Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Creative Development: The End

I'm coming to the end of my time at University and while I feel I've grown alot, the last few days has made me realise that I've still got a very long way to go especially in terms of my skills and there is still so much more I'm going to have to learn by myself. Hopefully I can achieve all that I set out to do and in the end that's really all I can aim for.

First though, I'm going to finally have a holiday and just relax for a while.

Creative Development: Updated Three Year plan

Considering the new insight into the working world I've got from looking for jobs I thought it might be best to adjust and expand on my three year plan.

I'll still be spending the first 12 - 18 months developing my skills but in this sense it would be things such as specifically working on a higher level of quality when it comes to the art including developing a range of styles, from cartoony to realistic. During this time I will also take extensive life drawing classes and try drawing from life a lot more, I will also develop my modelling and texturing skills by seeing these designs and art pieces realised into three-dimensions whilst closely looking at how professionals model their games aswell as developing my abilities in both Maya and 3ds max. In this time as my portfolio grows I will seek out and apply for internships where applicable by either emailing studios asking for it or finding places that offer them.

Also during this time I will look to create mods for existing games using tools such as garry's mod for source or making mods for other games that allow it. During this time seeing how Will feels about it I could also work on Gutsy's Quest more building levels, assets and improving it considerably and trying to sell it via our original ideals. I will also join up to Game Republic and try get to as many of their networking events and others as possible.

In the next year and a half depending on how well Gutsy's Quest goes it could lead to developing this further and becoming our own little game studio or continue to look for work with an expanded portfolio of work and skills. Initially around the UK, Yorkshire area and then begin to branch out depending on the success rate of my hunt around Yorkshire.

Through out all of this I will also be trying to increase my web presence by posting up as much of work as possible and using my social networking sites as possible to promote myself. One key thing I've discovered is if you want people to notice you don't be afraid to do fan-art as people love seeing things they like in new forms but just don't put any of it in your portfolio.

Following that I'm not sure there's much else I can do besides keep developing my skills and keep applying for jobs. During this time though I plan to play loads of games, read loads of books and watch loads of films to get as much inspiration and influence as I can and just try re-kindle my love for things that I didn't have to time to love for the last few months.

Creative Development: Edge Magazine Job ads (part 2)

Last issue's Edge magazine was very limited when it came to the ad pages but luckily this issue, #238 (huh, seemed to have missed one..) has 8, a much better number so hopefully amoungst these pages I'll find a role that is at least suitable for me regardless of the experience needed.

The first ad is posted by Keen Games (http://www.keengames.com/), a German based games company known for developing the Disney IP game G-Force and a digital version the board game, Anno 1701. Their website mentions that they are currently working on a big sequel to one of Germany's most high profile action game.

Out of their openings one that might be possible for me is the role of environment artist. The usual requirements are their 3 years + in the industry but also extensive knowledge of programs like Z-brush. they do ask from someone who can blend photo textures perfectly so that might be something I can do but ultimately there's not much really that could be applied to me here.

The next ad comes from Sony UK (http://www.playstationjobs.co.uk/) for their various studios in and around the UK. Unfortunately they don't have any openings for any artists at this time.

Next up is Dice (http://www.dice.se), based in Sweden, the company famous for developing Mirror's Edge and the Battlefield series. Thankfully I've finally come across a role that I might be able to do, currently Dice are offering the job of a 3D artist who would be in charge of modelling aspects of the game by developing props, ranging from weapons to vehicles to other game world objects. They say that it would be my responsibility to understand the art direction of the game and see the bigger picture when planning my work load. they also ask that the applicant have these skills;

  • 3D Modelling
  • UV-Mapping
  • Implement 3D assets to game engine
  • Shader and Animation setup
  • Destruction creation and setup
  • Visually tweak 3D meshes according to Art Direction
  • Optimisation according to performance Guides

Most of these things I'm able to, I can also learn the missing abilities such as Destruction creation. They ask that I have three years of experience but also be proficient in atleast on industry standard program, which thankfully I think I know Maya relatively well at the moment.

For this Job I would have to create a wide portfolio of 3D assets both in and out of games that demonstrates a high level of understanding in these skills and show a range of models ranging from weapons to boxes and other real world items (much like I would with an art portfolio). They also ask that I be able to work in a team and considering that Gutsy's Quest has been a team project I think I've developed my working with others and communication skills considerably. Just before moving onto the next ad I noticed Dice do internships but only if they are part of the educational process, i.e. if you need an internship as part of your course to pass. Bummer.

Next is Asobo Studios (http://www.asobostudio.com), a French games developer that deal in creating licensed based, action adventure and racing games, they've worked on titles such as Kinect Rush, Toy Story 3 and Fuel. Unfortunaetly at the moment they only have openings for Programmers.

Next on the list is Tequila Works (http://www.tequilaworks.com/), a Spanish games developer who are creating the up and coming game Deadlight. Unfortunatly at the time of printing the magazine their openings seemed to have dried up...

After that next is Wooga Games (http://www.wooga.com), a game developer situated in Germany that focuses on creating social games like the ones you might find on Facebook or in a browser. Luckily Here there's a position I maybe able to apply for, the role of Mobile game artist. In this role I would be responsible for creating character art, animation, userinterface and backgrounds for a mobile game, considering I pretty much took on this role with Gutsy's Quest I think I maybe quite suitable for the job.

Whilst hey ask for some one who has had experience with Mobile gaming, there are other qualifications that I meet, such as a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design and experience with tools such as Photoshop and with benefits such as being able to add my own input and the low living cost of Berlin (where the studio is situated) really makes this sound appealing. For my portfolio for this job I think I should use a fair bit of Gutsy stuff such as character art and the development pieces but also produces some new pieces that are similar to the works Wooga have previously output, perhaps working on social games would be a good way to get a foot in the door of the games industry?

Next is Denmark based Io interactive (http://www.ioi.dk/), the game company responsible for games such as the Hitman series. They don't have any roles that would be right for me on offer but they did have a link to a sister developer...

Hapti Games (http://www.hapti.co), based in Copenhagen, Denmark is looking to work on console IPs and bring them to browser based gaming. Their Jobs section has an opening for a 3D artist which besides from strong skills with 3D must also be good at creating 2D assets, strong technical and creative skills and knowledge of the current types of games being released. The company is relatively new so i can use this to my advantage, portfolio wise I would choose stuff like Gutsy's Quest to fill it with with other supporting pieces to demonstrate my skills of 2D asset creation. This too could be a possible choice for me in the future..

Finally the last ad comes from Crytek (http://crytek.com/), with their Headquarters in Germany, Crytek also have studios in the UK, Korea and around the rest of Europe. Most famously Crytek develop their own 3D engines and have also produced a range of games including the Crysis series that acts as a sort of showcase for what their engine can do.

In their Frankfurt Studio, there's a position for a freelance Character artist but I think I'm quite under qualified for this position as they ask for understanding of photo realism, 5 years professional experience but there are other skills such as texturing and understanding of photoshop but looking through the requirements just reminds me of how much more work needs to go into my portfolio.

I did also discover that Crytek also take internships with the completion of a university course so i could very well apply for that as it looks like a great way to get experience and the benefits that come along with it such as being paid with accommodation looked after for you makes it seem like a really good opportunity, so I think I maybe developing my portfolio quite quickly to see if I can apply for this.

Looking for jobs has been a bit of an ye opener, there is still work that I have to do on my portfolio such as developing my conceptual and 3D skills but I really do think I take them beyond what I perceive to be my current amateurish level I should be able to begin to apply for jobs at places that specialise in browser or ios game. it's just going to require a lot of knuckling down. When it comes to companies that are over sees I think I'll just have to move there and try fit in as much as possible be it learning the language or customs obviously...


Creative Development: Edge Magazine Job ads (part 1)

I've been buying Edge magazine fore quite some time but up until January of this year it was relatively an on/off style of purchasing. Since Jan' I've be picking up Edge on a regular basis and I do really believe that it's one of the best magazines to stay on top of the games industry in a commercial sense, they also often feature great interviews with game creators based  on a large varieties of topics that often gets me thinking about how far games can go. It also features a regular column by Steve Poole, a writer who I based a lot of my dissertation around. Often in the back there's a section dedicated to ads from game companies looking for new employees so, I'll be looking at some of these ads and writing about what I should be doing to apply for these positions.

In this months issues, #240 there were only three ads for employment, the other were either for an education facility or a recruitment agency.

The first ad comes from the games company Stainless Games (http://www.stainlessgames.com), a UK based games company in the Isle of Wight famous for creating the very controversial game; Carmageddon (which they're currently have a kickstarter campaign for a new sequel) and more recently the hit downloadable game, Magic the gathering: Duels of The planes Walkers.

Unfortunately after seeing their ad and checking their website for the places they would have, there are no openings for an artist of any kind (concept, modelling or texture) so I guess that moves us swiftly onto the other ad in Edge this month.

The next ad comes from Codemasters (http://www.codemasters.com), a Warwickshire based UK game Developer, famous for working on such projects as the Dirt Franchise.

Again Unfortunately they have no spaces for an artist, they have one that is a technical artist but requires much more qualifications than I think I could have (as it seems I would need to change disciplines almost completely) as they ask for someone who is familiar in code and has an understanding of VFX. They also ask for five years experience within the industry. Baring that, there isn't much else I would be nearly qualified for.

The final ad comes from Media Molecule (http://www.mediamolecule.com) a Guildford based games company famous for creating the Little Big Planet games. Currently they only have one opening that I think would be near my skill set and that would be as a UI artist. Unfortunately my only experience with making User Interfaces is with Gutsy's Quest and their also asking for atleast 4 years experience with actually shipping products whilst also being an export in key adobe software of which I am neither

So, my first venture into looking for a employment in Edge magazine has fallen flat, coupled with the events at Game Republic it's beginning to be a real downer to try get into the games industry (or the realisation of just how much further  I have to go...) Ideally I'm trying to find junior positions much like I saw at TT games, I'll give Edge magazine one ore go and them I'll got out an actively seek any studio with that kind of position open.

Game Republic

Well the Game Republic Showcase was an interesting experience, many people seemed interested in our game and gave lot's of positive feedback and the judges seemed quite interested in our work. Unfortunately in the end we didn't win any awards in any of the categories and it resulted in us really confirming our own opinions about our work, which is it's not on a  good enough standard yet. We don't believe that Gutsy's Quest in a concept we should give up on but that it just needs alot more work (and a lot more time).

The day itself wasn't really that informing either in terms of practical information as when the panel at the end of the day opened up and it was time to hear about the benefits of Unity and how to break into the games industry it was information that I had read/heard or learnt about before (which I guess means I had done some pretty extensive research over the last few years?). Everything that could be applied to me in terms of applying for a job was asked in the base questions to get the panel started, I guess it was nice to hear these answers told again but it was a bit of a downer that there was no new information for me to take in. One thing that the panellists talked about was having passion for the work and I think that's something I've lost over the last few years, the passion for art and video games being that outside of doing them for uni I haven't had much time to sit down and draw or play games to full get absorbed into the experience of them and that's something I'm looking to re-kindle after I finish university.

Coming away from the event I released that I do really have to develop my skills and my portfolio alot more in general and I guess that's what I'll be doing anyway (see 3 year plan). Will and I believe we shouldn't give up on Gutsy as we do believe there is a gap in the market for an adventure game you can pick up and play in short bursts on your way to work and what have you, from here we will try develop it further into more of a rounded off experience that's much better than the current build whilst looking to find a proper coder considering that neither of us had much experience in the matter.

Overall the day was okay, there was a lot of waiting around and it was fairly exciting to be showing our game to someone else but at the end of the day all it really did for us was show us where we had fallen short and how ill prepared we were compared to other teams (although in some areas I'm not sure how we could have been more prepared given the time we had). I think what stung the most for us is that through the whole day we never got any constructive criticism, everything we heard was positive which doesn't really help us much. If other Game Republic Events are like this it might be worth signing up to show off our work to more potential employers or just really get ourselves out there but for now all I'm really thinking about is having a break from all of it to recharge my batteries.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Creative development: The Three Year Plan

Now that I'm coming to the end of my time at education it's time to start formulating a plan of what to do about spending the next several years and finding a job in my ideal industry.

Currently I'm quite fortunate that I already have a job and can afford to sustain myself and I feel I should use this to my advantage as I can focus on developing my portfolio and searching for a new job whilst keeping a fair comfortable lifestyle.

My plan for the next three years isn't really all that complex. For the first 6-12 months I plan on working on my practical skills such as my modelling and digital art skills and building up my online presence within this time. This will include working on producing a range a nigh quality pieces of work for my portfolio whilst developing my skills using tutorials and generally experimenting to show how good of a conceptual artist I can be. During this time I will also be developing my modelling and texturing skills using new pieces of software such as 3ds Max. I fell this is a wise choice as I've learned a lot of new skills during my time at university but I haven't had enough to to hone and refine them to a level I would feel comfortable presenting to future employers.

Through out this whole time I will join Game Republic and use the membership benefits such as networking opportunities to get to meet people within the industry to raise my profile, I feel this is a good move as Game Republic definitely seems to look out for the individual and at it's very reasonable membership few per year it would be silly not to.

By the the second and third years I'll still continue to work on my individual disciplines, developing my conceptual, modelling and texturing skills but, whilst also beginning to apply for jobs within the United Kingdom and surrounding countries as a member who completes atleast one of the several skill sets I've been developing as I feel by that point I would have a more extensive portfolio that I can use to represent my skills and self in interviews. When it comes to applying for jobs I will research the company so that I'm prepared for the interview.

In short I want to spend atleast a year building up my portfolio and skills whilst building up my web presence and exposure via going to networking events. Once I feel that I have a portfolio that shows a range of skills and abilities I will begin to start applying for appropriate jobs at games companies in and around the UK whilst also trying to apply for jobs overseas (this would come with learning the required language). I feel this is what would work best for me and come the 1st of june I can't wait to start putting my plan into action.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Creative Development: Ideal places of Employment (Part 2)

Continuing from the previous post I'll continue to write about game studios I would like the chance to work for in my sense of "Ideal" places to work!

Ideal Place of Employment #3: Valve Corporation
http://www.valvesoftware.com

Vale is an American video games developer who are notable for creating the Half Life, Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead series of games, they're also creators of the digital distribution service Steam.

What I enjoy about Valve and their products it's that they've managed to progress what you can do with the First Person Shooter genre, be it Half-Life with it's engrossing storyline and excellent graphics or Left 4 dead which redefines how to play co-operatively with friends. They're attitude towards employment is really reassuring and makes me feel like I want to be apart of their team, especially when their recruitment part of their website says things such as;
"We take care to ensure that employees and their families enjoy a smooth transition when coming to Valve. It's always rewarding to see new families comfortably settling in. That's how we know we've done our job well."
it shows that the company really do care. Whilst their main IPs centre around the FPS genre there is still variation between them, you have the zombie shooter Left 4 Dead that features realistic graphics then you have the stylised arena game Team Fortress 2 which shows they want to approach each new game in a different manner. the downside to this is that again this is another high profile studio that I would have to work extremely hard on my portfolio and online presence to even get noticed I think, but this is what networking events are for aswell. I think I would have to apply the same tactics I have in mind for my other two desirable places of employment when it comes to presenting a portfolio to valve to be a concept artist and again the issue of moving to a completely different country would be on the cards for when it comes to aiming for valve. Again if I could choose a department to work in much like the others it would be roles such as concept artist, 3D artist or texture artist and I should make sure that more portfolio would do the best to reflect those skills.

That's about it when it comes to my ideal places of employment, and whilst these high profiles studios are currently put pipe dreams for me to strive for it's good to have these goals but when it boils down to it I just want to improve my skills in my specialist areas and contribute to creating a game that will 1. Look good and will have memorable visuals and 2. be fun to play. I want to create games that people want to come back to, that they want to share with their friends, that shock and leave people in awe at the quality of how the game was put together. Aslong as I get to be a part of that I don't think I would mind working at any particular game studio as long as I was getting work and enjoying it at the same time.

Creative Developments: Ideal Places of Employment (Part 1)

Along with looking at places that have openings it's always good to have aspirations, goals to aim for, as this gives me something to strive for rather than just coasting along trying to sort out any old job. Unfortunately at the moment the game industry is in a strange places with studios opening up and closing after the release of just one title which makes it really hard to strive to work for a game studio, but in my own opinion I would like to work places where I've enjoyed the products they've made or the mentality behind the product such as the level of quality control at what not.

Ideal Place of Employment #1: Rockstar Games
http://www.rockstargames.com/

Rockstar Games have been behind the titles of some of the biggest and most controversial games ever released. Their flagship title being the Grand Theft Auto series certainly sets the tone for the styles of games they create, most often they're games aimed at maturer audiences (generally ages 18+) but what separates them from companies such as Epic Games or Gearbox is the way they approach this content, often in a very tongue in cheek manner and it's this style of thinking that I really like coupled with some of their more recently releases such as Red Dead Redemption which was a thrilling game experience that knew the boundries between storytelling and game play and how they should be balanced perfectly. Their highest grossing games are always ones that have a third person perspective and plays in a generally open world where you can just explore to your hearts content, which I personally love to concept and execution of, but most importantly is that they seem honest in their work, creating the games that they think their audience would like whilst not focusing on the concept of profit and whilst like any studio I assume they work they're hardest on each project and push themselves on the next, they honestly seem to enjoy what they do and how they do it.

So how would I get hired or even noticed by Rockstar? In my current position I'm quite lucky as I'm very close to Rockstar Leeds one of the 10 rockstar studios around the wolr (with the HQ being in New York City), the branch that's been responsible for the development and release of GTA: Chinatown Wars so I can use that to my advantage as I can aim for the closest branch to seek employment from. Considering my current aim to be a conceptual artist I should build a portfolio that shows a range of skill but also slightly different styles, the pieces should also be appropriate to Rockstar's flavour such as work that references the real world and should probably show works that feature conflict between people that excites or builds tension such as a police shoot out or a roof top chase, basically something that might get them to see "yeah this guy totally get's the style we're aiming for". Ideally I would like to a conceptual artist but I wouldn't want to limit myself as I can model and texture, for this I think I would have to build and texture some fairly realistic models as their track run generally aims to realism rather than something stylised.

It would also be nice to start of in an area where I'm familiar with the locality and culture as opposed to going for a company on the opposite side of the world. I would have to tweak my portfolio quite considerably and work on it but I think it would pay off as Rockstar are a very well known company and to have just have an interview with them would be a great achievement, a job? Even better.

Ideal Place of Employment #2: Bioware
http://www.bioware.com/

Bioware is a Canadian video games company with it's headquarters based in Edmonton, Alberta. Most well known for their takes on the RPG genre of games and the method of which a player can interact and mould their own stories is something I really respect the company for. Their most notable works have been their own developed IPs Dragon Age and Mass Effect but also their work on the Star Wars franchise which so far has amounted to several games including a MMORPG which incorporates the usual online play but with the story telling aspect the company has come to be recognised for. What I really like about the company is the diversity of the genres for their RPGs from the sci-fi series Mass Effect to the fantasy series Dragon age, this along with the depth of the worlds they create making them feel real and gives emotional attachment to fans is something I'd like to be a part of.

If I were to aim for employment at Bioware my most feasible chance currently would be to try get hired at their Galway studio in Ireland but it seems that studio is only concerned with online maintained as far as their website discloses to perhaps it would be best to aim a little further abroad, perhaps to their San Fransico or Montreal studios. The down sides there would be that I would have to move over there into and that my only way would be to get my portfolio emailed to them and even then it might go unnoticed, which is why it's always good to try build up an online presence. When it comes to putting together a portfolio for Bioware I think something that shows that I have an imagination for creating vast worlds such as pieces featuring a range of characters interacting with the environments in all sorts of genres, I don't think I would need to worry about creating work that it "realistic" as I've seen concept art work for some of their games and it's can at times be quite stylised which may make the company a good choice for me, again I would throw in pieces of modelling and texturing to show the range of skills that I can possess. Again this would require me to work on my portfolio quite a lot from it's current standard as well as my skills but this is all about wanting to achieve something right?

Bioware has had a lot of attention recently from their most recently release Mass Effect 3 and whilst the responses have been mixed it seems but that's not a discouragement to me as I've enjoyed the products they've released and to have a chance to work on creating a new world with Bioware is an opportunity I would love to be a part off.

In my next post I'll be looking at a few more ideal places of employment.

Creative Development: Curating

With the Game Republic Showcase and the End of year show coming up soon I'm going to have to think about how I will be presenting myself as even little things such as the choice of font can make an impact on people.

Firstly I have to decide on what title I should give the exhibit as this too creates a preconception in people's minds when they read. The title of an exhibit is basically like a cover of a book, they say you shouldn't judge but we do it anyway. Exhibition titles should give people a feel of what the images and works they will see before they actually do, this can also be applied to a theme.

So for example if an exhibit reads "Indians of the old west" in a very minimalist type one would expect to see pieces of art that portray Native Americans in a sober light, perhaps in black and white photos or in abstract sculptures that respect their culture, people wouldn't expect to see a bunch of life size sculptures of John Wayne shooting people in the face.

Titles and signs can do a lot in terms of giving people expectations of what they will see and it's these kinds of choices one has to be careful of. In my case I think the exhibit that will and myself will present will simply be called "Gutsy's Quest" after the title of the game we've developed as it's a part of the Digital Film, Game and Animation exhibit it would not steer people astray from what they're expecting to see and as far as signage goes I think using the Gutsy's Quest logo will be more than adequate as it would narrow people's expectations of it being film to either and animation or game.

One example of the power of fonts in building people's expectations and complimenting the work you would present is this official logo for the "Comics vs Games", the font is relatively simple but is reminiscent of the art movement constructivism, with it's bold graphics it would be best to choose a font that best compliments the image.

The actual exhibit for Comics Vs Games was quite different from what I was expecting (The concept was get indie comic artists to design the art direction with programmers making the games) and this logo for the exhibit was my favourite piece, so this really does acts as a good example of what a good choice in font can do for building preconceptions of what a show should contain.

For the exhibit we would want to explain the ideas behind the game we've built and the process that we under took to get there, such as the steps and methods we took for designing, modelling texturing the characters and the world they're supposed to inhibit, the ideas behind the gameplay, the audience we're aiming for and generally the aim of the project in a clear an concise manner, to help this along we'll be presenting key images that respond to the development of the game to help annotate the process.

One example of promoting our exhibit is the use of Gutsy's Quest Logo stickers, we feel by keeping this theme about the work there is little to no chance for misleading peoples expectations by presenting a very clear. On the logo I used the basic font of Ariel Black (seen used in the image to the right here) but with several strokes around the image to make it bolder, I've used this font on the concept art sheets as well so it would make it the only sensible choice. I chose Ariel Black as it's a great font that's clear and easy to read and doesn't seem much of a departure of the "perfect" helvetica font, which should make it seem some what easier on the eyes of viewers. I think by keeping with Ariel Black it show's we've kind of claimed it as the font got Gutsy's Quest and when used with the shield logo is a pretty clear indication to our work. So with this in mind we hope to implement these choices and present our work in the best possible way whilst making sure people know exactly what they can expect to see from promotional images such as asigns and what not.

Creative Development: What Will Go in My Portfolio?

Currently as it stands I have a large body of work that I've produced over the last few years that generally focuses on character creation, within these pieces there are also prop designs and various other pieces. So the question is, what exactly should I put in my portfolio?

With the prospect of applying for jobs as a concept artist and considering the amount of work I've put into Gutsy's Quest I think it'd be wise to put a good share of pieces in that especially ones that illustrate the development of Gutsy from a final design to a final model with a texture to illustrate that I can see the development process through one medium to another. I also think putting in the start screen piece might also be quite a good choice as it's one of the few pieces where I've drawn a full background and it's generally a nice piece. Along with this I think I should put in pieces of the turnarounds, video turnarounds and prop design work for Gutsy's Quest as I think it rounds out my work on the project relatively well.

Along with these I think I'll be putting in the pieces I developed for last years end of show as they show a change in style to the more cartoony Gutsy's Quest, I'll be putting in the final designs and turarounds. I think it would also be a good idea to put in some life drawing pieces aswell as I've been told it's almost an essential part of any good portfolio from many tutors and friends alike.

On top of that I'll try add some personal pieces that I feel are suitable to illustrate my skills as a concept artist but overall I don't feel as though I have enough work (or of a high enough level) for a decent portfolio I would show to potential employers. This is something I seriously want to work on as the concept of drawing has become some what of a chore for me over the last few years and whilst some times it can be enjoyable I don't enjoy it as much as I used to so if I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure what to put in my portfolio after wards as besides entering art college over 5 years ago I haven't really had to do it. I want to really get back into the fun of drawing but to also have the time to dedicate to working on this skill I'm supposed to be so qualified of come the end of university, and whilst I do feel like I've expanded and developed my skills currently I feel like a (very basic) jack of all trades rather than being as good as I should be by now, so as a part of my 3 year plan I'll be spending the next 6 - 12 months focusing entirely of making my art much better through tutorials and practise to build a much better and more professional portfolio using everything I've learned over that last 3 years but to also get a fresh start creatively and try find some of the love again.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Creative Development: The Power of Promotion

A large part of getting hired in the industry of video games seems to be centred around how well you can expose others to your work, I've heard and seen plenty of stories of artists online getting gigs working on video games and there's no mistake it'll probably be because of how well those artists have been exposed. So how will I be exposing the world to my art work?

First of all I have Twitter, Tumblr, deviant art, an online portfolio and blog spot, all these are easily accessible online. I can use Twitter to send out updates when every I've updated these to hopefully get people interested in my work.

Also considering that my blog from last year received over 75,000 page views and has a much catchier name than my current one, I'll be using that as my main blog once I've completed my course because of those reasons along with the fact that the url is simply my name.blogspot.com. I've pre-empted this decision by putting the web address on my business card. I plan to use my blog as a sort of a hub for all things ken by adding the appropriate links to things such as my twitter and online portfolio. That said I do need to adjust my old blog accordingly to make it look a bit more presentable, such as new header image and background.

Once the blog has been re-organised I will use it to post about pieces of work I've completed and various other things that a relevant to my development as a conceptual artist

I will also be heavily promoting Gutsy's Quest at the Game Republic Event by handing out stickers and bring my portfolio for the project to the show. Along with these I will also be handing out my business card to employees of the companies there to see the showcase, another good Idea would be to also use my phone as a promotional tool by uploading my portfolio onto it aswell as I have often found myself wishing I could show people my work directly as soon as I've met them.

So to break it down, I will be using Twitter, Tumblr, Deviant Art, My DA Portfolio, Business card and my phone to promote myself and my work. I will be using my blog "The Pop-Culture Worshipper" as a central hub and improve website for all things ken, with links to the respective sites listed above. People will be able to find this website by either goggling it or typing the address which is found on the back of business cards. I will use Twitter to promote any posts I do on any where on the web.

If I combine this promotional campaign along with actively trying to go to as many networking opportunities I think I can promote myself extremely well and make many contacts as well as increasing my exposure.

Creative Development: Presenting a Portfolio

After figuring out the types of work I want to put into my portfolio (along with pieces I want to develop) I also have to figure out how I would present my portfolio.

Aside from bringing a physical copy of my portfolio in an A3 format to interviews, in this age of internet wizardry and fast paced self promotion it would be wise to present my portfolio online.

There are many ways of which I could do this using applications and websites such as wordpress, Issu or indexhibit but when looking over these they seem very html heavy and unfortunately I know very little about coding and want to be up and running as fast as possible.

Back in 2010 I found that Deviant Art offers a portfolio service that is incredible easy to operate and manage, where in a user can set their own url and upload up to four galleries of 18 image, adding up to a total of 72 images in total which is a very generous amount for a portfolio and surely enough for an employer to look over and decide whether they like your work on not.

The DA portfolio also offers an artist biography where in you can write about yourself but also upload your CV which would also prove to be useful for any future employers looking at the portfolio. The biography section also offers custom text boxes where in you can apply hmtl to add links or what not.

I think by using this format of digital portfolio with the right pieces and used to it's full potential will prove to be advantageous to my future job hunts especially considering that I have a link to it on my blog site (to which the address is on my business cards).

By applying the methodology of thinking I developed around portfolio building in the previous post to a physical and this digital portfolio I think I can really promote myself and my skills. Currently as it stands my DA (could stand for digital art..eh?..) portfolio does need a huge over haul but I think if I didn't use this application to it's fullest potential I would be missing out on a great opportunity to get my work out there.

Creative Development: Portfolio Building

As part of applying for a job i any industry everyone needs a portfolio of sorts, this can range from a list of previous places of employment or a more tangible portfolio full of pieces of work completed by the applicant.

In my case I want to enter the games industry as mainly a conceptual artist but I would also quite like to work as a modeller or a texture artist as I feel an affinity towards these disciplines, currently though I don't think I have a very distinct style, yes I can emulate styles and change my own but I don't have one that I think says outloud "KEN MCFARLANE!".

I think when it comes down to it I want to specialise in creating fantastical worlds and characters within them, this ranges from character designs, to prop and vehicle design and finally environment designs, such as fantasy or sci-fi games so I think I should develop and put pieces that represent a range of these things in my portfolio. Currently I feel I have a good foundation of this kind of work but due to my own erratic nature the designs styles jump around and so does the standard of quality. Ideally I would like to spend the next few months working on the weaknesses in my current body of work such as the lack or environment art and a higher standard of digital painting (touched upon in previous blog posts). I don't think I should pigeon hole myself by just exclusively designing one genre of characters, by creating a range of characters from say a battle scarred barbarian to a smart, sleek high tech spy who uses guns should prove that I'm more than capable of designing anything that would be required of me. I think by present a range of styles wouldn't hurt either as it would show my ability to adapt, I'm just cautious that the quality of some pieces may devalue the rest of the portfolio but I think by presenting a range that also high lights that I can create mature content and more family friendly content should be able wow employers with the range I can deliver.

When it comes to present my skill as a character artist I think I should develop a range of character designs that have a mix of genres, gender and body types and maybe even species. This kind of think can be applied to any part of my conceptual side as by present a range of differently themed work I believe it would show that I'm capable to adapt to what an employer would want me to create.

When it comes down to presenting my modelling and texturing skills I think the best way to present it would be with showcase videos and screen shots (for physical portfolios). Again by applying the same methodology as the conceptual art by presenting a range of designs for different specifics could prove to be favourable when it comes down to applying for a job with portfolio viewings, a good idea maybe to create models and textures based off original designs and present them in the portfolio to show that I can go through the whole development process from concept to final model with texture.

One option I haven't explored yet is adding in GUI and user inter face graphics, something I've become more familiar with in my most recent project, as this could act as a catalyst to getting a job within a company.

The key point to all of this is creating a balance of work that high lights the range of skills I can bring to a production company and perhaps it would be best to create various portfolios, one that focuses on concept art with my texturing and models taking a back seat and one that works in the opposite. I think I'll be constantly adjusting my portfolio to apply to the particular job interviews I will go to.

My main point of action over the next few months is to seriously buckle down and start working on my art and to also try rediscover the greater passion I used to have for drawing in general that I had some years ago. I feel that by being released of the academic side of art I should be able to rekindle this spark and I really want to get down to it and start working to my potential more. As it stands at the moment I feel
that my body of work would make for a very amateurish portfolio that may do me more harm than good but I feel that I understand the types of pieces I should have in my portfolio and pieces that I should be aiming to create and that this can act as an advantage for me over the coming months as I can actively aim to create pieces for a portfolio, it may be grueling hard work but I know that it will ultimately pay off and that I believe I'll be able to re capture to awe and wonder I used to have for the discpline.

Creative Development: Imagine FX

Part of my plan for the next three years is to work on getting considerably better at my concept art, more specifically digital painting.

Over the last few years I've been buying the magazine Imagine FX and whilst I've just generally read the articles and used on or two of the free things you get on the free CD, I'm going to start really using the tutorials found in the magazines along with the Ctrl + Paint tutorials I think I would be able to improve my digital painting skills to make my portfolio give off a higher standard of quality.

I believe that as it is, my portfolio could stand to include a lot more content, including more environment pieces and just a general higher quality of work when it comes to characters design. Basically over the next year or so I really want to work on my artwork and develop my skills to include a look that's more in keeping with concept art I've seen over the last few years by working on a more painted look. I feel that by focusing on my artwork after completing university I should be able to develop my skills with out having to worry about the pressures of grades and what not.

I believe that whilst also developing my digital painting skills I should be able to build upon my texture painting skills as well which when applied to models should make some great portfolio entries.

I should also begin to consider building my portfolio for specific job applications such as building a comprehensive file that shows off my skills in the best light. Either way, I almost can't wait to start working on my digital art more.

Creative Development: Nicky Ball

Some Weeks back we had a guest speaker come and talk about their job and how to get into the entertainment industry. Nicky Ball works as a Free lance Job Manager and as a runner for various Production Companies. Whilst Nicky comes from a film and television background I'm sure the advice that she gives will be applicable to other sectors of the overall Entertainment industry.

The first question is obviously how does one get a job, Nicky Ball describes this as a cycle of "What do I want", "research", "make CV", Market/Promote Yourself", "Get Internship/Job".

When applying this to myself, I would want to be a concept/texture artist or a modeller. The next step would be to research various game studios that have opening and send off my CV and Portfolio, when it comes to the promoting of oneself I would keep up my blog and make use of my business card and go to Networking events (ideally using an organisation such as Game Republic) hopefully this would give me enough exposure to begin to get attention, along with the fact that I'd be improving my skills along the way. Finally after enough networking and exposure through meeting people, my blog/artwork and sending off application for jobs I should get a job. The unfortunate reality of this is that it may just take some time but hopefully networking with people in the industry and getting to know them should speed this process up.

When job searching, Nicky also suggested is that I ask myself questions along the way to make sure that I choose the job that would be right for me;

What department do I want to enter and at what level?
What Am I interested outside of work?
What are the easier areas to break into?
What do I dislike?
What Environment do I want to be in?
What will make me happy?

I feel by following these questions I would be sure to enter the right role/job for me. Another tip Nicky divulged is to find the credits and watch out for specific names so that I would know in future who to contact.

Along with this Nicky gave tips when writing a CV such as stating what I want in the personal profile and making sure that the job experience section is relevant.

Nicky gave some solid advice that whilst some of it is obvious information hearing it spoken out loud really does knock it home. This advice will help alot when it comes to formulating my 3 year plan but also when it comes to trying to get a job.

Creative Development: Ukie (Part 2)

So far my look into Ukie hasn't cast the organisation in a good light, So next I'll be looking into what membership has with Ukie to see if there is some kind of hidden weapon some where in these paragraphs.

From my current opinion it's really surprising to see the list of members who are a part of Ukie, comapnies such as Rising Star Games, EA and Square Enix . So perhaps there is something to Ukie? Below is what a membership to Ukie gets you;
UKIE is the only trade body that represents the UK’s wider interactive entertainment industry. We value our members and our priority is to champion their interests and needs. Our comprehensive membership package is solely aimed to give each and every member the support they need to flourish in our exciting industry. Below are details of the main benefits of UKIE membership. For more information contact Sam Collins on (0207 534 0580) or via email at sam.collins@ukie.org.uk UKIE promotes networking 
UKIE connects members for mutual benefit.
All new members are electronically introduced to existing members and receive dedicated space on our website. Members also get access to our sub groups which influence UKIE policy and facilitate networking. UKIE promotes the industry to policy makersWe are proactively engaged with key government departments and work closely with them on policy creation and implementation. UKIE is the body government turns to for consultation on industry related matters. We also attend all the major party conferences and arrange for local MP’s to meet UKIE members.  
UKIE and industry events
UKIE actively organises and supports key industry events including London Games Festival, Gamescom, Develop, Casual Connect, Edinburgh Interactive and Digital Shoreditch as well as events from the mobile, advertising and new media sectors. UKIE also hosts events on the key commercial and business issues of the day. Members are offered numerous discounts on UKIE and partner events throughout the year.  
UKIE and crime
Our intellectual property crime unit (IPCU) is dedicated to catching criminals and removing counterfeit games from sale. Our highly experienced team have an outstanding track record of successful prosecution and, in doing so, protecting the future of the industry.  
UKIE and education
UKIE is driving forward the delivery of the Livingstone Hope review and works with Stemnet and SkillSet to ensure high quality, appropriately qualified graduates enter the UK gaming workforce. We support the long term future of the industry through our work with educational bodies.  
UKIE and consumers
We promote the industry in a positive and constructive way to the press and directly to consumers. We successfully championed the pan-European age rating system, work with organisations such as UKCCIS and run the consumer information site askabaoutgaming.com. UKIE is the go-to organisation for consumers.   
UKIE and market data
UKIE exclusively owns the UK video game charts and gives its members access to numerous consumer and market reports. Members also receive free of charge quarterly market trends reports. UKIE has an exclusive contract with Research and Development tax claim specialists Jumpstart to help UKIE members make applications to HMRC. Jumpstart assess the potential claim, undertake all submissions and only receive a fee on successful claims. To date, Jumpstart have successfully claimed over £18m from the revenue and customs office.  
UKIE supports your business
UKIE offers a comprehensive range of business support services that include directories of specialist suppliers of legal, HR and accountancy services, use of a London meeting room and business networking.
Looking over what the membership has to offer there isn't much here that I don't think I would be able to get at either TIGA or Game Republic, one thing that is worrying is that there isn't there doesn't seem to be a specific  target, I can't tell if they're aiming towards businesses and developers or individual people (it seems more like they're promoting themselves and the idea of the industry as a whole as far as I can understand). Compared to TIGA or Game Republic, Ukie really does seem to fall short and considering I haven't really heard much of it from any friends currently in the industry my guess would be my assumptions about them maybe on the nose.

Judging from what I've seen here I think I'll be giving Ukie a miss as I think I would have much better luck else where due to a lack of focus in their presentation and a general uncertainty to what benefits I could get from them that I wouldn't be able to get else where.

Creative Development: Ukie (Part 1)

Much like TIGA, Ukie is an organisation that specialises in looking out for games producers, more specifically in terms of giving companies a voice to the government and consumers whilst also creating the best working environments for members of Ukie.

Whilst part of their commune is aimed at games developers, Ukie deals in interactive media as a whole as opposed to TIGA and Game Republic, but they do state that they will help with IP theft by minimalising the cost of damages to the victim (As opposed to the other two which just state you'll receive help with legal cases), this seems like a very specific advantage to joining but not much else seems to be present here that can't be found over at TIGA. Ukie says they give information to consumers but that seems to be the same kind that can be found over at TIGA, which is basically age ratings, they also have a list of specific education facilities where one would get the proper qualifications to enter the games industry but this comes from Skill Set anyway.

It seems like Ukie is trying to be like TIGA but it falls short on many things and the only decent service they offer is the IP Crime Unit which seems like a bit of a crack down on copyright infringement especially when saying that they monitor carboot sales and seize infringing products but I feel like the efforts could be better spent on other elements of the overall organisation.

So far Ukie is shaping up to look like the weakest organisation out of the three I've looked at and it doesn't seem to be that focused or organised in comparison but perhaps the membership offers will shed some light on this and cast Ukie in a better light with me.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Creative Development: ctrl + Paint and Portfolio Building

As part of my personal development I want to work on my artwork for my portfolio, a part of this I want to get better at doing digital painting.

In my never ending quest to get better at this I found this website title ctrl + Paint which has many tutorials based on how to get better at digital painting ranging from beginner lessons to more advance techniques.

Over the summer I will be using this website and it's tutorials extensively to build my skills but also build a portfolio with a higher quality of work. I feel that by using these tutorials and the time I will get by finishing University I should be able to considerably make my work much better if I keep practising. So hopefully in three months my work will be much better if I keep at it and  I'll have better portfolio pieces, in this time I can also look at the requirements of certain jobs and create pieces in response to this.

I've been practising some digital painting since watch one or two of the tutorials and I think my painting skills have already improved some what but these were just rough pieces once I've finished Uni I'm definitely going to try crate a finished piece.

Creative Development: Game Dev Map

When looking at the Gamasutra article there was a link to the website http://www.gamedevmap.com, which contains a listing of various game companies from around the world. I believe that this will become a useful tool when it comes to looking for jobs and internships.

When you click on one of the red dots you get a list of game companies in the area, using Game Dev map I already found those jobs at TT games and Team 17.

I believe I'll be using game dev map alot in the foreseeable future as I want to try focus on getting a job at a games company relatively near where I live as I primarily want to focus on improving and expanding my portfolio before going out to job hunt properly. The great part of this is that there is a great variety of game companies in and around the Yorkshire area, ranging from companies such as RockStar Leeds who focus on creating games aimed at mature audiences to developers like TT games who focus on creating games based around the Lego IP for all ages.

I think I should use this website to research the games companies that I would like to work for regardless of if they have positions open or not.

Creative Development: Traveller's Tales is Hiring

Traveller's Tales is a Cheshire based games company famous most recently for being the main company behind any Lego based video game.

Currently TT Games has a few openings that I think I should apply for the first one is the role of a games tester, this could be a good gateway position to network with people despite the stories I've heard of Game Developer's just using the testers and chewing them out, the ad is below;

We have an ongoing recruitment process that pools applicants and contacts them when games testers are next required. If you would like to be considered the next time we hire, please email your CV and a covering letter to jobs@t-tales.com. 
The role would be situated at our offices in Wilmslow and Knutsford, and applicants must have:
- The ability to work both Early Shifts and Late Shifts
- Excellent verbal and written English
- Good knowledge of the games industry and current consoles
- Proficiency in PC applications (including Microsoft Office applications)
If you are re-applying, then please state this in your cover letter. 
Salary: Competitive
I believe I have all this skills for the position and considering the position would be in Knutsford, Cheshire, it's not too far away to move to but for the sake of just a networking job it may seem a little far fetched. I would imagine that this position would require laborious testing such as making sure all the colliders work and other such trivialities to make sure the game doesn't have any bugs.

Another position TT Games are offering is the role of a Junior Artist that would seem like a wonderful opportunity but the ad doesn't really expand on what is required of the role. The ad is below;
We are looking for junior artists who show a creative spark, and strong natural artistic ability. Maya experience would be desirable, but is not essential.  
Candidates should send their cv and sample images to james@t-tales.com or post their cv FAO James Cunliffe at the Traveller's Tales address on the contacts page.
The position seems really mysterious but I'm hesitant to send off any sample images or a CV incase it isn't as good as the requirements they're after. Again if the position open in two weeks from now I will apply for it as the best thing about this position is that it doesn't seem to require any prior experience.

I'm beginning to feel the sting of what the Imagine FX article said about being ready to move at the drop of a hat as there a plenty of job opportunities as the jobs are out there but in various places who knows where I will be in 6 months time.

Creative Development: Team 17 is Hiring

Team 17, developer of the acclaimed Worms series of games in currently hiring. This would be a wonderful opportunity for me as Team 17 is based in Wakefield, not too far away and I really like some of the games produced by the developer and it seems like a fun company to work for based of the style of games they release.

The Job that caught my eye was for the occupation for an "Experience 2D/3D Game Artist", considering the work I've just completed on my most recent project this seems like a very fitting role to slid into.

The job requires the applicant to have skills and experience in  being a "Environment Artist, 2D / Concept / Texture Artist, UI Artist", again this is almost the exact roles that I undertook in Gutsy's Quest.

Below is the full ad;
Team17 Software are looking for an experienced, passionate and creative 2D/3D Artist to come and join our team, Strong traditional skills are a must as is good solid 3D modelling and texturing skills. 
Requirements:
• Strong 2D Skills
• Good solid low poly modelling
• Good texturing skills
• Good mix of styles
• Good photoshop skills 
Advantageous:
• Maya skill set
• Illustrator knowledge
• Flash experience
• UI experience
• Normal mapping techniques
• Concepting skills

Looking over the requirements I think if I compile a portfolio consisting of Gutsy's Quest art and some other pieces and write up my CV I feel I would be able to get this job as the requirements all seem to relate to my skills. Another benefit of this Job is that it's only in Wakefield which is just a train ride away so if I were to get the Job it would be a pretty good deal I think. I am curious as to what project this job may relate to but ultimately if this role is still up in a few weeks I may even apply for it after game republic!

Creative Development: Finding an Internship

Finding an internship within the games industry seems to be an impossible task but I found a article on Gamasutra that sheds some light on the situation that does make sense but doesn't really help find internships. The Article is below;

Dear Experts, 
As the summer is fast approaching I have been looking for internships. Most of the time, these applications go to companies who have come to recruit at my college [which has a game art and design program], but I would like to find more opportunities.
I have had a marginal amount of luck finding internships posted on various job websites, but I feel I’m missing opportunities. Am I missing a job site, or is it that the current economic climate is not particularly conducive to hiring interns?
Or do most companies not post internships, and instead do you recommend contacting these companies directly? How would you recommend going about contacting companies directly about an internship position?
Thank you for your time,
M.O. 
Dear M.O.,
From a student’s perspective, the internship situation in the game industry sucks. 
I hope readers of this column have come to learn (and if I’m lucky, appreciate) the fact that I can be blunt. And I’ve just got to be blunt about the whole internship debacle. If you’re a student actually looking to get an internship, it’s freaking hard! The problem is that there is no central place where internships are listed. 
So don’t worry, M.O. -- you haven’t bypassed them. Very few job requisitions for interns make it to the Gamasutra or GamesIndustry.biz job boards, where a huge percent of all the full-time and part-time jobs of the industry are listed. 
The reason, I’d presume, is that game development studios are not desperate for interns. They are desperate for experienced programmers, but not interns. In an industry where time is the most valuable resource, a huge priority is seeking out and hopefully retaining the most experienced programmers (and other employees) one can find. 
On the other hand, interns are by their very nature inexperienced. And they’re easy to come by. You could turn over a rock and find more perfectly suitable intern candidates than you could find experienced programmers open to new job offers in the entire city of New Orleans.
Interns can be wonderful assets to companies, especially if they take on interns who are in their final semester and would be open to a full-time job offer once their studies are completed.
The catch is the company has to have the time, personnel, money, and wherewithal to find them, cull them, and train one or two keepers -- then pray that they’ll stay on board because if they don’t, it could be seen as a minor financial loss to the company. 
Given all that, my theory -- and I honestly don’t know if this is true, but it’s an educated guess -- is that most game studios that do sponsor internships get enough applications without advertising the position. 
If they were to advertise the position, they would get too many applicants, and then would have to spend more time (read: money) sifting through them all. Why advertise a job if you get enough candidates without doing it? 
I’ve had several conversations with The Powers That Be that help run this site to see if GameCareerGuide could become the central location for internship listing in the game industry, but there just hasn’t been enough interest for it to work, thus far. As I said, game companies are not desperate to find interns. 
Internships in the Video Game Industry 
There are two good ways to find internships, and it sounds like you’ve already figured out what they are, M.O. 1) through a school and 2) through individual company web sites.
If your school has a well-connected career center, it will likely be able to help you find an internship. Some of the more established and reputable game schools (Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University comes to mind) have amazingly tight connections in the industry and practically have internships set aside for their students.
For any readers who are applying game schools or universities with game divisions, ask what kind of internship assistance is available. 
In some cases, it’s little to nil while other times it’s a fantastic and established program of preferential treatment. There’s any easy way to tell, too. (Pay close attention to the words used in the answers.) If you ask, “What kind of internship assistance does this school provide?” you might hear something like this: 
A) “Our students have had internships at Studios A, B, and C.”
B)“We have a relationship with Studios X and Y in the area, and we have six students working there now.” 
If you hear something similar to B), you know the people at the school, from the career counselors to the instructors to the department heads, are going to go to bat for you and do their best to hook you up. If the answer sounds more like A), that’s a sign that the onus will be much more on you. 
Some schools have an internship requirement. Let me just say this plainly: When a school requires its students to have an internship sometime in the course of their education but does not reasonably help the student find or get an internship, it makes me think less of the school’s program. That’s just crappy, and it’s not fair to the students. It pressures them into taking whatever they can get rather than allowing them to explore until they find the right internship that really lets them try out a career they’re genuinely interested in having.

After reading this article I'm still no more informed about the process of getting an internship outside of sending emails out to companies and the fact that they probably don't advertise that they have openings for interns or don't have openings at all makes it increasingly hard to get experiences. It doesn't help that the article touches on schools and education facilities having ties to companies to hand pick interns from making it seem like an unfair advantage, so the best plan for me to get an internship would most likely be a mix of networking and presenting my work and heavily promoting it at the Game Republic Showcase and the End of Year Show.

Again it seems like the path to employment in the game industry is a very difficult one alone.

Creative Development: TIGA (Part 2)

So far TIGA seems like a great organisation to join but only if you're an established game studio, if you're just starting it seems like a huge waste of money but perhaps the membership details would shed some light on this and make membership seem a bit more valuable to a newbie.

So what does membership with TIGA offer?;


TIGA: who we areThe games industry is changing.
  • The traditional work for hire practice is giving way to new business models. 
  • UK game developers are increasingly self-publishing. Digital distribution is in the ascent. Retail is in decline. 
  • Developers have access to more options in terms of platforms, genres and distribution than ever before.  At TIGA we are enabling our members to navigate these changes and to grow their businesses.
  • TIGA is the trade association representing the UK games industry. 
  • Our mission is to fight for the interests of game developers/developer-publishers and to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business. 
  • TIGA is an award winning business with a first class team. 
  • We understand the needs of indie-developers, start-ups and games developers generally: TIGA itself is a small business and it is run by game developers for game developers.
How can TIGA help me?
  • You will be better connected Meet other leaders in the games industry 
  • Expand your network of contacts 
  • Access online resources on the TIGA website

  • TIGA runs networking events around the UK, giving you the opportunity to network, promote your services and develop new business opportunities.>Our events include casual games development, raising finance, self-publishing and an annual dinner at the House of Commons.
You will receive professional business advice
  • Free TIGA Guide to Self-Publishing, worth £120
  • 30 minute free consultation with a TIGA board member on how to manage your business once per year, Free legal templates, including draft publisher agreements 


You will save money 
  • Free legal advice and health check, worth up to £1,500 p.a. 
  • 10 per cent saving on French Duncan accountancy services, potentially worth £500 
  • 40 per cent discount with Escape Studios for any Online Self-Directed course (e.g. Maya Essentials Bundle, NUKE for 3D Artists, V-Ray for Max) 
  • 10 per cent off Loxley Royalty services, worth between £500 and £1,000 p.a. 
  • 20 per cent discount off a Marmalade Professional Licence, equivalent to a £700 per-seat discount 
  • 20 per cent off recruitment fees from MPG UniversalQuite Great PR Service: sign up for a three month campaign and get one month free 
  • 40 per cent off Short Round Music services for new customers, 25 per cent for returning customers 
  • 10 per cent off Testology QA services 
  • 20 per cent off Universally Speaking localisation services
  • Discounts of 10 – 30 per cent on tickets for over 40 industry events, including GDC San Francisco, Evolve Conference, Develop Brighton, Mobile Game Forum, Flash Gaming Summit, Planet of the apps, GDC Europe and Eurogamer – worth £200 if you attend 20 events Workspace discount worth £132 per annum
You will have a higher profile
  • Press release announcing your membership of TIGA distributed to the trade media 
  • Free consultation with PR professionals, Quite Great PR Opportunity to speak at TIGA events
  • You will have an unrivalled champion in the media and in political circles TIGA champions the industry in the media and has been featured on the BBC, Sky, ITV, STV, CNBC, Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, the Sun, the Metro and in every UK broadsheet newspaper 
  • TIGA campaigns for the introduction of policies to help the video games industry, including measures to improve access to finance, the introduction of a Creative Content Fund and Games Tax Relief, better R&D tax credits, investment in skills and education, and a flexible migration policy TIGA campaigned for and helped to achieve an enhanced Small Firms R&D Tax Credit in the 2011 Budget - worth approximately £7 million to the UK video games industry per annum 
  • Secured Games Tax Relief (GTR) in the March 2012 Budget, worth around £100 million to the UK games development and digital publishing sector over five years. GTR will effectively reduce the cost of games development, improve access to finance, promote investment and job creation in the games industry.

Looking over what TIGA has to offer it does look good from a business stand point but as an individual it's not really that good, and again there's no assistance to get help finding a job or internship and solely looks out for businesses and companies that produce games so compared to Game Republic it's alot more industry based rather than individually. Also currently there are no places for membership at the moment as far as I understand from the website. The Benefits I could reap from this again would be much better for a company rather than a single person.

TIGA would be a great organisation to join if I were starting up a game studio but as it stands I'm just looking for a job which would make joining up to Game Republic more relevant to me as if I join a company they will most likely be a member of TIGA.

Creative Development: TIGA (Part 1)

TIGA is a trade organisation that specialises in representing the UK's Game Industry. Essentially TIGA is the equivalent of a worker's union for the games industry in the UK that aim to make sure that it's member's receive the best chance to compete in the market as much as any other game company, they also represent the games industry on the political front fighting for the rights of workers within the industry, most recently convincing the government to give a tax break on the game production.

Since the formation of TIGA, they've won many awards for their outstanding work such as winning Trade association of the year (2010) and awards in outstanding marketing campaigns (2011). TIGA is synonymous with the UK Games industry and it seems that almost anyone who is making games in the UK is a member.

Their website also plays host to a job section, whilst it is somewhat unorganised it still shows that they want to represent studios and help people get jobs and studios complete tasks. Along with the Jobs listing their is also a list of where one can get specific courses pertaining to game development.

The main TIGA website acts as a sort of base for all things to do with the UK games industry including events and what not, they don't have a news feed of everything to do with the games industry and that keeps it focused on the basics. What it doesn't seem to offer is any way to get an internship, it seems that very little websites do and I still need to find one that does or offers any advice to those looking for one.

Next I'll be looking at what a membership with TIGA can bring.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Creative Development: Personal Project

For a while I've been working on a little side project of a comic about a small ninja who goes on a quest to find the food dish of Ramen and along the way fights a dragon made of noodles.
This little project is just for fun but if I can get it finished in time for either the game republic showcase or the end of year show I'll be giving copies of it away there, whilst also selling it at local comic shops.

Whilst I have completed the art work for it, what seems to be most tricky is preping the comic for print, as this is my first comic I tried to do everything by hand (except for the cover) and this makes it hard to hide the pencil lines through photoshop wizardry. Another challenge that may arise is that the comic was drawn at B4 size which could cause scaling problems when it comes time to print.

my idea for the release of the comic is to sell it for £1 and you also get a free sticker of the titular character "Fu". I feel this will spread awareness of my work, doubly so if I put my various web addresses in the back page of the cover. From experience of completing the art work for this comic, the next one I do I may work entirely in blue tones for the pencils so that they will disappear more easily or just ink 100% digitally.

I'm going to keep working on my art skills as it's something I want to do but finding the time for it seems hard, hopefully once I finish university I'll have much more time to focus on that aspect of my skills.

Keep an eye out for Fu's Quest for Ramen sometime in the near future!

Creative Development: Studio Tour

Quite a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get a tour around a local video game studio for the sake of learning what the working environment looked like. This video game studio was none other than Rockstar Leeds, head studio behind the game Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars.

When I arrived at the studio before I could look around I had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement so that I wouldn't divulge any information about any products I may see employees working on, unfortunately my tour was early in the morning so I didn't see anyone working on anything.

After signing the NDA I was shown around the studio and it was very much like a typical large but separated into two key areas, the art department and coding department. Desks are separated by small walls so that there is a divide so that each employee has their own space but they're not segregated from each other to allow them to share ideas. In the coding department each desk has a playstation and an xbox development kits so that they can test how games run on the machines and debug them. Between the two departments Rockstar Leeds will work on projects by themselves but they'll also debug them or work on smaller parts to an overall larger one. Around the main office floor are rooms, in these are the offices of the head of the studio and on the opposite wing the test room.

Overall the feel of the studio is that everyone seems to be quite happy and diligent, there's a really nice vibe to the studio that gives it the sense of community. It was really interesting to see how a studio looks and acts, the experience is priceless and it's definitely made me want to aim to apply for a job at Rockstar Leeds both because of the work they've put out but also the working environment I got to experience.

Creative Development: Business Cards

As part of Creative Development, for professional reasons it was suggested that I get business cards printed up to use at events such as the end of year show, the game republic showcase and generally be prepared for networking opportunities.

Business cards are useful in two sense, the first being that they promote myself by showing me to be organised but also it informs people about me and ways to contact me, on the back of these cards are the details to my phone, twitter, email and blogger address. Hopefully if people like me and my work they will want to see more and look up the stuff on my blogger or contact me. The back of the card also explains the roles I'm best at which are concept art, modelling and texturing.

The front of the card features an old illustration I had knocking around but had no use for but it looked pretty cool so I thought it would be fitting to appear on my business card. The overall design is simple and I think people will be able to understand it clearly enough.

I managed to get 500 of these for less than £50 so I think I got a good bargain there, I believe this is the start of some pretty good self branding....

Creative Development: Game Republic (Part 3)

Finally in my look at Game Republic, I will look at the student Showcase, something I've been entered into, so that I can better understand what I maybe in for in the coming weeks.

This year will mark the fifth time Game republic has set up a student showcase, in the previous years there have been judges from around Yorkshire who judge the work presented by students. A rough description of last year's showcase is given on Game Republic's website;
The (fourth) annual Student Showcase 2011 was held at Leeds Metropolitan University, Headingley Campus on Tuesday 24th May 2011 – and was a 100% privately funded and sponsored event. The Showcase was a fantastic opportunity for more than 60 final-year and postgraduate games course students from the Educational Partners of Game Republic, to display their best work to the biggest games developers in the region, and hopefully win awards. Previous awards have led to work placements for more than a dozen winners and full-time employment for three graduates.   
Prizes were awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in four categories.
basically the concept of the show case is to present work to professionals to show what you're capable of, and whilst it says prizes have lead to placements, I would say that is a much better prize, but who knows what the prizes for this year could be.  Hopefully, our game will take home a first place in atleast one category but more importantly it could mean placements for both Will and I, the important thing would be to get our faces out there, this is where things such as business cards and other promotional material can go a long way into making an impression.

Once I finish the course I think I will be joining up to game republic as it seems without a doubt to be a great source of opportunities and if I work on my portfolio even more I can make these opportunities really work for me!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Creative Development: Game Republic (Part 2)

Looking deeper into Game Republic, I looked at what the membership with the networking organisation has to offer. With membership starting at £180 and below are the things that membership with Game Republic can offer.


A Louder Voice 
Being a member of a successful games network alongside companies including Revolution Software, Distinctive Developments and Sumo Digital and more gives you the commercial advantage in negotiating contracts, making contacts, marketing and attracting more business and clients. 
Game Republic Networking Events 
Networking events allow companies in the region to meet, share information and resources, outsource to each other and meet major international companies that can help their businesses. Game Republic networking events take place every month in Leeds and Sheffield, and various locations around the region. Previous events have included companies such as Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, OnLive, Unity, Microsoft and Intel. 
Special Member Offers 
Game Republic offers special discounts on global industry events, including discounts to Game Connection, Develop conferences and other essential events for games companies. 

The Livingstone-Hope Skills Review 
The Livingstone-Hope skills review produced by NESTA and DCMS recently included a raft of suggestions and recommendations for universities and games businesses to improve the skills base and talent pipeline in the UK. This report is influencing government policy and will be an essential part of any university games course strategy going forward to maintain industry relevance and undergraduate numbers – Game Republic provides access to industry and government to help with this process and will provide the vital link between games businesses and games courses to support the sector. 
Access to Funding 
Game Republic can provide resources to help businesses to access funding from both public and private organisations and investors. 

Access to New Talent 
Game Republic now includes higher education establishments as members to promote a closer collaboration between academia and industry through initiatives such as the Student Showcase. The student showcase provides companies with immediate access face-to-face to the newest graduate talent in the region. In addition the links enable companies to develop work placement opportunities. 
Professional Development 
Game Republic can provide useful referrals to professional industry training (CPD) from Educational Partner institutions. 
Game Development/Publishing 
Game Republic is an ideal sounding board for game ideas, viability of projects, and game mechanics, with the network available to discuss and help with games ideas and bring them to market. Game Republic has invaluable digital publishing knowledge, experience and contacts throughout the network. 
Game Republic website 
The Game Republic website will have permanent promotion of games businesses and opportunities for relevant news stories. Game Republic also has a Twitter feed with more than 350 followers. 
Game Republic Logo 
Member status in Game Republic allows companies to use the Game Republic logo (subject to approval) in publicity materials. 
Help with Recruitment 
All Game Republic members can advertise job roles for free on the GR website. The network also helps with personal referrals and contacts, and has extensive reach through social media sites such as Linked In. Game Republic can also help with special offers from recruitment agencies that advertise with the network.
Work Placements 
Game Republic membership includes access to potential work experience placements from our Educational Partners through events including the Student Showcase. Previous work placements from the result of Student Showcase events have resulted in two full-time posts. 
Game Republic News Updates 
A status report on the network with useful news, information, business opportunities, links and advertising from useful companies. The newsletter is emailed to all GR members, including games companies, digital companies, universities and individuals involved in the games industry in Yorkshire and the UK. 
Reports/Research 
The network will produce a bi-annual digest, with invaluable inside information and facts on trends in the UK games industry from regional and national perspective. The report will summarise key reports and case studies which can be used to enhance learning materials and inform research. Game Republic can also access and pass on reports from organisations such as UKTI – for example the recently-commissioned OMIS report on the Japanese games industry. 
Links With Other National Organisations 
Game Republic has excellent links with national organisations such as UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) which has previously helped companies with 50% funding to international events such as GDC and E3. Other organisations that Game Republic has a business relationship with include NESTA, TIGA and TSB. 
Game Republic Affiliates 
Game Republic partners with other games-related businesses to bring you special offers on PR, marketing, technology, research, consultancy, translation, investment, legal fees and recruitment.
When looking over the benefits of signing up, it does seems very tempting especially for once I leave university and start to look for job opportunities. From the offers of the membership currently what would be most beneficial to me would be things like the work placements, the help with recruitment and the networking events and if these benefits are as good as they are advertised, joining game republic could be a wonderful gate way to easier employment and networking chances, along with their list of members there is a good chance I'll get to meet people from these high profile companies and who knows where that could lead. With this in mind I think my best chance to experience game republic will be at the showcase.

Next I'll be looking at the Showcase I'll be going to.