Train2Game News: Train2Game Radio interviews Michael Bird

Michael BirdTrain2Game radio interviewed Michael Bird last week. Michael has very nearly finished the Train2Game Art & Animation course. He tells about how he grew up and became the artist he is today with help from his parents. He also has a valuable bit of advice for all students!

You can listen to the interview with Michael here:

Or read the transcript below:

Hello my name is Michael Bird, I live in Kettering which is in Northamptonshire and the course I’m doing is the Art & Animation course.

Hi Michael, how you doing?

Hi, Mark, I’m all right thank you.


Excellent, So what’s your story? What are the past experiences that have shaped your life?

Well I’ve always been an artist. I was never taught how to be an artist, I inherited it from my parents. When they discovered I could draw from drawing on walls and stuff, they pushed me to do it and I’ve exhibited my work throughout my life, when I was at school and times after that. I have always had it as a passion and I’ve always played Video Games from the day the first Video Games came out like Pong and Pacman that we could play at home. Since then it’s been two passions, parallel with each other and this came along and I’ve had a chance to combine the two. Hopefully I can prosper doing them both!


So where as most people were told off for drawing on walls, you were encouraged!?

Yeah, yeah, basically yeah! Well you know, I wasn’t encouraged to draw all over the walls but they felt he has obviously got something, let’s give him some paper and pencil and let him just scribble. They guided me where I needed to be guided and yeah! I’m just blessed with being able to do it without being taught how to do it.


So are your parents quite good artists as well then I assume?

Yeah yeah, my Dad’s had art sold all over the world, commissions sold all over the world. My Mum is more of a colourist. She’s excellent with colour and I’ve picked it up off both of them. They’ve had all their work exhibited everywhere so yeah, it’s all good!


You said you’d exhibited some of your work somewhere, where have you exhibited your work?

My work has been exhibited locally around the Northamptonshire area. It’s been in the local press, this is going back to when I was about twelve, I think I had my first exhibition. I say, it got in the news because it was very different to everyone else. I was very fantasy art then, swords and dungeons and dragons and all that stuff and since then since I’ve done continuous exhibitions people have come up to me and say “I’d like to know if you can do this for me” and it’s commission pieces. Most of my work is actually all around my house.


To display to all the people who come in and see you I guess?

Yes! I do have comments like “What’s that?” or “Who did that?” and I say “Well I did!”. They then just stand there or sit there and stare at it and usually they come up and say “Oh. Can you do something for me then?”.


That’s got to feel nice when people come up and say that to you?

Yeah! They go through “well what inspired you to do that piece?” I say it’s just in my head so I do it! They say “What does it mean” well what do you think it means? Because what it means to me is different to what it means to them. When you do a picture or a piece of art it’s what a person thinks when they look at it.


So where are you in the course now?

I’ve just completed assignment 42, so I’m right near the very end. I’ve got one more portfolio piece to do and then I’ve got one more lesson and then I think it’s on to do a demo reel.


So that’s got to feel pretty exciting hasn’t it?

Yeah! I’ve gone through the waves and the troughs to do the course. You get so far and then you’re brain can’t take it any more and you wonder, can I really carry on with this course? Or you’ll have big failures and you think well I’ve got to carry on! What’s the point in doing it if you get half way through and can’t be doing it any more?


So you said you had a bit of trouble going through with the course, so what made you say you will keep going with everything, what made you push through?

Determination. Just the will to get it done! If you do it and you fail, you may as well not even have tried. You do get these bad points and you have to carry on. You do have these bad bits, you just pick yourself up and start again.


Well that’s perfect! Thank you very much for your time today Michael.

It’s a pleasure. Thank you very much for letting me do it!


It’s my pleasure, I will talk to you soon.

OK, thank you very much!

Train2Game interview: Train2Game Games QA Tester Ollie Smith

Train2Game student Ollie Smith is studying to become a Games QA Tester with Train2Game. Train2Game Radio caught up with him to find out why he chose to study with Train2Game, how he’s finding the course and how he balances it around the rest of his life.

Read it here on The Train2Game Blog, the Train2Game Scribd Page, or listen to it on Train2Game Radio. Leave your comments here, or on the Train2Game forum.

Hi Ollie, what first got you into video games?

That would have to be when my parents bought me a PlayStation on my eighth birthday, and I was hooked on Spyro The Dragon for months. And then it’s been sort of a…next game comes out I buy it and I’m hooked.

So what made you decide you wanted a career in the games industry?

When I was younger, my father and I used to go to GAME in the town, and they had a special on with GameMaker, and it was only 99p for a license. So we bought it, but it turned out to only be a demo license and we had to buy the full thing after 30 days. So, I quit GameMaker, swearing never to use it again, and then I started to look at doing web design – I’m a certified web developer and know HTML and PHP and CSS. And from there I went onto learning Java, then I was looking on the internet for ways to make games easily and I found Train2Game. So I applied, then a year later I got a knock on the door.

So what made you decide to take the Train2Game Games QA Tester course in particular?

I was going to go for the Game Developer course. I was half way through work when the advisor came to see me. He started talking to me suggested the Games QA Tester Course. So I was like, OK I’ll sign up for the QA Tester course.

Tell us a bit more about yourself, what do you do?

I’m a student, I’m classed as a student because I’m with Train2Game.

How do you find balancing the Train2Game course around the rest of your life, is it an advantage being able to learn from home?

Yeah, definitely. I’m a night person, so I don’t come out in the day time, and the thing with normal college or uni is that it’s in the day time. So with Train2Game, I can sit down at 1 in the morning and just study.

You’re also a part time DJ, tell us about that.

Yeah, I do it for a few online radio stations as a fill-in DJ. I used to have my own show, but I got ill, ended up in hospital and didn’t show up for three sets…so, I got fired. So now I’m more of a fill-in, if one DJ is missing they’ll call me and I’ll hop straight on and fill-in for whatever DJ wasn’t able to get in.

Do you think the radio and DJ work you’ve done before could help you in terms of getting into the games industry, perhaps in the audio side of the industry?

I’ve thought about that, but it isn’t really me, if you know what I mean? I like to try and keep some things separate. It sounds a bit weird to explain, but if you focus everything around one subject, you tend to get bored of it very quickly.

Going back to Train2Game, what do you wish to achieve with the course this year?

I’m going to use a term from an MMO, I want to grind through it, get my skills up and hopefully get my dream job.

And what would your dream job in the games industry be?

To work for Lionhead game studios.

Great, thanks for your time Ollie.

Click here for more information about the Train2Game Games QA Tester course

Game Design student Chris Robinson speaks to Train2Game Radio

The Train2Game blog recently spoke to Game Design student Chris Robinson (Also known as shadows on the Train2Game forum) You can listen to the interview here on Audioboo, or on the Thoughts of Train2Game blog. You can also read the interview via the Scribd document below!