Monday, 4 July 2011

Change of Blog adress

Here is the new link to my Final Year Blog.


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Cheers !

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Life Changing or Career Building ?

The education system is changing each year and universities are trying to constantly improve the offered courses. As students we are all relying on the universities to structure or give us guidance on how to get ready for our graduation and our first jobs. We pick the course which offers similar standards that the industry we want to go has. It is really hard to aim correctly at it because those industries change each year and the universities have to keep up with it on order to have candidates.
What sort of skillset will we need and develop in order to get our job when graduating ? Different companies have different views on what skills an artist should have. I’ve been researching alot of job offers for artists and found out that all of the companies require traditional skills and it doesen’t matter what kind of job are you applying for. Well most people think you need to be an awesome artist to get a proper job but to be honest it’s not entirely true. By talking to different people in the industry I have found out that it differs with the job position actually. Most of the times they require basic knowledge of it. Perspective, Colour theory, shape and form. As an Character artist you need to have Life drawing studies perfect.

The industry changes and the need for specific kind of artists is slowly diminishing. Companies hire people nowdays by a range of skills that they can do because most of the work done in them is outsorced. People that will be able to do alot of stuff will be needed more and more.

How can we predict the future then ? How will we know that what we study will be still needed when we graduate ? The answer is we can’t ! It is a bit of a lottery to be honest. If the industry suddenly changes (which propably won’t happen) it will be like a kick in the nuts, all for nothing. Well the good thing is that in this industry there can’t be a major change that can affect everything we do because the whole industry would fail. But that doesen’t change the thing that a slight minor change can basicly make our last 3 years a waste of time. So the question what can we do about it ? There is one thing tho. Take this into our own hands. Follow how the industry is changing week by week and adjust your learning plan to it. Try to predict . This is the only way to be on top with what is going on.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

2nd Year Review

All years are great if you study what you love to do. First year was just a boot camp. We all came in to this course with no previous preperations. Well in my case it was graphics & multimedia but 5 months before the course I have started doing life drawing to have a chance or a spot on the course. Dunno if that counts.

This year, 2nd year was tottaly different. We had our basic knowledge and now was the time to work on our artistic judgement. First semester was a great come back and a great start. Projects we had were great. Blitz treasure chest was my favourite one. I have found the character brief as a sort of challenge. At the beginning of year 2 I wanted to be a character Artist. I have said to myself that if I want to be one my selfportrait has to be spot on and good quality work. For that reason I have zbrushed my charater. I did that becouse I have had previous year knowledge of building proper topology and base meshes to work within zbrush. I have succeeded with this brief. The final outcome was more than I expected. I was satisfied with it but my interest has changed. Instead of being a character artist I wantted to create environments. Love for great architecture was bigger than I thought.

After Christmas I couldn't wait for the group project. First time using an engine to create playable environment was something I was looking forward to. Working in a group would be our first test before working in the game industry. "You're not a game artist on the course till you do the group project ... " I have to agree with this. This project was demanding. I have learned alot with this project. I can say that it was a good experinece but on the other hand it had alot of downsides. It was said that this is how it would be in the industry. First of all half of the people in the group wouldn't last longer than a month in a company with the ammount of work they were producing. I can say that if all of the people in the group where working on 100 % the outcome would have been totally different. As a group leader at the beginning of the project I have predicted a bit what might happen and have structured the workflow and ammount of work for people. That worked out well and my predictions were correct with few positive suprises. There were times during the project that I knew we weren't able to finish it on time and I hated it. Towards the end I became more positive, was trying to push people with work. Overall I think it was a good project.

Second year was alot better than the 1st one that is why I am looking forward to the 3rd year, becouse I know it is gonna be even better. Now I have alot of time to boost up my skills before September, learn what I will need and practice so that each piece I will produce can be worth having in my portfolio.

Follow the f*cking yellow brick road ...

I have been asking myself this question since the beginning of year 1. Although my artistic judgement and the way I look at things has changed big time. My main goal still stays the same. Work in the game industry and try to reach the top developers. Minor changes have occured also. In the Beginning of year 1 I had no clue about what kind of artist I would like to be. By trying different routes, starting from 2d through props, vehicles, environments and finishing on characters I have clearly setteled on the thing I love to do.

Researching alot of things and techniques has strongly influenced that decision. Without improving my artistic judgement I wouldn't know what is good or wrong. Environments, buildings and Architecture. Mostly historicaly based. Medieval, Reneisance and Baroque are the one that interest me the most, which is why I will fill my graduate portfolio with that stuff. As I always said. Why search for so far away ideas when history itself has great solutions. Or something like that :P ... (don't mind my poor polish translation).

Ok! Enough about the ideas. So how do I get "There" ? The answer is easy. Hard work. As an environment artist I need to focus more on 3D. By any means that doesen't mean abandoning 2D. Using it as quick paintovers to solve problems or sketching up quickly environments is a skill that every environment artist should have. Artistic judgement is more important than technical skill but I think you need to keep up with both in order to land your first job. Showing good artistic decisions is half of the success but knowing how to execute them properly with visual and technical skills is also very important. This is why I need to spend my whole summer and 3rd year trying to keep up with today's visual standards. Next-Gen environments require alot more work than old or current gen. It involves alot of sculpting and high poly modeling which takes time. Another feature I need to improve is my workflow and speed. Getting used to createing simple props for next gen games in one day would be a huge success. By creating I mean modeling, sculpting and texturing all of it in one day. At the end of the day it comes down to how fast can you produce good art. The industry deadlines give us no time to contemplate on what we will be creating.

Introduction to the Game Industry

Past year I've been researching the industry constantly. Reading news and asking friends which are already working in some companies have increased my knowledge in that field. Some facts i've learned I did already know or suspect but some of them were suprising. Although the game industry is suffering the global economy crisis and studios are being close it still is one of the main entertainment sector in the world. Getting a job in it is being harder with each year.

I have always thought that if you are hired as a character artist or an environment artist you will only do that. I was clearly mistaken. It happens in most cases all over the industry, but not all. Some friends that are already working in the industry told me that they thought they will be working on what they applied for but most of the time they do a bit of this, a bit of that and they rearly build assets for environments like they thought they would be doing. Most of the work is outsourced from Asia. The work that they get back is a totall mess most of the time so this is where thay come in to fix it up and put it into the company standards. Tho companies have their specialists like weapon artists, environment artists and character artists but there is only a few of them which are the main guys. They are responsible for the main assets in the game. I think to become one you need to prove in your portfolio how good you are and you are worth having as fpr an example environment artist.
Then how to fit into the bigger picture in the industry ? I think a combination of having alot of usefull skills and specializing in one is the key. On the interview show the best of your work with a diversity of different skills in it to secure youreself a job. It is also very important to research the company you want to work for before building up a portfolio. I am thinking here about companies that are reachable not the high end developers becouse you always need to land your first job and it's up to you how much work you are willing to put in your portfolio to get to the company you want.

Want to work in the US ? Are you an European citizen ? Are you good at what you do ? Than I got great news for you ! You won't get a job ! .... Im done here.
I always thought that as a european citizen I will be able to work in the "US and A" but it turns out that you're more likely to win the lottery than get the proper paperwork to be able to work there. You have to be brilliant at what you do and then the company you want to work for has to enquire for the proper documents for you to bring you to the country. I have heard about people getting jobs in America and they were ready to go work there but all failed becouse they didn't recieve the proper documentation that will allow them to work there. This is sad but true. Dream shattered becouse of some govermental offical which is a horrible pearson.

Although I hear good and bad news from the game industry I still want to work there. Can't imagine myself doing anything else. It is up to me how will I manage my journey in it and how far will I get.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Few words about creativity ...

Is it just a simple word or a complex process that is being created inside our brain ? Well I think the answer is obvious. But the process itself needs some more receptors from the outside word to occur. There aren’t less creative people than others. It is all based on hard work and mostly on experimenting. The most brilliant and creative solutions mostly come unexpected.
'Creativity without craft is like fuel without an engine - it burns wildly but accomplishes little...'
This quote fits here perfectly. In case of being creative a person needs to experiment with ideas and research the subject very widely. Someone would ask what is creative? Well answering that isn’t that simple. I think that every work that presents new solutions and something totally unique is creative.
Innovation perhaps? Well, creativity and innovation are to different things. One is a development of new concepts and ideas and the second ones is applying them into a specific context. Basically one predates the other. In order to make an innovation in any field first you need to finish your creative process.

Humans as a species is very creative. Since the beginning of cultures we saw a rise in many different fields. Technology, medicine, Art, you name it. It has been everywhere. Without it we wouldn’t have any of our day use equipment. For example If it wasn’t for Thomas Edison we would still sit in dark with candles. Well that is just an example but surely someone would came up with a light bulb idea sooner or later. But we all got the point.

As for the art side of creativity. For the past three decades we have seen some brilliant and creative ideas that gave a beginning for something new which for us now is just routine. There isn’t any company in the world that has all the time creative ideas and implements them into the industry. Some of them have their time to shine but for the most time they sit back and do their routine. We can mostly see that in the FPS genre nowdays. I think that the only way to improve it or come out with some creative solutions is to push forward all the potential of that genre using all the technical possibilities that are available. DICE studion already proved to us that all FPS games doesen't have to look like Call of Duty. They did that with releasing Bad Company 2. Now they have created a new engine called Frostbite 2.0 just espessialy for Battlefield 3 which is due to release in October.

What does creativity look like ? It's really hard to say. Some things for some people might be creative and for others not. Depends how you look at it. As I said erlier with the graphics. I think one of the examples could be a massive graphic improvement.

As an artist I think that the most important thing is to keep on going and being strong about your work. Experiment with and research would be the place to start your creative process to expand. The more wide is your area of interest the more different and creative ideas you can produce.

Interaction Design

Interaction in games is a major factor that game developers are constantly improving and implementing new solutions. Without it games would be that same as any other form of entartainment. However it is important for the developers to create a device or a system that is easily accesible for the user. The design has to be clear so that the players are able to play the game however they want without getting frustrated that they can't do or compleate the game becouse the design is a failure.
This perticular field is very wide. It can refer to tools such as remote controlers, joysticks, early console controlers and many other devices that have been on the market since gaming was invented. It also contains stuff like menu design, some parts of game design and control systems. I will be focusing here only on the first set in my entry.
Controlers and various devices are on the market to make the gaming experience better. Back in the days they where pretty much all the same becouse the advancement of the industry didn't allow the developers to create something industry changeing. On of the devices of that kind was the joystick. I remember when I had my first joystick. It was in the late 80's. Used to own my first IBM computer back then. When I was always using my keyboard to do everything having a chance to play games with that device was something magic. As I look at it now it's design reminds me of some sort of blocky space ship from an old cheesy sci-fi moovie. Two buttons on it and a stick with 4 axis in the miidle. The stick was thick as a ballpen. It also had 4 rubber stands on the bottom for better grip or to stick it to the desk. Anyway playing games with that device was very entertaining. Tho there where not alot of games that supported that kind of devices I had to wait couple of years to unleash the full potential of a joystick. Few years later when I used to have my first PC and when a flight symulator game came out I wanted to try it out again. Games have moved on so have the joysticks. I did buy a new one at that time. The difference was staggering. The new design was nothing like the previous one. Now it looked like a proper fighter jet steering stick. I plugged it in and runned the flight symulator F22 game. That was one of the greatest feeling ever playing that game. I have to say that the invention of joystick could have been the beginning of simmilar controllers. Steering wheel etc.

Nowdays we have alot of new devices. Game pads, joysticks, steering wheels, different wii controlers for different games and many more. There is one that focused my interest lately. We all know that nowdays is the era of motion controllers for consoles. Kinect, Playstation Move and those Wii controlers. A developer called razer has presented his new product some time ago. It is called Hydra. They showed it on CES 2011 and whats better they showed it with PORTAL2 ! Here is a video of it in action :

To be honest it looks like a rip off from the nunchack wii controller. Playing custom game maps in portal 2 could be fun but the controler itself demands special custom made maps for it to work. Overall it's not a new invention becouse Wii has already done that but they never calibrated it to work corectly. I think that Hydra could be a better version of that controller and also what is cool about it it will be available for PC !