Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A bit of a break, masters degree and recognising the obvious.

Hey all!

I'm back from (another) long break from my blog writing that I keep promising to keep up with. Sometimes I just find it easier to post smaller updates on Twitter and get things out there quicker, the only thing is with that is that it's usually too concise to actually go into any serious, meaningful reflection about my work.

Hopefully now I should have more of a reason to continually update this blog into the future, as I have committed to studying a masters degree at DMU.

The masters degree isn't in Game Art like I have been studying for the last 3 years. The university does a course called 'Independent Study' which essentially allows us to tackle whatever subject we want as a form of personal research, within reason. So there is a lot of potential to really expand on what I want to do an make something beyond game art before I jump into industry.

Originally my plan for my study on the masters consisted of making a series of smaller polished projects, all somewhat unrelated but requiring me to make a lot of environments, dealing with technical aspects and game design. Some of these projects may have also dealt with VR as an experimentation. All of this before moving on to create a game at the end with Amber Jamieson onboard as the artistic side of the project. 

These projects were heavily ambitious and didn't leave me a lot of room for experimentation, so I changed my focus slightly. I began to realize recently that I really enjoy a lot of different things rather than just environments and strictly artistic roles did not suit me. After a bit of work on my own stuff during the holidays (I will cover those things in another post) I started to think a technical artist was more within my reach rather than aiming at some kind of environment artist/game artist role. I get bored of doing one thing quite easily, and I would rather work on games where I can have a bit more of a creative crossover to other areas.

I started to work technical art into what I was doing during my masters, but still focusing towards making a game as an end goal. The idea being that the technical art skills I will learn over the year will help with making the final game be as good as it can be. Creating tools and pipelines and anything else that could help with that goal.

We had a presentation yesterday where we had to show our concept for what our masters study project will be. My new focus was: Can an Indie development studio be started from uni? As it turns out the way I phrased my question gave out the wrong idea of the scope of my work, it implied that I would be investigating a load of different things which may not be relevant to me at all. The main point being that it would require me to search for an argument to the point that making a studio from uni is possible. However, that would take away from the main goal I have at the end of the masters which is to actually make a game.



So what do I do? The tutors made a lot of recommendations on how I should actually word the proposal. One idea was to simply add 'How' in front of it so the answer to 'How can an indie developer studio be started from uni?' would be emphasised more on taking steps to making that a reality.

What now?

The other main thing that was brought up can be evidenced by the changed banner at the top of this blog. Instead of Game Artist or Technical Artist you may notice it says Game Developer now. I have kind of just recognised and accepted the obvious that I am more a game developer than anything else and most of my creative thinking goes towards making game experiences rather than focusing on a very particular area. I have my strengths on the technical side of things, but that is something I should build up as a way to develop my own games rather than focusing solely on the technical artist role.

This is something I have battling with for a bit, and the reason I had issues with the presentation. Instead of trying to balance two different roles coming out of uni I should focus on the one which interests me the most and put all my eggs in one basket. I have an interest in the game making process, this can be seen throughout projects like Guiding Sprites and Off The Map, and the technical things are just part of the things that I do.

Moving forward I will be experimenting a lot more with game design, project planning and anything else that is important in the world of small scale game development. After another long talk with Mike we came to an agreement that a lot more needs to be done to figure out what kind of 'indie dev' do we want to work for? A small team of 4 or 5? Or a mid-sized developer? A bit of an investigation into what they do differently and then tailoring my masters work toward achieving that kind of position. So that means a lot of networking over the next few months!

So get ready for a lot of really fun game-dev stuff on here from now on, I'm pulling no punches! I'll be making another post shortly about my recent game jam entry 'Split The Bill! for the UE4 Megajam event, a game-jam run by Epic Games where we had a week to create a short game. (Paschall, 2016)

I will also do a little bit of a write up on a small tool-set I'm working on called 'UE4 Slabs'

I have included my presentation for viewing here: Project Proposal Prsentation

See you next time,
James


Sources:

1. JAMIESON, A [Weblog]. Amber Jamieson Game Artist Blog. Available from: http://amberjamieson.wixsite.com/gameartblog [Accessed 19/10/16].

2. PASCHALL, A (2016) Epic Megajam 2016 Announced! [Weblog] Unreal Engine. September 8th. Available from: https://www.unrealengine.com/blog/epic-megajam-2016-announced [Accessed 19/10/16].


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