Thursday, 25 April 2013


When I was younger and watching TV and there was a scene of a group of people in a meeting  room trying to think of the next ground breaking product, everyone was umming and arring until suddenly one guy stands up and spouts out the most brilliant out the of box idea which everyone cheers at. That is how I used to view creativity - creative people can just come up with brilliant ideas all the time on the spot. I used to penalise myself for not coming up with that creative sparks in a few seconds like they did on the TV. Because of that i used to think to myself, maybe I’m not cut out for being in a ‘creative’. But as I’ve grown older (and hopefully a bit wiser) I’ve come to realise that creativity doesn’t work like that. When solving a solution to a problem it’s usually a series of little ideas which you can bounce of other people and get their view on it, which then as a team you have this creative solution. Very few people throughout history have been able to do this all by themselves, and if I, or anyone else can’t do that then I shouldn’t beat myself up, like I used to.

That lovely light bulb idea which rarely happens in real life

Being able to have these little creative ideas are not something people are born with though, it comes down to a few factors. Such as genetics and personal experience. Admittedly (and annoyingly) some people do have a knack for it just like their parents, but that doesn’t mean if you don’t naturally have you won’t have it at all. Personal experience is a major contributing to creativity. Try new things, even if it’s just a new dish at a restaurant. It allows you to experience different things which open your mind. For instance, if you wanted to cook a traditional English dish with an exotic twist, how would you begin to start if for your whole life you’ve just ate fish and chips, you wouldn’t have a clue what exotic food taste like. Whereas if you’ve tasted a wide range of food and flavours then it’ll be easier to see what works and what doesn’t, you’ll also have more knowledge on the subject, and as we all know, knowledge is power.

Talent has the same traits as above but has one major factor, and that is hard work. Your parents might have passed on their talent gene onto you and you might have a large amount of experience to call upon but if you don’t work then how are you going to be able to get better. I believe everyone has the same maximum potential, but how hard you’re willing to work and what you’re born with corresponds with how quickly you can reach your maximum potential.

How to manage talent

As technology has evolved over the years, development studios are being less limited by technology with what they are able to create.  Creativity and what people envision from these studios has really been the same since the beginning of games, but the way they can implement them into games has changed.
Creativity can be displayed in many ways with games. It can be a new graphical effect which was produced in an unconventional way. This blog goes into detail on how certain effects in games new and old are produced. No matter what how advance game engines can go, developers will always want to create something unique so they will find a way to do it.
Gameplay can be another way a developer shows off their creativity, and is generally the way most people will recognise it as everyone can appreciate it. 

How 'gibbing' works in L4D2

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The final push for year 2.

So I've just got back from my 3 week Easter break, but it’s hardly been a break. Most people would use this time of to chill out, catch up with friends and maybe play a few games or so. Not me, nope. I've used those 3 weeks to catch up on any outstanding visual design work, which I wanted to have fully caught up but that doesn't seem like that’s the case. Damn me over estimating me how quickly I can do work! I have been getting my work done though, I got some nice digital painting finals done. I've also been making large headway with the project work.

So for the group project over Easter I and another member was tasked to help out another member who was struggling to produce all his work to the deadline, as it was a lot. It was decided just before the Easter break that we would take on some of his prop work so as a team we could move onto the next stage of this project as quickly as possible. I did plan to use the Easter break to catch up on mostly VD work so having this to do as well did put more strain on my workload. But I didn't mind too much as I love creating props – they’re just small fun assets you can produce in a day.

 My workloads not going to get any lighter over the coming weeks. I have a few bits of work to catch up on, the group project to finish off and any other work which is going to be given to us. Having all this work to do is going to be tough. But what makes it a lot worse is that last year I (stupidly) booked a holiday from the 12th of May, which is about 2 weeks before our final hand in. So now i have roughly 2 weeks’ worth of work time I can’t use. Some all-nighters are going to be needed. But I don’t mind so much, as I know if I put a lot of solid work in for these last few weeks then I can have the whole summer knowing I put in everything I could. I don’t want to go through what happen last year with me spending half of the summer worrying if I was going to make it into the second year. And that happened because I got complacent towards the end of the year and stopped putting as much effort in as I should have. I’m not going to let it happen this year.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Generalist Or Specialist?

Coming to the end of my second year has raised  few question for myself. Such as what job area I want to go into in the games industry. But also how do I become more employable.

So should I become a specialist in the field I want to get into, such as being a character artist. Where I just spend all day every day creating awesome characters. Or do I broaden my skill set so that one week I animate characters, then the next week i'm creating foliage for the level. By the end of this post ill hopefully have an answer, or at least a better idea.

Since I first started working with 3D software I've always had a passion for characters, so that’s all I really did. But as I've gone through this course I've started different projects that before I’d never attempt (such as buildings, vehicles and foliage). It’s made me reconsider what field I’d like to get into. I love seeing a massive project through to the very end, seeing the end results of weeks and weeks of hard work. But lately with working on the Crytek ‘Off The Map’ project, I have been really enjoying spending each week working with something completely different. With working on something new every week you never get into a rut where you start to get sick of what you’re working on.

I should focus on being one of these types depending what type of studio (indie or major) I want to work for. If I go down the generalist route I’m going to be more valuable to an indie developer, as they do not have the resources to employ many people. So being able to pick up any task and complete it effectively is vital. Whereas working for a major studio it would be better for them to have a specialised people on board. This is down to them having enough resources so they can employ people who are the best in their field, allowing them to create the best quality assets for the game.

But I do think there is a middle ground which benefits everyone - being flexible within a specialised job role. So a person specialising in being a character artist should be able to rig and animate as well as create the character. A environment artist should be able to use a game engine/script as well as being able to create the assets which go in them. It’s also good to show you can adopt to any type of art style, as some studios only work to one art style (Crytek go for photo realistic whereas Blizzard are known for their hand painted style)

Being ‘T shape’  is also another good middle ground. It describes a person to have some knowledge in all areas, which related to the vertical line on the T. But this person is highly skilled in one particular area, this is represented by the horizontal line in the T.

Vavles model employee

Having knowledge/experience in a broad range of skills is a bonus to any employer. As this allows you to effectively communicate with other people within the team who could have an impact on your work. So for an example if you are a character artist, it’s an advantage to at least know the basics of rigging and animating. As this will allow you to talk to the animation team to solve any technical issues with your model without being lost in translation when talking to them.

I believe this is why technical artist are highly valuable. As they have skills in programming and art creation they can work with programmers but also work with the art team effectively because they can understand the workflow/pipeline for both teams . They almost become the middle man of the two departments.

The way this course is laid out it makes everyone ‘T shaped’, as it makes you work with every type of art in a game (environment/characters/props/vehicles etc. Then you specialise in whatever area you want for your final project. ). This is why graduates from this course have a high employment rate. So from what I've researched I think to become more employable as a character artists I think the best thing I can do is become proficient in rigging and animating along with character creation.

Out sourcing is becoming more and more used by the industry. Especially with the bigger studios, in fact according to the article here 83% of studios outsource. The reason why this is happening is because the economical sate of the country and the industry along the increase of man hours required to make a AAA game. Even with budgets of 10s of millions £s, outsourcing is still a major factor for development studios.

An interesting article on ‘T Shaped’ roles:

An interesting forum debate about being a generalist or specialist: