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Quizboy
12-02-2003, 02:06 AM
this question is posed toward anyone who is currently working in the game industry who may be willing to enlighten us potential infiltrators...it's about game company politics. How does it work from the inside?

I'll just give a little background about why i am asking this question. See I actually want to make films...that's why i got into 3D in the first place, weird, huh? But there's no real film industry to speak of here, but there's a bit of a game industry.

So now all of a sudden I've put a temporary hold on developing all the high-res stuff I'm working on - which was never going to get done anytime soon anyway, and thinking of making a run in the direction of games which i think could be more fruitful right now.

But I don't know anything about the game industry and how it works inside the companies that produce games. So I've got a few questions:

What are the positions in a game company? Ok, I kind of have a general idea of the answer to this, because my 'search' function for CGTalk does actually work...There is: modeler/texturer, rigger/animator, level designers/lighting/TD/programmer-scripters? ...see that's where I get all confused. Could you please tell me what are the divisions within YOUR company, but as an addendum - and maybe more importantly - Is there much crossover between functions? Allowed crossover? Forced crossover?

Which area pays the most? (Don't include programmer, 'cause there's no way i'm doing that.)

Does an animator HAVE to be a rigger? Or totally not at all? do they ever texture or model? Do the various divisions even talk to each other or is there an inherent elitism of group over another, or is there one group for which it is known that earns more money or has more chances for advancement in the company or in the industry?

What is the room for growth within your game company? Do you earn overtime pay or bonuses? or do you have to freelance on the side to eat? Are there opportunities to freelance on the side? or is there a quick turnover of personnel and you can quickly become lead managing supervisor of producing whatever?...

Who makes those high-resolution film clips that intro levels or the entire game? If in-house, who conceptualizes it?

Who does the conceptualizing of stuff? The artists? Are these the same as the modeler/texture artists, or is this again a separate group altogether? Do animators ever get to conceptualize? Or are all the game concepts thought out in Top Office of the Big City and simply farmed out to you the Plebes below to realize?

If I go in as an animator, will they let me switch to modeling/texturing if I want to at some point - or will they hate me for even asking? And the other way around? And if I do go in as an animator, can I just tell them "I don't do rigging" up front and have that be ok, or will I be forced to grind out character rigs?

Knowing i want to make films, which position within a game company would best develop a skillset which could be applicable for making films (animated or otherwise)? I would think animation because I would be forced to be fast and good at animating, but in the same breath I think texture artist or some kind of concept artist because their sketch/coloring skills are in tip-top form which is great for storyboarding/communicating.

If I want to make films, should I enter a game company, or just stick with my job in IT?

baaah888
12-02-2003, 02:55 AM
Ok im not industry yet, but after lots of research, talking to industry vetrans inquiring at games companies I know about 20 people in industry around the Uk, etc i feel i can answer a few of your questions.

Does an animator HAVE to be a rigger? Or totally not at all? do they ever texture or model? Do the various divisions even talk to each other or is there an inherent elitism of group over another, or is there one group for which it is known that earns more money or has more chances for advancement in the company or in the industry?

This depends on the company. I know one company where the modellers Rig. and another where the animators rig.

So asking when you apply would be best. Or learn how to rig properly anyway, as its handy to know and helps you understand mesh deformation better.

also it depends on the size of a company. the bigger the company the more single minded your role will be. you'll be a modeller hand the model to the texture artist, then he passes it on. etc

Who makes those high-resolution film clips that intro levels or the entire game? If in-house, who conceptualizes it?

Depending on the size of the company, If its big it'll be in house, if its small it'll probably be an independant company who just make high end graphics.

If I go in as an animator, will they let me switch to modeling/texturing if I want to at some point - or will they hate me for even asking? And the other way around? And if I do go in as an animator, can I just tell them "I don't do rigging" up front and have that be ok, or will I be forced to grind out character rigs?

Usually companies will hire you for a certain ability. I mean if you go as an animator they'll be expecting an animator.

but they do crossover your jobs if its totally acceptable and you would be more valuable to the other department you'd possibly be able to change.

Again I wouldnt say you "Wont do rigging" as they will want you to know really, and also they'll want you be there to do what your assigned. Most companies will work out what your best at tho and let you do that most of the time.

Knowing i want to make films, which position within a game company would best develop a skillset which could be applicable for making films (animated or otherwise)?

I'd say animator is best, then concept/storyboarder, then modeller/texturer, however any art job looks good on your CV, but essentially your showreel will be what gets you a job in films i'd have thought.

If I want to make films, should I enter a game company, or just stick with my job in IT?

Well this is my major sticking point. The games industry is a uniquie industry. The people working in it, work there cause they LOVE games. You have to have passion for games, realistically. I dont want to sound snobbish but the generral attitude towards people using the games industry to get into films is a little jaded. We dont like people doing that, I mean your sort of implying that were second best, also will you leave a project half way through if a film job comes along, or will you stick out till the dev cycle ends. As thats what your employed to do.

So you have to love games and want to make games to do well in the industry.

Hope most games industry guys agree with what i said. If im wrong I'd like to know as this is generally what ive picked up from other industry guys.

Quizboy
12-02-2003, 03:12 AM
so wait a minute. this "guys-who-actually-want-to-make-films-using-games-as-a-stepping-stone" is some kind of phenomenon?

h0pesfall
12-02-2003, 05:16 AM
Yeah I think alot of people do that. You need some kind of experience before you do stuff for movies (or that's what they thought us in college anyways.) I don't wanna sound like game industry artists are 2nd-best or whatever, but movie cg needs to be extremely perfect. If you can do game art or things for advertisement first it can help promote your skills (imo). But it's true that game companies will look for people who love games and love making them. If you tell your employer "I just wanna come her to improve my skills and go to the movie industry later on" chances are you probably won't get employed unless you have extraordinary skills :P So keep that to yourself :)

marshall6912
12-02-2003, 07:30 AM
Originally posted by Quizboy
so wait a minute. this "guys-who-actually-want-to-make-films-using-games-as-a-stepping-stone" is some kind of phenomenon?

I think so and i agree that person who wants to enter the game industry should do it for the right reasons,lilke wanting to make great games or produce kick ass game models.Not just becos he has no other job in the movie industry or trying to use the game industry to gain experience and then jump to another line of work when the opportunity presents itself.When you are motivated for the right reasons,you will tend to perform better.

AdamAtomic
12-02-2003, 08:31 AM
just to throw in my 2 cents, we had the CEO from Stardock speak in my games class at the University of Michigan today, and he couldn't stress enough how important it was to really like to make games, whether you are at a big company or a small one. I mean, obviously the larger the company the less it matters, as your role becomes taylorized, but compared to other industries game company employees don't exactly make the big bucks (on average). It's all about doing it just for the sake of doing it. You might be better off getting a better paying job in another industry that would leave your more free time to develop your portfolio.

That said, there are studios like Blur who do cinematic work for both video games and movies (as far as I know) as well as internal projects. I would expect that having examples of professional in-game cinematics would go a long way at a place like that, but that is only speculation on my part.

Quizboy
12-02-2003, 08:52 AM
well there is something to be said for the quickly advancing technology in the games world making the art more and more aesthetically pleasing. I mean, in my opinion, if you could create a world that is as interactive as a game, and as high-resolution as a movie...there would be no more market for movies.

but going back to the original question at hand, could someone please share their experience at their game company regarding the division of labor, freedom or non-freedom of interaction between tasks/divisions, etc.?

See, I draw, and I animate but what I want to know is, do animators at game companies ever get to draw, or model, or conceptualize?

Ivars
12-02-2003, 02:18 PM
I can only speak for my self, and the experiences have from the company where Ive worked the last couple of years. Ive been doing character-modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, cut-scene rendering and editing, level-design and scrpiting :) I work at a rather small company, about 14 artists. I think Ive done equal parts of character-modeling, level modeling, texturing and animation. Hope that helps.

ninjacore
12-02-2003, 02:25 PM
dunno if you have read this: http://www.cgworks.com/gaparchive.php

If your not 100% dedicated to forge a career in the games industry, becuase you want to end up doing something else, then, in a way, you would be clogging up a position in a company for some one who truly does want that glittering lifetime career in the games industry. thats not to sound nasty or anything, its just a thought to maybe consider.

hunimator
12-02-2003, 03:53 PM
Hiya,

Think I can answer a few of your questions, sinds you're in the same position as I was about 2 years ago.
I've graduated as an animator, mainly traditional but I've done some 3D work during my college years as well. Originally I wanted to move into traditional character animation but as you might know, the 2d animation industry pretty much collapsed over the last five years. So I decided to move into games instead.
I got a job as a 3d animator at a middle sized games company.
I can only answer you questions from my point of view and experience, so don't take it for granted.

What are the positions in a game company?

I would pretty much slice this up in five larger groups.
1) Managment
2) Programming
3) Art
4) Sound
5) Support (IT, PR and all the rest)

I understand that you're interested in animation, so that falls under Art. Within the Art group you have:
Concept artists
Level artist
Modelers
Texturers
Animators


My experience is that within departments there is a lot of crossover. Basically be prepared to try and learn everything you can. In todays games industry (film industry as well by the way) and especially in Europe, it's essential that you know at least the basics of every aspect of production within your department. So it's most likely that you'll HAVE TO learn rigging, modeling and texturing. Don't panic though, most companies will have no problem to give you training or time for you to learn all this stuff.
Crossing between departments is possible but less likely, unless you have a degree in the chosen profession as well. So if you're an animator, don't expect to be in managment in the near future, unless you have some sort of business degree.

Wich area pays the most?

Managment of course!!!

Does an animator have to be a rigger?

Like many people would say, it depends on the company, but I'd say: Yes!
If you know how to rig, you'll not only be a better 3d animator, you'll increase your chances of survival in the industry!

What is the room for growth within your game company?

This really depends on the company and yourself. I'd say there is always room for growth within the department you're working in.
Like I said it all depends on you and the people around you.

Do you earn overtime pay or bonuses? or do you have to freelance on the side to eat? Are there opportunities to freelance on the side?

Games pay well, you might not get rich, but you'll be able to have a normal existance. Most game companies have bonus schemes but no overtime payements. If you work fulltime, there is usually no chance for you to do freelance as well. Unless you're some sort of machine and require no sleep at all! Also, a lot of contracts state that you're not allowed to do professional work elsewhere. Depends on the company and type of contract.

Who makes the high res clips?

Again, this depends on the company and the project your working on. If the company has got the people, the know how and the time and budget, they will produce it in-house. This will most likely be done by a selected group within the company who have got the experience and backround in cinematic areas.

Who does the concept stuff?

The concept artists. Usually these are texturers as well, so later on in the production, when there is less concept work, they will do texturing.
There is no reason why the animator couldn't get the chance to do concept stuff. Most game companies have a very creative environment, so they will encourage everyone to take part of the creative process. It depends on the project and people around you, but if you feel like you could do a bit of concept art yourself, you could always give it a go. Be prepared to work overtime though, cos they will expect you to do your regular job as well!

Will you be able to do modeling/texturing?

Most likely, yes! They will definately not hate you for asking, more than that, they will appreciate your commitment to learn and develop your skills. This will benefit not only you, but the company as well. Again, be prepared to work overtime!
If the company asks you to do rigging and you tell them you won't, they probably won't think you're very professional! Be open for everything, within reason of course. It shouldn't be your job to clean the toilets or paint the walls, but within the art department, prepare to do all kinds of jobs.

Which skillset would be best for feature films?

All of them! Don't limit yourself to only animation! Especially if you want to get into films later on! You never know how you'll be able to break into films. You might get a job as a rigger first and then move to animation later on!

Should you go into games or stick to IT if you want to move into films?

Ooh, 'the red pill, blue pill' situation!
Games would be more logical if you want to do animation, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to luck! Harrison Frod used to make tables and beds, would you have guessed he would be a major film star at the end? Yet you could be the greatest actor or artist, if you're not at the right place at the right time you might never get a chance! I would say, just stick with the job you like to do best! Don't move into games because you want to move to films later!
If your only goal is to move into films, then you probably have just as much chance to succeed from IT as from games. Move to games if you love animation or games or modeling or all the other stuff from above. Having said that, you could do IT in games as well or even better, IT in films! Choices enough I would say...

Quizboy
12-02-2003, 04:47 PM
thanks for the link ninjacore. i'm not actually 100% dedicated to anything as yet, because i don't know enough about the games industry to be 100% committed. I mean, I never even heard about 3D before a year ago, but now I can already do some wonderful things and I know I'll be doing that for a better part of the rest of my life.

This is why I am asking...to find out.

I also only got internet 4 years ago, and now I'm an internet junkie and there is in fact a specific reason that i don't play any games at all now, and that's because i used to be standup arcade game freak and later civilization junkie which I determined was unhealthy if i wanted to be a productive producer and not just a consumer.

By the way, Ivars, that sounds extremely interesting that you've had that much crossover within your company. Are the games themselves conceptualized in-house, within that group of 14, or is the game concept something that comes down from mountain high?

Quizboy
12-02-2003, 05:10 PM
ok this cat erik asorson (who i think writes really well by the way, i read another article on some suject by him some time back which was really well done.) refers to "keyframe budgeted animations" and then later refers to "cycling character animations."

Are these one and the same? Like a walk/run cycle, or a spin kick, or duck move that returns to the standing pose?

Ivars
12-02-2003, 05:14 PM
Weve been working mostly with our own game-concepts.
As for the graphical content we have mainly one concept artist, but in some productions the 3D artists have made their own designs.

eirenicon
12-02-2003, 07:02 PM
Keyframe budget = keyframes take up memory, so they're optimized for real-time, just like polys or textures.

Anything else, just email Erik - he's a great guy, I'm sure he wouldn't mind some questions.

Spacemonkey :P
12-03-2003, 01:31 AM
http://dynamic.gamespy.com/~polycount/ubb/Forum8/HTML/001621.html?00104

a thread with a tonne of info anf will probally answer all your questions. Do it for the right reason, otherwise you may aswell be working in a shop serving customers somewhere...

Quizboy
12-03-2003, 02:07 AM
yes, hunimator. i can't believe i didn't see your post earlier, somehow it didn't load up on my screen, which i find to be very weird especially with all that good information you invested in your answer.

but anyway, that is very encouraging that there is that much crossover work within that department. the fact that animation falls under the general heading "art" is a good thing.

i would go into games primarily because i love doing animation and art...and there's not much of either in IT.

Quizboy
12-03-2003, 02:10 AM
After some years of experience do any of the folks in the art department walk off to go get a budget for their own game project?

EricChadwick
12-03-2003, 04:52 PM
Yes, this happens all the time. People gain experience, then launch their own startups.

In case no one else has pointed it out, I would suggest starting out with a smaller company if possible, since you will be less pigeon-holed and will get a lot more exposure of the various aspects of the company.

Where I used to work, a game-graphics art-production company, there was a lot of cross-over possible. We had secretaries become texture artists and Producers, a finance guy became a concept artist, and lots of artists became lead artists, etc.

Quizboy
12-03-2003, 05:23 PM
that's hilarious! a finance guy becomes concept artist...don't try to lowball him on his paycheck either, lol. very encouraging. in fact this aspect of games is more interesting than film, because i don't have the impression that film cg artists can do as much crossover. Not only that but film cg artists don't even generate the concepts at all, i don't think. that's all strictly art department which is very separate from the computer elements.

CADster
12-03-2003, 05:45 PM
Originally posted by Adam Atomic
just to throw in my 2 cents, we had the CEO from Stardock speak in my games class at the University of Michigan today, and he couldn't stress enough how important it was to really like to make games, .

thats because they want people who love doing this so much they wont mind getting it up the ass :)




Originally posted by Adam Atomic
whether you are at a big company or a small one. I mean, obviously the larger the company the less it matters, as your role becomes taylorized, but compared to other industries game company employees don't exactly make the big bucks (on average). It's all about doing it just for the sake of doing it. You might be better off getting a better paying job in another industry that would leave your more free time to develop your portfolio.

this is true. maybe something in commercial art or advertizing.

EricChadwick
12-03-2003, 05:59 PM
i don't have the impression that film cg artists can do as much crossover
Totally depends on the company. I know someone at ILM who moved from mocap dept to the modeling dept. As long as it doesn't happen mid-project, and the perspn has talent in that area, it is usually tolerated.

In my experience, the pay can modified up/down depending on the position, and depending on the bargainaing savvy of the employee.

AdamAtomic
12-04-2003, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by CADster
thats because they want people who love doing this so much they wont mind getting it up the ass :)


lol - you're dead on. Is that the developer's fault or the publishers though? Stardock sold 100,000 copies of their game, and received something like $4 per copy from their publisher. On a $45 game. Seems like they don't have a choice but to stick it to their employees! I think a lot of game companies are stuck in the same boat. Most of the articles I've read and talks I've been to, the studio leads seem like the greatest guys, and they wouldn't mind paying their teams the big bucks, if they had the big bucks in the first place. I'm not in the industry yet, though, so I can't say for sure - maybe the leads do just want to screw over their employees, I don't know :D

Quizboy
12-05-2003, 12:35 AM
where do you find out how many copies particular games sold? is there some kind of "Billboard" type list like there is for music or box office charts is for movies?

BiTMAP
12-05-2003, 04:53 AM
i'd rather to see you doing games not cuase you can't be doing film, but becuase you WANT to do games, rather then film... there's enough non artisticly guided art in games already, we need more dedicated game artists... something i don't see in most film artists is that sense of a completly diffrent artististic direction.

Quizboy
12-05-2003, 05:57 AM
do you work in games, bitmap? what is your experience?

BiTMAP
12-05-2003, 06:32 AM
I work in amature game groups, currently heading up my second attempt at getting my game idea done, its being done as a mod for half-life as a rather indepth mod. www.nemusdev.com is our site, and were in desperate need of coders.

hunimator
12-05-2003, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by Quizboy
where do you find out how many copies particular games sold? is there some kind of "Billboard" type list like there is for music or box office charts is for movies?


Publishers don't really like releasing exact sales figures of their titles, but this site might help you a bit. You can find billboards of software sales in the Uk, Ireland and Europe.

http://www.chart-track.co.uk/

wanzai
12-05-2003, 09:53 PM
I'm working in a rather small company (~20 people total) based in Germany. Basically most of the above said is true here, too.

I started out as a character modeller about two years ago, but have had the time and chance to learn a lot. Crossover includes: modeling, texturing, rigging, art design and game/level design (but the game design involvements are largely initiated by myself out of interest in the subject matter and enthusiasm).

I really enjoy working with like-minded people in a open and creative environment where everyone can (and is encouraged to) bring himself into the development as much as he wants.

So I could only say it again: Don't do games if not out of love, otherwise the conditions will kill you. Crunch times are almost inevitable in game development, and there're enough other littlenesses which can render your work pure frustations. If you don't actually want to create games, do yourself a favor and work on your portfolio with a better paying and/or less exhausting job till you have a jaw-dropping reel to impress film-studios.

My 1.5 cents.

Quizboy
12-06-2003, 01:13 PM
isn't level design a bit more of a programming issue?

and another question wanzai. what did you have to show your company to get the job as character modeler?

wanzai
12-06-2003, 02:56 PM
> isn't level design a bit more of a programming issue?

No, level design is definitely not a programming issue (although it HAS a lot of programming issues). I'm talking specifically about the content you're playing with using the player character and environment you're in, rather than to include it in "game design", which is more high-level and general for me and works throughout the whole game.

Thy way I see it, level design is one of the most underrated discipline in game creation, even more than game "art", since "fun" is at least as hard to benchmark. Even with the most thought-out concept and great gameplay ideas, level design can make or break a game, depending how it turns these ideas and mechanics into interesting situations.

Even the more watchful players are most likely to notice who did the great visual arts, sound scores, or who did the game design concept and who directed/produced the game, whom the great gameplay is credited to.

There're many famous illustrators and composers and even some "star" producers, but have you ever heard of someone who did great content? Maybe certain creators of FPS-mods/ -maps are well-known in their scene, but there's not much more than that. At least I don't know anyone who could name me the guys resiponsible for the dungeon design of Zelda - and Miyamoto hardly did them all by himself.

...rant mode off..

> and another question wanzai. what did you have to show your company to get the job as character modeler?

Erm... some characters, maybe? ;) Some showed that I can model clean and efficient meshes, others showed some original designs I did, which my current AD obviously liked. To be honest, the portfolio wasn't that much a killer and I had quite some luck they recognized my potential or something. Some months after I started, I had already learned so much that I wouldn't have hired myself the time I applied. ;)

Marcel
12-06-2003, 05:03 PM
Lliving in the Netherlands I can say that there are certainly some nice jobs out there. Two friends of mine are doing 'film' work at two seperate companies (both in Amsterdam) and I work as a 3d artist at a small game developer in Delft.

The catch is that you need experience, and you need to love what you are doing. Every week we get a few application letters of people who have done art school but have no demoreel or only a few pieces of work. They have gone through the school, but never did any work in their free time. Showing passion for the field is very important, don't expect your schooling alone to be enough to get hired!
If someone sends us a demoreel we need to be convinced that if we hire that person that he/she can be productive almost instantly. We don't have the time or money to train people because we are such a small developer. Sorry to sound so gloomy :)

It also means that you need to show game art in your portfolio if you apply at a game developer. Even if you have ILM quality stuff in your reel, people will still think: "but can he do game stuff?, work within polycount/texturesize budgets?", etc.
Personally I don't agree with this line of reasoning, because I think a good artist will be also a good game artist. But that is how a lot of people think, it is seen as two different worlds. So don't just say that you love games and want to do game art really bad, show it!

Especially with the small game developers in The Netherlands crossover is very important. Developers will be very happy if you can do multiple things, because it means that you will never be out of work. My job ranges from modelling props, characters and levels, but also mapping, making textures, character rigging and some MEL scripting.
On the other hand, there is a big shortage of good animators in The Netherlands, and I know that Guerilla (=Lost Boys) had a hard time finding good texture artists. So being very good in a certain field also helps.

atenyotkin
12-07-2003, 02:24 AM
Hey Quizboy, I think I can help you with some of your questions. I honestly didn't really read all replys because I am pretty lazy, so if I repeat something that someone else said--sorry.

I work in a smaller company, but I have experience with very large developers as well (EA mostly.)

There are huge differences between the two, and I would recommend the smaller groups over large ones most of the time. The only time I would ever suggest working for a huge developer is if you just needed to get a job in the game industry. It's usually the easiest way to go, because they are usually working on multiple projects at the same time, and they need the man power.

The larger companies also have too many "lead or senior" artists/developers, which makes it difficult to work with them. This also means that your ideas are probably not going to get heard.

The smaller companies are usually easier to work in... it's more laid back, and your opinions usually matter a lot. That depends on your lead of course, but in most cases that's what I ran into.

As far as the positions you can have...

Concept Artists - Concept drawings with pen, pencil and markers, or on a wacom tablet is respectable. These people are very important in both film and game development alike. In fact most good ones work on both. Especially if you work at ILM. Anyway, concept artists draw everything from weapons, to characters, to levels. Concept work for cinematics is important, but not as important as it is for, say, level design.

Modelers - In most development groups modelers are divided into groups/or types. One group models weapons, another works on characters, and another will work on the props for the levels.

Animators - Very respectable position, because there are way less GOOD animators than modelers. Most of the time animators work with nothing else but humans, but sometimes you'll obviously have to animate something with more than 2 legs. Larger companies usually have some kind of mocap available, so you'd have to know how to work with the mocap data.

Before I go into other positions, you had a question as to who textures and rigs. Well, like others said this depends on how the company is structured, sometimes it's the job of someone else entirely. If it's a smaller group, then once you get hired and become friends with everyone, you can usually negotiate that. It always helps to be able to do both nonetheless. Especially if you intend to go into the film industry, and when I say film btw, I mean a group like Eden FX or something.

Level designer/developer - Have to be able to draw out, at least simple concept art for the levels. Have to be able to model levels in most level editors, and sometimes even programs like MAX, Maya, or XSI. This person usually textures, lights, and scripts the levels. Scripting is sometimes done by someone else, but most of the time it's the job of the level designer. If it's something complicated then programmers don't have any problems helping. Especially if you give them a Hot Pocket :)

Programmer - this position has many sub divisions that also depends on the project. For example if your company is making their own engine, then there will be a larger spectrum of programmers. However, if your lead decides to buy a commercial engien, and perhaps change a few things here and there, then there will be less programmers. Usually it comes down to graphics programming, AI programming, network programming, and UI programming.

That's about it for the positions. There really isn't anything else any development group needs, and if they say they do--they're making S*** up.

You had a question about who gets to make the cinematics? Sometimes companies prefer to pay someone else to do it, like Blur Studios. It doesn't matter if it's a large company or not, because usually that decision comes down to how much time is left before publishing. If the group is pressed for time, or the lead knows you won't have time to begin with (bad lead,) then it's done by another company. However, that's not always the case because everyone who is working on the game, doesn't matter if it's a concept artist, or an animator, usually wants to make the cinematics. Small groups especially prefer to work on the cinematics themselves. There usually is no special position for that, unless you get a job with ILM or Dreamworks, or someother HUGE company.

Salarys vary a little bit. Rule of thumb is that the lead programmer usually gets payed the most. Other than that, unless a company builds an engine from scratch, programmers, modelers, animators, etc. get payed the same. It will usually (and don't hunt me down if it's less) be around 25K a year when you first get the job. Sometimes, depending on your contract, you get royalty off of games you worked on.

I want to adress something else you mentioned as well. You were wondering if you get to talk with other developers, and if there is any "elitism." Yes, you have to communicate with other developers, and no, there is isn't any elitism--everyone respects each other's position and work. If there is a problem like that--leave as soon as you can, because it shouldn't be that way.

To answer another question... yes, people leave game development groups after gaining enough experience, to start their own company. Sometimes they don't like the directors/leads/general management. Sometimes they perfer working on different style of games. A good example of a successfuly developer is Rick Goodman. He designer Age of Empires and Age of Kings, and then dumped Ensemble and Mirosoft and opened up Stainless Steel Studios. He created one of the best strategy games on the market.

Overall, I do suggest getting somekind of game development job, if you can't (or perfer not to yet) get a film job yet. You get to know many good people, among your company and other ones too. It keeps you on your toes as far as design and creativity too. If you contribute a lot to the project, it will pay off. Looks good on a portfolio for sure.

Hope I helped. Good luck.

BiTMAP
12-07-2003, 07:02 AM
heres how it works at my group... were a group currently, without a poof of concept to take to investors, so no money but we LOVE to make games.

Theres me, i kinda hold it together, i'm "lead" cuase i have the idea for the game, and some experience in mod groups before. I'm a level designer, a game designer, a learning modeler and I can sorta understand programming, but not really do it myself.

Personaly I believe as the person in charge i should understand the jobs of all those who work with me. It helps when I need to describe things, or help out. It also is helpful when things are hectic in areas and totaly done in others, as people can transfer positions and help out where its needed. currently we have a wopping staff of ... 3? lol Me, lead animator (zastrozzi if anyone knows the nickname) and concept artist who's actualy been a close friend of mine for a long time.

The idea for us is that we do our area's but everyone has a say in whats done, however things MUST be okayed by me, and becuase I have learned that often other people have better ideas that can play out better, I listen. I learned through level design that often the things that sound stupid or rediculus or just plain diffrent are the things that often play out best and bring the newest and most enjoyable gameplay. So even if we where to grow into a huge game development group i would find a way to keep that small spirit in it, becuase I think its important to making quality FUN games...

anyways i just wanted to blab. thnx ;)

SammyB
12-07-2003, 10:38 AM
Originally posted by atenyotkin

That's about it for the positions. There really isn't anything else any development group needs, and if they say they do--they're making S*** up. Err, what about audio?

AdamAtomic
12-07-2003, 11:17 AM
I was under the impression that most audio work was outsourced these days...at least, if you listen to 95% of games' music and sound effects, it should be obvious that most companies don't give a damn ;) Even if they DO give a damn and have in-house audio, it's usually just a few people. Also, with the exception of programmers, I think there is usually next-to-no transfer/overflow between the audio team and the rest of the positions. This is mostly conjecture though, so I could be way off base here.

Edit - I should correct myself, some studios DO give a damn and outsource their music to really talented people. Some.

atenyotkin
12-07-2003, 11:20 AM
ROFLMAO! Sorry... that's pretty funny I forgot. Our audio composer is pretty humble, and he has been working on some other projects, so I forgot about him. SammyB, you're absolutely right.

Other than that, though, there really ins't any specific job... More like in-betweens.

I do consider audio developers pretty important. Music and special effects add a lot to the game play experience. Though, we try to leave the music out until the last few months, because it can get old pretty quick, and then it would just loose it's power.

While I am on the subject of audio. A lot of the time development houses outsource special effects, or music score, or both. Sometimes they pay someone well-known as a means to promote the game.

Something else that's almost always outsourced is voice talent. Like GTA 3 and Vice City. Rockstar payed over 10 well-known actors and stars, and over 60+ people total.

... I am getting off track. Thanks for pointing that out btw, SammyB!

Quizboy
12-07-2003, 12:46 PM
whoa thanks atenyotkin and others! that's a lot of really good information to know. you seem to be one of the few who think games might be a good move for me because i love art and animation and the potential to master a crossover set of skills, and not just do it only if i'm a natural-born games freak.

marcel, i know guerilla games uses Maya - are there any other NL companies using Maya?

Marcel
12-07-2003, 01:11 PM
Apart from the company I work (Triumph Studios) and Guerilla I think there is no other developer in The Netherlands using Maya.
Playlogic uses 3d Studio Max in their in-house team, and so do Khaeon and Bumblebeast.
Most Dutch 3d companies that do effects for TV work either in Maya or in Lightwave.

But your 'native' 3d package is much less important as how skilled you are. If you show good skills companies won't be afraid to hire you because the switch to another package is quite easy (especially with other people around who can answer your questions).

Quizboy
12-07-2003, 01:18 PM
well guerilla games is right up the street from me, at this point they fall pretty high on the 'doors to knock on' list. and by effects houses you're referring to Condor for one, right? You have to already be some kind of photorealistic demigod to get work there i suppose...

HyPer
12-09-2003, 01:15 PM
Office politics are the worst thing ever... like for example the company i work at Corona Leonis Entertainment..(www.coronaleonis.com) - One of the Inhouse dudes, Billy, he just moved in 2 days ago and hes all like " hey" and im like totaly all "oh no you di'ent juxt say that" and then he put things on my toys and i put things on his toys and then we broke out into a huge fight like, he totaly said "haha, that looks awesome" and i was all up in his face with like "yea! this rocks".. :((

bkurilko
12-09-2003, 01:29 PM
Game office politics are an amazing thing. For example, my two coworkers, Barry and Brad, are in the midst of a campaign to rid my mind of it's previous American state. That is, through the use of constant and overwhelming Canadian music! It's very similar to how Metallica was used in sieges during the Iraq war, or how the Birthday Song gets shouted at me yearly. I believe this must be some form of brainwashing.

What was I talking about? All I can think of is flapjacks and logging right now for some reason.

EricChadwick
12-09-2003, 03:02 PM
All the dirt on office politics and more! Get your subscription today!

http://www.fickedcompany.com/
(damn filter... replace the i with a u)

bugo
12-09-2003, 07:11 PM
Well, I work on Continuum Entertainment and we artist from here do everything. Model, texture, rig, animation and UV.

That's what we do here, in Brazil!

Quizboy
12-09-2003, 08:31 PM
aaah, Brazil. Adriana Lima...

HyPer
12-09-2003, 11:20 PM
now billy only thinks verginia is a rude word.

mweyna
12-11-2003, 08:24 AM
Im a new comer to the industry. I worked QA for a while, basically testing video games for errors, than moved to an Animator role at at a small studio. Currently, we are working on getting a working prototype to pitch.

The current situation is that our studio has tons of programmers, but few artists, ontop of that I am the only animator. This has made me realize something important. Although i believe it is good to have specialization, in my case im not a big fan of modeling or texturing, you need to know enough to do it. On more than one occasion they have given me a concept, and said "Do everything" - modeling, rigging, animating, texturing. I believe this will give me alot stronger leg to stand on than someone who can only do one, even though I want to focus on animation.

There are some ideas brought up in this thread id like to reply to:
________________________________________________
"Personally I don't agree with this line of reasoning, because I think a good artist will be also a good game artist. But that is how a lot of people think, it is seen as two different worlds."

I STRONGLY disagree with this statement. I have friends who work both in film and gaming, and every time you show a film guy a game thing, they always suggest adding more polys here or there, or that it looks too blocky. Film doesnt have anywhere near as strict requirements on their models or animations. I know people that can knock out beautiful models with 10,000 polygons, but when asked to make it 1,000 they couldnt do it to save their own lives.

The other thing was the idea that film animations are better than game animations. Although i agree that film has a better quality, im not quick to write off game animations just for the time pressures it has on it. It would be great if we could all have a week to design the walk cycles, and smooth until its perfect, but we dont.

On my current project, many a day has gone where i have to knock out several complex moves in a short time. Where I nail down the rough move, show it to lead designer, than change the rough, and have no time to add shine to it. This makes me angry as a perfectionist, but I dont have the time or ability to make everything as perfect as Film. If alot of the high-res modelers and film animations got a chance to experience the constant crush of working in gaming i think they would have a new respect for us.

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