Geometry 1/13/2014

Something that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with is my affinity for random geometric problems (e.g. staring at a half-covered design on a random pizza box and realizing that the lines of the “pizza slices” do not intersect at the center of the arc in which they lie).

Today, I was pondering over the toroidal map type in Civilization. The game still plays on a planar rectangular projection of the map, but how much distortion should there really be?

I’m going to assume that the width of the map is the maximum latitudinal circumference around the outside, and therefore I am interested in how much narrower the “poles” should really be to meet each other on the inside of the torus.

My initial condition therefore is that [map width] = 2 * pi * ([major radius] + [minor radius]) and that [map height] = 2 * pi * [minor radius].

I am interested in the minimum latitudinal circumference, described by 2 * pi * ([major radius] – [minor radius]).

After some very basic algebra, the conclusion is that the poles should be only as wide as [map width] – 2 * [map height], a significant result! The distortion is quite severe for maps of appreciable height!

If a toroidal Civ map was twice as wide as it was tall, the poles would all still come to a single point, which is not much actual space for units and cities placed up there. Though, if we had to play on Civ maps where distance was physically accurate given the 3D shape of the world, it’d probably be even more confusing to keep track of.


A not actually very informative scan from my scribbles

SxSW 2013


I’ve just returned from South by Southwest; it was interestingly awesome.

There’s a lot on my mind – from films I really liked to new developments  and terms I’ve learned about – but I wanted to write a bit about what I heard/saw related to producing.

The MEIM program invited the ETC students who were also at SxSW to join them for breakfast panels that they had arranged, and it was very interesting to learn about the areas that they focus on.  MEIM students were interested in film development, production, marketing, acquisition, distribution.  There were definitely many other aspects of producing in there that I was not familiar with and I realized that I really was interested in the physical production, and felt uncomfortable with a lot of the other stuff due to lack of familiarity.  They all seem like things that a good producer should know about, and I wonder if what I’m interested in is the whole production career path or just line producing.

I also participated in the Production/Producers mentor sessions and spoke with Brian Yang and Yvoone Boudreaux.  The sessions were only 10 min. long so it was very introductory but I hope to speak with them more later this semester.  Otherwise, the time I did spend with them was very encouraging.

Finally, something that I thought was very interesting was a music panel that I sat in on despite not having a music badge (it wasn’t very full so the door volunteer didn’t mind).  In this panel, the speakers talked about the difficulties of producing music scores for film and television, specifically the trials and tribulations of having to work to a client’s demands and not on your music as pure, expressive art.  They mentioned things such as clients tend to not know what they want or only realize it when they hear what you’ve begun to make and moreover the importance of communicating as much information as possible; on top of that, they also talked about constant revision.  I thought this was all very fascinating because these types of issues are things that I’ve already had first-hand experience with at the ETC, and it was interesting to hear artists talk about it as something that can be unexpected to their preferred work flow in music.

In the end, I wish I had spoken to even more people at SxSW.  At the same time, my mind is still overwhelmed with all the events that were occurring and all the panels, films, and parties that I did attend, and I am still reflecting on this experience.  Perhaps I will write more when I have thought about it even more.

Conversation #3

On January 30, I spoke with another ETC 2010 alumna currently at Electronic Arts:  Theresa Chen, Features Producer/Assistant Producer 2 on the Sims 3 Expansion Pack team.  Her background was as an artist/designer before discovering her knack for producing.

Her summary was that the “producer is there to make sure the rest of the team can do the project.”

From my own work on ETC projects, I can empathize with this statement on a ground level of getting the project done.  I haven’t really yet had to market a product to executives or deal with monetary budgets, myself, since at the ETC, projects and teams are decided for you, and you are mostly involved with execution/completion.  The project-based academics have been very helpful for me, but I am also becoming more aware of what I haven’t captured in my own experiences.

When talking about producer responsibilities, Theresa mentioned “being a generalist that wears different hats” and warned about the dangers of the term “an ideas guy.

I really sympathize with both these statements, and I feel like I’ve begun to see the subtleties as well.  The producer must be a generalist in that they must speak the language of as many roles as possible, but they must also be able to admit how much they cannot completely know; moreover, we aren’t the guys with all the ideas but we must be able to champion whatever the vision of the project is.

Something that came up with my conversation with Theresa as well is that producing is an “experience-driven role.”  It’s hard to point out the soft-skills that a good producer develops over time, and that may be strongly contributing to why it’s been so hard to pin down what producing is in general.