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In the Loop
Alumni News : Aug 29, 2017

SAAH Alumna Rhonda Chan launches first video game

By Ricky Scricca

This summer, Rhonda Chan (MFA Ceramics ‘13) had a dream come true.

Working as Environment Artist for Ready at Dawn studios, Chan saw the release of her first video game, titled Lone Echo. Created for virtual reality consoles, the game takes users on a first-person adventure to a futuristic mining facility in the rings of Saturn, where they’ll help solve a mystery while engaging with an expansive, detailed, outer-space environment.

“[Lone Echo] is the sort of virtual reality game that used to only exist in movies to show off how cool games will be in the future,” begins a review by Polygon’s Ben Kuchera. “It’s easy to get so wrapped up in what you’re doing inside the game that you fail to stop and realize how well it’s all working, and how hard it had to have been to pull off.”

Polygon is not the only publication touting the game as a “high point” for virtual reality consoles. On sites like UploadVR and GameCrate, it has received positive feedback on everything ranging from its story to its technical execution.

Despite the game’s success, Chan did not always expect to create art in this unique medium.

“I'm glad I discovered 3D during my MFA journey,” Chan said. “I never thought I'd have the chance to walk this career path.”

Before entering UF’s MFA program for ceramics, she earned a degree in sociology. She integrated that with her avid interests in gaming, technology, animal sculpture, avatars and alternate realities to form her thesis project, in which she created her first video world and a game that held rats she sculpted. The rats existed as a packaged commodity in real space and as avatars in the video projected game behind them in her thesis installation.

After her thesis, she went on to receive a degree in animation and has since been employed with Ready at Dawn.

Chan’s journey has been as wide-ranging as her interests, but her success proves that following your dreams pays off.

Lone Echo is available for Oculus Rift for $39.99. You can learn more about Chan and her work at her website: www.rhondachan.com.