Having recently finished her Master’s, Samantha is now focused on academics and research. She started working in research with Pejman during her undergrad, but remains interested in a variety of game development areas from programming to math to writing, and has a strong passion (and talent!) for art.
Where do you see your career going from here?
I change my mind about what I want to do with my life quite frequently. A few years ago I thought for sure I wanted to fast-track a PhD. Creating and sharing things is my key passion as of late, which is why I’ve fallen more into the teaching side of things as of late. I enjoy teaching at the school. Teaching online, not so much. It’s hard when you can’t see your students faces, or just walk around the room and have real conversations. I don’t know what the paradigm for teaching is going to be, even once this is all over, which gives me a bit of pause.
Part of me thinks it would be better if after this year I look into getting a job in the game’s industry for a couple of years so that I can come back and teach with a couple year’s of experience working in games beyond working on projects as a consultant.
In terms of research, what I’m most involved in right now is going to be Atiya’s thesis project since it’s a continuation of what my thesis project was. Which is an automated testing framework for games. So using simple A.I. agents to try and predict what players will do in a game and where they’ll go, to try and help developers evaluate their level design when they’re in really early development and don’t have a full build that they can show to real players. Or for indie developers who may not have the budget for extensive testing.
Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on?
The play-testing we did for Lightningrod Games on A Fold Apart. It was my first real experience helping to run a play-test for a commercial title.
Do you have any advice that you’d give to a future member of UXR Lab?
Communicate with your lab-mates, and that includes Pejman! Yes, the senior members are busy, but they’re always willing to help — the last thing anyone wants is for something to secretly be on fire and not hear about it because someone was afraid to speak up.
Do you have a dream project you’d like to work on one day?
I’d love to be a concept artist on a well-known but not too well-known, high budget indie project. I’d love to work on one of those artistic games that, I don’t know if I’d say it needs to be critically acclaimed, but it has a user base, people know about it. People play it and really love it. And I’d love to be one of the people that’s there in kind of the early stages, figuring out how that world is going to look like and what the characters will be like.
Do you have any favourite games or genres you most like to play?
In terms of genres I tend to gravitate toward RPG, action adventure games, simulation games and platformers. As far as favourite games go my big ones are Okami and Portal 2. One series that’s a bit more recent, that’s an indie series I’m involved with as a beta tester is the Cook, Serve, Delicious games. I love those games and have played 300 hours of those games and my Twitter feed has some fan art from those games. Those would be my big three.