Life in a Studio

Hey guys,

I haven't posted in a while. In this case, that's because there's a lot going on. We moved into the studio and much of the team collapsed immediately. No, it's not that they hated the place. It was more a realization that we'd been on the wrong path and the studio forced the issue. See, when we were working on Dawnshine, I was determined to have it look like nothing ever seen before. Um, but I'm not a concept artist. That meant I had to recruit people that were. When Dawnshine looked to be too big a game for us to ever finish, I broke up the team into smaller projects. Smaller, 2d projects. I mean, the team was made up of 2d artists. That meant 2d games. Now, I'm a 3d artist and had been dabbling with 3d modeling and animation since the 90's, even worked professionally as a 3d modeler, but whatever. All the other artists were 2d artists. We went 2d.

I wanted to add story to our games to make them stand out. That meant 2d animation, cut scenes, interesting characters, etc. At first, the 2d artists were all like, "2d animation is a lot of work, but whatever. It'll be sick." And I was all like, "Nah man, 3d is where it's at." And they were like, "But we're all 2d artists. What would we do?" And I was like, "Good point. Let's get nachos."

After 2 years of that, and the 2d artists being more and more discouraged staring at work that never seemed to get done, we hit the breaking point. This is the second time in Stigma Games's history that the art team collapsed. I was worried at first. We hadn't lost a core member of the team in at least a year, then to have 4 people leave in the same week was rough. These were good people, talented too. Two sleepless nights later, I started really hitting the R & D. Now, we'd talked about going 3d before, but there were some problems. It takes a lot of experience to model convincing characters, do realistic animations, and create photo realistic environments. I mean, there's a reason why game studios open up in cities with very high costs of living--that's where the talent is. Sacramento has talent, sure, but highly experienced artists are very rare here. Then I started piecing these problems out one at a time.

There are several programs that generate high quality characters. They just need to be made game engine friendly. I know how to do that. Motion capture is a lot more doable now and a lot more affordable, so I bought a motion capture system and have been teaching myself Motion Builder(same animation program used in Avatar, Lord of the Rings, etc). I know how to rig 3d characters, and it's even easier to do that now with more modern tools then when I first started doing it. As for photo realism, I've been looking at a lot of cell shaded games that look amazing. Putting that all together, and there's really no reason I can't change Stigma Games to a fully 3d studio. I mean, I can use character modeling programs and come up with amazing figures faster than a concept artist can draw one.

With this in mind, all those 3d modelers that I've been turning down over the years, I can now recruit. Since we're in an office and I'm doing a lot of the work myself, I can teach 3d modelers how to do things that I know are not being taught in local colleges--like how to optimize an art asset for a game engine. This means I can bring in people that are a lot less experienced and start them off with simpler tasks to get them going. All I need is a 3d artist with some basic knowledge and a great attitude.

I have to admit, I'm pretty happy with how things are going now. I still have more artists to recruit, but we picked up a great programmer and have been getting a lot more organized. Plus the morale is just good. It's just a fun vibe here. I should be able to post some work soon. I know I haven't posted a new front page article since March. Yeah, just turmoil and low productivity, but that should change now.

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