The Art of James Teeple

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Leicester, United Kingdom
I'm 21 / DMU Art Student / British-American.

Monday, 27 May 2013

An introduction to the Game Industry

I guess I've never really thought too hard on, or research into the structure of the current games industry that I'm looking to find a career in.
 Me being very open to idea's and possible career changes and feeling in no rush, I just didn't see the importance of it until now.
I think what I've learned from this year, is that I need to take hold of the reigns and start directing myself somewhere. This lack of "focus" is likely a bad thing and although I know its never a good thing to narrow your field of view too early,  at least if I've scanned out the terrain before hand I can feel safer in what ever decision I make on what direction to follow.

So lets take a look at the current skeleton of the games industry by checking out a few of my personal favorite studios and how they structure their creative workforce.

Skyrim development team
"Bethesda Game Studio's", developer for "Bethesda Softworks", is one of my all time favorite game studio's; mostly for the A class portfolio of RPG's that they have thrown at the world of gaming over the years. That's just my personal interest, but if you take one of their most recent titles in the hugely successful Elder scrolls Franchise: "The Elder Scrolls Five: Skyrim", and look at what it took to produce that game compared to games to games 10 years ago, the difference it huge.
 Todd Howard, game director for Skyrim, stated that a team of nearly 100 people worked on skyrim, which is 30 more than were recruited to work on Fallout 3 which was another epic title, merely three years prior.

Go back even farther to 2002, when Bethesda released "Morrowind" the team that worked on that title numbered a mere 35. Ive played all titles, and neither seems larger or more in depth. They all have brilliant soundtracks, so what are all the new people needed for?

Morrowind development Team
That's a triple increase in team size in just under 10 years. The father back you go you see the same trend, right back to the days when a game could be made single handed by anyone with programing knowledge and a computer. Those days seem far and distant now, as studies have shown that typically a game will take roughly 2 years to build with a large team of people. There are those who beat the trend, like with the Indie game movement that's grown over the past few years. We've seen a shocking number of new small developers spring up spitting out there offerings to the gaming community. Some of them being huge successes like Bastion in 2010, which went on to win awards. It was produced by a team of 7 which is tiny by today's standards however, if you go back another 8 years to the release of The Elderscrolls Two: Arena, they had a development team of of a similar number...

Arena Development Team

I wish I could find a record of exactly "who is employed doing what" in their studio but right now I cant. So its perhaps best If I look at a general guide to the likely roles available in the current games studios when it comes to designing and making a game.

There are many different job roles within any given field in the games Industry,
Here is an overview of the general fields of work involved in a team like the one that works at Bethesda game studios.

Game design
Art & animation
Quality assurance
Production management and Publishing
And finally - Organizational management.

A couple of those fields may be relevant to me, those being Game Design and Art & animation.
From what I've read in research, I don't think the others are relevant to my own personal skill and goals so ill ignore them.

Game design is a field that I became interested in years back, before I knew anything about how jobs in the games industry were divided. All I thought was that I had some great Ideas and one day I want to have the ability to turn those idea's for games into a reality. Essentially that's what Game designers do because not only do they decide what a game consists of and how it plays, but they often are responsible for the games idea generation and creating the pitch for publishers.
Its also one of the more varied of roles because as a Designer you need to be able to communicate all aspects of the game to the other team member's. In today's industry, larger game titles can require more than one designer for specific area's simply because of the scale of things.
An example of this would be spreading out responsibility for level designs between the team.

Some jobs titles this area would likely include are titles like: Lead designer, Game designer, Graphic designer, Script editor, Level editor, Illustrator, Storyboard Artist, GUI designer, Map builder and Script writer.

Right now, I'd say I'm looking more closely At the kind of job titles that fall under Art and animation.
Artists are obviously responsible for generating all the art that makes up the game world. Whether that be 2D, 3D or conceptual design work leading up to it. Where as the Animators are responsible for giving movement to that work, for example a game character. usually the Artists never have to worry about rigging or animation, so its the animators job to take that character model from the artist and give it a skeleton from which they can animate movements, bringing the character to life.

Some of the job Titles that exist within this field are: Art Director, Creative Manager, Lead Artist, Concept Artist, Environment Artist, 3D modeler, Animator, Artist (general) , Technical Artist, and PreVis Artist.
Of those titles, the jobs that I would instinctually say that I want to be a concept artist, because to me that used to sound like "I get to draw what I like how I like" But since then ive learned a lot about what it really mean to be a concept artist having sat in on talks from course graduate and concept artist at Codemasters, Mitch Small. Also I've looked into it online but I'm not sure yet where I stand. I think id I'd had a better year like I set out to have this year, I would be more grounded and know where I'm going.
This is an interesting talk about Game design, and hits home with a lot of points I feel strongly about.

If you fancy a shorter summary, then check this out -

Right now I'd say that I'm looking to enter in as an artist, doing what I can to get a foothold then from there aim to where I think I'd like to be which is Lead Artist, and eventually Art Director. I seem to have a good eye and a good sense for when things look right or wrong in an image or model, especially when looking at other people work, and I believe once Ive trained my skills enough, then ill be in a position to lead the visual style of the team and help other artist out with their work, which is something I enjoy. Still undecided...

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