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  • The Disciplines

    [06.03.09]
    - Albert T. Ferrer

  • Artists

    Game artists bring to the players’ eyes the vision set out by the designers, art director, and producers. From the concept artist, who works with the art director to establish the game’s style, to the 3D modelers, who realize those concepts, artists play a critical role in breathing life into a game.

    Game artists and animators should be familiar with at least one major 3D software application (examples include 3ds Max, Maya, Softimage XSI, and Blender) as well as 2D graphics tools, especially Photoshop. They should have a foundational knowledge of fine arts first, upon which they can build additional digital skills. Some game artists have added experience in web site design, while others have studied handdrawn animation, and still others are former sculptors and painters. A non-university post secondary education is common for many artists in the industry, and while a bachelor of fine arts degree is not required, it doesn’t hurt. Having a broad knowledge of art is seen as an asset.

    Occasionally, there is a specialized person in the art department called the technical artist. It’s a role that’s becoming more and more common as technology becomes more advanced. Technical artists are still considered artists, but they specialize in the hardware and software side of things, and are typically in mid- to senior-level positions. These artists oftentimes use scripting languages to come up with ways to customize the art workflow. They can also deal with lighting, shaders, and particle effects, as they pertain to game engines.

    Other titles a game artist might hold include animator, rigger, modeler, user interface artist, character artist, environment artist, concept artist. Many smaller game studios prefer generalists who can work in different roles when required.

     Producers

    “Game producer” can be a confusing and somewhat nebulous title. They are essentially the project managers of game making, though the role of project manager is to manage the development team, while the producer deals with high level issues overseeing the project at large. Both fall under the production staff department, and responsibilities for either can varying from studio to studio. Their job is to organize and facilitate the game’s production. Producers create and enforce schedules and budgets. They serve as mediators between departments, and sometimes also between the studio and the publisher. They assign tasks, make sure deadlines are adhered to, and generally make sure the team has everything it needs to make the game.

    Producers have to be leaders. They absolutely must be able to communicate and get along with a wide variety of people, from gregarious designers to terse programmers, from introverted artists to over-caffeinated testers. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable, but being respected by their team is important. They are the point of contact for the lead programmers, lead artists, and directors within the studio.

    There are creative producers, who add their design sensibilities and opinions to the benefit of the project, and the not-so creative ones, whose attempts at being creative do more harm than good.

    Some of the titles a producer can have include assistant producer, associate producer, and producer, executive producer, and director of production.

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