I've been going around as a writer, but started getting drawn into Concept Art and 3D modeling. I'm currently finishing my studies as a 3D artist and will then be let loose on the world. Beware!
I am having a great time learning Unreal Engine 4 and I really admire EPIC's bold move to challenge Unity and Cryengine likewise by offering better tools and resources at a reasonable price. Currently I spend more time on understanding blueprints than on actual modeling, but I'm still making models and shaders all the time. So far, I am really convinced by U4, and I don't think I'm gonna change my opinion. This is the best game engine ever created!
It all seems to add up now. I learned 3D with Softimage (which uses the same shader node system as Unreal Engine), then I taught myself Maya, which has the same controls as U4, as far as movement and snapping is concerned.
Learning UDK and Unreal Engine 3 gave me a great foundation for understanding Unreal Engine 4. EPIC learned from its mistakes with UDK and really improved everything. So it's more of a joy working with Unreal Engine 4 than UDK ever was. However, everything I learned about complex shaders is still valid. It just got easier to preview and use them.
So what's next? I decided to expand my search for work and look outside Germany. Uk or Canada would be nice! I just want to update my portfolio to Unreal Engine's 4 higher standards to really have something to show! I'm working on that. I am proud to say that I am ready for professional game development and it was a crazy journey that led me here.
I figure I will write a blog post every month now. Just for fun and because I can!
So - what's happening? Not much! I am modeling every day now and it is like some kind of infection, because I can't stop myself from modeling/texturing these days! Part of that has to do with my learning process, involving UDK. At some point I started understanding tradeoffs. I can become a much better environment artist and save copious amounts of time and work, if I lay out a 3D foundation in Maya and do the rest in UDK.
What does that mean? Well, in the past I modeled and textured each asset individually, treating even a simple wall as an individual asset. That resulted in countless materials and tons of individual textures for even simple objects, such as a favela house.
Lately I realized that I can put 90% of my environments into one shader-compound (material), use vertex paint and instances and still get the feeling of uniquely textured meshes. Instead of 140 materials, I suddenly need only 10 - and much fewer textures. And I can still use my "old" workflow" for hero assets and props that need detail.
So - my modeling life got easier. I have worked on my workflow and spent god knows how many hours reading threads on Polycount and doing tutorials over and over (it only works, if you repeat them). Now, there is literally nothing I cannot do with environements! I can make them as big as I like and still only use 5 materials. The next thing to learn would be to make them procedurally. As far as I know that's not even difficult.
Good times! It's not paying off yet in cash, but I am getting a firm grasp of environment creation and different methods for achieving modularity. It really gets me stoked about all the things I can do in the future, since there are literally no limits any more. I know the tech - I've done everything wrong once, before I did it right in UDK. The engine cost me nerves, but in the end it really paid up. It's a great engine with some unique flaws and my experience of the past year with UDK is really good and can't be paid for in money.
I just thought I'd say "good news everyone" in a Futurama-way ^^
The only good news is that I am modeling more and harder than ever before! Ever since I switched from XSI to Maya, I learned a ton of things and improved my workflow in countless ways. That alone feels pretty good. The problem is, I still wasn't able to find a job modeling, so I have to do all kind of shit in order to keep going on the modeling front. Not an ideal situation...
I'm currently more on Polycount+CG Society than on Moddb, because the community there is a great help for my artistic development. When I have a project ready for Indiedb, I'll probably be spending more time here and there again.
Currently a talented US-game designer is reworking the concept for "Bigguns", the game I want to develop. She is not only good looking, but also quite diligent in her work. This takes a lot of strain off me back, because I tended to be the Jack of all Trades, concepting, modeling/texturing and mapping in UDK. It's not a good idea to work like that, unless you are absolutely sure about the direction you are taking with the project. Now, we are splitting work, and I hope it will convince a coder I have in mind to join us! If that happens, the concept artist I want for the project will start working as well and we will have an almost complete team. I also know of a mapper, who worked on a project with me last year, who will make a great addition.
So 2013 can lick my shiny metal (?) ass and 2014: I'm ready for action!
I was asked to pitch our project to an audience of game designers and other developers yesterday. It was a successful presentation and I have a very good feeling about getting funded. I think "Bigguns" is going to be hard to make and somewhat hard to sell - since its weapons are non-lethal - but it is starting to grow into something I really like. Something uniquely original and vivid. We're moving it from the realistic to the absurd, which works well for the game.
What worries me a bit is the coder role, since I can't seem to find someone in my area of Germany (or willing to move to Lower Saxony), in order to work on the project; it's required for the funding that we work locally. However, there can be exceptions made.
Overall, I am really glad to get back to some creative work now, because the past weeks were filled with calculating budget and local effect, getting licenses and certificates and writing countless pages for the application for funding. This took my mind off game design and development for longer than I thought it would. However, it also gave some new impulses, which I have to process into content now. I'm quite happy with not having made a public profile of the game yet, because the game design is still evolving and lots of things are changing.
I think by the end of the year, we'll have a profile and possibly a project to work on and invite others to work on. I hope to make it to the final prototype within a year and from there to the final product and to crowdfunding that project. Then we can start paying more people and expand the team a little, hopefully.
This is gonna be one hell of work for currently only 3 people...
I feel like writing, so it's time for a short update. I have sent away the documents to get funding for my original game concept "Bigguns". If I get anything out of it, it also means I have to cancel my life insurance (which mostly my parents paid for some time ago) and put the very last of money I have into it, in order to get something back from our lovely state.
But if that works, we could work on a prototype and have one year to deliver something to put on Kickstarter and get crowdfunded. That's not half bad, and I would really prefer to have that kind of goal in my life, at this time.
So keep yor fingers crossed and wish us luck for the launch of our studio and game. Indifferent of the outcome of the funding, I'll start making a public profile on IndieDb, before the end of the year. I just wanted to wait, until I know what the future brings, fundingwise.
A few words on 3D:
- it's so goddamn hard to motivate myself to keep pushing on with 3D. The problem is that everytime I do something, I learn there are better ways of doing it a few weeks later. So if I'd built - let's say - an entire city by now, I would also have learned that I did it completely wrong by now.
It is really easy to make something uniform and repetitive in 3D. That's what I have been doing for the most part in the past (e.g. same windows over and over). Just recently I began understanding how modularity can work and how extremely well-planned a scene has to be in order for it to make sense. I think I will have to adapt my workflow to the new findings and, for example, start building entire scenes first, before I can make sense out of their materials and UV maps. It should be fairly obvious to me, how to plan a scene (since I always made concepts/design sketches); however, this is much more difficult when I'm doing it for myself. And there's just so much to learn.
I don't know if I should laugh or cry. I'm finally making progress with modeling and got my workflow down pretty good. Need to brush up on my texturing skills and take things a bit slower sometimes. I think it's better to put some effort into good-looking models than cram out a lot of crap ( which is exactly what I have been doing these past months ^^)
Yet, I am currently unemployed, trying to get a game concept funded, so I can start working and create my own studio with a few friends. But there is always crap happening. People disappear, others give up and it gets real lonely in the saddle after the horse has died. I want to make awesome things happen, but I am often powerless at the necessities of the world (money mostly) and bureaucracy (the amount of things you have to take heed of when applying for funding in Germany is insane. It's like a job of its own to manage all the paperwork and requirements. It also means changing my original game concept, just so I can get the money to do it.
Yes, I am a compromise whore now, but how I see things, it is either a compromise or many long years of shit and nothing. I'd rather suffer a little bit now than for the rest of my life. And that's why I'm doing this thing and that's why this will work: you got to believe it yourself to convince others!
Jeez - I'm looking for work in my town Hamburg, Germany. If you ever look for work in games, don't come here. Last year Bigpoint released some 200 developers and they are still swarming around here. It's virtually impossible to even get as much as an internship.
After 3 years of studying and looking back on all the things I can do (write, paint, model/texture) that is quite a setback. So what to do?
The only thing I know to do is to apply worldwide now. I hope to find a position, where I can learn writing for games or work as a consultant to the writers. Since I worked as storyliner before, I might be able to help. However, if I find work in a bigger studio it will probably be so specialized, I won't have much time to think about other things.
I wonder what the work situation is like out there for "ordinary" people. I have gone to college and took some extra courses. I got degrees in English and Spanish Language, wrote and co-wrote several books and screenplays AND I learned 3D and most everything involved. You'd think that would score me a job, right? Polly want a cracker?
I've always been wondering, why people who learn 3D prefer to work in advertsing or on non-realtime projects. I kinda get it now. The 3D for games runs through multiple stages of simplyfying, cleaning up, texturing and sorting out. In comparison, the rendered projects I did during the 3D study were simplicistic. Making games is a shitload of work and when you just look at a model you don't even notice the different processes that come together in it.
Basically, when you are finished and ready to render in a 3D studio, you still have 3/4 of the work ahead of you, if you want to make game assets. So, yeah - it is a lot of work, but to me this is the only 3D work worthwhile. Some modelers cherish making something that looks photorealistic. I don't, and I don't even see the point any more. Haven't we had enough close up of electric shavers and other hovering hardware? The real deal is making games. It's the King's Discipline of 3D and everything else is just wayyy below it, for me.
school's out forever ^^!
I managed to end it well, and ever since that burden of getting the final presentation done left my system, I am working on game-assets on full steam. I really like how I can work with the tools, unwrap and texture things. It's great how you can send files front and forth, between XSI, PS and Mudbox.
It's a lot of trial and error, looking at what others did and how to improve the workflow of my modeling. What I find cool about the whole 3D job, is that I can actually use the PC to build something on it. It's not the same feeling, like writing a text on it or sending a mail. Modeling, texturing - all of that - are part of a big, imaginative circle that usually starts with an idea in my head, then becomes drawing, multiple sketches and finally: reality.
It just feels neat to be able to do creative tasks with a machine. I can't wait to do bigger, better, more :)
It's the final phase of my projectfor"school".
I'm currently working on the documentation. It's alright to work with InDesign, but the whole project strikes me as completely meaningless for my carreer. I was willing to work hard to put something together for my game portfolio and finally have a map for UDK done. However that's the kindof 3D my school doesn't encourage.
So what happens then, is you are stuck with a project that is imposed upon you, and which you feel not passionate about at all. It's just a job, just routine. This is what life is like when you have no dreams. On the other hand: what good is life when you have only dreams?!
I'll have to work on getting that game portfolio done until the end of the year myself. All my school does for me at the moment is cost money, time and nerves. There are no practical applications to my project. It's like I'm doing it completely for someone else. This is the reason, why I think you cannot learn 3D very well at a school. In the same time they teach you 1000's of things you don't need, you might as well concentrate on the ones you care about.