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MrRage

How marketable is it knowing both development skills and 3d skills?

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I know there are plenty of positions out there that benefit from having a mix of the two, like artists knowing how to do some scripting or developers knowing what the tools are suppose to do but I’m not sure which positions would benefit from having both skills really developed. I’m guessing these skills are better for a small team but in any large team they already have great 3D artists and developers so I donno if having both skills will really fit anywhere. I’m guessing I’d have to work for a company like Autodesk that makes 3D tools to really benefit from being both a 3D artists and developer.

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We have a couple people where I work that have changed from either engineering or artist positions to designer positions because they were Jacks Of All Trades. Designers typically use a subset of engineering when they're editing scripts, and a subset of art when they're editing a level or 3D puzzle. You probably wouldn't get assigned tasks for both C/C++ programming and character rigging, for example.

I suppose you might be able to find a job that lets you change positions based on the project demands - if you found a good way to promote yourself this way it would probably go pretty well. Sometimes, even for pure engineers it's tricky to convince the employer that your skills are not "watered down" because of your broad skill set.

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I think I'm the kind of guy you are talking about and I'm currently looking for a job so I can give you some relevant information:)
I've done artistic work (modelling, texturing, lighting, animation and the like). I wrote scripts and C++ plugins for 3ds max. I wrote C++ OpenGL demo with a couple of shaders (like normal mapping or matrix pallette skinning). And I have masters degree in Marketing & Management specializing in Investment and Corporate Financial Strategy. I also worked as a professional translator for a while and did many more interesting stuff for myself. So my background is even more broad than the one you mentioned;)

But to answer your question: THIS IS A DISASTER!!!

I was looking for a job as a technical artist since this role involves both art and programming (at least in most cases). The first issue is that in most agencies they seem to treat technical artist roles as any other 3d artist roles, so:
1) They will advertise you as a 3d artist even if it is obvious that you do not have enough artistic creativity (like me) or creating artwork is not really challenging enough for you. This is not good for you, cause the people reviewing your work at the company will see that.
2) They won't even put you forward for any position unless you show them some beautifull renders. You can forget giving them some scripted plugins or tools - they won't be able to check them.
3) You have to choose between contacting people responsible for tools roles and artistic roles - the first group will ignore your artistic skills, the second - your programming skills. And both groups are going to ignore your education if it is not art or programming related (like in my case) ;)
Contacting companies directly does not really help cause you may have trouble getting through the HR at all (they seem to be a bit ignorant and busy throwing away piles of applications) and sometimes only an agency-backed application can draw their attention.
4) Most technical art positions are for people with at least 2+ years of production experience so if you are entering the job market your broad skills do not really help you much. You are better off creating a handfull of game assets and looking for some entry-level artistic positions.

[Edited by - therealremi on June 27, 2007 12:01:50 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by therealremi
... I'm currently looking for a job ...
... I have masters degree in Marketing & Management ...
... But to answer your question: THIS IS A DISASTER!!!

I would think that not having a job would be a negative thing rather than a positive, because as an unemployed person you apparently haven't figured something out.


I am not currently looking for a job, but I've occasionally been a position to hire people like the original poster.

I don't have a master's degree in marketing, but I have seen what influences me when making decision.

And finally, I don't think it is a disaster at all.


Quote:

The first issue is that in most agencies they seem to treat technical artist
... 1) They will advertise you as ...
... 2) They won't even put you forward for any position ...

Don't go through hiring agencies. Their job is not to get you a job. Their job is to fill a vacancy that the studio hasn't managed to fill on their own.

Recruiters and agencies are very low on the totem pole of hiring. You are best off with networking with people directly (such as here), making human contact with people at nearby companies and applying even if they aren't publicly looking, and searching through the ads here and at other sites like gamasutra and applying even if they haven't publicly announced that they are hiring.


Quote:
3) You have to choose between contacting people responsible for tools roles and artistic roles - the first group will ignore your artistic skills, the second - your programming skills. And both groups are going to ignore your education if it is not art or programming related (like in my case) ;)
Contacting companies directly does not really help cause you may have trouble getting through the HR at all (they seem to be a bit ignorant and busy throwing away piles of applications) and sometimes only an agency-backed application can draw their attention.

You shouldn't go through HR. HR's job is to find reasons to remove you from the job pool. Find and talk to the individuals who need the job filled, and convince them directly that you have the skills they need.

Also, when starting out, don't try to oversell yourself. We *know* that you don't have tons of experience. We *know* that you have a short history. Don't pad it. Just keep to short factual statements illustrating what actually did for the projects you have worked on. See some of the resume analysis threads in the forum for lots of advice on that one.

Quote:
4) Most technical art positions are for people with at least 2+ years of production experience so if you are entering the job market your broad skills do not really help you much. You are better off creating a handfull of game assets and looking for some entry-level artistic positions.

When we invest in making an ad, we include the list of things we want to see. If you don't have all of those exactly but you still think you can do the job, contact us anyway.

You aren't shopping for jobs in a vacuum, you are competing against everybody else who is applying for the job. We're going to hire somebody eventually because we need the job done. If you are the best fit among those who apply, we'll end up taking you even if you aren't a perfect match.


When first getting a job in this (or any other) industry, you need to be able to accept any relevant job, even if you have to move or feel underemployed. From that job you can transition to the work you really want.

In your case of looking for both art and developer, get any job you can find as either an artist or as a developer. With that work experience you will develop many contacts. Let the people around you know that you have interests in the other area, and want to move that way. Take active steps inside your company to make the lateral move. If they don't have the option, then you will have the additional work experience and contacts, and you can move to another company that gets you closer to your goal.

I would suggest you get started in tools and not game cores.

Don't give up, it is a very useful combination of skills. If you have the maturity and can develop the experience to back up the knowledge, you can go far.

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I suspect there are rather more JOATs in this industry than in most, just because of its nature. People in managerial and/or design roles really do need to have a solid grasp of *all* the various aspects of game development.


  • The designer whose only interest is in technology tends to end up creating technology demos rather than well-rounded games.


  • A designer whose primary interest is in graphics will often design games which throw graphics at the player to disguise shallow gameplay.


  • A designer whose main interest is in storytelling will end up producing very linear games, such as the logic puzzle which uses movie sequences as player rewards. (Akin to forcing the reader of a novel to solve a crossword puzzle before he can turn to the next page.)


  • ...and so on.


  • The designer who loves *all* the media involved in game development will produce a much more rounded game than one who doesn't.

    Many of the better film and TV directors have cross-disciplinary backgrounds too, so games aren't unique.

    *

    An important caveat is that you should take care not to become too infatuated with your chosen industry. If your only influences are other games, all you'll ever make are derivative games larded with references to other games and obscure industry in-jokes. This can work well if the gameplay itself stands on its own, but this is rarely the case.

    The movie and TV industries are suffering badly from this kind of self-referential, ego-massaging hero worship of past glories. Witness any "post-modern" horror-flick from the last 10 years or so. (Or any movie by Quentin Tarantino, who at least has good storytelling skills to balance his love of pastiche.)

    A second, very important point, is that a JOAT will never, almost by definition, be as good as a subject specialist. (Often there are natural biases; some tend towards audio, others towards graphics, while more lean towards technology -- most of the ex-8-bit developers in this industry fit the latter profile.) The simple fact is that there are only 24 hours in a day and you will eventually have to let something slide or you'll be forever falling behind. (It's been 12 years since I did any pixel art professionally, for example. I like to keep my hand in, but it's definitely a hobby now rather than my bread and butter.)

    Good managers will recognise this, but you do need to be aware of this issue and not let it get you down. You can either specialise and shine in a small niche, or you can become a synthesist instead.

    *

    That said, intelligent, sensible management practices isn't something this industry is famous for. Don't expect job-hunting to be quick or easy.

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> I’m guessing I’d have to work for a company like Autodesk
> that makes 3D tools to really benefit from being both a 3D
> artists and developer.

You don't have to go that far. Game studios tend to write their own tools because that encapsulates their expertise; and that 80% of game development costs go into the art pipeline. Someone who can design and implement tools for artists (and who knows how artists really work) is a real boon here. And if you have this magical stuff that makes you deliver those tools in a short amount of time, you're sitting on a big pile of gold.


> And I have masters degree in Marketing & Management
> specializing in Investment and Corporate Financial Strategy.
> {...}
> I was looking for a job as a technical artist {...}

Not to be off-topic here, but game companies are looking for focused, dedicated, and passionate individuals. Having degrees left and right sends the wrong message, unless you can prove there is a common thread between them.


-cb

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Yeah, it's definitely an advantage to have both skill sets. I started off in my earlier days as an artist, near the end of high school I fell in love with programming.

Being able to know what artists are looking for, or if there's a slight technical/artistic touchup that needs to be done, it's a lot easier when you can go in and make those changes yourself.

I make sure to put that forward on my resume and it's helped me land positions.

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Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one.

I market myself as a Programmer primarily, though I dabble in the arts and music, but done nothing serious in the later two for me to list it in my resume.

I did find, however, that at least here (in my country), there is such a thing as being overqualified, or give the impression of being so, my advice, if in desperate need of a job, is to customize your resume for each prospective employer, clipping all the things irrelevant to them and emphasizing the skills they are looking for.

In the end all of your extra talents makes them think you'll either be asking for a higher than average salary, or that you'll find yourself bored too soon and find a new job leaving them with the problem of looking for a replacement... and they may even be right [smile].

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Only advertise yourself as an artist / 3D modeler if you have an art portfolio consisting of 2D and traditional art aswell as 3D models. Just being able to use max or maya doesn't make somebody an artist.

Of course being a programmer and knowing the ins and outs of a modeling package can help but a lot of studios are put off by people who claim to be good at both. Even if you are exceptionally good at both they'll still think in the back of their minds "Jack of all trades master of none".

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