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Re: Poll ideas?

Erik wrote:

> artists are not programmers. They don't think like programmers, they aren't
> motivated like programmers. They're alien to our beleifs and way of life (and
> the relationship is reciprocal). Somewhere in this thread was comment on left
> brain vs right brain... that may be a major component of our ways being
> different :) We need to find a way to appeal to the artists. I think I have an
> idea on how to do that ... :)

I actually work with 3D artists - my 'day job' is Flight Simulation - and our
"Artists" are more often called "Database Engineers" or "Modellers".  Most
of them cannot write a line of code - but there is something about the models
they build that I can't come close to achieving - I know the techniques - I've
learned the tools - but it's like musical composition or writing a novel - I
just can't do it *well*.

The guys I work with are specialists at doing 'realistic' stuff - and what I
need is mostly cartoon stuff - also none of them seem very keen on working
for free.  :-(

<...amateur game designers...>

> beat on 'em with a stick enough, and they'll start producing documentation.
> These people have ideas, and enthusiasm, they just don't realize the importance
> of very strong documentation and communication. Were someone experienced to
> take one of these idea spitting kids under their wing and kinda give them
> shoves in the right direction, they may flourish as designers. Since most
> programmers willing to take on a larger scale project have experience iwth the
> documentation, the programmer can assume this mentor role and kick the kid in
> the arse. We have experienced programmers, we have enthusiastic kids. It's
> theoretically a simple process to create a good game designer. :) Plus if one
> of these guys gets the attention of an experienced developer, they're likely to
> listen. Initially attracting capable developers can be a real pain, and if they
> lose one, they might not find another.

Being a games designer is a lot more than coming up with the initial idea.  I think
that's almost the least of the task.

Many moons ago, I had the chance to design a big arcade machine (with a hydraulic
motion system, etc, etc) - and had the chance to work with two separate games
designers.  One of them was a pain in the ass to work with because he didn't
understand enough of the technology to do his job - but the other guy was

His job was not so much to come up with the initial concept - but to take a
concept and turn it into a playable game.  That entailed working on the
minutia with the artists and the programmers (and very often refereeing the
arguments that ensued).  He was the guy who understood issues like "avoiding
meta-gaming" and "level complexity progression".  I don't know how you teach
that - but again, it's a skill that I don't have - and (in my limited experience),
neither do the artistic types.

He knew how to 'pace' the game - when to throw in a relatively easy level to
keep the player interested in continuing when it starts to look impossibly
difficult to continue.  He knew what sorts of tricks and puzzles would be
regarded as just being hard for the sake of it - and which would genuinely
be *interesting*.

Working with this guy was a revelation to someone like myself who'd been
messing around writing amateur games for ten years beforehand.

It would be *so* cool to get someone like that to work with us amateurs.

You know what *might* be interesting?   I wonder if we could get someone
like RedHat or SuSE to recruit and employ a professional game designer to
check out all the freeware games out there and spend his life making
intelligent suggestions to everyone out there.

Those vendors have an interest in there being better quality games for

> > Now look at FPS games like Quake or 3D platform games like Mario'64 and there
> > are virtually none of them out there.  I wrote Tux_AQFH to try to plug
> > that gap - but without game designers and artists - I'm stuck with the
> > relatively lame levels and models I can think up and build myself.
> >
> I've been plundering 3dcafe.com for their 'free' models to testbed code with.
> The hardest part is the model formats are either completely inadequate, or
> purposely obfuscated. Makes life tricky :)

Yep - those are OK for testing - but very often they don't use the
features of the model format that you need (many of them are un-textured,
often they don't use vertex-shading, etc, etc).

I have enough ability with a modeller to turn out test models - and even
build whole levels - they work - but they aren't *great*...either in
eye-candy appeal or in imagination/game-play.

> ok, now for the branch part.
> A) Artists and programmers think differently.
> B) We want to attract artists to the 'scene'.
> To fullfill B given A, we need to examine what motivates artists and capitalize
> on that. The open source and free software movement seem to be based on models
> of economic reciprocity (we aren't paying, we aren't getting paid, we give and
> take freely. We hope that the value we're giving and taking balance out, but
> there's no one counting value, and there's no immediate exchange). Artists have
> no use for that kind of reciprocity. If they produce something of value, they
> want to be compensated for it, and someone elses picture isn't what they want
> :) For the most part, they want to buy their tools and sell their art.

Certainly if they produce more art, it won't result in better tools - if anything,
it works the other way - if they produce enough good art with the tools they have,
there is little chance that programmers would feel the need to write better tools.

I think that reciprocity isn't the main aim here - I don't write games because
I want other people to write games for me to play.  I don't even play games much.

I do it because the sheer intellectual challenge of writing games beats watching

I wonder if the problem is that the artist(s) don't get enough credit for their
contributions?  If we have George the artist and Henry the programmer, then whose
name gets associated with the game?  Henry - always.  You can probably name half
the programmers on the Quake team without knowing a single one of their artists.

However, if George works on a Quake level - then it's "George's Quake Level".


> We cannot give them money, so we have to find other ways. There're two ways I can
> think of off the top of my head.
> 1) give them the software they want. Generating quality software for artists is
>    no easy task, and the efforts to make quality software for artistic purposes
>    are for the most part immature (gimp is a stark abberation).

That's certainly true.

> 2) help them build their portfolio to attract future employers. This is where I
>    think we come in :)


Artists earn very little out there - newly graduated arts students can often be
found working for peanuts doing models for games, just so they can build a portfolio
to get a "real" job in advertizing or something.

Perhaps we need to spam some arts colleges - maybe get the staff at those colleges
to give their students projects involving making models and levels for OpenSource

> As programmers, we rarely worry about finding a job. We are rare, and the jobs
> are plentiful. If we're fairly good at our, we can command high salaries and
> enjoy freedoms that are virtually unheard of. I'm not paid a lot, but I can sit
> around with my shoes off drinking a beer and playing video games. I still
> produce a fair amount of code, it does the job, and my boss would be fairly
> hard pressed to replace me :)

Indeed.  That would make me ask the question - "Why are programmers working
for free when they could easily be paid to do the job?" ...and... "If
artists are stuggling to get low paid jobs just so they can get a portfolio
together - why aren't more of them working for nothing to achieve the same
> Graphic artists are not as rare. The local university had a record high
> graduation of csc majors, a whopping 13 (I think there're 30,000 students). In
> contrast, the graphic arts program has strict admittance requirements including
> interviews and portfolios, because too many people want to be graphics artists.
> I'd imagine the average graphic artists salary is considerably lower than the
> average programmers. I'm sure there are some graphic artists making loads, but
> I think 'average' is more important.
> A new graphic designer may be highly skilled, but without a strong portfolio,
> they will not land a killer job. If we can offer them an opportunity to build a
> strong portfolio, that will probably bring in a lot of artists.

That should certainly be the case - but why isn't it?

> There are some problems with this model, however...
> 1) we have to sell them on the idea. Usually the people who have a strong
>    respect for portfolios are those who have developed a strong one and used it
>    to their advantage. New programmers probably have no respect for strong
>    documentation...
> 2) if the project they attach to fails, they sunk their time into a loss
>    instead of investing it into a good project. We don't worry about that as
>    much, we don't really have a lot of pressure to make a portfolio :)
> College campuses are probably good places to recruit graphic artists.

Yes - but if they aren't on the Net - we'd have to physically walk into
whatever places they frequent and accost them.  Now that I've written
it down, I don't know why that sounds like such a terrible idea.  :-)

> The internet is probably a BAD place to recruit them, unfortunantly. Those savvy
> with computer tools (photoslop, 3Ds, lw) may frequent certain places on the
> internet, but they aren't the same places we keep eyes on.

Certainly finding an artist who ISN'T into the Internet doesn't help much.
We would find it hard to work with an artist who wanted to work with watercolours
on paper (for example).

> If we develope a
> strong artist section, we may be able to draw some of them, and provide a
> single place that both artists and programmers moniter.

Perhaps - but I can't imagine how they'd find us in the first place.  I mean,
we are talking about a hypothetical artist who hangs out on the web, who
isn't already working on games stuff - but who is familiar with the tools
that we'd expect them to use.

Perhaps we need to hit the GIMP list.  They do things like have competitions
for artwork - which seem to be pretty well attended.  Perhaps we just need
to pursuade them to make the next competition be "a complete level for TuxKart" :-)

> That's probably a good
> way to enlist the aid of artists. Another would be to invade their areas and
> try to kidnap them :) I don't know what works and what doesn't, I don't think
> any of us do. But I think we need to figure it out if quality open source video
> games are going to be a reality on superior OS's. :)


Perhaps a good first start would be to set up a mailing list forum called something
like "Artists and Programmers united towards making quality games" - and post an
announcement of the creation of that list on the mailing lists of every 2D paint
program and 3D modeller we can think of.

If we slanted the description as "there are all these programmers out there just
ready to jump at the opportunity to take your great artwork and turn it into a
living, breathing game...imagine what that could do to bring your portofolio
before the eyes of potential employers."

Dunno - I'm a programmer.

Steve Baker   HomeEmail: <sjbaker1@airmail.net>
              WorkEmail: <sjbaker@link.com>
              HomePage : http://web2.airmail.net/sjbaker1
              Projects : http://plib.sourceforge.net

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