Monday, October 25, 2010

What you should be able to tell me before you ask for artists.

I’m on Neko team and we have very strong tech, so it takes a lot to impress me. But, after having worked with two teams that weren’t as strong (but still, not bad); I have a decent idea of what it takes to make a power team. I should note that our score average for our engine proof was 10.3. See the video part of our engine proof:

(For those not familiar with DigiPen. Scores are 1-10 and then an 11 if they go “holy moly!” Engine proof takes place during week 5 of the semester. DigiPen engines are built from scratch.)

Here follows, like the title says, what you should be able to tell me before you ask for artists.

The basics: What is the genre? How tightly tied down is this? Do you have a prototype (even in Flash or some such) that is fun? If you weren’t going to do this, what are your fall back points? What is the smallest scope you could have and still have a fun game?

What are the main mechanics? Are they in game? Are they fun?

Will you send me the GDD and any other written assets?

Can I get a screenshot of your current game?

What is your present team size and strengths? (Strongest on architecture or on physics? Weak on gameplay or graphics?)

Who are the members on the team and what are they responsible for?  Is there strong organization and leadership on the team? Is there lots of scheduling or are the members mostly self-starters who take care of their own management?

What's the dedication level of the team? (Are you super ambitious or looking to be solid but not overextend yourselves?) What is the course load of the team? Do they have jobs? How many hours per week are you putting in as a team?

How many minutes of gameplay will you have? By the end of fall semester? End of spring? Do you plan on polishing over summer?

How far along are you currently?

How did your engine proof presentation go? Do you enjoy presenting or just do it to get it done? Either is acceptable, but to find the right artists I need to know the work style of the team.

What is your physics engine like? Do you have collision and resolution? Do you have stacking? If no to either of those last two, how will you avoid needing them?

What is your gameplay like? What makes your game fun? What system (physics, AI, whatever) would you say is most useful in making the game fun? Do you have a level editor? Do you need a level editor?

More questions:
Graphics? Do you have animations in? Do you have animation blending? What file format are you using? Is it easy to get stuff in game? If I handed you 20 models, how long would that take to convert and get in game? Just fbx or something better? My team converts .mb (maya) files right into binary files. What texture types are you currently supporting? Diffuse, specular, normal, glow and alpha? Do you have lighting in? Do you have shadows? Shader library? What versions of direct x do you support?

To almost impress me:
Interactive ambient occlusion? Can you project movies as textures? Any other tech you plan on having?

Are your systems (graphics & physics in particular) integrated into the engine? (Or rather, what is integrated and what is being integrated?)

Do you have AI? Do you need AI? Will there be any enemies?

Do you use sprints or waterfall? How does your organization work? If sprints: What are you trying to get done over this next sprint? How long is your next sprint? What will you have by the next milestone?

What's the desired art style?

What cartoon best represents the art style you want?

What movie?

What emotion or combo of emotions best fits the game?

Any other inspiration?

Post note for devs: Depending on where you're going and where you're at, I might be able to help you nail down an art style guide and get you some strong concept and art in general over the winter break.

I'm a senior. I want portfolio pieces. This means I want to speed artists up with their art asset creation: making gantt charts/scheduling for artists and creating style guides. I know a lot of seniors that are busy right now, but would be willing to make assets over break (and will be working on their portfolios over break). If they're going to be making stuff over break anyway, they might as well be making stuff for games; or I can try and find you juniors/sophomores right away, however they're not as skilled and they don't have a lot of time.

Post note for artists: Don't worry about everything on their end being perfect (actually, on their end or yours) unless it's your senior project. Junior year is the time to learn things, to make mistakes and figure out how best to work with programmers. Work with people you like. It's good to do this sophomore year, second semester if you can, but you won't have a ton of experience in 3d, so try and work with upperclassmen. In general, it is a good idea to have an art team of at least three -- unless you're a beast (like Jengy) who thrives on turning out everything. My artists and I wouldn't be fast enough for this super team without the experiences we have had. When picking your senior project (or if given a choice between teams), the key things you need to know are: A.) Can they presently load all art assets you would want in game and does the result not look horrible? B.) Do they have a level editor/an easy way to get your assets in game? C.) Is their game fun or do they have a fun Flash prototype? Seniors should avoid risking being held back by tech.

Mme. Art Producer Arisa Scott

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