Thursday, March 6, 2014

unsolicited industry advice

After spending a late afternoon with a bunch of students this week, and seeing GDC on the horizon, I realize how desperately I want new people in the industry to succeed. Really, the reason is selfish. I want to play new exciting games, watch mind altering movies, and read books that redraw the landscape. I want to play in their worlds. That is why I went into this in the first place, I want to create worlds within worlds. Working with really talented people brings me closer to that becoming more tangible.

So, I've decided to periodically offer some industry advice squeezed from my own experience and opinions. I know it isn't much, and I'm sure plenty of people would disagree with this or that, but if I can give any hints, shortcuts, insights, or just some gut checks from grief, then I think it would be worth me scribbling this stuff out on the keyboard. Here are a few for today.
  • If you don't know what to do, decide now what it is you love, and do that. Art has many roles in the entertainment genre these days. It is as deep as it is wide. You know what you gravitate to. You can see where your interests have led splayed out all around you. Commit to a genre, and build from there. Learn all about that industry and find what cog in the wheel you need to be and how to get there. Then get to work becoming the best damn cog you can be. 
  • What is concept design--the JOB? In film it's called Visual Design. It's the visual target for final product. Concept has three roles in games: Blue Sky exploration, Production Concept, and Promo Illustration. Specialists usually only work in one of these roles. Jacks can work in one or all three. I work primarily in production concept and consider myself a Jack, as I am comfortable working on creature, character design and development, weapon/armor, prop, environment, asset, level layout, and texture. Production Concept specialists usually are character or environment. Obviously, smaller studios benefit from having a couple jacks, whereas large studios can and want to support a bigger team of specialists. Blue Sky is all about making beautiful amazing images to sell direction, tone, and scope. Production Concept is solving as many problems upfront as possible for a whole team of devs to follow while upholding style-guide. Promo Illustration is for alignment and selling wow factor internally and player facing. Most of that work is leveraged for marketing material. All of these roles are found in freelance/art-outsource houses, and in-house jobs. 
  • Build a portfolio for a specific client. Build a genre specific portfolio that will showcase your skill-set as a Specialist or a Jack that is catered to studios and clients that revolve around your preferred method of working.  Don't send photo realest work to stylized houses, and don't send a portfolio full of fantasy to a studio that you know will never do anything other than science fiction. I will deep dive on what I look for in a portfolio next time.


Thomas Mühlematter said...

Thanks a lot for the advice, it means a lot for students like me ;)

Stephanie said...

Looking forward to the next portfolio section :) Thanks for this!

virginia critchfield said...

thanks guys