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Students & Alumni

Game Changer Files: Marchand Venter ’17 ’18MS, Environment Artist at Obsidian Entertainment

May 22, 2024

Marchand Venter, a tall man with short blond hair, smiled facing the camera as he stood in between the concrete buildings of a San Francisco street just a block away from the Moscone Center where the Game Developers Conference was held in March.
Marchand Venter ’17 ’18MS, FIEA art alumnus from Cohort 14, discusses the perks of FIEA’s community of artists and the importance of staying up to date.

We’re asking FIEA alumni five questions about their experiences before, during and after graduating from UCF’s top-ranking game development program. Environment Artist Marchand Venter ’17 ’18MS from Cohort 14 prioritizes industry community involvement and never stops learning. We caught up with Marchand, who currently lives in California, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March.
1. Status: Where are you currently working and what projects are you currently working on (if you can share)?

MV: I have been working at Obsidian Entertainment for almost two years, here in Irvine, Calif. Currently, I am an Environment Artist working on The Outer Worlds 2.

2. Noob: Tell us what you did before your time at FIEA. What inspired you to attend FIEA?

MV: I knew about FIEA for at least a couple of years before attendance. The main reason I decided to get my undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida was to be closer to FIEA. I switched to Character Animation from Game Design since, at that time, the animation program shared the Downtown Campus with FIEA. This allowed me the chance to go to all the guest speaker events. I went to any art or level design related speaker. One that really stood out ot me was Justin Schram, a level designer who was working at Bethesda, Fallout 4 at the time. I was also able to take a lot away from Isaac Oster, now a senior tech artist, who spoke at FIEA and gave a tutorial in our FIEA art class.

3. PvE: How did FIEA prepare you for the industry?

MV: The FIEAs Capstone program is probably the best analogy for a scaled-down production pipeline for game production at most, if not all, the studios I have been a part of. The cross-integration of the disciplines you experience at FIEA has come in handy quite frequently when dealing with issues, expectations, and collaborations for POIs or locations I have worked on in my game development experiences.

Banana Man Racer
Banana Man Racer
Banana Man Racer

Banana Man Racer created by Marchand Venter ’17 ’18MS. View more of Marchand’s work on ArtStation.
4. PvP: Please share any advice you have for current FIEAns as they enter the game development industry.

MV: My two main pieces of advice for FIEAns as they are coming toward the end of their journey are:

The size of the industry: I am sure this has been told at least a couple of times already, but the industry is small and tight-knit. This is especially true when you focus on your field of expertise—in my case environmental art. Treat people kindly, help your fellow students and FIEAns with recommendations, and keep active in the community. For example, we have a great FIEA Art Discord server with more than 200 alumni helping each other with advice, job notices, internal reviews, recommendations, and more.

The speed of change in the industry: The past couple of years have seen an unbelievable change in traditional development processes in everything from lighting, materials, asset creation, and polycount limits, mostly by the push of Unreal Engine 5. This means you need to keep up to pace with the current speed of invitation if you want to stay relevant. Unfortunately, this usually means working and studying outside of your work life. Just remember the industry is a marathon. Look after your health, but don’t think it will slow down for you if you refuse to keep up the pace. Try learning more about the careers and paths that are closely related to your work. For example, recently I have been taking a CGMA course about level design, which I feel has helped me build a better understanding and vocabulary in that field allowing me to better communicate and integrate myself in that process with my Pods.

5. AFK: Do you have any recent, interesting personal successes, new hobbies, family updates or activities you would like to share?

MV: Over the past year, I have been focusing a lot on exploring new hobbies and other things that are tangential to my role as an environmental artist. One being photography as a way to learn more about composition and a way of documenting places and events as I go exploring more.