Question for devs - graphics (semi ot)

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by nickels, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. nickels

    nickels Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2008
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    Web Developer / Designer
    PA, USA
    Sorry for the semi off-topic post, but this seems to be where everyone goes first on these forums. Hopefully this thread will be of interest to amateur coders and graphics artists.

    Do you independent developers create your own graphics, or do any of you use freelance artists? Before you mods get angry and lock this, I am not looking for a job! I am really curious and looking for some insider info that only devs can offer.

    After talking a little with AutoMangle's developer, he mentioned that he uses Blender for his 3D graphics. Xmas is approaching and I thought it would be a good time to get some books on learning Blender and go for it. But, is it really worth it? I am sure in a few months I'd be able to kick out some decent 3D stuff (I am not totally unfamiliar with this), but I don't feel like putting in all that effort for nothing.

    I'll never learn to program games, nor do I want too. I know in my field of web design the best coders were usually the worst at design. Part of me is hoping that this is also the case with game design. So, do you programmers think it is worth investing countless hours learning to create 3D artwork, or will it just be a skill that I will never be good enough at to be of any use to smaller game developers? Do most app devs do everything on their own, from graphics to code?

    Thanks for any insight into designing and developing games!
     
  2. Hippieman

    Hippieman Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Senior Producer, Designer
    San Francisco
    We create all of our art in house with our art teams. When we cannot keep up with demand we go to 3rd party contractors. Quality art is worth paying for.

    If you want to learn 3D, learn either Maya or 3D Studio Max. They are pretty much industry standards right now.

    Whatever you do, don't steal from Google Image Search or Wikipedia. It's just tacky, and could get you sued.
     
  3. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    If you're only looking to learn modeling, Silo is a very competent package. I would advice against Blender, no matter what the open source fanatics tell you :D
     
  4. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Some developers have an art guy, or artists. Some hire contractors. Some meet on forums/IRC and decide to work together. Some (including myself) actually do art themselves.

    It's rarer to find developers that do their own art. I've been coding games professionally for nearly a decade, and one of my personal goals has been to start doing my own art and audio. Smiles' art and sound have been highly praised, so as a coder gone artist, I'm thrilled. :D
     
  5. jonaswills

    jonaswills Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2008
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    Game Developer
    Colorado
    Yea, we have our own artist doing our stuff... there are a selected set of talented people that can do art and programming but it's most likely to only exist in a small 1 or 2 person company just because you won't have the TIME to do both if you want to be running a full time company.

    If you want to start learning some modeling I highly recommend anim8or. It's a free *BASIC* modeling and animation program that is VERY easy to use and does have a lot of nice features, not as many as blender or 3dsm or so, but most of those you won't be using anyway.
     
  6. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    My brother is our in-house artist (and sound guy), he's been creating graphics for commercial games almost as long as I've been coding them, so we only need to go external when we're doing a *lot* of art content in a game (and then we have Freeverse's small but very talented art team to call on).

    I'd add Cinema 4D to the list of 3D packages. Not as pricey as Maya, but almost all the same features and used in both games and film.
     
  7. nickels

    nickels Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2008
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    Web Developer / Designer
    PA, USA
    Thanks for the info so far its been very interesting. Also, it is quickly turning into a which software is better thread, which was my next question anyway.

    Blender, anim8or, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Cinema 4D - looks like I have a tough decision to make. Hopefully this time I'll do better then my original choice of Macromedia 3D studio many (many many many) years ago.

    Thanks to all that chimed in so far, please keep em coming!
     
  8. eeenmachine

    eeenmachine Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2008
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    Independent Game Developer
    San Diego, CA
    I do all my own art and code. Most small developers stick to 2d graphics since 3d games usually require more art resources.
     
  9. ChaoticBox

    ChaoticBox Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2008
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    Developer
    Toronto Canada
    I do my own art and audio but I'm more of an artist/musician gone dev than the other way around. I haven't released any 3D stuff on the iPhone yet but I would encourage you to learn Blender - despite the nay sayers!

    I was a long time Cinema 4D user (and still recommend it) but after going from full-time artist to most-time developer I couldn't justify the update costs and started using Blender. Admittedly, it's not always the easiest thing to get the hang of UI wise but it can handle game assets with little trouble.

    For pure low-poly modelling you should check out Wings 3D. It's kinda ugly in the UI department but it's a highly functional modeller and relatively easy to use - and it's free.
     
  10. Finchypoo

    Finchypoo Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    I'm currently working as an artist for iPhone games (MotionX) so I'll pitch in.

    I think with the appstore being such a small developer centric marketplace there will be a lot of opportunities for freelance artists, as many of these companies don't have the resources to hire a fulltime artist, or with short development cycles, having an artist relocate to work on a game isn't efficient.

    If your working freelance it may not matter what 3D package your using, as you may be exporting all 3D work to some common format for transport anyways (such as .OBJ or .3DS). These formats are pretty standard and most 3D packages will export.

    For me personally, I'm a big proponent of 3D Studio Max, as its what I learned first and I find it to be a great program. When I was hired to work at MotionX they only had a license for Maya and I barely knew it, but I learned fast (I made this after only a few months of rare Maya useage ). Although Maya feels backwards and awkward to me, it was simply easier to use because I was already familair with 3D Studio Max and many features in 3D apps are similar.

    If I was going to recommend learning one of the two big ones, id suggest Maya, Its Windows and OSX unlike the windows only 3DS Max and seems to be slightly more widely used, despite the fact that I sometimes want to punch it. Maya PLE is a free demo version of Maya that has many of the features of the final product and is a great way to learn.

    Blender is free (it is isnt it?) but most likely any large company that my want to hire you already has a lisence for Maya or 3D Studio MAX and wont be interested in someone who knows Blender. If your working on your own and sending OBJ files through email, use whatever works for you. Having Blender for free is way better than buying Maya for thousands of dollars.

    Biggest tip. Learn Photoshop. Its way easier than any 3D program and youll use it for everything. I do 99% of the art for MotionX Poker in photoshop. Even a 3D game requires tons of 2D art and it takes way longer than the 3D stuff.
     
  11. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Yep. Blender is a tougher application to start with, but it's nearly as powerful as the expensive higher end packages. iPhone games are low budget, especially us nobody developers. So if you are looking to target yourself to iPhone work, knowing your way around Blender, and having an impressive portfolio there would make you an excellent contract work candidate.
     
  12. Eric5h5

    Eric5h5 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't (and I'm not an open source fanatic). It's got lots of features, works great, loads almost instantly, and doesn't crash, unlike Maya and Max. I guess it's "hard to use" at first, but so are nearly all 3D apps. Some of the rendering stuff is pretty obscure, but for game modeling you can just ignore all that anyway.

    --Eric
     
  13. PoV

    PoV Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2008
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    London, Ontario, Canada
    Exactly. Perfectly usable complete modeling package.

    We used it as part of a console game pitched a couple years back. The in house artist had to learn the package, but it didn't take them long to start producing usable assets. At the time I wrote a custom export plugin, but I imagine Collada support is usable these days.

    I've been keeping a Softimage XSI license (and dongle) around just in case, but it's soooo nice not to have to deal with the silly license server software. Well worth the week it takes to get them up to speed.
     
  14. nickels

    nickels Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2008
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    Web Developer / Designer
    PA, USA
    I am a graphic artist so I already know Photoshop at a pro level and Illustrator (and Freehand). I thought it would be fun doing some low level side stuff on the iPhone eventually. It seems like I can't go wrong as long as I pick a 3D package and learn it.

    I am leaning towards Blender since its free, but I will look into the other ptions as well. I'm 35 and have a full time job that I don't plan on leaving. This is more of a hobby or side job kinda thing.
     
  15. aghartastudio

    aghartastudio Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2008
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    Game designer/ director
    Lyon, France
    We think we pushed MS paint to its limits as you may see in our hand drawn artworks:)
     
  16. TripleJ

    TripleJ Member

    Nov 25, 2008
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    I worked together with a friend of mine on the graphics for my latest app ([website] and for the actual website itself as well, and it was a huge help since I could focus on the product instead. All my other apps have been 100% me, though.
     
  17. Modus

    Modus Well-Known Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    #17 Modus, Dec 9, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2008
    Hi nickels

    I've spent a long time as an games artist/animator, and I can only re-iterate what others have said here.

    Learn Maya or Max. Simple as that - you'll cover all your bases.

    Blender, it's free and actually has some great features: But you won't find it in 99% of game studios (not the ones that pay well anyway).

    XSI, brilliant software and will always have a place in my heart, but again it has a fairly limited footprint compared to Max & Maya - this may change now Autodesk have bought Softimage, but change can be a slow process. The interface is also a lot to take in for anyone new to 3D.

    If this is your first foray into 3D, I'd strongly recommend Max.

    If you're forced to learn on a Mac, then Maya is the only one of the two with Mac support (although not as stable as the PC counterpart). Alternatively, Cinema4D may get you faster progress if you're thinking of working with other Mac developers "here and now".

    Be warned, 3D is a many disciplined area. Just be sure to learn it rather than click all the easy-to-reach buttons. Knowledge pays dividends.
     
  18. nickels

    nickels Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2008
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    Web Developer / Designer
    PA, USA
    I don't aspire beyond reason....

    My goal is to eventually meet a decent programmer (hopefully here) and team up to make games. They'd do the programming, and I'd do the artwork. I don't want to work for a big company or anything like that, like I said this is a hobby that I'd like to get more involved with. I have lots of ideas for games as well.

    So, I am guessing Blender or 3D studio max will suffice. Thanks again everyone for your help and info. Someday I hope to come back loaded with 3D design experience and hopefully ready to team up with an independent developer looking for a cheap and half-decent 3D artist to join forces and eventually rule the world. Baby steps though, gotta learn some stuff first.
     
  19. drunknbass

    drunknbass Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    luckily for me i was doing web design full time for a few years (and did video production, post production) and then did graphic design professionally (like working for a real co. lol) for @6 years after that and always kept up on web and flash, flex actionscript etc and when iphone came out i actually got into real programming.. so i guess i am lucky i can not only do graphics, but do them well. what sucks is there is only so much time in the day. and sometimes i cant do all the graphics, which is hard to hand off to someone else to do when you feel like you could do them 1000x better yourself, but just dont have the time.

    as far as blender, ive been messing with it lately but havent gotten too deep.. everytime i started getting into 3d stuff in the past i just got over it, but now i am kind of forced to learn it because i am working on 3d games.

    i will tell you 3d design is an art, just like graphic design, and programming, and even more specifically game programming. you cant expect to be an allstar at everything.. eventho thats my personal goal :D

    ps. blender seems to have a slightly higher learning curve compared to max or maya.
     
  20. nickels

    nickels Well-Known Member

    Oct 15, 2008
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    Web Developer / Designer
    PA, USA
    Side note
    Here is my stellar gaming portfolio so far - a few flash games that are pretty old now. Both are sport titles based on the same concept. I did all of the flash code, artwork ('borrowed' most graphics from videogames), design, sound, and just about everything other then the music.

    Game one - a football joke game. The Eagles had a receiver that sucked back in 2000. The joke is he makes excuses everytime you hit him with the ball. He is erratic and hard to pass to, and he runs random routes back and forth. Complete six passes in a row for a bonus. I made the game and I can't do it:
    http://www.johnkalnin.com/passtopinky/

    Game two - a hockey game where you shoot pucks at the commissioner for points based on where you hit him. Hit the breifcase a few times for a bonus:
    http://www.johnkalnin.com/bonk/

    I haven't kept up with Flash, but I would like to take what I learned from making these games and bring it to the next level with doing iPhone graphics and helping to come up with game concepts.
     

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