Katie Lucas, a brief summary
The most important thing you need to know about me is I love to make things. If you don't have time to read through this lengthy essay I've provided about my life and times, you can walk away with that one line and know me in my entirety. I am happiest when I am making something - anything! Whether it be games, art, cookies, crafts, videos, motion graphics, designs or jokes.
Quick Facts (There may be a quiz later)
- I went to Loyala Marymount University and majored in Animation, with minors in Studio Art and Game Design.
- In my life I've been a professional graphic and motion designer, as well as UI Artist and Designer.
- My favorite game is Portal 2 ( Close seconds include Bayonetta, Crypt of the Necrodancer and Golden Sun)
- My hair has been every color in the classic 7 color spectrum. I'm particularly fond of violet.
- EggBaby (QA)
- Egg! (QA)
- Stickerquest: A Daily iMessage Adventure (UI Art, UI Design and UX Design)
- Puzzlescapes: Interactive Jigsaw (UI Art, UI Design and UX Design)
*Scroll down for more details, and the full story!*
An early onset addiction to arts and crafts
I started early on as a creative, and there was no stopping me. I've been drawing since I was young enough to hold a pen (or so I'm told - I don't have concrete memories of that time.) What I do remember is being constantly told by my middle grade math teacher to stop doodling. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) I never did. When I was 6 I started scrapbooking under the tutelage of my babysitter, who inspired me with a love of hand made crafting and craft stores. From her I learned that with patience and enough glue anything is possible.
When I was 14 I started editing videos after a friend introduced me to fan made videos online - and I couldn't be stopped. I quickly moved my way up editing software until I was working with higher end programs to create higher end results. I found a foothold in the extensive anime music video community and began making videos competitively for competitions around the world. To this day I've won numerous awards, including coveted best in shows at large conventions for some of my editing work. But most importantly, this passion gave me an undying love of motion and animation.
Following that path, I graduated from Loyola Marymount's school of Film and Television with a BA in Animation and a minor in Studio Art. I also had an unofficial minor in Game Design - as the program didn't exist until the year after I left. Myself and several other animation students were the pioneers who laid the trail for the program to be started by making video games for our thesis projects.
I worked as a graphic designer at Loyala Marymount since my sophomore year. After college I freelanced as a digital designer and artist for a large body of clientele, including onsite work at POV Entertainment Design. There I worked as a digital campaign manager. I designed social media strategies and campaigns to promote high profile entertainment clients such as Warner Brothers and Disney. I also built interactive ad experiences in their entirety - from doing the graphic design on the banners, the motion editing for the ads and then writing the code to make it all work. But I knew what I really wanted to do in my life : make video games.
Between the time I was 8 years old to about 13 years old I asked my parents for the same thing for Christmas: A N64 with Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and MarioKart. And every year I got a bike. But I would not be thwarted.
Eventually one of my cousins took pity on me and gave me his old N64 right after the Gamecube came out. And I was in love - I'm sorry to say my fleet of bikes didn't get as much use after that day.
Since that day I've had a deep affection for video games. As I grew older this helped feed my growing desire to work in the gaming industry - a passion that, much like my quest for an N64, would not be thwarted.
While I was honing my graphic design skills, I was keeping my eye on gaming jobs at companies I knew I wanted to work for. When I was checking their job listings one day I saw that one of the companies I wanted to work for was hosting a national game design competition to present documentation on a mobile game that was friendly, non-combative and cooperative. I entered with 4 days before the deadline to spare. 2 weeks later I learned I came in first place. One month later I was working for the company that hosted it.
How I became a UI Designer
I wasn't formally trained in any sense of the word. I really was just in the right place at the right time. Which was pretty fantastic - cause otherwise I don't think I would have realized how much I wanted to do it.
For me, I started my gaming journey in QA where I learned first hand all the ways games can go wrong. I spent my time there finding and writing up bugs - but also analyzing them and thinking about how I would fix them. I became rather infamous for writing up a large number of "D" and "Suggestion" level bugs about the user flows on our games.
A year passed and the company I worked for went through a series of large changes and reorganizing. Two members of our little group of testers as well as the Product Manager left, and in the end I found myself on a small agile team of developers tasked with making a game in 6 weeks.
On day two of the project it quickly became clear we didn't need a QA tester to catalog bugs and maintain quality. What we did have was a dire and pressing need for a UI designer. As my eight coworkers puzzled over how we would present the information on the core screen of our game, I quickly sketched out three wireframes and asked "What about something like this?" Our Product Owner took one look at it and said "Fantastic - Katie do you want to head up UI?"
And that's how I got into UI. On the small teams I worked on I provided the entirety of our UI coverage, I would design the wireframes, create the mock-ups, make the assets and then assist with implementation. In certain areas of our games I stepped forward and designed the gameplay experiences, pulling on my past as an advertisement designer to create enjoyable experiences that drew our players in.
Our 6 week project became Stickerquest - and was featured by Apple in their iMessage store. I went on to work on other projects, but I think back on that little game a lot - particularly that one little moment that changed my professional life forever more.
But my story is still being written....
And that brings us to now! One of my strongest held beliefs is that I can always be improving and bettering myself by trying new things and working on the things I love. I am constantly trying to expand my creative horizons and learn new things that I can apply to my work and beyond. Here's some of the stuff I've been working on:
- Since I graduated from college I've been working on a large story-driven RPG with a combat system based on Tarot reading. This year I plan to have locked in my story and main designs, as well finalized a small combat prototype.
- I've been studying how concepts from user experience digital design can apply to physical spaces - specifically storefronts. I am hoping after enough data from my artist alley tables I can pull some conclusions from it!
- I've been trying to synthesize the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I believe I'm close - the key is cornstarch.