Plymouth College of Art Alumni

Today we had a talk from the Plymouth College of Art Careers Support to give a brief summary of what the Plymouth College of Art Alumni entails.  The benefits of being a Alumni includes access to the Plymouth College of Art work space, online tutorials, networking events which they are planning on trying to spread country wide and finally the ability to attend talks with industry professionals along with the ability to talk about your experience to students so long as the Course Manager allows it.

Overall, I feel that even if I am planning on moving back to Wales after my course has ended, having the support would still be an invaluable asset to me.


Body Chan Model

Body Chan ManikinThe other day, I decided to spend some money on this model only for it to arrive today.  At first, I bought it thinking that I would receive both the male and female variants only to find out after I have paid for both the model and packaging, I had only paid for one model not both.  My reason for purchasing this is because I want to have a better source of reference material.  Overall, the quality of the model seems fine.  Its a little fragile feeling for the price with the plastic used feeling rather cheap (it came to roughly around £40 including postage and packaging).  Also, the left shoulder of the model seems to have popped out at some point between being made and delivered.  I would try to fix this myself but I am too afraid I may just break the arm off.  Another issue is that the hands don’t exactly fit the model that well.  they may need a little widening before use.  When trying to attach the hand that can be used to hold the gun the hand joint fell off so I had to find the hand joint, reattach it using pliers and then widen the gap on the inside of the hand to make it possible to attach it to the arm.  Finally, I feel that the Katana model frequently falls out the models hand.  Aside from these setbacks, I still feel that the model may help in my ability to create future character concept art since it will be a more malleable piece of reference material when compared to my wooden manikin.


Pro Indie Dev Conference – Day 1

The first day of the Pro Indie Dev online conference had Mike Bithell (Tomas was Alone, Volume), Ryan Clark (Crypt of the Necrodancer, Incredibots) and Eduardo Lamhunt (Holodrive) give talks about their experience in creating video games.  The talks were fairly informative and packed full of advice for an aspiring Indie developer.

The first talk was given by Mike Bithell who talked about his experience creating the game Tomas was Alone.  The main points I took away from the talk was that it is a good idea to have some kind of constant revenue stream like a job rather than to go fulltime indie expecting to make money off your projects.  He also mentioned that there really isn’t much of a winning formula when creating games because of how over saturated the indie market currently is.  If you work in a team, you need to be useful. Another is that you should clean up your twitter account to avoid looking like an asshole online tarnishing your reputation as a professional.  He also mentioned that you should find spaces where there aren’t really that many games however, the drawback on that is that the platform you have built your game for may fail commercially.  Overall, the points he has really made is that you shouldn’t make Indie games to be successful, you should make them because you want to make them.  Also, that you shouldn’t wait around for someone to tell you to make games, you should just make them.

The second talk was by Ryan Clark who said things in contrast to what Mike Bithell said.  Ryan Clark believes that there is a winning formula and that you can make games that you know will be successful.  An example that he gives is of Darkest Dungeon and how the Art Style stood out to him as something that would make that game successful.  He talked about Crypt of the Necrodancer and the many reasons why perused the project which he described as ‘Hooks’ to draw the player in.  These were the name is a pun, it has a soundtrack by someone who has made successful music in the past, the games art has personality, you can play the game with a none-traditional control setup (a dance pad) and it has a good catchy trailer.  He mentined that it is a good idea to observe trends and figure out what is currently popular or what is going to be popular in the future.  He also mentioned to avoid marketplaces where people only play one specific game like MOBA’s.

The final talk was done by Eduardo Lamhunt who talked about the inner workings of his company.  He mentioned that the company, Bitcake, is a 7 person team.  He talked about how he and his workers both work on the game and do contract work in their spare time.  He also mentioned how he has a PR person who is competent enough to get PR done for the company.  Like Bithell, he mentioned that you shouldn’t just abandon your job to work as an Indie and that you shouold get another job.  He mentioned that games like Undertale is a complete outlier and that it doesn’t represent the entire industry as a whole.  Finally, he mentioned that you should test the game idea before making it.

Overall, the first day of talks has been really useful in terms of informing me on how the Indie scene works.  It will definitely come in useful when it comes to examining whether or not I want to peruse a future in Indie development or if I want to go with a Tripple A company.

Pro Indie Dev Conference

Recently I have found out about an online ‘conference’ which will take place for a week form 26/02/2018.  The stated goal of the conference was to allow people who could not afford to go to professional conferences such as GDC to have a chance to gain a better understanding of how the Indie development scene works.  The conference will take place on Twitch and will feature multiple different indie developers who have chosen to talk about their experiences in the indie games scene.  I have also payed money to get the videos on demand so that if I miss out on a specific web seminar I still have access to it at a later date.

‘Protecting Your Creativity (IP)’ (3E’s)

An IP, or an Intellectual Property, is usually a design that has been registered in a way that stops people from intentionally and unintentionally steeling a piece of work done by someone.  There are two different ways in which an IP can be protected, either through Coppyright or Patent.

What is a Patent and what are the conditions for a Patent?

A Patent is focused around technical aspects of IP’s.  In the UK, you can patent anything so long as it is new, not obvious, and has a useful application.  You can not patent procedures, scientific laws, discoveries or procedures, rules for games, computer programs or anything else that could theoretically squash competition or further development into specific fields.

A patent is important when it comes to technical things to help establish who has created what and to avoid someone from straight up ripping off someone else’s design without paying royalties.

What is a Copyright and what are the conditions for Copyright?

A copyright is another field of law that protects someone who creates something that could be stolen.  Copyright is a little different in that it protects a name or design and allows the Copyright holder to have complete control over how their copyrighted work is used.

Generally, all work is Copyrighted for around 15 years after the creation and without legal backing surrounding it.  Creators can then extend the time past that point to around 25 years.  There is also the ability to extend that time further by renewing copyright.  Not registering an IP can have issues since none registered IP’s are harder to protect in a court of law when working to protect an IP.

Also, the creator doesn’t always have control over an IP.  IP rights can be transferred to the people that commissioned the work due to how some contracts surrounding commissioned work are written.

Overall both Patents and Copyright’s are there to protect an IP from being infringed upon since someone steeling a design can have negative consequences on the IP holder.  For instance, if a company started selling Batman themed objects for cheep and some of these objects break, that would look bad on the behalf of Warner Brothers who own the rights to Batman.  This then infringes negatively on the Batman IP and could scare away investors.

‘Bartering for Success’ (3E’s)

Bartering for success basically means that you need to be more assertive when it comes to working on a successful business.  There are many parallel’s between this and the last two 3E’s sessions relating to being confident about your work and showing that confidence in the way you look and the way that you speak.

However, there is one thing that has been brought up in this session that seems important, that being assertiveness.  Being assertive is important since it allows you to negotiate a different way of solving a problem.  If you aren’t assertive then it would mean that only one party involved in the process of running the business will be happy and the chances are, it isn’t you.  In art, this means stand the ground on how you feel that the product you are creating should look rather than just accepting what the client wants.

‘Talking About Your Work With Confidence’ (3E’s)

Overall, the theme going through this presentation is that I need to learn to be more confident about my work.  I need to try and ensure that this confidence comes through in the interactions that others have in my work.  Another point is not to be offended by criticism.  People who are criticizing my work are criticizing my work, not me.  That is, unless they are criticizing me in which case I still shouldn’t get offended.

Body language is also important.  Trying to ensure that I have a stance that looks confident rather than nervous, for example not having my arms in my pocket during a presentation, is something that I need to get good at.

Overall, this is an important thing to learn and will be something I need to work on for a later date.

Visiting Artist – Jack Eves (Rebellion Games) teaches Photobashing

Learned how to use some techniques to photobash in photoshop.  Basically what I learned was that the best way to photobash is to block out the areas that made up the area that you were trying to build using black and white, then to overlay the photos on top of the black and white and add highlights were necessary.

While doing this, I was doing work on my Blue Peter Model for BAGA 201.  Upon reflection, I should have been following along with what he was saying on screen…

‘Pricing Your Work’ (3E’s)

Financial stability is important to running a business, even a business being ran by a single party.  It is important because without finances, the business will collapse and won’t may put the party who owns the business in debt.

Something to take note of is the fact that you need to ensure that you are confident in how you ask for a going rate.  Don’t ask ‘is it okay if you pay…’,  Instead, give a rate firmly but also be willing to negotiate a going rate.  Don’t allow people to walk over you either because if you do, you will find that you are doing more work then you are getting paid for.

How much to charge seems to be based around a few different criteria, being how much you need to live off of and how much the company is willing to pay.  How much you charge can show how much confidence you have in your work but also determine whether or not a lower income business or charity may want to pay you for.  A company worth billions would expect an artist to ask for something large like £1,500 + VAT  where as a charity would only be willing to pay something along the lines of £50 +VAT.

It is also important to ensure that you are asking for what is needed to live.  Without the ability to negotiate a going rate that can cover the basic cost of living, you may not be in role of self employment for long.

There are also multiple ways to finance a business in the UK.  You can go for a direct lone from banks or the government who will expect re-compensation with interest.  You can crowdfund a project with sites like Kickstarter and IndiGoGo and only be beholden to the people who have crowdfunded your project.  You could look for Investors only these people will not only ask for returns on their investment but also in some cases influence the project to ensure that their investment is profitable.  Finally, you can ask friend and family for loans of money.

Level Presentation (19/01/2017)

On the 19th of January I had to give a presentation on the ideas that I have created for my level for the BAGA 202: Level Creation Project.  Overall, the presentation was 23 slides long, showing the influences for the game that I am creating along with level and enemy designs.

Overall, the presentation was a success in some ways.  some criticism that I would give about the presentation is the fact that I was not confident in the work that I was presenting.  During the presentation I criticised some of my work for not being that good.  However, according to some feedback, I now know that the problem may just be from me being overly critical of my work.

Some of the feedback I got was that the level sketches need to be refined.  Anther piece of feedback I received was that I needed to refine the design for the clown.  Since it is some of the first concept art that I created for the game, the final design looks like its apart of a different game compared to the artwork done for the main character and princess.

Something that was well received was the silhouettes that I created for the main character.   Apparently they look good.  A criticism against my criticism of my skills was that the anatomy of the characters are fine.  Personally, I feel that some of the concept art that has been produced for the main character and the Princess have some proportions that look wrong.  That may just be me being overly critical of my work.

Some research that I was recommended to do was on games such as Mafia 3 and Left 4 Dead 2.