Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meeting with Mr Robin Tan

Meeting Point
I was supposed to meet Mr Robin at Bugis, 4pm. However, due to my lack of discipline, I was late. As I was on the train, I contemplated on whether to inform him that I would be late. Deciding that it was basic courtesy to inform him of my unpunctuality, I messaged him that I would reach at 4.15pm. Meanwhile, I was thinking what kind of bad impression I would give him. Well, his reply was that he would be late too :/

Arriving at Bugis, I went to Rockmaster to buy bubble tea as he hasn't reached yet. It cost me $1.80 for that cup of Passion Fruit Milk Tea + Pearls, which wasn't worth it. The pearls were rubbery and overall the drink wasn't up to standard. Oh well, live and learn :)

Mr Robin arrived at 4.30pm. He had an urgent meeting earlier, which was probably why he was late. He led me down to this cafe that sold delectable donuts and coffee. I forgot what the name of the cafe was, except that it had the word "Donut" in it.

The place was delightfully cosy and rather hidden from sight. I've never really noticed the interior of the cafe before. The comfy sofas complimented the ambience, which generated an extremely relaxed atmosphere. Under the dimmed lighting, I mentally noted this place as one of the romantic spots I would bring my future beloved to. Alright, I'll stop here haha :D

It was so nice of Mr Robin to treat me to a donut! He even offered to buy me coffee, which was pretty pricey, so I refused. After eating the donut, my fingers were dipped with cream. Mr Robin then took the initiative to get serviettes for me. I was so embarassed by his kind gesture.

Our Conversation
Mr Robin first asked me what kind of programming I like to do, since there is such a wide variety, including Gameplay, Networking, Physics, User Interface, Artificial Intelligence, Graphics, Audio, etc.

I said that I'm opened to any kind programming, although I do more Gameplay and Physics programming. I also told him I can't really do Networking (it ain't easy) and I'm interested in learning A.I. programming. I guess he wanted to know what kind of tasks he should give me if I were to work for him.

We moved on to talking about the projects he was working on, getting funds, and the speed of which his company developed demos and games alike. He asked me if I brought a notebook. Thus, I fished out my heavy laptop from within my bag and lay it before him. He then began showing me the mysteries of the univer- I mean demo reels of some projects they were working on.

The projects they were working on were enthralling - the standard and excellence in their work was much higher than what I am currently able to produce. And at a much shorter time span. I was further wow-ed by the realistic rendering project that he showed me. Real-time ray-tracing + ambient occlusion. Awesome.

In turn, I presented some videos of the work that I've done so far. As we watched the videos, he commented that we (Bryan, Mujun and I) picked up a lot from our 3 year course at Nanyang Polytechnic. He was quite impressed at Leroy Koo's artwork which he did for our game "Spectral Effect". Mr Robin wanted me to introduce Leroy to him :D

Mr Robin also talked about how his company operated. Envisage Reality's office is stationed at Malaysia, where everyone would gather for meetings and updates 2-3 a week. Otherwise everyone would be working from home, OTOT. He prefers people who can think for themselves and not mindless workers who must be told everything. He says he is opened to ideas and suggestions to make the game better, and not just mindlessly doing a job. The company communicated with each other via email and MSN most of the time. This is how an indie game company operates (which Mr Robin prefers) compared to the professional big names.

This is how he hands out tasks:
  • He gives you charge over a component of a project - let's say the entire UI or physics component
  • He gives you a rough picture of how it would be like, but he is open to any suggestions or ideas
  • He sets the deadline and askes if you are able to finish it by then. If you don't think you can, you better say something.
  • If you finish it by the deadline, good. If not, he will screw you (his exact words)
While speaking, he had a friendly smile on. I've never seen him angry before, so it'll be interesting to see him screw someone (not me though) XD

Seeing that I may have only 3-4 months to work due to NS, he began telling me about the projects that I would probably take on if I were to join his team. I might be doing some gambling game, which I prefer not to, although I'm okay with it. Well, the game would not simply be a casual game of cards or roulette - there's going to be a special feature which is novel and technologically advanced. I'm not at liberty to share what it is but it is going to take a lot of research to get it done. Even right now, I'm excited yet apprehensive at the notion of taking on this task. Woot.

We continued our chat until about 6pm, before we parted our ways. I'm not exactly sure if I should join this company yet. Thus, I decided to go for one of their meetings in Johor to have a feel of what it is like. I'm praying that God will lead me to right path, 'cause
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Pro 3:5-6)
Thank God for an open door! If I am willing to jump aboard, it is almost certain that I can get the job :D Just need direction and wisdom now.

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