Middle of Week 12

I know how to work with writers and musicians really well, but I don't have much experience directing artists. I've noticed a consistent pattern with artists. When I interview a programmer to join the team, they want to know all about the lore, the history, what game mechanics we're using--pretty much everything there is to know. The few musicians I've talked to, I can talk music theory with, talk about instruments, and compositions. I can talk to 3D artists really well. I have 4 years professional experience as a modeler and texture artist working as a conceptual modeler at an architectural company. But when it comes to talking to conceptual artists(the kind that draw stuff), I don't have the hang of it. Artists keep wanting to see something. I can't draw for crap nor am I all that visually creative. My meetings with artists tends to go really fast.

We have a private wiki we use with a lot of information on lore, but unless the artists are actually looking at visuals, it's not clicking for them. So for me to say, "Hey, read through the wiki and start drawing stuff," hasn't been super productive. It makes sense to me, as a writer. To me, the visuals are cool, but they're window dressing. I need to read character backgrounds, histories, conflicts, etc, to really get the meat of what's going on. So I've provided all that for the artists. But I've been making the mistake of communicating to the art team like I would want to be communicated to, and this has bogged us down.

I'm starting to learn why writers never end up in charge of big game projects. But, I'm nothing if not adaptable. So we're changing tactics a little. I'm going to have the artists start doing lots of fast sketches on specific things just to get a rapid flow of visual ideas out there. This is what we should have been doing all along.

We have a lot of great concepts right now. There are some really talented artists on the team. I'm just a little frustrated that we're three months in and just barely starting to do some modeling. But again, I take blame for that. Still, I took about a dozen volunteer artists who didn't know each other, put them in one group, and told them to start working together as a team. That's not an easy thing to do. And I've had a few people (and I'm not naming names) who have experience working at AAA level studios who've told me there's no way I can pull off what I'm trying to do without hiring people with industry experience. I've had similar people tell me I shouldn't let my team know that projects like this one have a very high failure rate--even professional studios with experienced people, have a high failure rate. If I listened to people that told me I can't do things, I'd never get out of bed.

But speaking communicating with my team, I've worked on unfunded projects where we were told almost weekly that funding was right around the corner, and of course, it never came. I've done the opposite. I've made it pretty clear we're not going to get funding any time soon.

I can name a few groups of hobbyists that got together, made a prototype, pitched it to another game company or got some funding, and made it big. The Diablo series is one of the most successful game series of all time. But most people don't know that Blizzard didn't create it. It was pitched to them and they took it over. The "company" that made World of Tanks made their MMO on the side while working for another company, and they got bought out by some big company I can't remember right now. Zynga has bought out several studios started by hobbyists.

But there's the other side of things too. Cheyenne Mountain is a big example of a studio that had a big IP--Star Gate. They went two years without any funding at all after they ran out of money and eventually had to close shop. Simutronics kept going to GDC each year trying to get funding for Hero's Journey, before they gave up and now just focuses on selling their custom made engine--the HeroEngine. I met the HeroEngine people at GDC. They sounded like pretty sharp people. It's a little intimidating to say we're going to succeed where they failed.

But I can say that I really believe in the Dawnshine project. It's radically different from what's out there, and I know people are going to really like it.





Login or register to leave comments.