Shooting the moon

Those of you who read MTG Color Pie, the blog that publishes Lotus Cobra is Evil, know that the administrator, Robby Rothe, is one of the 100 or so still in the running for the Wizards of the Coast Designer Search 2 – a contest whose winner gets an internship in Magic R&D.

As he has said, this is a dream job that he is putting forth his best effort to get, and this contest is something he has been preparing for ever since he was eliminated from the first one.

Game design is like drawing or writing: anyone can do it, and you may think you could do reasonably well at it, but once you try to get a job doing it, you realize just how viciously difficult it is.

I may have graduated from art school, and those who read my blog may think I can draw, but let me tell you what happened during some job interviews. Edit: these interviews happened at least four years ago, and I have gotten better since then, but the weaknesses that were discovered by my interviewers have not disappeared.

For the first one, they gave me a sheet containing a bunch of cartoon characters in a certain style. They told me to do four animation keyframes – complete with color – of an original character in the given style, and they gave me four hours to do it. Matching the style (which was far removed from my default style) turned out to be a nightmare, and I had only done three frames when time ran out.

Result? I didn’t get the job.

For another interview, they looked at my website and portfolio, and said, “Are you sure you want to be an illustrator? This website design (not my blog, mind you, which just uses a default WordPress theme) is the best thing in your portfolio.” They then showed me the website of an illustrator who had a manga-influenced style and said, “You have to be at least this good to be worth considering.”

Result? Surprise surprise, I didn’t get the job either.

And then there was Jason Miao agreeing to write a comic for me and then quitting in frustration when I couldn’t produce pages quickly enough. And then there was my uncle back in the Philippines, himself a professional artist, looking at my work and saying that the things I was best at – namely perspective and visual storytelling – were still greatly in need of improvement.

So Sam may think I am a good artist. So Steven may like how I draw character faces. So Flak may think I am worth $2 an hour. So Lotus Cobra has given me 15 minutes of fame. While I am 100% sure their compliments are sincere, I’m in a small pond. To the people who could actually hire me, I am a no-talent hack.

So let’s get back to Robby and his hopes of becoming a Magic designer. My desire to see him succeed is somewhat selfish, because I want to see someone come back from failure and live the dream. The fact that Robby’s hopes are still alive after two rounds of the search show that he is for real, his study has paid off, and he is better at game design than I am at drawing.

As for myself, the only option is to keep on trying. I pitched a new comic idea to the Star City Games talent search, the winner of which gets a 12-month paid contract to write articles for SCG (and a $1000 gift certificate, which isn’t bad either). The new comic will be similar to Lotus Cobra is Evil, but will probably have fewer Toho references and accept direction from staff like Evan Erwin. I submitted a triple feature to SCG but I’m only going to show a little bit here because we can’t publish our submissions elsewhere until the first round of the talent search ends.

And in the meantime, there’s this other picture I need to work on.

Edit: It has to be said that my immigration status makes it difficult to get an entry-level job in this country because of the hoops my employer must jump through in order to sign me. But that didn’t stop some of the non-US Citizens who graduated in my batch in art school, such as Anna Riccio. And admittedly, even if I were to receive a full-time job offer, some inconvenient process would have to take place with my current employer as well, who has sponsored my current visa. While I still don’t like being a no-talent hack, perhaps it is just as well that I am not good enough at this point.

9 Responses to “Shooting the moon”

  1. Flak says:

    Hey, for the record: you’re worth way more than 2$/hour. We worked out that number because I didn’t have money, remember? And who knows, maybe some day when I do I’ll commission you to draw something at much more reasonable rate. (Though hopefully by the time I have that kind of means, you won’t have time anymore, all wrapped up in some awesome high-profile illustration position!)

  2. Flak says:

    (Also, good luck!)

  3. Boshea says:

    Its always a little funny when people forget that Kargan Dragonlord never becomes a dragon.

  4. Sixten says:

    @Flak: The most likely outcomes for my SCG contest submission are: 1) getting disqualified for being neither a 1500-3000 word article, a 3-5 minute video, nor a less-than-30-minute podcast; or 2) getting disqualified for being an established author. So I’ll need quite a bit of luck.

  5. Samukun says:

    Hey, it’s Kaito and Asaga! I didn’t expect to see them again.

    Well, at least on the bright side, if you compare the Sunrider title and the Heart’s Content picture with your recent Tohou and Lotus Cobra works, there’s still a pretty large improvement.

  6. Flak says:

    @Sixten: ouph, all the more reason then. 😛

  7. desudesu says:

    It’s okay, bro ;_;

    Just keep trying. You know you’ll be handsomely rewarded in the end.

  8. Asura Rising says:

    One day…
    You remember those interview
    and have the last laugh.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I just saw your comic on the front page of SCG, so it looks like you aren’t out of the running yet. Good luck on winning the talent search!

Leave a Reply