My speciality within the Games Art spectrum is as a concept artist, and as such, I’ll be evaluating it on the basis of its effectiveness within an industry standard.
First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s fairly difficult to actually get a view into what concept artists working actively within game studios actually do day-to-day. This is down to a few different factors:
- Studios don’t want to show off early development versions of their titles – this is understandable, they want a tight control of the ‘feel’ of the game and to make sure it gives off the correct vibes to potential customers, so as to avoid being accused of false advertising. If there was a grand epic scene that was concepted and it was shown around the internet, with lots of fans and enthusiasts getting excited about it, only for the scene/level to be cut due to budgeting or time constraints then there would be understandable issues.
- Studios don’t want to give away their ideas. The mantra usually goes something along the lines of ‘ideas are cheap, execution is key’ and whilst this is true to a certain extent, there are certainly competitors who are making games within the same genre (e.g. first person shooter games, developers such as Activision making ‘Call of Duty’, and EA DICE making ‘Battlefield’), and so they’ll want to keep those ideas from other companies vying for a proportion of their market share.
- It often doesn’t look very pretty. The bulk of concepting work is iterating and generating multiple different ideas for how things work/look/act/fit together and so there’s a lot of sketching involved as opposed to the highly polished finished product that we, as consumers, are used to seeing. Studios don’t want to release that work as it may lead to preconceptions about the final product, and early ideas may not be representative of that, and certainly not in terms of quality.
- Concept art that is released to the general public tends to be something slightly different. Either it is not actually concept work, but more marketing illustrations developed to encourage ‘hype’ for an upcoming game, or it is very late stage concept work that has obviously taken a huge amount of time investment to get it up to that stage.
So it then begs the question – if we, as a general public, are fed something that isn’t actually ‘true’ concept art (for the reasons listed above), then how am I meant to evaluate my own work against an industry standard? Unfortunately that’s where things become tricky.
Ultimately my content creation process is very much in a supportive role – my ideas are nothing without the execution of them, and as such I have to get active feedback from my peers who I’m working with on this project – Lee Devonald (Character/Technical Artist) and Joe Hobbs (Environment Artist).
As I have noted in my production document, the final deliverable for me will be a production document full of my concept designs and processes. Therefore the effectiveness of this could be judged as how religiously the final product adheres to my original concepts.
But this is difficult to judge as often times there are problems with regards to performance issues, as well as artistic nuances that don’t quite make sense that arise when in 3D when in engine that are either completely non-apparent when concepting in 2D, or not something that is obvious enough.
There’s also the factor to take into consideration that the work that I’m doing is “more of a set of guidelines than rules”, and due to the iterative and interpretative nature of our workflow (Lee and Joe, and any 3D modeller, will always add their own touches and tweaks to a design to make it work best in engine), it’s not fair to objectively judge my work on that basis.
Ultimately I’ve produced a set of core ‘ideas’, some of which will be more closely adhered to than others, and their effectiveness can be judged on a series of factors
- Originality of design – although as a side note, different for the sake of being different doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good design. A bright pink dragon that farts rainbows and breathes bubblegum instead of fire is an original idea, but it’s not suitable within the tone and overall setting of the game. It’s important that my designs are within the expected ‘realm’, but not lifts from other games. This can be tricky with prop elements like barrels and crates, but those are secondary detail items.
- Clear and concise breakdowns for production modelling – as much as loose paintings and ‘speed art’ are popular showcases, they don’t communicate a whole lot of design very clearly.
- Artistic execution – the presentation of the ideas is obviously extremely important as my whole job is the visual communication of an imagined aesthetic. This is an objective measure, but there are multiple sub categories within this (light, colour, perspective, anatomy – the list goes on).
So, for the reasons listed above about the public facing concept art (and why what we see as a general audience is skewed), my target audience is different from Lee and Joe. Whilst they are creating content that is public facing, my behind the scenes work is production based, and so I hope to use it in my portfolio to get a job/secure freelance contacts. Thus my target audience is HR managers, those involved in the hiring process, as well as Art Directors and people within the creative field. I need to be able to demonstrate a professional capability to those people.
The target users of my work are Joe and Lee, as they are actively using my designs in their workflow.
How my work will be disseminated/distributed
As detailed in my project proposal, I’ll be compiling my work from the module within a ‘Production Document’ – of which there will be 2 edits:
- Version A: Showcase a highlighted reel of work from the module that is the best, and final designs for everything, and a comparison to the in game assets (by Lee and Joe) where applicable.
- Version B: All work for the module, which will be presented at hand in, concisely edited together. This is a more in-depth version that is available upon request, should someone hiring wish to see more into my workflow.
This will either be hosted online on my portfolio website (ArtStation), or compiled and saved as a pdf document and emailed to prospective employers.
I will look at the possibility of printing and binding this document to send out to studios as a physical self-promotional piece, but that is not an academic focus, as it’s another piece of admin to manage before the hand in that it non-essential.