Outsourcing Artwork for Better Game Development

Hi, my name is David Tolley and I’d like to share my many years of experience and extensive knowledge regarding successfully setting up, managing and working with art outsourcing teams for computer and video games to throughout the world. Lot’s of practical experience in delivering a wide range of art assets into game and managing external teams. Anyone new to (or interested in) the subject of outsourcing artwork for video game production should hopefully find what follows interesting.

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Getting the most out of E3 Expo 2010

Well, it’s almost here, E3 Expo 2010 and it will be followed by many other opportunities to get out there and network: Game Connection, Develop, Gamescom, and if you’re lucky, Tokyo Game Show, etc.

Over the years, I’ve attended my of these events as both someone pitching and someone listening to other peoples pitches and I have a few tips to share.

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Victorian Video Game Production

Victorian Video Game Production

Is middleware replacing talented, creative developers? Is everything becoming mass produced?

Our industries echos the early days of the industrial revolution where machines replaced talent and workers were inter-changeable, the cheapest people worked.

During the industrial revolution businesses replaced highly skilled but slow workers with machines and cheap labour. The products were technically better and more cost effective but the skill was driven out of the business and interchangeable workers were brought in. New mediocre products appeared at a phenomenal rate as they were churned out and ultimately mass produced. At one point, almost 50% of cars on the planet were one specific model!

In today’s world, you could take this further by documenting the process and ship it and the machinery over to where the labour is cheapest. After all, anyone can do that job can’t they? Non-native customer support call centres ring any bells?

Echo’s of this are happening now. Game Engines like Unreal Engine 3 are the Victorian machines, drone artists who can produce 3D facsimile of concept art, level designers following tried and trusted methods, managers who follow methodologies, anyone being trained in how to do one specific interchangeable job without thought. It’s an easy life but ultimately there’s a lot of people who can get that far up the career ladder very quickly, and for much less pay.

This all comes crashing down when things change. Where are the people who think for themselves? Where are the ones who can come up with new ways of doing something? Who’s looking out for the future?

This is all very sad if we destroy the creativity that we all claim to have by churning products out by the numbers to satisfy some demographic.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely get that some of this is necessary but I would ask : Where do you fit into all of this? Are you, your business or your game an inter-changeable cog?
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Myth of the Silver Bullet Game Production Process

There is no one development process that fits all; Scrum, Prince, Lean, Extreme and whatever the current fashion is all have their place and can work but it’s typically a hybrid that works best for you now. Things will change over time and the next team, platform, role or project may require an entirely different approach. Having an adaptable approach will make things smoother for you.

Consider more formal methods for the meta-project such as milestone structure and operate an agile process within those. Consider “beach head” style changes to your production pipeline by introducing the new process to aspects of your project, e.g., introduce Scrum on your AI team before you unleash it.
This way, you’ll get to iron out the bugs and if things go well then at least you’ll have trusted people on board when it comes to making the broader change.

Consider running agile process for the highly creative periods such as pre-production and concept and more formal methods for the middle bit where you’re largely implementing your design.
Whatever it is, think about the implications on the production and people involved as they’re both intrinsically linked.
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Finishing Your Video Game Production is Hard

Finishing Your Video Game Production is HardEvery new project starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle.

Are you a finisher?

You’re probably at Alpha and the hard work really starts now, it’s time to stop tinkering, tweaking and adding features and it’s time to ship it. Remember, the later in the project you add a feature the more it costs and the riskier it is. Remember that feature that you added in Month 1? It’s been well and truly tested against everything else in the game, the new feature you added this morning is just waiting to explode.
Post Alpha – resist change. Test it, fix it, balance it, polish it and you’re done. Save your ideas for the next one, it’ll be bigger and better anyway.

Send me a link to what you’re passionate about, your game, business or anything! I’d love to know what you’re working on.

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Do you start your game production out right?

Did you know that 80% of a projects success or failure is determined by the decisions in the first four weeks of development? Get that part right and you won’t be fighting an uphill battle for the rest of the project.

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Hi, my name is Simeon Pashley and I'd like to introduce you to my blog. I've been professionally developing software since 1986. After an extensive career in Game Development, I switched to Web Development in 2010.

I work full-time as CTO, CIO, CMO for food ecommerce business Approved Food and I'm an acting Director for web developer Ring Alpha.

I also own & operate WriteDaily View my Speakerfile Profile