As you know, we’re committed to making the learning service for CRYENGINE the best it can be and that process has started already. That said, we know we’ve much to do. Today, we’re introducing a new member of the team at Crytek who you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from as we accelerate progress on this front. So without further ado, please welcome Brian Dilg, our new Learning Manager.
Hi Brian! Thanks for joining us. How are you finding it?
Great! I haven’t even been here two months yet, but I have been so intensively immersed in all things CRYENGINE that I feel like an insider already. I spent my first six weeks analyzing the business problem I was hired to solve, and at the top of my presentation to management of my strategy was a very simple mantra: the community is everything. This wasn’t news to anyone at the company by the way! But it’s vital to my approach, I always want to keep it front of mind, and it’s great to introduce myself properly to the community finally.
It’s been a whirlwind start, but I am looking forward to bringing top-notch, passionate, and thrilling CRYENGINE classes and tutorials both to our existing customers and the game developers of tomorrow, students in game design programs around the world. We also have some special projects up our sleeve, but I won’t spoil the surprise by circumventing the official announcements, so stay tuned!
Sounds like a hectic start! What’s your background and how did you arrive at Crytek?
I’m American born and raised. I moved to New York City in 1997, and spent 19 years there shooting films and photo assignments, teaching filmmaking and photography, and finishing a master’s degree in film at NYU. Before that, I was a professional musician and audio engineer. I also swept plenty of floors!
I didn’t think it was possible to find a field that challenged me in more areas than filmmaking, but Crytek has drawn on just about everything I’ve ever done, starting with building and programming computers as a kid, 3D animation, audio engineering and production, filmmaking, digital imaging, screenwriting, photography, writing (I’ve published two books on photography, developed many courses, and written both screenplays and fiction), and 30 years as an educator. Crytek was looking to hire someone to improve how their users learn CRYENGINE and overall improve the learning service so it was a great fit.
Crytek is committed to investing in its CRYENGINE learning tools and program and you’re going to be a huge part of driving that forward. What are your short and long term aims?
Long term, my plan is simply to make it as easy and fun to learn CRYENGINE as it is rewarding to master. While everyone can agree that CRYENGINE produces astounding results, in the past, developers have had to piece together their knowledge of it through fairly ad hoc means. There’s been progress already but we’re going to transform it dramatically. We’ll develop standardized, comprehensive courseware that’s structured along timeless educational principles, provide complete application and technical documentation, and reach out to schools and the user community to make it easy and rewarding for independents to develop their own courses, tutorials, books, and tips. Plus we’ll be continuing and improving our active role supporting and acknowledging the community for the incredible things they achieve with CRYENGINE.
Brian is invloved in improving the CRYENGINE learning experience leave your feedback on our existing tutorials to give us input on how to imrpove!
Cool. Where do you think the big areas of improvement can come for CRYENGINE?
You don’t have to look very hard to find the same two comments about CRYENGINE over and over again. When people see what it can do, it’s holy-crap-that-is-amazing! They run out to download it and start learning it.
Then in a matter of days or even hours, there is a long string of curses to the effect of how-the-heck-do-I-do-that, why-is-this-so-hard?! I think we’re regarded as the sort of Ferrari of game engines: not easy to drive, but inarguably capable of astonishing quality and performance. The thing is, CRYENGINE itself is no more difficult to learn than any of our competitors. After all, mastering any aspect of a game engine is a serious undertaking. We’ve just been so busy evolving the engine and turning out our own games with it that we simply haven’t devoted equal resources to helping our community use it themselves. Of course, legions of developers outside Crytek have mastered CRYENGINE. We see amazing work in the community already, and at studios around the world. But we need to make learning, improving, and searching for answers when working with CRYENGINE easier for newcomers and experts alike. We recognise that. I think there has been some progress already, but we are going to radically improve.
The CRYENGINE community is full of talent. Do you see a way of using the community to help evolve the learning offering?
I don’t believe that the people who design any product, whether it’s a software application or a tool you hold in your hand, can ever fully understand what it’s really like to use that tool day-in and day-out the way that your users do. It is impossible to anticipate the creative ways in which people will use your product. Simply put, we could work 24/7/365 and still never address every topic through our learning materials. Nor can anyone else. It’s just too big. That’s why the community plays such a vital role, sharing information, giving us feedback, writing tips, making Youtube videos, showing off what they’ve done – all done from the perspective of people working with it every day.
People use CRYENGINE to build amazing things. The expertise latent in that community of full-time users is priceless. We need to constantly nurture that talent and celebrate what they accomplish. No company can fulfil its potential without its community of users. We need to do more to help the community, learn from the community, and celebrate the community. That will help us improve CRYENGINE for everyone.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Quick! Having laid out my game plan, it’s 100% execution at this point: building our core curriculum, helping bring documentation up to date, implementing new programs, working with schools to get CRYENGINE into their curriculum and train their trainers, building a learning management system, broadcasting webinars.
But the most fun part of my job is essentially taking the vast expertise that currently exists in the minds of a couple of hundred experts at Crytek and translating it into permanent learning assets. We have some of the most brilliant minds in the industry: our own CRYENGINE and game developers who invented the engine and build games with it all day, every day. I am working through a long list of core concepts covering every aspect of the engine, meeting with these experts and plaguing them with questions about their processes and workflows. I turn those discussions into tutorials, documents, webinars, articles, curriculum, and so on which we’ll be rolling out to you.
What does it take to do your job well?
A natural love of learning. My mother loves to tell the stories about how before I even started school, babysitters would ask her how she taught me to sit quietly and read books all day. She had to laugh, since she did absolutely nothing! I was that annoying, uncool kid who loooooved school and worse, whom the teachers adored for it. As a child, it did not endear me to my peers!
But I was also always frustrated with the explanations provided to me. So a funny thing happened: I became a lifelong autodidact, a self-learning junkie. But it wasn’t enough to just master things for my own use; I discovered that I had a great passion for teaching. For me, teaching isn’t about the topic. No matter what the subject is, I have a chance to transform someone’s self-confidence and their sense of what they’re fundamentally capable of. If you learn something as complex and challenging as game development, you don’t just have a game, but you know you can tackle just about anything. That’s awesome.
What feature are you most looking forward to rolling out in CRYENGINE on the / your roadmap?
Above all, I am looking forward to bringing top-notch, passionate, and thrilling CRYENGINE classes and tutorials both to our existing customers and the game developers of tomorrow, students in game design programs around the world. It’s going to be cool, challenging, and exciting.
Thanks Brian! Make sure to check out the official topic for suggestions and feedback on this new learning initiative here.
We hope you enjoyed reading a little more about what’s going to be coming on the learning side of CRYENGINE and join us in welcoming Brian to the team. As Brian says, community is everything. If you have any feedback, ideas or comments we really do value them – get in touch in the comments below, the forums, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Your CRYENGINE Team