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Question for devs - graphics (semi ot)

12-08-2008, 03:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: PA, USA
Posts: 744
Question for devs - graphics (semi ot)

Sorry for the semi off-topic post, but this seems to be where everyone goes first on these forums. Hopefully this thread will be of interest to amateur coders and graphics artists.

Do you independent developers create your own graphics, or do any of you use freelance artists? Before you mods get angry and lock this, I am not looking for a job! I am really curious and looking for some insider info that only devs can offer.

After talking a little with AutoMangle's developer, he mentioned that he uses Blender for his 3D graphics. Xmas is approaching and I thought it would be a good time to get some books on learning Blender and go for it. But, is it really worth it? I am sure in a few months I'd be able to kick out some decent 3D stuff (I am not totally unfamiliar with this), but I don't feel like putting in all that effort for nothing.

I'll never learn to program games, nor do I want too. I know in my field of web design the best coders were usually the worst at design. Part of me is hoping that this is also the case with game design. So, do you programmers think it is worth investing countless hours learning to create 3D artwork, or will it just be a skill that I will never be good enough at to be of any use to smaller game developers? Do most app devs do everything on their own, from graphics to code?

Thanks for any insight into designing and developing games!
12-08-2008, 04:15 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 433
We create all of our art in house with our art teams. When we cannot keep up with demand we go to 3rd party contractors. Quality art is worth paying for.

If you want to learn 3D, learn either Maya or 3D Studio Max. They are pretty much industry standards right now.

Whatever you do, don't steal from Google Image Search or Wikipedia. It's just tacky, and could get you sued.

I've made a lot of games. You've played them.

12-08-2008, 04:22 PM
If you're only looking to learn modeling, Silo is a very competent package. I would advice against Blender, no matter what the open source fanatics tell you
12-08-2008, 04:24 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 349
Some developers have an art guy, or artists. Some hire contractors. Some meet on forums/IRC and decide to work together. Some (including myself) actually do art themselves.

It's rarer to find developers that do their own art. I've been coding games professionally for nearly a decade, and one of my personal goals has been to start doing my own art and audio. Smiles' art and sound have been highly praised, so as a coder gone artist, I'm thrilled.

| Mike Kasprzak | Sykhronics Entertainment | Mike @ Twitter |

Smiles HD for Mac and iPad | Smiles for iPhone/iPod touch (Twitter, Website)
IGF Mobile "Best Game" Finalist | Intel "Elegance in Design" Winner
12-08-2008, 04:31 PM
Yea, we have our own artist doing our stuff... there are a selected set of talented people that can do art and programming but it's most likely to only exist in a small 1 or 2 person company just because you won't have the TIME to do both if you want to be running a full time company.

If you want to start learning some modeling I highly recommend anim8or. It's a free *BASIC* modeling and animation program that is VERY easy to use and does have a lot of nice features, not as many as blender or 3dsm or so, but most of those you won't be using anyway.
12-08-2008, 04:39 PM
My brother is our in-house artist (and sound guy), he's been creating graphics for commercial games almost as long as I've been coding them, so we only need to go external when we're doing a *lot* of art content in a game (and then we have Freeverse's small but very talented art team to call on).

I'd add Cinema 4D to the list of 3D packages. Not as pricey as Maya, but almost all the same features and used in both games and film.
12-08-2008, 04:41 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: PA, USA
Posts: 744
Thanks for the info so far its been very interesting. Also, it is quickly turning into a which software is better thread, which was my next question anyway.

Blender, anim8or, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Cinema 4D - looks like I have a tough decision to make. Hopefully this time I'll do better then my original choice of Macromedia 3D studio many (many many many) years ago.

Thanks to all that chimed in so far, please keep em coming!
12-08-2008, 04:50 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,412
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I do all my own art and code. Most small developers stick to 2d graphics since 3d games usually require more art resources.
12-08-2008, 05:05 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Toronto Canada
Posts: 865
I do my own art and audio but I'm more of an artist/musician gone dev than the other way around. I haven't released any 3D stuff on the iPhone yet but I would encourage you to learn Blender - despite the nay sayers!

I was a long time Cinema 4D user (and still recommend it) but after going from full-time artist to most-time developer I couldn't justify the update costs and started using Blender. Admittedly, it's not always the easiest thing to get the hang of UI wise but it can handle game assets with little trouble.

For pure low-poly modelling you should check out Wings 3D. It's kinda ugly in the UI department but it's a highly functional modeller and relatively easy to use - and it's free.

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12-08-2008, 05:19 PM
I'm currently working as an artist for iPhone games (MotionX) so I'll pitch in.

I think with the appstore being such a small developer centric marketplace there will be a lot of opportunities for freelance artists, as many of these companies don't have the resources to hire a fulltime artist, or with short development cycles, having an artist relocate to work on a game isn't efficient.

If your working freelance it may not matter what 3D package your using, as you may be exporting all 3D work to some common format for transport anyways (such as .OBJ or .3DS). These formats are pretty standard and most 3D packages will export.

For me personally, I'm a big proponent of 3D Studio Max, as its what I learned first and I find it to be a great program. When I was hired to work at MotionX they only had a license for Maya and I barely knew it, but I learned fast (I made this after only a few months of rare Maya useage ). Although Maya feels backwards and awkward to me, it was simply easier to use because I was already familair with 3D Studio Max and many features in 3D apps are similar.

If I was going to recommend learning one of the two big ones, id suggest Maya, Its Windows and OSX unlike the windows only 3DS Max and seems to be slightly more widely used, despite the fact that I sometimes want to punch it. Maya PLE is a free demo version of Maya that has many of the features of the final product and is a great way to learn.

Blender is free (it is isnt it?) but most likely any large company that my want to hire you already has a lisence for Maya or 3D Studio MAX and wont be interested in someone who knows Blender. If your working on your own and sending OBJ files through email, use whatever works for you. Having Blender for free is way better than buying Maya for thousands of dollars.

Biggest tip. Learn Photoshop. Its way easier than any 3D program and youll use it for everything. I do 99% of the art for MotionX Poker in photoshop. Even a 3D game requires tons of 2D art and it takes way longer than the 3D stuff.