We had the good fortune of connecting with Rong Deng and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rong, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Some people know what they want to do from a young age. There is another group. They don’t know what they want till they finally find it. The most important lesson I learned from my career is taking every job seriously and following your heart. You’ll find what you want. When I held my E.E BA degree, I was at a loss. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to be a guy who works in a hardware factory. Then I got lucky to get my first job at Gameloft, a mobile game company, as a J2ME programmer. I enjoyed the process of making a design doc into a real game. I got promoted from junior to senior for three years, led my team, and published 13 projects. I started to find myself wanting to make more decisions. I got promoted to become project manager. It was a combination of creative director and producer. It’s different from technical work, more about the pipeline, team/project management, and high-level decision making. For four years, from junior to senior, I’ve worked on four projects, including Despicable Me 2: Minion Rush Chinese Version. Between 2014 and 2015, this version created more than 94 million RMB (~15 million USD). In September 2015, I started my own business with friends. It was a mobile game company, and I was the project manager. After about two years, our first game was published on the Chinese market. But I lost myself. During that time, I finally realized I was a craftsman. I like dealing with design challenges, reaching the experience goal, and creating games with my own hands. After years of exploration, I finally got my dream job, a technical game designer. From my experience, I learned firstly, never stop finding the dream job if it hasn’t come yet. Secondly, working hard on every job. This is important for me because I don’t want to regret that I didn’t make an all-out effort afterward.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am most proud of recently was the game Rui and I made, There You Are. It’s a narrative-driven game that talks about unresolved grief. We have always wanted to create engaging and thought-provoking stories. We decided to talk about unresolved grief. We witnessed our childhood friends change during unfortunate encounters, and we wanted to make a gift for them and young people. Because in life, the loss of loved ones is inevitable. If you can remember our first encounter with death, know that childhood experiences can be frightening and lonely. The idea started at the end of 2019, then we worked for a year and published it on itch.io and steam in 2021. We received some awards, including EVA PLAY 2021 DIGITAL -Best Art, Moscow Russia International Film Festival – Best Video Game, Urban Mediamakers Festival (UMF) – Best Game Winner, SIEGE SILV-E WINNERS 2021 – Best Audio, Amsterdam International Film Festival – Best Video Game, OUT OF THE CAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Best Game/VR, WICA LA Awards Winners 2021 – Best Game and 15+ selections and showcases Domestic
and overseas, such as Anifilm International Film Festival – COMPUTER GAMES IN COMPETITION 2022, Independent Games Festival 2022 – Best Student Game Honorable Mention, DreamHack Beyond 2021 – Student Showcase, etc.

But the development process was not that smooth. Our topic was very special, requiring game characters to have their own back story to support the following game experience. At first, we had an idea of making it an abstract world in VR, and the player role-plays the girl with a first-person view. However, most players focused on exploring the items and environment rather than caring about the story. This brought us a question: if it’s a first-person VR, who are you in the game? The answer is no matter how hard the player tries to role-play the main character. The main character is still the player. From failed VR prototypes, we found we need a distance between the player and the main character. After lots of playtests and discussions, we found narrative-driven with 3rd-person was the best way for us. This was only one small piece of the whole challenge story. During this experience, I learned that the best solution would be somewhere I need to do is to keep working and finding it.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1, Chill, Wander along the Venice Canals. I haven’t been there, so I want to enjoy a scenic stroll with a coffee! Day 2, Universal Studio Hollywood. The second day should be a crazy fun day to enjoy the attractions. But my favorite one is the studio tour.
Day 3, Pasadena, check out my favorite painting Van Gogh – Mulberry Tree, at the Norton Simon Museum, then go to Huntington library and finally enjoy a show at the Playhouse.
Day 4, Santa Monica shopping or swimming~
Day 5, Beverly Hills, Getty Center, LACMA, Griffith Observatory. Enjoy commercial, art, and stunning night view.
Day 6, Joshua Tree National Park. Listen to Joshua tree forests’ story: a story of survival, resilience, and beauty borne through perseverance.
Day 7, Catalina island. It is another place on my wishlist. I heard it’s well-known for its wildlife, scuba diving, and charming coastal town! I think it’s the best place to end the trip.


The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
During my bad season in 2017, the book Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray accompanied me. This is my favorite quote: “In the years ahead of me, I learned that the world is actually filled with people ready to tell you how likely something is, and what it means to be realistic. But what I have also learned is that no one, no one truly knows what is possible until they go and do it.”
This quote motivated me to step out of my comfort zone, put down everything I had, and pursue what I really wanted. I appreciate it.
Rui Huang, an extraordinary artist and an important person in my life, has always been supportive. She is like a beacon of light. She’s not only an incredible artist professional in design, 2D, and 3D but also an expert at planning and execution. And my mentors, Tracy, Richard, Erin, Laird, Judy, Maureen, Marientina, Carl, Andreas, Jane, Matthew, Mark, Artem, and so many others, helped broaden my horizons, gain my confidence and realize my true potential. Of course, without my family’s never-ending support, I couldn’t start this journey.

Website: https://www.rongdeng.org/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rongdeng/

Twitter: @RongDengDesign

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