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Interview with Unreal author, Andrew Finch

The Unreal Game Engine's Andrew Finch talks about his environment modeling experiences for big games such as Operation Flashpoint and the F1 series...

The Unreal Game Engine's Andrew Finch talks about his environment modeling experiences for big games such as Operation Flashpoint and the F1 series...

Nearly a year on since the release of The Unreal Game Engine, it has sold nearly 1,000 copies and proved to be a successful resource for those looking to get into the videogame industry. We catch up with author, Andrew Finch, who lets us know more about the writer behind the tutorials and his industry experiences so far...

3dtotal: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far?

Andrew Finch: Ive been in the games Industry for over 7 years now and have worked on 9 titles, mainly first-person shooters and racing games. Over the years I have found my feet and specialized in areas I find the most interesting, such as lighting, texturing and setting up materials. Ive worked on games such as Star Wars Battlefront Elite Squadron, Operation Flashpoint and more recently the F1 series.

3dt: What made you decide to specialize in environments?

AF: I always knew I wanted to be involved in art in some way during my time at school, and being a young lad I was very much into my videogames and cartoons. It was the classic film Toy Story that exposed me to CG I had never really seen anything like it at the time. It was time for me to choose my University course and I managed to find a course in Animation, and I chose to focus on the digital media.

During my course I found myself spending more time creating the environments than the actual animation; and still enjoying my games, I came across Unreal Tournament. It was a game that also provided the game engine for free so you could make modifications and create custom environments. I then spent countless hours night and day working on my game artwork skills, and developing a portfolio that could get my foot in the door of the games industry.

3dt: What is your current workspace like?

AF: My desk at work is very clean and tidy, mainly because we have many visitors and I need to look professional, but my desk at home is not at all tidy! My Wacom tablet often doubles up as a dinner tray. I also have a large collection of books, mainly The Art of type books.

3dt: What pieces of software do you find you use most in your job?

AF: Off-the-shelf software I couldnt do without is 3ds Max and Photoshop. CrazyBump is pretty useful to.

3dt: What has been your biggest creative challenge?

AF: The F1 games I work on now have been my biggest challenge. The process for creating the environments are so complex, we have so many rules we have to adhere to but we still have to find ways of being creative and make the environments as photorealistic as possible.

3dt: What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in the games industry, and more specifically, environment design?

AF: My most important bit of advice is to not give up trying. There are a lot more courses available today to get into the games industry which make it a little easier to get apprenticeships, but it wont always lead to a full-time job. I was so close to giving up as it took me about a year of having knock backs from studios until I finally got my break. But it most definitely was worth the wait!

3dt: Do you have a favorite environment in your book, The Unreal Game Engine? What is your favorite type of environment to work with?

AF: The Container Yard was one of my favorite environments in the book because I was able to show different styles of lighting without changing the environment. I also find containers and shipping yards interesting for some reason...

3dt: You also feature in our 3ds Max Projects book; are there any chapters in there that you would particularly recommend to someone looking for some 3ds Max advice?

AF: I liked the Beginners guide to modeling vehicles tutorial. This tutorial is good for games artists because it teaches you how to break assets down into modular pieces and build them up bit-by-bit until you have a detailed mesh, a process very important to games artists. Even though the content of the tutorial is for vehicles you can apply the techniques used to create any 3D asset.

3dt: How do you unwind after a hard days work?

AF: I like to cook and watch my favorite TV shows. I enjoy watching films although its a little harder these days because if its a CG film Im constantly analyzing it and thinking about how would I make it. I also love going to watch my footy team, the mighty Wolves, win on a Saturday afternoon!

Related links

Head over to Andrew Finch's website
Find out more about The Unreal Game Engine
Want 3ds Max training? Try 3ds Max Projects