2023 Hot New Things: Hina Macmaster, Otago Polytechnic School of Design
Each summer DA profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. We welcome these talented emerging professionals to our industry, learn about their passions, final projects, developing creative confidence and ambitions for the future.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a recent graduate of Otago Polytechnic with a passion for art and storytelling. I love immersing myself in fantasy worlds, whether that be through reading, watching films or playing games.
What did your graduating project focus on?
My graduating project was Ghostdoku, a 2D mobile game which combines story with puzzle. The player traverses a crumbling graveyard and helps ghosts remember their pasts by playing sudoku. I worked in a team to achieve this project. We wanted to create a peaceful experience for the player, getting them to use their brain during the sudoku and then be rewarded with ghosts’ stories. We didn’t get as far as we wanted when the first semester project ended but I’m glad we had the opportunity to continue it for the rest of the year and get it to a point we could be proud of.
Why did you choose to study at Otago Polytechnic?
I heard about the Communication Design course at Otago Polytechnic in Year 13, and the combination of telling stories through design really appealed to me. I heard that classes were small and students would be able to get plenty of feedback from lecturers and peers as well as work closely with industry. The main thing my anxious seventeen-year-old self cared about though was that it was the closest tertiary institution to home.
What did you enjoy most about your course, or what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed it?
I learned a lot of different skills over my time at Otago Polytechnic, and I have really enjoyed the variety of work that I have been able to do. I loved being able to try out all sorts of things throughout my course- whether that be 3D modelling, typography, illustration, photography etc etc. I’ve learned how much I enjoy having a variety of work and I would love to learn even more creative skills.
Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?
Deciding that I wanted to pursue a career in game development was pretty unexpected. Before studying, I didn’t think it was something I would be interested in, especially since I didn’t know much about games. During my second year I took a game design elective and found it really enjoyable. I realised that I could work on my writing and art through games and found it incredibly satisfying to see a world and characters unfold by being able to interact with them.
What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was probably pushing myself to improve not only as a designer, but also as a person. Public speaking and participating in social events have always made me very nervous, and I had initially hoped that I could get through design with written communication alone. It wasn’t long before I realised that being able to verbally communicate my work and also become more confident within social situations in general is extremely valuable. I’m lucky that I’ve been surrounded by supportive people who have encouraged me to do things that made me nervous in order to grow.
Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick game design as a career path?
I always knew I wanted to pursue something creative but I hadn’t anticipated that I’d want to do game design, so there wasn’t exactly anyone or anything that got me into it. Working on a couple of great projects through my course and an internship sparked a passion for creating games and inspired me to continue with it and develop my skills. In terms of creative inspirations, almost every piece of media that I’ve liked has inspired me to keep pursuing creativity and the joy making things gives me.
Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
Ghostdoku is definitely a piece I am proud of. My teammates and I spent all of our final year working on it and I’m very pleased with the communication and work we all put in to get it to where it is now. I worked on the character designs and animations during this project, and I made sure that the characters were all visually cohesive while also showing the individuality of each of them. Working on these characters was a lot of fun and I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing them move and interact with one another once everything has been implemented.
What’s next for you?
I’m hoping to find work within the games industry and get to learn a lot more about the process of making games and improve my skills.
How can people get in touch or see more of your work?
The best way to get in touch with me is through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I also post my work on Instagram (hinak0.0) and Artstation (hinak0).