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© 2018, Nicholas Lustig | All trademarks referenced herein are the properties of their respective owners.

My Story

      Most people take comfort in the everyday tasks that fill up our lives. They won't admit it, but without them, life becomes too much of a question. Our jobs, family, friends and hobbies are what structure our lives and distract us from questions. Media is a place that can capture a small glimpse of those lives and let them step off the edge and fly. Whether its transforming robots, unrealistic happily ever afters, alien invasions or individuals with extraordinary abilities our imaginations are sparked and then it’s back to the daily routine. When it comes to my passion, I aim for that spark to ignite. I want my creation to connect with the individual and break that cycle that stops them from questioning. I want to create that feeling of attempting to close a door with your mind just in case. It may sound childish to think you may have superpowers but that faint moment of "just in case" is what I believe allows me to step into a different world and share it.

My dream is to create worlds, characters and concepts that break outside the mold that so much media tends to find its self in. Worlds like Avatar's or Bioshock's that are so original yet still function in a way that you could imagine really exists. Characters like Heath Ledger's Joker that makes you forget the actors are actors. Concepts like the Matrix or Inception that make you actually question reality. These are some of the few gems that surface from time to time and I aim to create one of the next.

Art for lack of a better word has always been a part of me one way or another. From loving to play video games to creating video games, drawing a favorite comic book character to creating my own character or watching a cool movie to analyzing every second of the film I feel I've always had my hand in something "Art" related. My initial interest really peaked as a kid as I started to take gaming seriously and consider Esports as a legitimate career option. At the age of 13, I was competing for money and pushing the limits of just playing video games for fun. I saw the opportunities with me being better than those around me and it taught me a level of dedication as I reached for them that I feel most kids my age wouldn't have had. Even though I never reached the stars that I was aiming for I was able to get a taste of the limelight and it started my journey.

As I got older, I found myself still loving video games (probably a bit too much) and wanting to still be involved even though I had put any desire of Esports behind me (mostly). During High school, I started learning how games were made and what each process entailed. At the start, stuff like geometry in 3D or learning new languages in programming made me want to look the other way. I'd already learned some Algebra and Spanish and I knew that I wasn't interested in math or languages. I stuck with the interest though and soon understood that the skills I would need were not what I expected.

Fast forward to my Junior year of High school where I took a dual enrollment class for Game Design/Simulation where I was half in high school and half in college. During that class, I picked up some basic programming and game design skills within Unity as well as a few other smaller game design programs. The unexpected result of that class was meeting my soon to be friend that ended up mentoring me in 3D modeling. This college classmate had already completed the 3 year 3D modeling class and he sat next to me. I saw the fancy spaceships and robots and I was hooked.

With my love of playing video games, the visual elements are obviously the first thing I see and as a gamer. I don't really think of how the gun on the floor magically appeared in my hand, I just know it looked badass when I shot it and when the alien disintegrated. With that, my journey into becoming a 3D Artist began. I made friends with this classmate and he started to teach me 3D. He even helped me get the schools software at home so I could practice when I wasn't at school. I immediately sped through all my normal class work so that I could have more time learning with my new college friend. My home life went from video games every minute to installing 3D software, watching tutorials and making terrible looking spaceships. After a week or two of this, I felt I was ready for some 3D class work so I asked my teacher if he had anything I could do. I had always finished early in class, so he saw no issue with me doing 3D modeling for the rest of class. My teacher had taught the 3D class in the past, so he gave me goals to meet and I went after them. As I completed goal after goal, I found myself creating my own goals. My teacher saw how I was excelling and by the end of my Junior year of high school he ended up giving me the final test that the students would have to take for the actual 3D class. I passed and went into my senior year with two college certificates for Game Design/Simulation and Modeling. I dabbled in freelance work to make money and that quickly lead to me starting my own company for the purpose of branding myself outside of just an individual. Echospawn Studios was born and my next adventure was around the corner.

After graduating High school I enrolled into a tech college called "The D.A.V.E school” which stands for Digital Animation and Visual Effects. I was excited to step my level up as a 3D Artist and it couldn't have started off better as my first teacher of the year worked on projects for Pixar!!!! My understanding of 3D jumped leaps and bounds but the workload was unexpected. I went from a high school student who ignored school and only worried about getting home to either play video games or do 3D modeling to long school days of nonstop working. The pressure and work requirements lead to me having to quit my job, sacrifice my social life and mostly stop playing video games. (always have to have time for some video games though, am I right?) The school was structured as 3 months of 3D modeling, texturing and rendering, then 3 months of Animation and rigging, and then 3 months of Visual Effects. The final 3 months was a class animation where we used the past 9 months of school to make an animated short. Ours was actually a real project outside of just being a school project as it was a pilot teaser for an animated series to be sent to Warner Brothers. We were able to see the full pipeline production beginning to end and the experience taught me the good and the bad of the industry. I got to see how people act differently under stress, how important deadlines are so that I manage my time correctly and how long it takes for me to complete a task so that I can make sure it meets those deadlines. This set me up for success which reinforced my skills and my understanding of the industry.

 

The time is now! All my hard work. All the early stages with a step ahead of the rest have paid off! I am ready to work on the next triple-A video game or blockbuster film, right? Well.... no. As the reality check hit hard when I soon came to find out how rough this industry really is. I really only had one opportunity which was to possibly work for Stereo D in California doing Stereo conversion which could have been great. I probably should have taken it to get me out to the west coast but maybe that would have put me down a path I wasn't interested in. No regrets! I continued my freelance and picked up my old day job for extra cash. I soon realized my day job was just taking time away from making way more money doing freelance and went full time into that. My time was split between finding more work, doing that work and yes you guessed it. Video games. I started working with some local companies nearby picking up a job or two as well as starting to establish the name of my company. A big reason for getting my company's name established was that I was ready to start making my first video game!

Back at D.A.V.E. school, I had started working on a few passion projects for my own video game. They seemed to just be a pipe dream at the time but now was the time to really pursue the concept. With this pursuit came the need for more than just me and lead me through a bumpy adventure. I reached out to classmates, people on Unity forums and joined any game design group I could find both local and online. With no money and a dream, it was slim pickings, but I had just come out of a school that made me work the hardest I have ever worked for something so my feet were still going. After weeding out the bad apples and finding what a team actually needed to be, I was able to get the project off the ground. I put together the best design document I could make at the time and we started following it. Custom music, coding in Unity, 3D modeling and level design were all underway. What’s to come from this project was something I still don't understand to this day but it was both an amazing experience and a life lesson.

The core of this game’s development team was mainly 3 people. We had others, but we weren't really in a place to utilize them. The rough concept I wanted to build was a series of puzzle games that would individually be born on mobile for testing the market. Each of these game modes would be their own game under the same name (ex: Puzzle game name: puzzle game mode name) This allowed us to see what worked instead of trying to release a game with all kinds of modes and then half of it just didn't work. The end goal was to launch the "real" game on PC and consoles. I had put together a list of game mode concepts and we did a trial and error test of most of them in Unity to see how they felt so that we could narrow them down to one as our first game. We struggled with either copying an existing concept and making it better or doing our own original game and I pushed for the original game. As we started to form something more than just a rough concept in Unity, we had our first "demo" if we can even call it that. I took our demo and created a video that wasn't public but was just to share for marketing when we were ready and that’s when things oddly exploded with success before we were ready. To quickly run through it all, I got accepted to be an alpha tester for the Unreal Engine 4 allowing me to get everyone free licenses and secure a royalty-free deal with Epic Games. I also got in contact with a rep at Xbox and Nintendo whom I showed the demo too. Nintendo made us an official Wii U developer and Xbox wanted us to launch with their new Xbox One as an indie title. Keep in mind all we had was a small demo that portrayed the concept of this new original puzzle game with music and light elements. The name was Lumora® and yes, it’s a registered trademark as I truly believed this was going to blow up with success which meant putting the few pennies I had into protecting the brand. Nintendo had already sent us everything we needed, we now had the ability to get a free Wii U Dev Kit for a testing period when we were ready and Microsoft was almost ready to send us a dev kit but they just needed a bit more from us to see how the multiplayer would work. This meant a new demo which was totally reasonable, so it all fell on our programmer to finish the next steps that we had lined up. Now one would think, all the dreams are knocking at our doors, let’s go into hyperdrive and over deliver right? Well sadly it all went downhill and that was the start of the decline of the biggest opportunity that I've ever had. I still don't understand it to this day, but our programmer ended up not doing anything new and missing our deadline for the Xbox demo. This led to us splitting ways and me tumbling through the chaos of finding a new programmer. In this search, we ended up migrating into Unreal Engine 4 and stepping up the game’s graphics. After trial and error of several programmers, we had missed our opportunity and our team slowly dissolved. It was a sad ending to an amazing journey, but I learned a lot from it. I still tried to bring it back from time to time but my focus directed back to doing what I do full time again.

While continuing to work for myself I picked up a contract as a Media Designer at Cybis, which was a design studio downtown. After that, I picked up another contract at Electronic Arts as the QA Pod Leader for Artworks, Graphics and NIS/Statestream for Madden NFL 18. Both of these jobs widened my array of skills while also teaching me new pipelines good and bad. I was also able to network and make new friends. Both of these experiences were great learning opportunities but the atmosphere's of the two companies lacked a real team that wanted to create something great. I went back to working for myself and that lead to me securing projects under my company for Montel Williams, The Mets, Viatek Products Avex Homes and more. I'm currently still working for myself while dabbling in my creative passion of creating worlds, characters and concepts. I also started my own Esports brand called Archetype™ that represents its self in the video game world as a 3 branched system. Community, Competitive and Content Creation. The goal with the brand is to bring competitive gamers together in a community where they can create content on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube while also aspiring to be involved with Esports under the Archetype™ name. It also gives an avenue to make money both on apparel branding and sponsorship programs.

 

I appreciate you taking the time to read a little bit about me. As I pursue my personal endeavors I am always in search of opportunities that line up with my goals and I await my next adventure!