So it turned out that BAF game was really good this year, it had a wide range of speakers with a diverse topic range. For myself personally I think that it was very useful but some of the content was aimed at a younger audience that was interested in the games industry but possibly not practicing it. These sections for myself were simply reiterating knowledge that I have already discovered, but the positive is that professionals in the industry follow a similar process to what I am doing.
BAF Game festival took place over two days, the first being Tuesday 13th November 2012. Following are my notes on several speakers at the event.
Oddworld Inhabitants – Stewart Gilray
General info: described how JAW(Just Add Water), were resurrecting the Oddworld brand. How they needed to bring the game into the digital sales world and present technology.
Key relevance for me: The main part that came out of this talk was the idea that games are moving into a more digital world. Gilray predicted that the industry will eventually move fully into the digital sales region and only triple A games will stay as retail. How this will affect the future games industry is yet to be certified but for myself I guess that I need to be aware of this possible shift and tailor my skills around it.
CD Projekt Red – Tomek Zawada, lead animator.
General: A comparative look between the film industry and the games industry, specifically looking at an animators role. The talk was very informative and gave a lot of advice on which industry suits which type of animator, but I feel that it was quite vague information and so I didn’t actually get that much out of it.
Key relevance to me: One thing that does stick in my mind from Zawada is that he pointed out that one of the most important things is to find a company that suits your style of work. To outline this he described the difference between the type of animation work you would get working on a FPS to a RPG. For instance on a FPs the animation are restricted to be realistic renditions of combat whereas on an RPG that has a more fantasy role, you will find probably more creatures like orcs, ogres etc that need to be animated. Also the defining difference between these are that an RPG features a lot more character based animations, mannerisms etc as the RPG often has an open-world environment. I know this advice doesn’t directly apply to my line of practice but it is something to consider. How would my workflow be affected by differing companies and/or genres?
Overall Zawada was flying the RPG flag, as he was quite biased to the film industry and other genres in the games world. His reason for this choice was due to his experience in the industry and he was favouring RPG’s as he described them as being more creative and less restrictive. Another key note was that Zawada states that you don’t need to work in a specific department to have roles in it. He mentioned that as an animator he has some connection to the story of a game as the characters mannerisms effect the narrative.
Nyamyam – Jennifer Schneidereit and Philip Tossell.
General: This talk focused on Nyamyam as an independent developer dedicated to creating beautifully crafted games. The two talkers went into detail about how they decided to set up their own indie company as a self-funded project to allow themselves to create self-expressive games. Tengami was the featured game from Nyamyam, which in total will have 2 and half years from start to completion.
- Tengami is a an adventure game where the pc is a character in a pop up book.
- Japanese aesthetics were a personal choice, but they embraced this and decided to stick to a traditional style.
- colour semiotics were extremely important.
Relevance to me: The main thing that has come out of this talk is the fact that the indie game scene allows for self-expression. Both talkers spoke about how the move from the bigger games companies to the indie dev team had allowed them to become more in control of the game’s development and how it would play. I think for my aspirations this is something that I need to consider as currently I have control over my brief and can be self-expressive, but if I moved into the industry would I be ok designing someones elses idea?
Sony Entertainment – Joel Smith
General: Smith goes through the process of creating Wonderbook: Book of Spells, with insight into the collaboration with JK Rowling and how to achieve creative goals.
- The teams creative goals were: to be authentic, to achieve a magical book i.e. it comes to life, a full experience between the player/character and that everything on-screen comes from the book.
- bringing the book to life theme fitted the player centralised gameplay.
- the main design feature was that the environments were realistic but they all had a slightly distorted nature.
- maintain the design throughout the game, the spell soundsheets contained the colour palettes aswell.
Relevance: Smith ended the speech with what he considered the key parts of conceptualising a game:
- Establish visual style as early as possible and stick to it
- Communicate style
- Always keep original goals in mind
Bethesda Game Studios – Lucas Hardi
General: Hardi talked about how to create visual style within a game. He went through a few general pointers that all artists should abide by, like finding inspiration from the outside world, looking towards other medias instead of just games for inspiration and utilising what these other mediums have to offer.
- style helps to create immersion
- gameplay ans art style need to coexist
In term of inspiration:
- film and photography are good for cinematography and replicating the real world
- 3D animation is good to take note of rendering issues
- Illustration allows you to understand composition and the players viewpoints, alongside understanding the playable space
Relevance to me: I feel like I didn’t take much away from this talk as it was simply looking at where an artist should find inspiration which I have continually practiced since I was taught it during A Level. I guess it reiterated some base values of art style for me which was useful for my practice.