Martin Helmut Fieber


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Learning 3D modelling

This year I was able to really dive into some topics I always wanted to, the biggest of which was learning 3D modelling. I always wanted to, but felt that this is an area of expertise too big and complicated for me to master — I was intimidated.

Nevertheless, it was one of my goals for to really learn 3D, so I started. A tutorial here, some experiments there, starting a bigger project. Learning about modelling, UVs, texturing, baking, and animation, and Iā€™m loving it. It is still intimidating, though a challenge I like to take.

Starting a blog

I also wanted to blog, so I created this blog in the with my first three posts. Though, I wrote nothing for a while until I agreed with a friend to post at least once a month, to push ourselves. And lo and behold, this actually helped.

Since then, I have created at least one post per month, sometimes more. Writing about code, me learning 3D, cassette futurism, or whatever came to mind. At first, I just wanted to blog to get better at writing; looking back at previous posts, I'm quite happy with my progress on that, but over time, it became genuine fun. Blogging pushed me to learn new things, and learning helped me write new posts that reinforced my learning.

Changing my job

When my wife and I moved to Sweden in , I started a job at Klarna. I am infinitely grateful for the opportunity and help to get settled in, but I was nonetheless looking for something else after 3 years. I was on a great team, but professionally I was looking for something different, changing direction for what I wanted to do in the future — back to tool development and a stronger focus on learning C++. At the end of , I left Klarna and joined King .

I love games, I love tools, and I want to learn more C++. King gave me all of that. Even though it is still "fresh" after half a year, I found an amazing company and team and all the support I need for my future. I even went into parental leave for two months after I started, with full support from everyone, always giving me the feeling that my family and my well-being are priorities.

Continued learning C++

One of my goals for was to take learning C++ seriously, and besides changing jobs to leverage this on a professional level, I studied a lot in my free time, or rather at night when my daughter was asleep. Not all the time, only when I felt like it, as family has priority and there are other things I wanted to learn as well, on top of reading, gaming, and so on. Still, it took a lot of time to broaden my skill set.

If I had to pick just one book I've read over the year that I come back to again and again, it would be Beautiful C++ by J. Davidson and Kate Gregory. After reading it, I tried to apply the contents to what I do in C++, first and foremost at my private project, Litr, a task runner. It really helped me feel more confident in the C++ code I write by removing code smells and hardening my application. Not that it's perfect — far from it — but so much better than at the end of .

Fun with game development

Even though I always toyed around a bit with different game engines like Unity or Godot, I never really made the effort to properly learn one. In , I wanted to pick one and learn it, making a small game. I didn't. I kept toying around, but with more engines. Furthermore, I wrote a little prototype in Unity and one in Godot; I went through some tutorials for Unreal Engine and some for CryEngine; never really committing to one, thinking that there could be another one better suited for me to learn.

It is a trap — a deep one. I went through videos, blogs, and books, too many to name them here*, any learning material, even building my own small engine supporting 2D and 3D in C++. It was an enlightening experience; I learned a lot but never really got closer to my goal of actually making a small game.

But it was fun, and that's something. Nevertheless, I want to learn one engine and make a game, so I started to focus on Unreal Engine. Different reasons exist, two of them being that I want to do more C++ and another being that it seems like a good choice to push my 3D learning.

A growing bookshelf

I did always read a lot; for years, twice a day, five days a week, at least. But since we moved to Sweden, this dropped hard, and, even though I was still reading, I struggled to give myself time to read for no apparent reason. Until my wife had a simple idea. Every Wednesday night, after our child is in bed, we read at least one chapter of something. It did not take long for this idea to make us both read regularly again, not only on Wednesdays.

I've read quite a few technical books, about C++, Lua, game design, and more; finally managed to continue The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, finishing book 9; read Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir; am currently at book 3 of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey; and a lot more books I will skip here to not make this a book report.

What I played most

I love video games, and I played a bunch in . Here are my personal top five :

1. Cyberpunk 2077

I played Cyberpunk 2077 on release in on my PS4, and it was rough. Nevertheless, I loved the game, the story, the characters, and the music. I played it again when I had my PS5 in — new life path, new choices. But in , I went overboard and made it my most-played game of the year. Besides getting the platinum trophy, I wanted to explore more of the world, the lore, see all the endings, etc. — and I can barely wait to play the DLC "Phantom Liberty".

2. Horizon: Forbidden West

Horizon: Zero Dawn was my absolute favorite game in , and I was more than anticipating the release of Horizon: Forbidden West in . It delivered, being my personal game of the year . It does look gorgeous, with unmatched facial animations, an intriguing story, the world, the score, and the overall polish of the experience.

I can highly recommend the GDC talks from Guerrilla Games about Horizon, my favorite being Creating a Tools Pipeline for Horizon: Zero Dawn, in awe of their craftsmanship.

3. God of War Ragnarök

God of War () is grand, and finally playing the continuation, God of War Ragnarök, was well worth waiting. Even though I liked the smaller, more intimate story of more, I annihilated the finale of the Norse saga, loving every bit of it.

4. Ghost of Tsushima

Even though Ghost of Tsushima came out in , it took me until this year to actually play it — what a game. I had some reservations initially that were quickly blown away. A meticulously crafted open-world that hooked me with its game mechanics. Especially without quest markers, finding your way through the world based on clues in the world and the help of the guiding wind.

5. Stray

You play a cat; you meow; you can scratch sofas and drop buckets. Don't let Stray fool you; it has a wonderful story, but those points alone, as a cat owner, do it for me.

Looking back

I don't think I could have done anything of this without the support and help of my incredible wife. She convinced me that the new job at King could be the right thing for me, and she was right. She always supported me on my learnings and guided me with thoughtful advice to stay on course.

Together we visited family in Germany, traveled with our daughter, who took her first steps in the summer, and then we switched parental leave, so I could onboard our child into kindergarten — time together I do not want to miss. And now, during the holidays, it is just the three of us, and I couldn't be happier.

Onwards to

No predictions, just goals for the new year that I hope to achieve.

1. Having fun

The most important one, as always. Sure, sometimes things are tough and days can be hard, but if it's any type of fun, I will keep on keeping on.

The "types of fun" by Sketchplanations.

2. Learning Unreal Engine

I finally settled on one game engine, Unreal, and I want to start working on my first small game with the goal of actually publishing it (though that does not need to be in ).

3. …D, and more of it

I want to continue learning about 3D and the many things connected to it. Next up will be a new article in the Bulkhead series on learning rigging and animation. Here is a small teaser of what this will look like.

Preview of the animation I'm working on for my Bulkhead door.

4. Litr version 1

Using Litr as my go-to project for learning C++, I want to finish the alpha and finally get version 1 out.

5. Blogging

Continuing to blog, I want to keep the "publish at least once a month" routine. I already planned a couple of articles, like a 6-part series about Lua, extending my first Lua article.

6. Dead Space remake

I'm looking forward to the Dead Space remake; the original is still one of my favorite horror games, and I hope the remake can spark that anew.

7. Surprising myself

At last, I will see what brings. Maybe I will change goals; maybe I will find something new. I do not know. Whatever will happen — family, job, hobbies — I hope for good, fun, intense, happy, intriguing, exciting, positive, exceptional, hard, marvelous, surprising, … moments in .

Until then šŸ‘‹šŸ»

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