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AnthonyNg

if (Game.Programmer) { Graphic.Design.Artist? }

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Hello GameDev.net community,

I'm interested in knowing if being a good game programmer would also require having a great knowledge of graphic design. If it is essential to knowing graphic design, what sorts of software is out there that enables me to put stunning visuals into my game (as opposed to gathering images on flickr / google images).

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You can be a great game programmer even if you can only make stick figures in mspaint.

However, if you want your game to have great art, you need at least one of the following:
  • Procedural art.
  • Hire artists.
  • Learn how to make the art yourself.As a programmer, you only need to know how to get the art into the game (exporting and/or processing, loading) and how to render it.

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No, art skills are not required to be a good programmer.
Stunning visuals do require art skills however.

N.B. Graphic designers create brochures, advertisements, illustrations, web-designs, user-interfaces, etc... Most game-related art-work is not 'graphic design'.

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Anthony,
A game programmer does not have to be an artist, just like a construction worker doesn't have to mine iron ore and smelt girders (just like a furniture carpenter doesn't have to be a lumberjack). But if you want to make a game all by yourself, then you'd need to be a programmer and an artist and a musician and a designer and a businessman and...

If you'd like to know more about the specialties in the game industry, you're welcome to scroll up and click this forum's FAQs. And you're welcome to read "Time to Specialize, Jack"

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[font="arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif"]A successful programmer will have his or her hand dipped into all areas of game creation. He or she should know how to competently speak to designers, artists, and musicians (and with other programmers, probably).

The fact is you have an advantage over these people by being a programmer, if you also know something about their professions. Artists make good art, but they don’t know what formats are good for this part of the game or that, etc. (until they gain experience by working in the industry for a while, but even then you still know better).[/font]

It helps to even know their tools and techniques, but that is not strictly necessary. It is necessary, however, to at least know enough about art to know what kinds of file formats you want from the artists. Artists tend not to know the nuances of RLE compression, when it can make images larger instead of smaller, etc.

You need to know enough about music to at least know what type of audio file you want. Stereo? Mono? As we work with new sound engineers, they keep giving me sound effects in stereo. They need to be mono for them to be 3D.



Your long-term goal should be to know how to use Photoshop, Maya, and 3D Studio Max, even if you yourself can only make crap with them.
You may not be good at art, but you can direct an artist much better if you know your way around the software. If you can’t quite express your vision, you can stand by the artist and tell him or her to “extrude this area out to…yeah right there, now select these faces and make a new phong material and…”
You may even find yourself teaching them new things. I’ve taught many artists how to exactly center text or any other object in Photoshop using a little trick they hadn’t considered (I see them trying to manually center things by adjusting them one pixel at a time and eyeing it closely, and that kind of humanoid imperfection drives me nuts).


And who knows? Maybe you will find a hidden passion.
I like music at least as much as programming, and am now making a classical CD (and a few other music deals soon to take place).
I also do my own art.


L. Spiro

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[font="arial, verdana, tahoma, sans-serif"]A successful programmer will have his or her hand dipped into all areas of game creation. He or she should know how to competently speak to designers, artists, and musicians (and with other programmers, probably).

The fact is you have an advantage over these people by being a programmer, if you also know something about their professions. Artists make good art, but they don’t know what formats are good for this part of the game or that, etc. (until they gain experience by working in the industry for a while, but even then you still know better).[/font]

It helps to even know their tools and techniques, but that is not strictly necessary. It is necessary, however, to at least know enough about art to know what kinds of file formats you want from the artists. Artists tend not to know the nuances of RLE compression, when it can make images larger instead of smaller, etc.

You need to know enough about music to at least know what type of audio file you want. Stereo? Mono? As we work with new sound engineers, they keep giving me sound effects in stereo. They need to be mono for them to be 3D.



Your long-term goal should be to know how to use Photoshop, Maya, and 3D Studio Max, even if you yourself can only make crap with them.
You may not be good at art, but you can direct an artist much better if you know your way around the software. If you can’t quite express your vision, you can stand by the artist and tell him or her to “extrude this area out to…yeah right there, now select these faces and make a new phong material and…”
You may even find yourself teaching them new things. I’ve taught many artists how to exactly center text or any other object in Photoshop using a little trick they hadn’t considered (I see them trying to manually center things by adjusting them one pixel at a time and eyeing it closely, and that kind of humanoid imperfection drives me nuts).


And who knows? Maybe you will find a hidden passion.
I like music at least as much as programming, and am now making a classical CD (and a few other music deals soon to take place).
I also do my own art.


L. Spiro


Superiority complex much? One of the best programmers at one of my former jobs was the technical artist that started out as a modeller and picked up programming on the side.

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Front-end programmers need art experience.....back-end do not.

This isn't necessarily true. Most of the FE programmers here have next to 0 art experience. I have a good amount, but I'm the exception, and I don't really think it benefits me that much as we have GAs who go through all the graphical elements our SEs do anyway.

Really we just focus on the functionality of a gui element and make it generalized enough for the GAs to be able to tweak visually. If we can't do that we usually do the opposite and have the GAs make all the graphical elements to which we add functionality.

The one exception I could see is if you are more FE developers where each of the developers is a programmer and an artist, but as we have both SEs and GAs for our FE work it isn't really necessary.

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Nope, you don't need to be a good artist at all.

What can help (but is not mandatory) is good communication skills. Of course, this is more "helping you as an employee" and not as a programmer specifically.

Conflicts often arise when artists want something that technology cannot deliver, or that would be difficult to program to the point of delaying the project. It is helpful for a programmer to understand the aesthetic vision of the art department and be sympathetic to it, allowing them to nudge artists along a path that will satisfy their artistic needs while also being technologically feasible. You don't have to be able to draw or paint or model or animate, but just understand what the look and feel of the game is, what satisfies an artist, and what supports the overall experience you're trying to build for the user. Personally, I took some courses on film, basic art (just drawing 101 type stuff) and art history when I was in school. Am I good artist? Absolutely not. I do know about how art works, though, which is very useful when talking to artists.

The same can be said for ANY discipline in game development. It is definitely useful to be sympathetic toward game designers, sound engineers and business types as well. It is quite common to run into development road blocks stemming from those disciplines as well.

None of this is strictly required, though. It can be useful in small teams where people often wear many hats and you interact with the entire art team (all of like 2 people) constantly. I also imagine it could be helpful in a bigger team, but more so for people in lead positions. Not sure about that, though, never worked in a big studio.

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