About

Short version

Zoltan_Erdokovy_Curriculum.pdf
Zoltan_Erdokovy_Portfolio.pdf

Long version

I was born on the 12th of May in 1978. I’m Hungarian, and I have lived in Budapest most of the time.
I have been influenced by fireworks and computer games since my early childhood, so I was pretty sure that I will be either a pyrotechnician or a game developer. Eventually a few incidents involving home made IEDs pushed me toward the cyberspace.

A Commodore Plus/4 was my first computer. Great machine. Sometimes I still play with Saboteur or Mercenary. My first step to level design was hacking Scramble, and changing the layout of the first level. (I didn’t find where the second was located in the memory. :)

Around this time, after school I wandered in arcades with my friends. We didn’t have money to play, we just watched pros beating the games. As a result I was planning games for Plus+4, like Carrier Air Wing or Midnight Resistance.

When I got to high school, my parents bought me my first PC, with a 386 processor and a 256 color VGA display. It was heaven. My first “mod” was some new levels for Wolfenstein 3D. They were known throughout the class.

One day a classmate showed me Imagine 3D, so I entered the magical world of 3D computer graphics… which at that time was mainly built of phong-shaded cube and sphere primitives, but I was mesmerized nonetheless.

And there came the era of a Cyrix 5×86 configuration. I made some Doom levels, but my favourite was Heretic. I brought my computer to my friend, we connected them via a serial link cable, and we played my maps.
And Death Rally as well, not just head to head races but single player campaigns too, just to see who finishes first.
By then I moved on from Imagine to 3D Studio 4 which I used to make 3D vehicles to my SWIV clone.

Two years later, when Duke Nukem came out, we started to come together and play it on LAN day and night. I was amazed seeing the new features of the Build engine: zone lighting, wind, warp portals, transparent surfaces, movers, cameras… I just loved making maps with this great game.

After a while I discovered Quake. When I got my Pentium 133, I had no problem running it. It was a powerful rig, so 3D modeling and rendering moved from being a toy to actually being a useful tool.
When I stumbled upon Lightwave 4, I instantly realized that’s the way I like it. The workflow was intuitive, it was a breeze to render nice chrome spheres, and it knew everything I ever wanted from a 3d app (at that time).
So I had the means to produce 3d assets, but I was till searching for a game where I could put them…

Quake and Quake II was fun, I made a few maps in Radiant, but when I saw Unreal, I forgot about them. It was love at first sight. Bots, reflections, procedural textures, volumetric lights, huge maps, mood, great music, this game had it all. A balance between the artistic, technical and fun aspects which is not very common.
I started to “decompile” the original levels, to learn how they work. I started to make a single-player quest, though it never saw the light of day.

The real revolution was UT99. With my colleagues we stayed in the office after work and played on my levels. The pattern was like this: fine tuning the level, testing it, collect the critiques and fine tune again. I learned much during those days.
My work was also interesting: I set up the intranet for the company, and made a java based bug reporting and user support system along with a queue based task manager for the hardware maintenance department. (My high school was IT oriented, so I had a basic programmer degree.)

Then, in 2001, I got a job at a small game developer company. I was working on several projects, as we were making prototypes. That way we were able to experiment, to try out different types of games. We worked with the Terminator 3 and I Spy licenses, and made a proto for a third person beat’em up starring a werewolf. I had a chance to work on games for PC, Xbox and later on for Nokia N-Gage and Tapwave Zodiac.

When I first heard about the MakeSomethingUnreal contest, I knew that this is a great opportunity to make… well… something Unreal:

A game, that I can be proud of, where I could show what I had learned during the previous few years. With one of my colleagues – Attila ‘Indy’ Malárik – we started to plan a platformer mod with puzzle elements… and MetaBall was born.

Making it was 17 months of hard work, but I think it was worth the effort: eventually we were 2nd in Phase 4 and 5th in the Grand Finals.
Indy did all the coding, and I did the modeling, texturing, level and game design, and some MetaBall specific sound effects. [More]

After Metaball, I was invited to work on another mod, called Deathrace.

It started as a Carmageddon remake, but later on we deviated from the original game and designed our own version. I managed the design documentation, made two cars and a city map with all the artwork. [More]

6 months after the end of the MSU contest, I had the chance to move to Sydney, to work on a game based on the Stargate franchise.

I was employed as a level designer, but I also made a few art assets when artists were overwhelmed.

On a Friday evening I downloaded the trial version of Modo. By then Lightwave started to feel rigid with all the new features duck-taped on an old foundation. The flexibility, intuitiveness of Modo and its underlying modern framework impressed me. I bought the package during that weekend.

After just 10 months Perception Ltd., the company I worked for went bankrupt, so I returned to Budapest. I started working on MetaBall 2, which was intended to be a mod for UT3.

I wanted to make the gameplay more solid and the visual design more consistent, and hoped that we could win the second Make Something Unreal Contest. [More]

I found another great graphics application: FilterForge, a node based texture generator. I was a betatester and my filters earned me a two free copies of the software. [More]

The MetaBall 2 project turned out to be much bigger than I first anticipated, so due to the lack of a team, I canned it and I moved on.

I was freelancing until an ex co-worker told me about a job at a small company: an Unreal based game about a Marvel comics character.

It was a great opportunity so I took on the job and we started working on The Punisher: No Mercy.

I was involved in every aspect of the development and worked with very talented individuals, so I learned much during that 15 months. [More]

Since my first job in the game industry I considered myself a level designer, but recently I realized that my true calling is being a technical artist.
When the Punisher project ended, I prototyped a few of the main features of the company’s next project, but then I decided to leave.
I started working on Neural, a stealth/action/puzzle total conversion for UT3. It was inspired by the VR missions in Metal Gear games.

I wanted to create Neural so I can show off my skills and get a job in North America. Unfortunately the programmer I worked with got bored and quit so yet again I was left with a half made game. It happened before on several occasions, so I figured that I’ll need a different approach.

I sat down and started to think about what I want, what my problems are and how I could solved them.

I arrived at the conclusion that I need a project which utilizes what I’m good at but not much more: I don’t want to worry about programming, UI design, AI debugging or balanced gameplay. I don’t need a whole game, just something which looks like one. Some kind of a realtime application which is like watching someone else play a game…

http://www.zspline.net/blog/wp-content/gallery/gavit/gavitlogo.pngThe Unreal Development Kit and it’s matinee tools were a good start but I wanted a more robust system so I started designing Gavit:
It’s a machinima/rapid prototyping framework where effect artists, technical artists and game designers can create pitch videos and directed gameplay movies without relying on programmers. [More]

To extend my horizons started learning Unity mostly to create scenes embedded in blog posts showing off art assets and special effects. I wrote an editor extension and a simple model viewer which are available in the asset store. My most recent effort is a pseudo game, a sort of test bed for special effects work.

The other side project I have is UniPie, a system wide pie menu and key remapping application. It’s still under development, lacks the extended features but the core mechanics are working.