This article is part of Virtuos Insider, a series of interviews where Virtuosi share about their careers and experiences in the company and video game industry at large. In this installment, Nan, a Hard Surface Team Lead at Virtuos Chengdu talked about the responsibilities of a team leader and how he empowers his team to accomplish more and succeed.
As an NBA fan, Nan just might talk your ear off about the latest matches and how awesome Lebron James is, but make no mistake – he’s a no-nonsense guy at the workplace. As a Hard Surface Team Lead, he’s in charge of making sure the assets the team produces are top-notch, no matter how important it may be in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps that’s why he’s been named Employee of the Year more than once in his 7 years of service with us.
Read on to learn more about his journey with Virtuos.
Tell us a bit about your history leading up to your current job at Virtuos. How did you come to join us?
After graduating from university, I came to Chengdu by chance and managed to join up with Virtuos back in 2013. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the games industry at the time, much less how Virtuos fit in it. But what I knew was that Virtuos was considered one of the best in it, and I wanted to be a part of it.
It’s been more than seven years since I first joined Virtuos. Throughout that time, I’ve managed to become involved in some major AAA game franchises – Call of Duty, Battlefield, Star Wars, for example – and understand the game industry better as a whole. Virtuos has taught me a lot of skills both technical and interpersonal, and I’m thankful for that.
As someone with a few years of experience at Virtuos, you must have some memorable moments at your studio or with your team. Do you have any that you would like to share?
There was one particular project that I remember very clearly – I took it on as acting project lead for it as a test of my skills. Without going too much into detail, the project was science fiction-themed, which was great for artists since the genre usually offers lots of design and creative space. It was also part of a really huge IP.
This project required me to bring forward my very best in terms of aesthetic ability, creativity and management skills. It was also my first time taking charge of any project, so it was quite the challenge!
Over the course of completing it, I had to work some very long days and experienced lots of rejections and revisions before finally obtaining our client’s approval. It was tough, but the payoff and experience was definitely worth it.
You once received a Long Term Incentive award for your good performance. What is this award about, and how do you feel about receiving it?
It’s actually called the Employee of the Year award, which I’m proud to say that I’ve won more than once. It’s supposedly a recognition of my work and dedication, and every time I receive the award, I always get even more motivated and passionate about what I do here.
What does an Art Team Leader do, especially in the Environment team?
A team leader mainly focuses on the growth of the team, more than the actual production of art. It usually involves making sure the quality of the art is up to standard, but I think that team leaders should do more by encouraging their artists to learn new skills and giving them the freedom to express their ideas. That’s usually the recipe for success in every team.
What’s a normal work day like for you?
Besides conducting checks on the quality of art during normal working days, I usually find myself measuring the progress of each milestone and thinking about the tasks to be submitted in the next stage of the project.
As a specialist in Hard Surface modeling, can you explain how your work contributes to making games?
As a Hard Surface artist, I think that the assets we produce are an integral part of every game we work on, so our job is to make sure that our creative and technical skills are stretched to their fullest in order to make those games as good looking as possible.
Is there anything about Hard Surface modeling that you wish more people should know about?
Hard surface modelling is like any other kind of art; you have to create a story around what you’re making and really ask yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. Only by doing so will your work be made even more realistic and engaging to look at.
One of the benefits that Virtuos offers its staff is the opportunity to take out a zero-interest housing loan. Has that helped you at all?
I think it’s a great benefit for the staff. I’m particularly grateful to Virtuos, because it’s helped me a lot in my personal life.
Tell us a bit about your personal life. What sort of interests do you have?
I like to visit tutorial websites to learn new things online outside of work. Places like ArtStation, Substance Painter, ZBrush – there’s a lot of courses and tutorials that I can choose from to improve my knowledge and skills.
What do you like to do to relax after work?
I play games during my downtime, like NBA 2K and GTA, and some mobile games on my phone. I like watching NBA too - it’s exciting and I think the players are cool. My favorite player to watch has to be LeBron James. He has a good leadership temperament and team spirit, and he can make the team better. He often does charity as well, so I consider him a good idol.
Is there anything you would like to say to anyone at Virtuos?
If I were to give some advice to the newbies, it would be this:
First, take care in your work. I do my best to pay attention in what I do so I can avoid unnecessary mistakes. It also helps to expedite the process and gain the trust of clients, because the results would be more likely to be accepted by them.
The second thing is to be disciplined – no shortcuts, no resting on laurels. Only then will you go far in both work and life.
Thank you, Nan!