stuff 😀

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Foggy Window Shader in Unity

Hey y’all, this tutorial series is going to cover all of the techniques used to create the foggy window shader! There’s quite a bit going on, so we’re going to break it down into 3 parts:

  1. The Gaussian blur effect
  2. Writing & reading a texture
  3. Changing the blur based on the texture

At the end of each part, you’ll have a fully working shader, and you’ll learn techniques that you can reuse and adapt in other shaders!

A little disclaimer- this section does a really lazy application for the blur for the purposes of focusing on part 2 and 3. It’s most useful if you’ve never written a blur before and want to learn a really basic (but lazy) way of applying it in Unity. If you’re already a pro at writing a blur shader, then go ahead and move on to part 2!

Here’s the full code for the foggy window shader for you to reference. You’ll also need to look at the DrawOnTexture script for the C# part of this tutorial, and the blurring algorithm is in blur.cginc.

On with the tutorial 🙂

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Using Command Buffers in Unity: Selective Bloom

What this tutorial will cover

This is going to be a pretty big tutorial that’s going to cover how to use command buffers in Unity for graphical effects that require extending the graphics pipeline. I’m going to illustrate the concept by explaining how I built the system that creates this selective bloom effect.

The glowing effect in this tutorial is pretty boring, since the glow is a single solid color. I challenge you to modify the glow buffer step to actually render the model or utilize a custom emission map per-object… the possibilities are endless! The possibilities of what could be contained in this tutorial, however, are finite, so that’s why we’re focusing on this solid color glow.

Credit goes to Unity’s example project for command buffers, especially the one on decals, for helping me figure out how to utilize command buffers.

What you need to start

You’ll need some basic knowledge about how Unity’s rendering pipeline works, and what rendering pipelines do in general. I also recommend you check out Unity’s basic overview of command buffers before reading this.

You definitely also need to have some experience writing basic shaders. This blog is full of tutorials on shader writing that I strongly recommend you check out before diving into this one ;0

I also strongly recommend that you reference the Unity project on GitHub for this tutorial, as it completely implements everything we’re about to cover!

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Basic Math for Shaders

I never thought I was going to be able to do graphics programming because I believed I was bad at math. The only class I failed in college was a math course. And yet here I am, actually doing decently well at handling math subjects!!

Visualizing math has made all the difference. Abstract math means nothing to me, and I don’t expect it to mean anything to you either. But that doesn’t mean you’re not good at math- it might just mean you have untapped potential at geometry and visual-based math!

The best way to use this tutorial is probably to either a) reference it when you’re confused about or forget the meaning of a term used in another tutorial (for example, a tutorial says “get the surface normal” or “transform into X space” without explaining what that means) or b) reading it as a primer for more complex discussions of the subjects presented.

To really harness the math involved in this tutorial, you’ll need to do a combination of experimentation and research: start writing code to experiment with the terms you learn, and read books that go more in-depth explaining the math involved.

Or, you could do what I did, and use it as a brush-up on your graphics-related linear algebra skills before having a technical interview.¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This tutorial is going to cover how the following math topics apply to representing 3D geometry:

  • What vectors and matrices represent
  • Vector addition & subtraction
  • Vector cross products & surface normals
  • Vector normalization
  • Vector dot products
  • Matrix * vector multiplication

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