It feels weird to say that, because when I think back on the past two and a half months, it feels like I’ve been doing an awful lot of writing! But my ability to blog has felt severely diminished, since most of that writing is code, bugs, or technical specs.
Moving from Microsoft to High Fidelity back in January was a huge change. My team at Microsoft had more people on it than High Fidelity has as a whole. My job was perfectly categorized into areas that I had to deliver on, and I had a well-established process for just about everything that I could ever have questions on. Startups aren’t quite like that. In May, I moved from working on developer relations and outreach to lead an engineering team working on content for the platform. You may notice that right around then is where the my writing slowed down.
It wasn’t for lack of interest or passion or desire to write. Since May, I’ve had some absolutely mind-blowing opportunities. I got to attend SIGGRAPH for the first time and learned a ton about the rendering pipelines that go into visual effects and graphics programming. I saw some amazing work being done in the field of emotional AI and expression generation on avatars. I’ve gotten to dive deep into C++ and now get to work regularly in a truly cool distributed VR system. I’m so thankful every day that I get to work on such interesting problems with amazing team members.
But, it’s been a lot of novelty. I think one of the things that I used to rely on with my blogging was that I’d be writing about something that generally came naturally, or was something I had practiced a lot. I’ve felt out of my depth (and that’s good, because it means that I’m learning new things) more in this role than I have in a while. It’s challenging, but it’s so, so rewarding.
So, in the interest of playing catch-up with the events of the last several months, here are a few highlights:
- I’ve learned a lot about engine development, and want to take a second to thank the other engineers at High Fidelity who have been instrumental in helping me through the process. I was nervous about the experience of working on an OSS project when I first started, but my coworkers have been wonderful at helping me get settled and comfortable in the code. It felt like a big learning curve, and I want to pay it forward, so if you have any questions about Github, contributing to open source projects, or beginner-friendly ways to get started with a new language or familiar in a code base, feel free to reach out! (Interested? Our codebase is on GitHub and we pay contributors!)
- I developed a system for users to be able to send 3D objects via Twitch and Youtube using to users inside of High Fidelity! What I’m calling “outside-in” communication is a particularly interesting area of research that I’m excited to spend some more time digging into as time allows in the future. You can check out the “emojis” in action on the JimJamz show, a High Fidelity original show produced in-world, built using Node.js with Azure Functions, NoSQL, Nightbot, and an entity server script in-world (JS).
- Attending SIGGRAPH was surreal. I have never taken in so many inspiring displays of innovation in graphics and visual effects. I loved seeing the workflows and pipelines from production teams working on everything from Star Wars to Moana, Game of Thrones, and Overwatch. It was a great opportunity to see a combination of research and practical applications, beauty, and feats of outstanding production. In particular, the tech talk from Google on their UX for Google Earth VR was great, and they seem to be doing a similar talk at VRDC this month, if you’re planning to attend. I’m also looking forward to the advancements in voice-driven facial expressions being put to the test.
- In addition to work-related highlights, on a more personal note, the past few months have been emotionally trying and I realized that I had been failing pretty badly at my 2017 resolution to try to take care of myself better – so I started running and signed up for a 10k. Trying new things (or, to be more precise, revisiting things I had previously declared my hatred towards) has helped me reevaluate what I thought I liked and disliked.
As far as upcoming events go, I’ll be attending VRDC in two weeks, and Oculus Connect 4 in October – if you’ll be there and want to connect, drop me a line on Twitter. I’m hoping that I’ll slowly be getting back into the swing of things with blogging, and am excited for what the fall has in store.