Comments on: My Least Favorite Kind of n00b Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:53:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jason Booth Wed, 23 Aug 2006 04:02:00 +0000 Well Darius, working at Turbine I can see how you’d think this way. Turbine was never big on any type of prototyping or iterative design, and likewise spent a minimum amount of time on concept.

Since I’ve joined Harmonix, I’ve watched the artist draw more heads than an entire projects worth of concept at Turbine. It’s just baked into the process here, and the same holds true for the rest of the design and implimentation. Ryan, the art director at Harmonix, often hires students from his class for these positions.

The reasons for this are simple: Someone with excellent traditional art skills will be a better artist in the long run than someone without these skills. They’ll make the transition to 3d modeling and texturing just fine. As long as they can draw fast and take direction, they’re immediately useful in the concept phase and require hardly any ramp up.

Additionally, 3d modeling is not what it used to be. ZBrush is changing the industry. I’ve watched an artist with no 3d experience pick up ZBrush and create compelling models within a day or two. Sure, the mesh isn’t fit for the engine, but when you’re just casting normal maps you don’t really care. You rough out the shape, model in the details, and hand it off to someone else to do the in-engine modeling. It won’t be long until much of this will be easy to automate as well.

In the end, a good artist is a good artist, regardless of the tools.

By: David Ludwig Mon, 21 Aug 2006 20:10:00 +0000 I’d like to second your statement that many programmers, myself included, can’t draw worth a damn. Back in college, I had more than one conversation where some of my programmer friends and I would discuss implementing various game ideas, only to hit a brick wall when we remembered that our art skills consisted of stick figure drawing and basic photo editing. These skills went a long way, mind you (in our heads it did, that is), but having some pixel artist friends with lots of free time would’ve been awfully nice.

Starting with indie development is definately a good idea though, regardless of whether the person wants to be a concept artist, an animator, a programmer, etc. I’d suggest not limiting oneself to commercial indie development either. Working on freeware projects is plenty fine, the same goes for game modding as well, so long as some degree of dedication is applied.

By: Patrick Dugan Wed, 16 Aug 2006 16:02:00 +0000 I think the indie path you describe applies to starting as a designer. This is what I’m doing, though technically I did level design on another indie title before hinging a whole deal on my own creative shoulders. Its a cold, harsh path, but so much sweeter for the shipping. And if you do manage to ship and only sell 5k copies, thats still incredible resume fodder. This goes for concept artists as well.

By: Bradley Momberger Tue, 15 Aug 2006 17:26:00 +0000 I think it’s entirely possible to graduate from some universities (not my alma mater, mind you) with an art degree having only done traditional studio arts. It’s really up to the student, who should have some idea that he wants to get into the industry, to choose a track where he is exposed to software.

By the way, the October GAMES magazine has articles about CMU’s Master of Entertainment Technology program and the Wii. The latter is nothing you don’t already know, but in my mind it’s a sign of great publicity for the “let’s get people to play games” concept.

By: Ian Schreiber Tue, 15 Aug 2006 03:42:00 +0000 You mention that it’s better to break in as an animator. In the last project I worked on, animator was probably the single coolest job on the entire team (I admit this particular project may be an anomaly in that sense :). I asked about the hierarchy of artists and was told that EVERYONE in college wants to do character animation, and that (much like you say about concept art) it’s reserved for those with experience.

Instead, what happens is you pay your dues for a few years making textures to use on sand dunes, or high-polygon models of chairs and tables, and then if you haven’t left the industry in disgust you can try out some cool stuff.

As far as a student who has good concept art but then claims not to be able to do animation or modelling or textures or anything, I would be *shocked* in this day and age to meet an art student — especially one who wants to break into the game industry! — with no practical experience in anything other than drawing. What kind of university would allow such a student to graduate? Isn’t this what a core curriculum is supposed to provide?

But I’ll agree with you that I can’t imagine such people getting jobs in the industry even if they do exist. At this point there’s no excuse for not being proficient in Max, Maya and Photoshop at the very least.