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  • Lessons Learned In Game Art Production: Part 2

    [01.03.19]
    - Ricardo Bess
  • From April 2017 through March 2018 I had the opportunity to work on the art team of two VR titles by Black River Studios (BRS). This article is an attempt to sum up my experience. I tried to keep it not too technical or over detailed so everyone may learn a thing or two.

    This is part II and it deals with the production experience I had in Dead Body Falls. You can find part I here.

    Situation

    I was asked to work on the project because the art director was going to go on vacation and someone had to replace him during that period. At the time the project was going for around 6 months and this was the sum of the situation as I could perceive:

    The project was officially entering "production".

    The game was narrative driven, but besides the location, the main characters and a few guidelines, there wasn't much detail of what would happen in the game and pretty much half of the story was only still a cloud of possibilities.

    As a consequence, there had been a lot of reference research, but there was no clear information about what had to be done (how many assets had to be modeled, what were the character's animations, etc). Despite that, the art style was well established among the team.

    At the time the project had:

    • 1 environment ("the hotel lobby") almost ready.
    • 5 environments ("the prologue", "the corridors", "the HUB", "the stairs" and "the epilogue") blocked out but pending adjustments.
    • 1 environment ("the room") that had nothing done (including story or gameplay).
    • I was presented with a deadline of around two and half months to the launch of the game.


    Image 1 - Examples of art studies the team was conducting

    How we handled

    The first thing I did was to put all the art creation on a schedule, so the team could know how much time they could dedicate and how delays would affect the chain and make it impossible to achieve the release dates we were presented.


    Image 2 - The schedule roughed out on a table

    On this schedule I considered 3D asset creation, animation, UI, lighting, VFX, tech art implementation, marketing (for that, part of the art team had to be reallocated) and a period for code stabilization and optimization.

    After fitting all this pieces together I called the team members responsible for the project  and showed them how challenging the next two month would be.

    After that, I made separate meetings with the team members involved (3D modeling, animation, VFX, UI, Tech-Art and Marketing) presenting them the schedule and making some adjustments as they would point aspects to be improved.

    By then, we all had a PLAN.

    Just as I described in part I of this article, visualizing the end goal had an important function in Conflict0: Shattered. So I wanted to present the team a "beat board" again.  For that, I did the following images based on the previous research and guidelines


    Image 3 - The beat board

    As I did on project Conflict0: Shattered, after the "beat board" was ready and approved by the game designers, I presented it for the art team members so everyone could understand what they should be aiming for.

    With the schedule and the beat board we had a PLAN and a GOAL. So I started to work on the actual project.

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