Archive for March, 2009

March 31, 2009

A character from a zombie board

Yes, it is the same zombie board game.  No, I’d rather not talk about it any more, mostly cause I’m lazy.  I like how it came out though, so here you go.

March 30, 2009

New Star Grand Prix released!

New Star Grand Prix has been released!  I worked on this game with Simon Read a couple of months back and it’s nice to see it finally getting the finishing touches.  Unfortunately, not all of the art there is mine, as I think Simon’s been hit by the recent Financial crisis as well.  We had to cut back on some art assets that he wanted custom made and he he had a go at the graphics himself.  Still it turned out quite well (VERY well I think, well enough to make me wonder why he needed an artist in the first place, but no need to question that eh?), and the game’s a lot of fun to play even if you’re not a hardcore F1 fan.

I pitched a basketball RPG (yes, it’s possible!) game to Simon a few months ago as well, and so we may actually be working on that in the coming months.

March 27, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

arethafranklin

At some point in my career I determined that the amount of money I was making paralleled the amount of respect I felt within an organization, which in turn impacted how hard I worked for said organization.

For example, in a large telecommunications company that I knew was making billions of pesos annually, I was being paid a 10,000 peso salary (negotioated up from an insultingly low 8000 pesos a month).   For the amount of work they were giving me, and for the experience I already had in that field (mobile games), I felt slighted, but took the job because I was desperate for work at the time.  I lasted 3 months, a quarter of which was spent online looking at job listings.  My motto at the time was “you aren’t paying me enough to do this shit!”

My next job paid roughly 35,000 pesos, working for a smaller, foreign run company that treated its staff well and had a flexi-time schedule that allowed us to check in at any time we wanted and check out once our 9 hours was up.  While the work was rather monotonous at times I liked the people there and felt like my opinion was (sometimes) being listened to.  I would joke to my fellow artist friend that I could no longer claim that they weren’t paying me enough to do this shit, and thus I felt pressured to work hard enough to make sure I didn’t lose this job.

After this last job, I was offered a position with an indie studio out of San Fransisco called Disco Pixel.  It was made up of game industry vets and they were interested in taking me on as their lead artist, a position that I now admit I was probably wholly unprepared for.  They offered me a ridiculous sum of money (cheap according to industry standards but still a veritable goldmine for me) that to this day I’m uncomfortable talking about.  While it was a terrific ride and I learned a hell of a lot from the people I was working with, the amount of money they were paying me really pushed me to work as hard as I could to justify their hiring me.  I was perpetually plagued with feelings of insecurity, and shrugged it off by putting more hours than I really needed to, doing and redoing art assets to as close as I could get to perfection, and basically working my ass off so that at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel guilty about the money they were paying me.  I felt like they’d given me so much respect that I couldn’t afford to let them down.  The jury’s still out on that, but we were hit by a series of unfortunate events (collectively called the financial crisis) and had to shut down in the 3rd quarter of last year.

As a corollary to the original theory, my feeling of respect can be adjusted by the amount of money the organization I’m working for is making.  In effect, if I know you’re a multi-million dollar earning company and you’re paying me 20000 pesos a month, I’d probably feel insulted.  But if I know you’re a small company or an individual paying me the same amount, I will respect that and still work as hard for you as I possibly can.

Sometimes I wonder if this makes me a bad worker.  Of course I rationalize that I’m just taking care of myself and my future.  Like many an overpaid basketball superstar I feel like “I gots to get paid.”  But at the end of the day it again comes down to respect.  If I know that I’m not being screwed with and the people I’m working for are open and honest about their financial situation I’ll be a happy worker.  Hell, I worked for Disco Pixel for about 3 months on deferred pay out of respect (and the possibility of being picked up by a publisher at the last minute) alone, so I think my conscience is clear.

March 18, 2009

Zombie board game

box-art3

A cover for a zombie board game. The yellow strip running diagonally from left to right contained the title, which I’ll hold off on showing for now.  All I can say is that I’m really excited to be working on an indie board game.  This is one of the first larger pieces I’ve had to make, both compositionally and literally, and while I think I managed to pull off the general idea, I’m certain I could have spiffied it up some more given some more time.  Like a month. 😛

March 16, 2009

Mouse in Boots

mouseinboots2

A quick, lighthearted 30 minute sketch to keep from getting rusty.

March 13, 2009

Artistic Freedom is Overrated

hirst

Very often while trolling message boards and forums for jobs I’ll come across an ad that promises  “a lot of artistic freedom!” for the applying artist.  While this always sounds great, I’ve come to find out that “artistic freedom” usually means “I’m a client who has no fricking idea what I want so you figure it out for me.”.  That’s all fine and dandy when you’re working for a company or this client is so rich that he doesn’t mind paying for your time conceptualizing, but for the most part these “artistic freedom” clients are skinflints. They see advertising the job as having a lot of artistic freedom as a good thing, bonus for freelance artists.  Well let me tell you something, artistic freedom is only useful for people who submerge animal carcasses into golden containers of formaldehyde and call it art.

Since maximizing the returns on your time is as important as it is when you’re a freelancer, this is not a good situation to find yourself in.  Basically, if you’re being paid to be an art contractor, you shouldn’t be doing an art director’s work, but that often turns out to be the case. An art director is usually the person who looks at the design document or brief, digests what needs to be produced on the artistic end, then spits it out to the production artists, usually in the form of an art asset list, with a timeline possibly attached.  He also provides artistic direction, something that’s sorely unappreciated, as far as I can tell with the clients I’ve been getting lately.  One recent design brief had this particular phrase “…avatars can be any race, species, etc.” which made me wonder, if I drew a female badger, then a black widow spider, would they accept these avatars?  I wasn’t even given a plot or storyline so there was absolutely no basis for me to even begin thinking about what might be useful as avatars.  When you have no point of reference, creating production art (ie any art that you’ll see in-game) can be a nightmare of redoing images over and over again until your client finally sees something that hits him.  Then asks you to tweak it some more, ad nauseum.

These days I’ve learned to ask clients for a lot more information before giving an estimate, in order to avoid situations like these.  At the end of the day production art for games is functional.  It may be pretty to look at, but it serves a purpose, and the more context you have about that purpose, the better an artist will be able to make that piece of art work for your game.

March 2, 2009

It would have been fun…

To work on this game.  The idea was a top-down action RPG type iphone game with the artistic direction of Field Runners.  Unfortunately the company who commisioned this mockup punked me and I haven’t heard from them since.

March 1, 2009

Parallelus is on the Appstore!

para

Parallelus (click the link only if you have itunes installed) is now available on the iTunes appstore!  This is another small milestone in my time as a freelance artist, my first iPhone game!  Ok no more exclamation points.  Instead I’ll copy and paste the wonderful and curiously well made description of the game from my contractor’s website:

Catch hearts and avoid bombs. Do you really think this task is simple?

Try it yourself in this original arcade game.

Use your reflexes and brain to complete this double task. Two hands, two brain parts, two game fields. Parallelus it!

Features:
– original concept
– immersive multi-touch control
– over 100 levels
– 3 game modes
– shiny graphics

If you like puzzle games, left/right brain mind exercises, or me, please buy this game!