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amade

Seeking to learn by doing - Creating art for games

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First, a little background information. Please bear with me. If you rather not, you can skip my rambling (which I've spoilered) and scroll down to the main points of the topic.

Spoiler

 

Primarily, I'm an artist. I love art. I like creating art.

I'm a freelance artist/graphic designer residing in Malaysia. I'm in my 30s, with no degree/diploma to my name, slim and outdated portfolio (I've expunged most of my old and embarrassing works, and lost half of it when a HDD failed), have poor networking skills, and a limited foothold in any specific art-related industry. In terms of experience (i.e. things I got paid for, not merely done as a hobby), I've done stock art, photomanips, illustrations, vector art, book covers, children's illustrations, logos, game assets, etc... but I never made deep inroads into anything or specialized in any one area. Ironically, what pays the bulk of my bills is not art, but my localization work for a certain very successful game develepor/publishing company (not that I'm complaining, I love translation work and languages in general, and am currently learning a 3rd language, but it isn't my primary goal or purpose).

It sounds like I'm a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none, with emphasis on master-of-none. And while I'm fine with that, I am a firm believer of constant self-improvement. I like learning and trying new things, even if I don't usually explore them in-depth. I have great admiration for master craftsmen and professionals who truly immerse themselves in their respective fields, but I never had the the same kind of drive these people have inside me. I like to sample stuff, then move on. This is probably a character flaw, and a career handicap; some would say, but my positive spin on it is that it helps broaden my mind.

I don't think my life is all that bad, it's fairly comfortable in fact, but it feels like it's lacking ambition. I would like to create or help create something epic one day; a visual novel, or a game, or just some mind blowing piece of illustration... but that is not likely to happen in my current state. I need to grow my skills, gain more experience, produce more art and work my way there. Which field I should focus on doesn't matter to me.

So where does game development fit in all this? The answer is simple and straightforward; it's one of many things I can create art for, so I want to make a foray into it.

 

If you're curious about my work, you can see it here: https://amade.deviantart.com/gallery/

I used to have a proper portfolio site, but I've pulled it down pro tem while I focus on rebuilding my portfolio.

 

 

So here's the meat of the issue...

I want to make games so I can make art for it. It doesn't have to be original, or complex. But it has to be playable, and possibly interesting enough for people to try it even if just once. Ideally, I should just make art for other people's games, but I'm not in a position where I have the necessary skill/experience/portfolio to attract potential collaborators or employers, and the few games I have managed to get into have either stalled or failed completely.

Short-term goals:

  • Learn to make small, simple games;
  • Make art for games;
  • Make connections with game developers and other artists.

Long-term goals:

  • To actually have something worthwhile in my portfolio related to game art;
  • To break into the game industry.

Tools and skills I have:

  • Aptitude for art, with proficiencies in a variety of areas (conceptual, vector, dot-pixel, texturing, etc);
  • Various art related software and hardware;
  • RPG Maker VX Ace (I got this from a Humble Bundle ages ago, but never really got to learn how to use it).
  • Good people skills (is it weird that I can have poor networking skills at the same time?)

Challenges I face:

  • Poor coding skills and limited scripting knowledge - I prefer to focus on making art rather than improving this area.
  • Limited resources - Heavily reliant on freely available knowledge/tools/assets.
  • Completing projects - I've only ever seen my art, what little of it used, in demos. I would like to have a completed game for once, and to do that I will have to start small and simple.

Possible solutions:

  • For starters, something that's easy to learn, and I can output within a short frame of time on a regular basis taking into account of my skill level;
  • A willing mentor of sorts;
  • Cheap courses I can physically attend locally (this is a long shot, but I learn better this way);
  • Participate in graphical modding projects of popular games (something I've done for some games, but have little of quality to showcase).

tl;dr, I need a starting point, a way to get the ball rolling and maintain the momentum, as well as advice and guidance along the way.

 

I welcome any and all input on the matter. Thank you for taking the time to read through to the end.

//amade

 

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4 hours ago, amade said:

RPG Maker VX Ace (I got this from a Humble Bundle ages ago, but never really got to learn how to use it).

Start with this then. Make it a very simple story, something like "Hero saves Princes" focus on creating good scene art and character art. Especially focus on characters.

RPG Maker is very simple and a good place to start; once done with it you can move to GameMaker or Unity.

 

The main tool you have is art, so make that the focus of every game; even if it means that you need to break the normal rules to get your art working.

Most importantly don't hesitate, start now; making games is a long journey so start as soon as you can.

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On 5/13/2018 at 2:50 AM, amade said:

Hello, i am searching for a person like you.

  • Learn to make small, simple games; : Yes
  • Make art for games; : YEEESSSS
  • Make connections with game developers and other artists. : Not sure if i find any person like you willing to make art for my/our games, hard to find anyone.
  • To actually have something worthwhile in my portfolio related to game art; : Yes, im making a simple game for windows32
  •  
  • To break into the game industry. : Not with me, i make free games.

 

  • Aptitude for art, with proficiencies in a variety of areas (conceptual, vector, dot-pixel, texturing, etc); : I only need low poly stuff so it will run on old computers, texture may be higher resolution.

 

  • Various art related software and hardware; : You are a very serious person
  • RPG Maker VX Ace (I got this from a Humble Bundle ages ago, but never really got to learn how to use it). :
  • O NO, here it goes wrong, RPG does that mean rocket propelled grenade ?, then we are cool.
  •  
  • Good people skills (is it weird that I can have poor networking skills at the same time?)  : i dont care just give me the art ( how rude of me )
  •  
  • Poor coding skills and limited scripting knowledge - I prefer to focus on making art rather than improving this area. : i am glad to to all the coding, and i already have done.

 

  • Limited resources - Heavily reliant on freely available knowledge/tools/assets. : if you use blender we be fine, there you can save .x files as meshes for in my directX9 game.
  •  
  • Completing projects - I've only ever seen my art, what little of it used, in demos. I would like to have a completed game for once, and to do that I will have to start small and simple. : I came to this point else i was not asking.
  •  

  • For starters, something that's easy to learn, and I can output within a short frame of time on a regular basis taking into account of my skill level; : You just need to make some spaceships and robots, a player ship and more enemys.
  • A willing mentor of sorts; : I am a mental, is that also good ?
  • Cheap courses I can physically attend locally (this is a long shot, but I learn better this way); : I dont sell info.
  • Participate in graphical modding projects of popular games (something I've done for some games, but have little of quality to showcase). : no more modding.

 

So please ditch the fantasy RPG stuff, here only mechy techy spacey robot spaceship ( 100% mechanic design, nothing natural )

You want ?

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On 5/13/2018 at 1:18 PM, Scouting Ninja said:

Start with this then. Make it a very simple story, something like "Hero saves Princes" focus on creating good scene art and character art. Especially focus on characters.

RPG Maker is very simple and a good place to start; once done with it you can move to GameMaker or Unity.

 

The main tool you have is art, so make that the focus of every game; even if it means that you need to break the normal rules to get your art working.

Most importantly don't hesitate, start now; making games is a long journey so start as soon as you can.

What about HTML5? Is it relatively easier to learn? I once tried making a Flash "game" with AS3, I was learning as I go and it took me weeks to come up with something very simple containing less than 1k line of code (which I'm willing to bet is still grossly bloated due to my noobiness). And it wasn't strictly a "full" game, more like something that could be a component of a game.

I tried to learn to use RPG Maker, but I got lost in all the tutorials (the ones that are freely available on the internet). It seems like RPG Maker should be easier to learn, but for some reason I had an easier time reading through the documentation for AS3. Maybe I'm not looking at the right tutorials?

 

1 hour ago, the incredible smoker said:

 

So please ditch the fantasy RPG stuff, here only mechy techy spacey robot spaceship ( 100% mechanic design, nothing natural )

You want ?

I'll send you a PM and we can discuss it.

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1 hour ago, amade said:

What about HTML5? Is it relatively easier to learn?

Lucky you are a artist so explaining this is easier.

Games is an art. Remember when you started drawing, how you failed to replicate what was in your head. Remember how to draw a face you had to learn to make each part and bring it all together as one piece. Do you remember drawing random things just to practice your art?

Mostly do you remember finishing something and thinking "I could do that better now."? That is making games.

You need to start making random attempts at random games. Store away your big idea for now and just start with small simple games, games you maybe won't even like playing. You need to practice making games.

 

If RPG maker isn't to your taste try GameMaker, it can also make browser games.

You need to start with something very simple; like the first time you drew something was probably using what ever piece of paper and pen/pencil you could find. Focus on the games not the tools right now.

1 hour ago, amade said:

Maybe I'm not looking at the right tutorials?

Here is a few: https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/a-list-of-tutorials-for-beginners.15135/ 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Lucky you are a artist so explaining this is easier.

Games is an art. Remember when you started drawing, how you failed to replicate what was in your head. Remember how to draw a face you had to learn to make each part and bring it all together as one piece. Do you remember drawing random things just to practice your art?

...

You need to start with something very simple; like the first time you drew something was probably using what ever piece of paper and pen/pencil you could find. Focus on the games not the tools right now. 

I think one way to ask the question is which one is more like a pencil.

Back when I was studying in art college, the basics start with learning figure drawing (drawing people, faces, etc). While one could learn to do figure drawing using almost any medium, pencils were the primary choice because it's simple to use and learn with (though I had in fact been partial to charcoal instead).

Of course, I have no idea if it could fit as an analogy for game development, despite it also being a form of art. Is there a game development equivalent to figure drawing, and is there a tool that is most conducive to learning it?

 

9 hours ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Thanks for that, I'll have another shot at it.

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11 hours ago, amade said:

Is there a game development equivalent to figure drawing

The equivalent of that would be a engine like Unity. Something simple and elegant, used by beginners and professionals alike.

The thing is that from your post it sounds like you want results fast. If you started with Unity or a engine of that level it would take you more than a year just to learn the basics. Just the same as drawing took you years to learn.

I actually have an example: https://www.gamedev.net/blogs/entry/2263600-100-days-of-vr-intro-day-1-going-through-the-unity-ball-tutorial/

In the developers blog, https://codingchronicles.com/100-days-of-unity-vr-development, you can see the developer reached day 72, at this point the developer is still making less than marketable games.

 

The thing is that if you start now with RPG maker, you can have a marketable game in a 100 days. It will be 2D, not fancy but it will look good because of your art skills and it will work with very few bugs.

The problem is that if you stick with RPG maker forever you would limit your growth, but it is fantastic for learning the basics.

Best game I know: Alter A.I.L.A Genesis

 

GameMaker is more flexible and still easy to use. It will take longer to learn but you could make a good game in say 128-180 days. The biggest advantage is that if your interest is in 2D games then there is no limit to what you could learn using GameMaker.

Popular games using GameMaker: Undertale, Spelunky, Dungeon Souls, Deadbolt, Risk Of Rain  and many top quality 2D games.

 

Unity is much harder to use than GameMaker but even more flexible. It is a fantastic 2D engine and a good 3D engine. It will take +/- 2 years before you reach the point where you can make a marketable game.

Best 2D games by Unity: Cuphead, Ori and the Blind Forest, Hearthstone etc.

 

Most of the 2D market is covered by GameMaker and Unity.

 

My advice is start with RPG maker, keep to it and make your first game. Then make your next game in GameMaker or Unity; this way you can have a game to show quicker and the things you learned in RPG maker will help you in the long run.

Also as a artist it helps when you have a huge list of engines you are experienced with, it shows you are versatile and can adapt to software.

 

Don't start from code only, unless you plan on being a programmer. Making a game without a engine is a fantastic way to learn how to program and to develop game; but takes much-much longer than using a engine.

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Posted (edited)

@amade

Quote

Aptitude for art, with proficiencies in a variety of areas (conceptual, vector, dot-pixel, texturing, etc);

Sounds like you prefer 2D-oriented art?

Like @Scouting Ninja stated, RPG Maker is a reasonable choice, although an RPG might be a little too big to start with.

On 5/13/2018 at 2:50 AM, amade said:

For starters, something that's easy to learn, and I can output within a short frame of time on a regular basis taking into account of my skill level;

An easier genre to practice 2D art would be Idle- or Clicker-games. These typically don't require as much code (if any at all, depending on your engine choice) and have fairly simple gameplay, therefore you can make them rather quickly. You could start with only using splash arts, then add animated sprites in your next project and slowly build your way up to complex 3D modelling/texturing, etc.

Another option are old fashioned, text-based dungeon crawlers, using your art as background illustration for the story.

You also could try to make a visual novel 'game'.

 

Scouting Ninja's other suggestion, GameMaker 2, is a good and popular 2D engine, which doesn't focus on a specific genre and does NOT require code at all (but you can add some later on) https://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker

There's a free, endless trial (with limited functionality of course, but that shouldn't matter for a beginner), as well as tutorials and quite a big community, so you can expect to find people to help you.

 

EDIT: If you decide to pick up something that involves programming or scripting, feel free to send me a DM, containing your programming/scripting language of choice. If I happen to know that language, I could provide assistance to get started

 

Edited by Iltis

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In my honest opinion, if you are interested in art just stick to art. Every single minute you spend to learn to code/develop games is going to be a minute you will not spend to learn/practise art. Moreover, nowadays game engines change after few months, so you will have to re-learn/update your skills to be able to keep making games.

Find someone who code the game you want (or make a deal about the game) and focus in your art and learn game dev art pipeline (this is quite important, it is not just about making art, also exporting it nicely and optimizing it for games)

 

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@Scouting Ninja & @Iltis

Thanks, those are some very useful tips!

Since I already have RPGMaker I will stick to it for now and persevere. I'll branch out to other engines after I learn the basics in RPGMaker and have had enough practice.

And yes, I lean more toward 2D art, and while I can do 3D it's not really my strong point. Although I do have some ideas for games, they're a bit too advanced for me for now and might not be feasible with RPGMaker. At the moment, the type of games I want to create are just simple ones that could almost be mere clones of other simple games, but with my art in it. I wouldn't exactly call them marketable, but the important thing is that I make a complete game, get practice and gain experience, and have something to showcase. Then, perhaps one day I'll have enough knowledge and/or connections to start making games that people would really want to play.

 

3 hours ago, NajeNDa said:

In my honest opinion, if you are interested in art just stick to art. Every single minute you spend to learn to code/develop games is going to be a minute you will not spend to learn/practise art.

...

Find someone who code the game you want (or make a deal about the game) and focus in your art and learn game dev art pipeline (this is quite important, it is not just about making art, also exporting it nicely and optimizing it for games)

There is truth in that, but I had already given it consideration before coming here to look for guidance. I could just keep churning out artwork, build up my portfolio with something that looks relevant, and look for projects to join. But I already decided to try and go for a more hands on approach. I have no doubt it will take a considerable amount of time, even if I'm looking to do something simple at first, but I strongly believe it would be worth it.

 

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