BA1b – Games Industry Roles and Contexts
This project involves the exploration of the commercial side of gaming, with a focus on roles, practices, structures, and possible futures in the games industry. It will open our mindsets towards job roles in the games industry through independent research.
LECTURE ONE: 13th December – ‘The role of a Game Artist’ CHRIS GREEN – (Sony and NUA)
Chris Green in his Lecture spoke about The global games market and Analytics of the Game Industry, being Professional, briefs and external projects, how 3D art can assist with 2D art.
Chris provided figures as evidence of his research; here are a few of his points:
-The global games market was worth $99.6bn in 2016 and estimated to grow to $118.6bn by 2019
-As of January 2017, there are 2,088 active game companies in the UK.
-There are 31.6 million people in the UK who play games.
-The average weekly hours spent gaming for 11-64 years olds is 8.9 hours a week
-59% of Gamers are Male and 41% are Female.
-The Average Male Gamer is 35 years old and the average Female gamer is 44 years old
These points were all surprising to me, especially the statistics of Male-Female gamers. I expected there to be more male gamers than female when in reality there almost as many girl gamers.
Chris analysed Revenue and number of employees from AAA and indie Game Companies concetrating his research of the following:
AAA: Riot Games, Ubisoft, Blizzard Entertainent, EA
Indie: Minecraft, Braid, Super Meatboy
You do not neccessarily need a large number of employees to create a large revenue on a game, one or two people can make a successful game.
Chris emphasised the different roles you can play and the range of jobs avaliable. He focused on the role of a 3D Artist. A 3D Artist’s role can be split into subcategories depending on the company’s preferences or the artist’s area of specialism.
Chris touched on the roles avaliable to Game Artists outisde the Games Industry with the skills that can be developed whilst at University.
MEGAN RICE – LECTURE TWO: UKIE
Megan Rice works for UKIE, which represents video games in the UK. UKIE supports the UK’s games and interactive emntertainment industry.
Megan spoke about transferrable skills within the Games Industry such as working quickly (without getting fussy over certain designs), storyboarding skills, working with other artists and programmers and being able to communicate efficiently within a team. It is important to be an excellent problem solver and an organised person when considering working in a team as an artist.
Megan talked about the skills required to become a successful concept artist, environment artist, 3D artist, Character Artist, Texture Artist, Lead Artist
3D artists must be able to understand good level design, be able to model, texture and create collision in 3D for game environments.
2D artists must understand compostition and be able to make sure designs are functional, and have an excellent understanding of character design, anatomy and costume.
Megan emphasised how a graduate of Games Art and Design could work in Games or Animation studios, film and video production studios. They do not have to seek employment from a Games Company only.
Megan listed ways Prepare before graduation:
-Research, look at job descriptions, portfolios
-Be active, join clubs to be social, be active in the games world. Be active and talk to others online twitter, linkedin, artstation, other students. Support others and hopefully get recommendations for jobs from onilne friends, they could introduce you to potential employers
-Attend events to meet and converse with potential clients/employers
-Build a presence online. Gain followers and engage with others
-Ask for feedback. Critique others’ work
-Apply for jobs
-Keep drawing all the time – Continue to build your drawing skills for a better portfolio
Megan mentioned Alternative ways into the Games Industry:
-Other roles (do research)
Overall, Megan told us to be open minded when considering future career options, not to narrow our paths by only wanting to do one type of art/ art role. She reinforced the importance of making contact with current industry professionals.
Aiden Le Santo Art Director for Sprung Studios (NUA Graduate)
LECTURE THREE: On a career in UX/UI as a Designer
Aiden Le Santo is an Art Director for Sprung Studios. Sprung Studios collaborates with other Games Studios (e.g EA, Ubisoft)
Aiden speaks about how it could be possible to combine artistic skills, knowledge of games design and passion for actually playing video games into a successful career.
UX & UI Designers are intergrated in how game is designed and are very involved in how the games feels for the players.
UX=User Experience Design. More design focused. Make prototypes and wireframes along the production of the game.
User experience design is the experience of interacting with the game; usability, flow, navigation, communication and layout.
UI=User Interface Design/User Interface Art. More art focused.
User Interface Art, the point od contact between the player and the game; look and feel, art style, aesthetics, presentation and clarity.
UX and UI Art can communicate key information to the player.
It is impossible to separate the two as UI is part of UX for a good user experience of the game. UI and UX have a huge impact on the success of a game. They allow the player to interact with the game and are involved in keeping players immersed, prevents players becoming frustrated or getting lost and makes a conncetion between the mechanics within the games world and the player behind the screen.
UI elements can inform (radar), evoke emotion and helps to tell story.
Menus, interfaces, Crafting screen, inventory, task screen, buttons
Game world is still visible behind, obscured in the background, not totally trapped or exluded in the gameworld. The ability to look up is still possible; looking if there are any enemys approaching.
Limited visiblilty of game world, situational awareness if game perspective is in 3rd person.
Clarity and immersion in game world
Control & Direct – Reward player
UX & UI is interwoven into the structure of the game from the very beginning and influence a lot of different aspects of gameplay in both design oriented and artistic ways.
Shayleen Hulbert – 3D Artist in London
LECTURE FOUR: How to build a profile and go Freelance as a 3D Game Artist
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. If you need people around or someone to give you structure then you need to think about it.
Do your own taxes, get an accoutant, sort emails – you are basically your own business.
Self-motivation is key to survival as a freelancer. Especially on projects you aren’t that into.
-It is okay to take a break. Don’t overwork yourself. Take regualer breaks, go outside, have weekends to yourself.
-Work on a smaller project instead of trying to do all of the things at once.
-Skip to another poject, finish it and come back.
-Create a schedule and checklist. How long to spend on projects.
-Livestreaming. Set days/time slots to work on personal projects, with people watching you cannot just go on social media and procrastinate.
-Set achievable goals.
-Push yourself to learn something new but not somehing you cannot achieve. Be realistic as to not feel disappointed.
-Finish things. Learn things and move onto something else.
-Keep screenshots of old work. Look back and see development and progress.
-Find your competition. Peers, people online, people you want to chase (to reach their standard)
Shayleen talks about how to build a portfolio as a Freelancer:
-Keep it clean and tasty
-There is no wrong or right portfolio as every studio wants to see different things
-Dont let one persons feedback be the be all and end all of your portfolio. Try to take in different opinions, find what you want and tailor it to that.
-Present yourself the way you want to be seen. If you want to work for a particular studio tailor your work to that. As a Freelance Artist, it’s all about exploring a range of things within your specialism. Make sure it’s the things you enjoy!
Create projects you like – not just for a portfolio
Only show what you want to be hired for otherwise you could find yourself in an awkward position producing artwork you are not pleased with.
Shayleen discusses how to display work:
-Front and Back
-Beauty shot (multiple poses/multiple situations)
-Animated gif of a turntable
-Technical shot (textures)
This list is important as having work presented well can make a big difference to the perception of the actual artwork. I have seen work poorly presented and this has negatively impacted my opinion on the art and the artist behind the work. It it looks like the artist has not put much effort into the presentation of their work, do they care about it? Do they live an unorganised life too?
Shayleen highlights the importance of building an online presence. Make it so clients can find you and know you. Keep posting small things and progress shots. Make friendships not conncetions.
People will remember you for your attitude and work, not your business card!
Places to be:
-Polycount (post regularly and join competitions)
-Facebook (2D artists)
Shayeen provided some general social media tips and calculating payment rates to wrap up the lecture.
Robin Milton: Games Design Lecturer at Acess Creative College (Graduate of NUA 2014)
LECTURE FIVE: ‘How to Graduate like a boss’ 2018
Robin told us to put our work out there. The following list is only a few ways to do this:
-Business cards:-Make sure they are legible -Good quality cardstock -‘Instantprint’ -‘Moo’ -‘Solopress’ -printed.com
-Linkedin profile (get people to endorse your skills and recommend you.
-Portfolio website with professional portfolio picture. Robin mentioned to best and the most user friendly portfolio websites.
Link your social media accounts into your portfolio pages (ArtStation, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram onto Linkedin profile: make it easier for people to find you and your work).
How to get out there and the significance:
– The significance of attending events
-Game Jams and how to get inolved with these
-Networking tips. Do not sit on your artwork – post it and share it. Don’t overanalyse artwork just upload it. You might get some useful feedback on your work.
-Livestream: Twitch, YouTube
“What separates the superstars from the average is they seek criticism, and then they actually listen to it.” Can develop your artwork the most. Decide if you want to work on people’s comments. This is an important point Robin made, successful people listen to other people’s comments and opinions on their work and aim to improve based on these. It is the small difference of getting another’s perspective on your work.
Competitons and Critiques:
-Facebook Groups like LevelUP
-Forum Competitions like Polycount (3D competitons)
-Ukie Student Competitions
-Decide on your engine and buid a team from people who are comfortable using that specific game engine. If you pick people based on drawing skills, and not ability to use the same game engine as others, problems will arise with quality/quantity of work produced. Not everyone will be on the same page with workload.
-Research the sponsors and judges. Get to know what these people are looking for, whether this is communication within the team during production or skill.
-Make a team with a balace between people with art and technical skills. This ensures a team does not have 4 artists, one programmer and one 3D modeller. Having a good distribution of skills makes sure things will actually get completed and a game will be produced at the end of the competition.
-Gameplay should be priority. This means the final result should be a game that works, with more time spent on the technical side not only sending time on the art side. Otherwise you could end up with a pretty yet unfinished game.
Robin presented us with a very useful insight into the games industry and how we can best prepare ourselves before graduation to go into the world of employment.
LECTURE SIX: Business is Evil – A big picture of the Games Industry & where to find the artist’s place
Christian has over 10 years of experience involved in creation, coding, online marketing and publishing of video games. He began his career in advertising and later decided to join games publishing. He started his own company Actioncy Ltd and is the company director. Actioncy Ltd. assists people in marketing their video games.
Christian spoke about the relationship between Studios and Publishers adn the area inbetween. This covers self publishing studios, Indie publishers (digital) and Free to play and live services.
Christian provided information about how to market video games today and the people & activities involved. He talked about the artists in the industry and different forms of employment.
The term ‘Industry’ is “the people and activities involved in one type of business.”
Studios, Publishers, services (outsourcing) areall intertwined in the production and publication of a game. Christian spoke about the industry characteristics; mass production, margin, customsation and know how.
-Mass Production. Execute at scale. Effeciency wins
-Know how. Research and development and IP required for execution
-Customisation. Ability to cater truly for specific customer needs
-Margin. High ratio of turnover/cost
Research and Development, Creative – Focus on being effective, Do the right thing
Distributing, Publishing – Focus on being efficient, Do the things right
Game Studios-AAA and Indie; Crytek, rocksteady, Tt games, Rockstar games, Creative Assembly etc
Publishers- there are more indie studios who will self-publish, rather than go to a big publisher
Services- there is a growing number of companies who will focus on ousourcing any element of tasks that have to be executed by the studios and the publishers.
The Game Publisher’s Business/A way to look at the industry:
Input + Operation = Output
-Talent -Finance -Games
-Captial -Marketing -Brands
-Access -Distribution -Return of investment
Chrisitian mentioned common misconceptions people have about artists in the industry;
-They only work on the studio aspect of a game. Artists can be involved in marketing and much more.
-Game art starts from scratch. Quite often artists work on other people’s ideas or work in the production pipeline.
-Artistic freedom is a condition not an outcome. The more work you do and deliver you will gain more trust and ultimately gain more artistic freedom.
Nick Carver – 2D & 3D Concept Artist
LECTURE SEVEN: ‘Levelling up your career through personal projects’.
Nick has been in the video game industry for 14 years, in that time working mostly on art; texture, character, props; generally working as an envirionment concept artist.
The main point of Nick’s lecture is that It can be difficult to create in a ‘vacuum’. It is important to get inspiration from the people around you and the outside world.
Another main point Nick made is all of your work is part of your education. Whether that is to fulfil a brief for a studio/uni or to improve at something. Break down tasks into manageable sizes then build up.
Bring different ideas to the table, be original
Grow your curiosity, ask lots of questions
An inspiring quote Nick said is ,”Do as much traditional work as you can, in as little time as possible”. This is something that I myself do not do. I very rarely get my sketchbook out and do quick traditional sketches and studies. It is useful to practise this as it focuses on rapid idea generation. However, Nick made the point that when it came time to work from his imagination, he felt he was lacking in direction after doing so many 2D anatomy studies.
Nick teaches three elements towards self improvement and being creative:
-Skill you want to improve at
-Subject for putting that skill into practice
-Reason for doing so. (Design purpose within a larger project)
Art direct yourself:
-Shape is King. Draw using sihouettes and simplistic graphical shapes.
-Game as colour script. Handful of dominant colours in one frame of game.
-Create Concept Art from within the game. Storytelling within concept art. Concept Art isn’t necessarily feasible or achievable considering current technology. Start with screen captures or assets and build up on them.
-Handcrafted Imperfection. By modelling in 3D the outcome is often perfect shapes with no imperfection whether it’s low poly or not. Injecting personality into props and assets. No parallel lines for quirky and interesing results.
Nick says to always be developing your own ideas as a way of improving yourselves as artists, finish things and put them put there.
Chris Filip – Games Designer & Product Manager
LECTURE EIGHT: Games as Propaganda
Chris is from Romania and very interested in Games as an art medium, propaganda and ideas. He graduated from the University of Suffolk and works as a Game Designer and Product Manager.
Chris defines propaganda as “a message that is skewed to promote a point of view, usually political in nature”. You can create propaganda in games without them becoming political in nature.
Games are a tool of artistic expression and can be used for any number of purposes.
-Games are played by players. Players interact with games. These people spend hundreds of hours interacting with games and with its messages. every decision designers make for the game needs to be informed because the players are going to be affected by the design choices that are made.
-Games make more money that films in he hollywood industry and people are spending more time looking at games than they are looking at films.
-Military propaganda games
-Ideology propaganda. Games based on current events: -Oil game – McDonalds games -Military drone games
How to: skin a game for a propaganda
-Game mechanics are not copyrighted
-Choose a game
-Choose a message/doctrine/ideology
-Impress propaganda upon mechanics
Chris repeatedly raised the point that ‘Propaganda is not good or bad. As game developers, we have a responsibilty to be aware’. Propaganda can imapct the opinions of the players by sending out positive or negative messages.
Games that impress a strong point of view can be propaganda e.g Grand theft Auto (violent), Undertale (non-violent).
Politially charaged games e.g Bioshock, Wolfenstein with completely different points of view.
Artistic freedom within missions can allow players to explore and understand the game’s propaganda, viewpoints and ideas.
The mechanics of the game will affect the player somehow, such as, only having the ability to shoot a gun or having a range of weapons.
Diversity between 2D&3D within AAA & Indie companies
As a group we began researching the relationship/synergy between 2D and 3D artists in AAA and Indie game companies. How these artists’ role and work impacts the development/production pipeline – How do they influence each other? – Numbers of each in jobs 2D vs 3D (which gets hired more frequently?)
It was vital that we contacted professionals currently working in the industry. I contacted ‘Maxime’ who worked as a Senior Level Designer at Ubisoft. He then went on to make his own company ‘Gingear Studios’. This is the perfect case to use for my research since Maxime has a opinion on/ experience in a AAA and an Indie company.
-research actual companies, ubisoft, epik games, ADVERTS artstation, gamesindusty.biz how frequently job roles appear, more or less in sub roles, junior/senior look a JOB TITLES. Big jobs get advertised with more competition. Genralist position bottom of pyramid. -Sources: linkdin, books ‘Game development essentials’, reddit (FAQ), Twitter, actual humans we know,
Artist Roles within an Indie games company:
An Indie company generally hires less people than a AAA company. An Indie game can require employees to take on board several crucial roles as one job.
-Quality Assurance tester
In an independent game company there is more demand for universally skilled individuals. These individuals can be expected to produce a combination of concept art, character, environment, animation, illustration, and design; all 2D and 3D. One person may be expected to complete all of these roles.
We contacted Gingear studio for a professional opinion on this matter. THE OWNER named ‘Maxime’ replied with; “AAA companies hire people to do very specialized work, whereas indie studios are looking for people who are awesome at something and great at lots of other stuff.” Indie companies need creative people who are able to provide a great input on the production of the game. They must not only be proficient in for example, 2D concept art, but simultaneously be capable of 3D concept art. Having a skill in 2D and 3D is much more valuable to a games company as they could hire one person instead of two, when one person is all that is required.
Jobs often require that you must have experience with Photoshop and Maya and similar software. It can be assumed that people won’t be expected to solely be a 2D or 3D artist within a AAA and more importantly an Indie company. Within a role, people are expected to be able to do either or; or the minimum be skilled within other areas.
Maxime worked at Ubisoft (2005 – 2015) as a Software Architect / Senior Level Designer, on projects such as Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Assassin’s Creed III and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii). Looking at his previous roles it is clear he had his fair share of experience in working for a AAA company.
He said, “I was in charge of marketing and finance. For our next game, we don’t plan to be more than 8 on the project, to give you an idea.”
Gingear is an indie games development studio founded by Maxime Beaudoin and Julie Lortie-Pelletier in February 2015.
-‘Game Development Essentials (second edition) Jeannie Novak.
-‘The Video Game Industry: Formation, Present State, and Future’. Edited by Peter Zackariasson and Timothy L. Wilson.