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How did you land this internship with the VR Studio?
One of the faculty members at Carnegie Mellon used to work at the VR Studio, so there was a connection between my school and the studio. In January, our class came to visit several companies in California, including the VR Studio, and I had a few interviews with various members of the team. I stayed in touch until the Game Developers Conference and soon after I got an offer for the internship!
How long have you been playing games? What are your favorite games?
I started playing games when my dad bought our first family computer. I was around six years old, and for a while I played a lot of computer games, especially graphic adventures and car simulation games. I would also play a lot of Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat at my friend's place. For a while, I wasn't playing many games, but then I got an XBOX and got back to playing more frequently. Some of my favorite games of all time include The Secret of Monkey Island, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Mario Kart DS, and The Sims 2.
Describe a typical day working as an intern in the VR Studio.
I got a list of features from some of the people in charge of the various features of the game. Usually, I pick an item from the list and talk to the lead about how the result should be like, and I start working on it. A lot of it involves writing a lot of code, playing the game to see if it works, and making corrections. This part usually takes more than a day depending on how big the feature is, but when I'm done, I show my work for approval and start working on the next item on the list.
What's your favorite thing about being an intern in the VR Studio?
One of the cool things about being an intern here is that they trust me enough to put my own ideas down. For example, the team tells me that they want a feature to be improved, and they give me some direction of what it should it be like, but the rest is for me to figure out. I can always suggest some of my ideas and if they like it they'll let me do it. And in the end, it's in the game for the whole world to see, so I can point to sections of the game to my friends and say, "I came up with this!"
Describe your ideal job.
My ideal job would be a one where I can express myself creatively no matter what tools I'm working with. I like making things and contributing to the overall process of a project that is for entertainment or art. My internship at the VR Studio allows me to express myself creatively, so I think I'm in the right place for the things that I like to do.
What's the most challenging task you've faced since you began interning here?
Every task that I get assigned is challenging in its own way because each deals with a different portion of the game, so there's always something new to learn. This is the first time for me working on a massively multiplayer online game and there is definitely a reason why these games are called massive. Every task involves thinking about what one player experiences and what the other people playing the game see that player do, and making sure that it works in different situations. When I started working, it was a lot more challenging because there was lot more to learn, but as I'm getting more familiar with the game and it's not as bad as it used to be.
How often do you get to play Pirates Online? What's your favorite thing about the game?
I run the game every single day for as long as I'm at work, although I don't consider that to be playing because I'm more dissecting and trying out my work than having fun in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean. I played the game a lot during the first Beta and got far enough to get an idea of what the game is like. However, there are days where I have to be updated on how certain parts of the game work, so I actually play the game for a bit while writing down notes about what I'm doing for reference. I can't wait until the game is complete so that I can actually play it for fun again, though. One of my favorite things is that I could sail on a ship with my friends as part of my crew and go out to sea to battle Navy or East India Trading Company ships or visit some of the islands out in Pirates Online.
Who is your favorite character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Why?
My favorite character is Captain Barbossa because he really represents the classic pirate in the franchise. While Jack Sparrow is the younger, more rebel pirate, Barbossa is the old experienced pirate who has been cursed and now has to deal with Jack constantly trying to take this ship, the Black Pearl. And he has a pet monkey! How cool is that?
What is the most fun project you've gotten to work on for Pirates Online?
I started working on a few changes to the general store in the game where players can buy swords, grenades, and so on. It was a really small modification, but then I came up with an idea to make the store a lot better, so I made a mock-up image and showed it to the members of the team. They liked it enough that they let me work on it, so now the store is a lot better than it used to be.
What makes someone a legend? Are you a legend?
To me, a legend is someone who can make what people think is impossible actually possible more than once in their life. I don't think I'm a legend, yet. Perhaps one day I might be one, but I'll leave it up to others to tell me if I am or not.