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Old 06-20-2008, 12:29 AM   #1
Raqem
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Default What do you do about the Art?

I'm doing my pre-thinking for my third game demo (for my summer break), and I'm trying to decide what to do about the art.

I've done two game demos at school (one 2D, the other 3D), and during those times my game programming class was paired with an game art class. Unfortunately, both times the art students failed my group of programmers, so my group-mates did some quick and dirty art. Although I'm proud of the programming we did in both games, they look like crap.

I don't have a problem with programming with placeholder art at all. For example, in my first demo my placeholder art for the bullets was a crow (it ended up in the final version...), and my second demo featured a main character that seemed completely out of place. I wouldn't have thought it a problem, but it was obvious my professor cared greatly about the art (even though it was a programming class). This leads me to believe that a prospective employer may not be able to look past the art (or lack thereof) and look at the actual programming part in a demo.

Should I acquaint myself more with websites that offer free assets/models and/or acquaint myself with Blender (or some other 3D modeling application)? If so, what has helped you all out?

I've been reading that one should have at least one really polished out game in their portfolio, and I can't help but think this "polish" includes some really nice art. Is that the case?
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Old 06-20-2008, 01:55 AM   #2
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Get some free ones.
Ask for help from an artist on the Internet.
Graphics don't matter that much in a programming portfolio.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:19 AM   #3
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There's a ton of free stuff available online... Two of the sites that I've found to be the most useful are: http://artist-3d.com/free_3d_models/ and http://cgtextures.com/. Most of the prototyping I've done uses assets I've found on those two sites, but it's not hard to find lots of other places you can download the resources you need.

It's definitely worthwhile to have at least a basic working knowledge of Photoshop and 3DSMax (or whatever modelling tools you have available). Even some basic skills can go a long way to making something look passable. (In general I'd say it's useful for everyone in a dev team to have a level of awareness of what everyone else does, so I'd recommend getting some basic understanding of the art tools and processes anyway...).
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:27 AM   #4
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For employers, its alway gonna put you up top if everthing you do is slick and polished. It might be worth joining some "concept art" forums and asking artists advice and tip etc . . . conceptart.or/forums
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Old 06-20-2008, 03:34 AM   #5
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What exactly do you mean when you say the artists failed you? Did they make art that didn't go with your game? Was there a communication problem? Did they think what you asked of them was too hard? Did they say "yeah ok I'll do it" but just never got around to it? Did they outright tell you they just didn't care?

Being able to work and communicate effectively on a team is extremely important, and depending on the size of the company you work for, some of those people may just be those game artists.This is probably why your professor cares a lot about the art: he paired you with the artists for a reason. I don't think he expects you to be a great artist, but I think he wants you to learn how to work with the artists, even if they're a pain.

For your demo, I'd recommend taking models off the internet(giving proper credit, of course). However, you should try out Blender not to make anything super amazing but just to familiarize yourself with it to see things possibly from the artists' perspective. Blender Noob to Pro has a lot of great online tutorials.
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Old 06-20-2008, 04:02 AM   #6
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The graphics are not THE most important thing in a programming portfolio, but they should still be implemented well. Your using a crow for bullets sounds pretty weird, and is not something I'd consider a fitting substitution (though it depends on how you implemented it). Remember that people will only look at your code - assuming you even sent it to them, as many people seem to like the idea of sending binaries, and only sending the code if requested - after playing the game, so the first impression is made by the graphics. If they don't like the graphics initially, that will tarnish their opinion of your game.

Employers may also see it as an attitude issue. Thinking "If this guy is happy to send out a game like this, he obviously doesn't care about it much." It really is worth while spending extra time cleaning up the graphics if they need it.
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:39 AM   #7
Raqem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilLlama View Post
What exactly do you mean when you say the artists failed you? Did they make art that didn't go with your game? Was there a communication problem? Did they think what you asked of them was too hard? Did they say "yeah ok I'll do it" but just never got around to it? Did they outright tell you they just didn't care?

Being able to work and communicate effectively on a team is extremely important, and depending on the size of the company you work for, some of those people may just be those game artists.This is probably why your professor cares a lot about the art: he paired you with the artists for a reason. I don't think he expects you to be a great artist, but I think he wants you to learn how to work with the artists, even if they're a pain.
I wish I could say what the problem was, but I never figured that out.

The first game, my group paired with a single artist with a couple of years of experience. The idea was hashed out with him, so everyone was on the same page. During these early meetings, he drew some quick concept art, and we were all in agreement. Unfortunately, he simply never delivered much. He gave us one sprite for the main character, and that was it. I tried a multitude of things with him ranging from friendly to stern, but to no avail.

In the second group, we got a pair of ladies with no experience in computer graphics at all. They seemed really eager to be a part of making a game, and we met with them twice a week. We were all on the same page regarding the design, and I had really high hopes for this team. Unfortunately, they didn't give us anything for the first few weeks and not much after that. Again, we went through these phases of trying to figure out how to communicate with them. It was never because we didn't try to communicate with them nor was it because we weren't open to communicating with them in a different manner. In the end, we got a couple of static models for the enemies in the wrong format. Even during the last couple of weeks, we got many, many promises for a player model, furniture models, and some splash screens, but in the end they just stopped e-mailing us back.

Although I never figured out what the main problem was, one possibility was their professor. Our professor was trying to get us into the industry. Their professor was super laid back. I'm almost certain they were told on the last week that their submitted art to the game wasn't going to factor into their grade for the class. Both of those semesters, only about 2 or 3 groups (out of around 10) actually got art from their artists.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claxon View Post
Your using a crow for bullets sounds pretty weird, and is not something I'd consider a fitting substitution (though it depends on how you implemented it).
This particular issue ended up working out. The player was a scarecrow, so the idea of shooting out crows seemed to resonate with the crowd.

Although your responses were expected, I'm still disappointed. The idea of writing code gets me up in the morning, but dealing with the art aspect feels like a huge pain. Oh well, thank goodness there are free models out there!

By the way, I just noticed my professor put up a video of my group's second game. It's called Binary Eruption and is the first game on that page.

http://larc.csci.unt.edu/demos/spring08/4220/

The things I really liked about that game was I added the ability for the player to walk on top of objects, I got the camera working exactly how I wanted it, and I added a path finding algorithm to the AI.

I'm currently trying to decide if I should continue working on that game (adding more precise collision detection, optimizing the object manager, tweaking the nav-mesh, messing with the player's model to get it animated, etc.), of if I should start fresh with an engine that'll do more of the parts I don't care to do myself. That engine (in Binary Eruption) uses a proprietary model format (exclusive to just that engine), and the converters are a pain to deal with. There was a group in that class that did their stuff in XNA, and they had a much easier time dealing with getting models into their game.
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:53 AM   #8
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(I posted a long reply a couple of days ago, but it said it needed approval from the mods so it didn't go up. I've yet to see my reply, so I'm going to try posting again.)

EvilLlama:
"Did they say "yeah ok I'll do it" but just never got around to it?"

That's exactly what happened both times. The companion art class is extremely laid back, and most of the programming groups don't get any art. I knew this going into the class so I tried many things to communicate with the artists, but to no avail.

Claxon:
I know, the shooting crows wasn't an optimal idea. But, the main character of that game was a scare crow, so it ended up becoming a "cool thing" about that game.
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Old 06-22-2008, 01:51 PM   #9
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Lol, Ok I guess that would scare the crows fairly well, so that's an acceptable usage of it. You just want to make sure it looks like your thought about what you're showing them. They are going to expect that you have, so if you include something of poor quality, unless you explicitly mention that they are place holders, they will assume you feel they are good/acceptable.

If you do have to send a demo with place-holders it could be a good idea to point out what they should look at. You're basically trying to tell them that the graphics are "not finished" but without creating a list of all the unfinished or poor quality aspects of your game.
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