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Re: Poll ideas?

Erik wrote:

> > 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.  :-(
> >
> we have algorithms to turn realistic images into cartoon images... there were a
> couple articles on cartoon rendering in opengl, I didn't pay a lot of attention
> to them since I'm more concerned with very realistic-ish looking stuff at the
> moment. I have a cartoony kids game idea I'd like to try mostly as an exercise
> in AI, but that's still down the road :)

Weelll - perhaps you can change the style of a renderer so that
everything is uniform in colour and has black outlines (I've seen the tool
to do that in OpenGL too) - but that won't take a realistic polygonal
model of (say) a GoKart made from manufaturers blueprints - and turn it
into a manic Wolf-like "Bandicoot" driving an insanely souped-up Kart with
massive flared exhausts, huge engine parts, tiny steering wheel, axles that
are bent in the middle to indicate great weight...etc.

There is no algorithm on the planet that can stand in for a character
artist in that case.  Once you *have* a suitable 3D model, using appropriate
techniques to render it can make it look more like a traditional cartoon - but
the trend these days is to use the exaggerated style of traditional cartoons
with semi-realistic rendering techniques.

...but we don't disagree - I'm sure.

> > Being a games designer is a lot more than coming up with the initial idea.


> I have never seen anyone who has studied these materials, nor any reference
> material on the web.

No - me either.  It would be great to find someone who was an acknowledged
expert on this stuff who could write some tutorials.  I get the impression
that what these guys do is more of a science than an art (although I could
be wrong about that) - and hence it's something that we rule-oriented
programmer types could get our head around if they were clearly stated.

> > 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.
> Maybe it'd be less of a burden if it were handled as a combination of reviews
> with an emphasis on game design (most game reviews seem to be xxx is prettier
> than yyy), and possibly a Q&A forum, like that 'ask hook' thing?

Hmmm - maybe even a 'peer review' system would work.  At some time during the
development of a game, we could toss it open to (say) the people on this
list and ask everyone to write a detailed critique.  We tend to either
politely say "Cool" or write something off as "Junk" - perhaps if it were
made clear that what is wanted is a detailed critique - and that the
replies would be both anonymous (on the reviewers side) and private (in
that only the game author(s) would see them)...?

Dunno though - it could still just be the blind leading the blind - we'd
probably end up listing bugs, compilation and configuration problems, etc -
rather than game-play issues and things that we can't recognise as problems
without help.

> >> 2) help them build their portfolio to attract future employers. This is
> >> where I
> >>    think we come in :)
> >
> > Possibly.
> >
> > 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
> > games.
> >
> this is a double uphill battle. Most computer art people are not highly
> computer literate (I don't consider most windows gurus to be computer literate.
> But I'm biased.), and they are using either macos or windows. If you start
> talking about open source, linux, unix, freebsd, GPL, etc, they will not follow
> :) Hell, i've been in the middle of it for years (and was into PD in the early
> 80's), and I still have no clue :)

Hmmm - but if we make the games portable (which many are - and most could easily
be) - then those artists can still work on their stuff under Windoze - so long
as we can read BMP images, WAV sounds and 3DS models, we don't really care
what they use to generate them (although we'd hope they'd be using Linux of

> > ... 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 struggling 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
> > ends?"
> >
> We do it because we're sick twisted masochists.

Damn - right again!  :-)

> They don't do it because they probably don't know about it.

You mean that *everyone* isn't a sick twisted masochist?
> If they knew of an opportunity to work with a team to make a piece of high
> profile computer software, they would probably jump at it. I'm gonna say that
> they don't know :)

If you are right (and I think that's one possible answer) - then this is a
simple (?) matter of advertising.

> > We would find it hard to work with an artist who wanted to work with
> > watercolours
> > on paper (for example).
> I was involved in a project that did almost exactly that, but it stalled before
> it got off the ground since the two developers became incredibly busy with
> school. The idea was to take the artists work, scan that into the computer, and
> touch it up by hand. That's quite a bit of work added to the programmers, but
> for quality art, we felt it was worth it.

Yep - we're sick, twisted masochists - we could spend endless hours cleaning
up the dirty pixels in GIMP ... but this assumes that the artwork is just a
2D painting problem.  I want interesting 3D characters - and producing those
from 2D watercolours is a HARD problem - probably requiring an artistic type.

> > 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" :-)
> We can't go single out artists and coerce them to work on our game. We also
> can't flood their lists with requests for artists...

No - but it seems such a terrible waste that their competitions produce
so many great entries - for little ultimate benefit to mankind.  It would
be great for us if their competitions were directed to the "common good"
by asking people to produce art for a specific game rather than an image
of "A Dream" or "Unrequited Love" or whatever.  It would also (I imagine)
be better for them to have their works seen and appreciated by tens of thousands
of gamers than just collecting virtual dust in a web-based gallery page

> > 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.
> >
> mebbe make a game art list instead, not try to immediately push programmers and
> artists into the same room? At least not in a really direct way :)

But wouldn't that tend to attract only people who are working on game art already?

I was thinking that slanting the list's charter to explicitly connect artists
with programmers - but to make it sound like the programmers on the list are
hungry for artists and would treat them with god-like awe - leaping to write
code to do whatever it would take to realise the artist's own goals.

OK, that's not exactly how it would work - but the very shortage of good
(OpenSource) artists and the glut of (OpenSource) programmers would indeed
result in a reversal of the usual "Programmers are Gods - Artists are 10cents
a dozen" mentality that's prevelent in the commercial arena.

If an artist out there were producing great 3D models of cartoon creatures,
I'd certainly want to jump in and write games specifically to use them. It
wouldn't have to be that the programmers would be shouting "I need someone
to build me a cartoon Aardvark for my new game".

> If we want to set up a game artist mailing list, I can host the list (but I
> have a very slow uplink and very puny machine for my mail server). I can always
> slap a bigger hdd in the thing and put several lists on it. Or we could use one
> of the free mailing list services at the cost of an advertisement chunk on
> them.

We could easily set one up as a project under Sourceforge - they'll accept
almost anything. (eg "A project to collect OpenSourced artwork for games"...
which incidentally contains the mailing list we want to set up).  Their
mailing lists contain no adverts - and they have good fast servers and fast
connections to the net.

> > 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."
> definitely. I think that's the biggest selling point we can use.

OK - so where do we go from here?

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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