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Best Time to Recruit Artist

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Dealing strictly with non-paid, volunteer game projects, when is the best time to try to get an artist on the team.
  • Before Beginning
  • Beginning
  • After Basic Engine is Running
  • After Most of Game is Implemented
  • After Completion of Programming If the artist joins before the start, then he can have input on the game design and decisions that have to be made, but then he has to wait until some code is laid down. If the artist joins at the very beginning, he can still influence the path of the game, but some early work might not be viable in the end when the code is changed many times over. When the basic game is running with the barebones, the artist can immediately see the results of his work in the game. Also more specifications are known. When most of the game is done, there is a lot clearer picture of what needs to be done, but then some things might need to be changed to work in the artwork. After the programming is done, the artist would know exactly what needs to be done, but then it would feel like they aren't really part of the project because nobody is actively programming anymore. And there isn't much chance for major input at this stage. Your thoughts.

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    Well if it were me, I would get the artist before the project starts, that way you can talk with him about what you want the game to look like so he can do the art accordingly, then you code up something to see what the artwork looks like in-game, and then tweak the artwork accordingly. Besides, why would you start coding a game with no artwork to use to see if your code actually having the intended affect? Just my thoughts.

    -AJ

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    Quote:
    Original post by u235
    Well if it were me, I would get the artist before the project starts, that way you can talk with him about what you want the game to look like so he can do the art accordingly, then you code up something to see what the artwork looks like in-game, and then tweak the artwork accordingly. Besides, why would you start coding a game with no artwork to use to see if your code actually having the intended affect? Just my thoughts.

    Nice in theory, not in practice. "I'm making a game I need free art" is not an attractive proposal and anyone worthwhile will ignore it.

    When you ask people to work for free, you need to assure them that they are not wasting their time (after all, any artist who isn't working on their own ideas is probably looking to boost their portfolio with completed projects). If you can convince someone that you will complete the game and you will do a good job they will be far more willing to help you do it. The best way to do this is to get your game running first. This will prove that you know what you are doing and suggest that you are committed to sticking with the project.

    Also as you noted, clear specifications will make the artist's life a lot easier. Tugging them around with "well maybe we could do this effect" and "oh sorry turns out I can't make that work" is not fun and will not help productivity. Get past that phase, and then you can tell artists exactly what you need them to do (even better, you can show them).

    Having most of the game done is pushing things too far. You may enter that stage by the time you find help, but you should start looking much earlier than that. Just not so early that you lack the credibility to draw people in, as that is a waste of time for everyone.

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    Great question! Speaking as an artist who has had a lot (and I mean a lot) of artwork go to waste on projects that never got to stage 3 in your list, I would say inviting artists in on the "Basic Engine Running" stage is the one I find the most satisfying. The thing that I love to see more than anything is my artwork imported into a game -- anything less than that is just shadow boxing. That being said, I am going to end up agreeing with both u235 and LockePick, depending on what type of artist you are talking about. Getting a little bit of concept art going at the beginning is a nice start, so someone who is into wide open concepting may enjoy starting at the beginning of a project, as long as that phase does not last more than a month or two. But, for modelers, texture artists and animators, working without a clear idea of how your assets would end up in a game and what the specs are can lead to a strong feeling of wasted effort.

    You could always get some content packs, free or cheap, for placeholders as you are developing basic functionality.

    Scott



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    Very valid comments so far.

    From my own experience (I'm an environmental modeler & concept artist), here's my points on how someone would get me on their project:

    * If it's early on in the project (Before Beginning / Beginning), I would most likely want to see some previously completed projects, especially if it's a rather large undertaking, if it's a programmer this could be a portfolio of game clones or other software, pacman, poker et.c. I would also love to see some info on what they were made in, C++/Java/Using a specific tool etc to get some understanding of how experienced the programmer is I'll be working with. What I do not like to see is a half-ass (pardon me) project website with a load of gun models and info about how great and groundbreaking this game will be, for example.

    * If it's later on in the project, give me some specs of the engine, it's current state etc, something I find important is knowing about the workflow between my tool for creating art and getting it into the engine, what formats it supports, so that I know if I can handle it or if I need to read up on something.

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    When I'm considering helping out with a project, generally I'll want to see some sort of work-to-date. If you already have a core engine working, even if it's just with programmer art or placeholder graphics, it shows that you're committed enough to have put some real effort into the game, and you'll likely see it through to completion. If you are looking for help before any assets have been made for a game, at least have a solidly written design doc in place. This way, the artist can get a sense of what's involved in creating the game, and what the final product could become. Having previously completed work available is also a definite bonus...

    Like Scott said, the main thing artists need to know is that their work won't be created for no reason...

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    The best time to have artist support is very early, so you can get help with visualization sketches, style development, and all that stuff. The artist can also help guide you in where you should put the development efforts WRT "look".

    However, this model pretty much only works if you already know the artist well and he/she is part of the game's founders -- or if you're a real company and are paying people. Artists want to be artistic. This means that you should have the basic game mechanics done, have one (or more) levels done with programmer art, and have the art pipeline very well debugged and documented. That way, artists can come in and make it look better, as well as design the majority of the extra content.

    You should expect that, once aritsts start pushing your tools, bugs and limitations will surface that you'll need to fix.

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