For the past 18 years, Scott Velasquez has worked Gearbox Software in Frisco, TX, where he resides as a Lead Programmer. He’s had the pleasure of working on a number of different titles such as Counter-Strike, Borderlands, Brothers and Arms, Halo and many others. Most recently, he put his talents forward as the Online & Social Product Owner for Borderlands 3 which released on PS4, PC and Xbox One. Scott wore many hats on this project ranging from project manager, designer, programmer and a smidgen of business development. He was involved with the ECHOcast Twitch extension, vault hunter profiles, photo mode, player pinging and most elements relating to online and local player interactions.
Scott believes technology is important because it can scale to reach a large number of users to solve many types of problems. Scott likes tackling different problems each day and is a lifelong learner. Technology is always evolving and keeps him on his toes!
When Scott was researching colleges in 1996, he noticed that most colleges were teaching old languages like COBOL, FORTRAN, etc. As an avid reader of PC Gamer, Scott came across a UAT ad advertising courses in languages and techniques specific to game development. He applied immediately after visiting the school.
Moving from a small town in West Texas to Arizona, he appreciated the next gen UAT facilities (he was using 486DX and dial-up back home).
UAT’s curriculum and professors challenged Scott in the best way possible. He was extremely impressed that the faculty had game industry experience and unique industry experience, such as his ex-NASA scientist Calculus professor. Scott enjoyed the way UAT professors taught, because they did a great job of explaining not only the how, but the why. Working full-time at Compuware and later Rhino Internet, Scott attended school in the evenings.
While at UAT, Scott made many great friends, some of which he is still friends with to this day. Pushing each other to learn more, Scott and his classmates had fun trying to outdo each other on assignments.
Scott encourages UAT students to meet other students and staff and put themselves out there. UAT is a great place to foster connections—you never know who you’ll meet—they might become a co-worker, friend or someone who will help down the road. Scott urges students to dig deeper and go above and beyond what the professor is asking on assignments. He also recommends joining or creating a group and building projects that can be highlighted and shared with your resume.
Scott advises students to find companies in the area where you can shadow or intern. “Getting a better understanding of the role you want to have someday will help you start preparing sooner rather than later. Attend some game development conferences and meetups,” recommends Scott, and finally, “Enjoy yourself, college will be something you look back on fondly when you get old like me.”
Scott feels that UAT absolutely prepared him for his career. Before UAT and just for the heck of it, he applied at 3drealms (he was a huge Duke Nukem 3D fan at the time). He knew it was a long shot—the programming he taught himself and learned in junior college didn't involve 3D. As expected, 3drealms turned him down due to his lack of 3D experience.
UAT taught Scott many things about programming, 3D development, data storage and manipulation, mathematics, web development and working with others. The greatest thing UAT taught Scott was how to logically approach problems and formulate solutions.
While working full-time and attending UAT, he made time to help a friend create a 3D engine in Java, soon after Java added 3D support. They were both programmers, so the 3D models were created by hand in notepad! Scott created a DirectX/OpenGL engine in C++ with networking support and built demo apps like a multiplayer 3D checkers game, a chat client, etc. Later, when Half-life and Unreal Tournament came out, he started learning how those engines worked and built mods.
After graduation, Scott landed a job at Cinematix Studios in Tempe. There, he could immediately apply programming concepts and Calculus while creating an audio engine and complex camera systems for two platformer games on PS2.
Scott encourages students to contact him with any questions about UAT or if they need advice as they prepare to enter the game industry (@thereal_scottv on Twitter).
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