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Thread: I need game industry advice

  1. #1
    Josh Frankel Guest

    I need game industry advice

    Here's my deal:
    I want to work on the art side of the video game industry. Specifically, I'm looking for model/texture jobs. I have no industry experience or art degree. I'm a 27 year old college graduate with a lot of work experience, mainly in web design and production. I've been researching the video game business for a while, and I've learned low-poly 3D modelling/texturing techniques from assorted tutorials and a lot of hard work.

    Here are my questions:

    1. What is the real entry-level for this type of job? All of the job listings I see ask for industry experience. I understand this...if I was running a company and had to turn out a money-making product, I'd want proven people working on it too. Nevertheless, where do these people start out? Is formal game art education becoming more required? Is it a matter of networking? Should I apply to jobs requiring industry experience once I have a really good portfolio, and then hope that my portfolio knocks them out of their chairs?

    2. I've sent several queries to companies that are hiring, offering myself as an unpaid intern. I haven't gotten any response. Is this a bad strategy? To me, it seems like it would be a good deal all around: I get some valuable experience and they get a solid worker with a track record of learning quickly in new environments. But I wonder if developers are spooked by this, or if they just don't want to expend the energy contacting or managing an x-factor intern. Am I just annoying people and lowering my stock?

    Here's a link to some of the stuff I've done so far:
    http://www.hungryforbrains.com/josh/portfolio_3d.php
    ...I realize that it's not much, but I am working hard on improving.

    Anyway, I apologize for the deluge of typical newbie questions, but I do honestly value the opinions of the people on this forum. Your brutal honesty, advice and job offers (heh) will be much appreciated.

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  3. #2
    Josh Frankel Guest
    Yeah, I know that these "how do I break in" questions can be pretty tiresome, but really, any advice, or even links to useful advice, would be helpful. I've searched for and read assorted web pages covering these topics, but I'm looking for a range of personal perspectives. Am I not asking the right questions?

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  4. #3
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    Josh,

    I think what you need to do, is go to a local Junior College, or art school, and take a few art classes, and build up a solid portfolio...

    Then when you think you have a good portfolio, just keep doing what you are doing, email companies and ask if they have intern positions.. Don't ask them to hire you just ask if theyoffer a intern position... Then apply for it...

    I know i deffinitly need to take my own advice, cause there is lots I have to learn.. LOTS! But stay in this forum, and keep doing work, and show it around on the net, so people see your work...

    Just an idea..

    good luck man...

    peace

    -Deth Jester
    "Live each day like you will die tommorow, and dream like you will live forever..."
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  5. #4
    Josh Frankel Guest
    Thanks Deth Jester. Your advice seems sound, and it basically describes what I am doing. I'm going to be taking some classes in September, and I'm doing more art every day. Anyone else have personal experiences to share here?

    By the way, here's an FAQ that I think is pretty good, for the other people out there with similar questions:
    http://www.planetquake.com/polycount.../Industry.html

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    brutality

    when a company askes for 1-2 years industry experience, it as basicly a prerequisite to cut down the amount of unqualified portfolios they would otherwise recive. experience helps alot but its not the only determining factor. one of the things they really look for is drive, and raw talent, if you demonstrate enough of that than they will be more likely to give you the experience you need.

    you asked for brutal and here it is, judging only from the example images you linked to. I do not see any real drive in your work, I see a casual fun attempt to create a couple 3d characters you did in your spare time, it does show some understanding of 3d aplication but it demonstrates no real background in traditional art knowledge of color form. I dont see any passion behind your pollygons. the game industry is growing very fast but at the same time the level of quality employers seek is also increasing, I dont want to break your spirit, but I dont want you to be niave of the reality around you . If you really want to work for games you need to work alot harder, and put much more effort into the pices you have in your portfolio. dont give up just work harder, if you want it bad enough anything is possible.

    good luck Josh

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  7. #6
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    android said that very very well.

    learn your anatomy...work hard on your drawing skills...push your traditional skills a bit...keep working on your 3d stuff...you need to push harder...set your standards a little farther up the hill and run for them...

    it took me six years of art school to be ready to do what i do...no way i could have done it before I paid my dues with hundreds of late nights and plenty of missed dates, parties and everything else i sacreficed to spend time doing artwork.

    your artwork needs to become number one in your life...after you master a set of skills from working hard then you will be able to make art more of a balanced part of your life.

    look at games...your work needs to be as good as the best games out there...or better...that is how you get in...make stuff that is as good or better than the best stuff out there.


    j

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    if you want it bad enough anything is possible
    you gotta love that quote

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  9. #8
    Josh Frankel Guest
    Android: Don't worry about breaking my spirit. Your response is definitely what I asked for and what I'm after. Re-reading my initial post, I see that maybe I came on a little strong, so for the record let me just say that I know that I have a loooong way to go. And as I go, I need as much harsh reality as I can get. Of course, it's troubling when someone says that they don't see any passion behind your polygons, but when I look at these samples with a critical eye, I see a lot of problems too. I will keep trying, and the next time I have some work that I'm happy with I'll post it here and see if you guys see any glint of passion.

    Jason Manley: This goes for Android's comments too. Your posts were very instructive. As someone who is changing careers, I need to know how people (particularly senior artists and art directors) in the game industry think. I get some hints of that from reading assorted articles online, but the direct feedback you give in the threads on these boards is particularly helpful. I'm working hard right now and I've been steadily clearing the boards to make art the number one thing, but you're right, I need to do more. I honestly don't know if I'll ultimately have what it takes. Conceptart.org is good for a reality check.

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    Man if you've taught yourself to model. More power to you. But I have to say if you've got a school that you can attend any one would greatly benefit. I personally dug deep into my pockets and decided to go to school. And I mean digging deep. But I'm almost done with my CG education and I don't regret one bit. The knowlege that I've gain would have taken me a few years to figure some of the crap out. I never imagine that I would know as much as I know about the software. But I would agree with any of these guys here you have to learn your anatomy perspective, compistion etc... I'm sorry to say but you can't learn that over night. Any computer program can be learn in a matter of months. And I strongly believe from my expereince that you'll be a much better cg artist if you have traditional art behind you. I hope this doesn't bum you out. I'm a firm believer that hard works pays off. Best of luck to you.

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  11. #10
    Kev Crossley Guest

    Wink Breaking into games!!!

    Hi Josh!

    I'm still a newbie here, but as I've been a video game artist for 7 years now, I thought I'd throw some of my experience your way. However, I live and work in the good old UK, and the industry is a very different beast to the fluffy thing it was when I first started, but hopefully some of what I have to say might be of use to ya!

    I left University in 1994, then spent 2 years bumming around on the dole.. (Is that welfare in the States???) Basically, I had no job, so spent every day painting. I painted until my fingers bled and my brushes lost their bristles. I got through hundreds of pencils and reams of paper, and still I couldn't find work. Back then I had no computer, no hard cash, no leads and no help to draw upon, but even in the depths of despair, I just kept on working and refining the skills I believed would get me somewhere... eventually.

    That's your first major lesson dude: Perseverence and Self Belief. If you want It, whatever It is, you gotta KNOW you're gonna get it; that you're GOOD enough to get it. Even if you feel you're not up to the mark right now, you have to trust that you can overcome all those niggling doubts, roll up your sleeves and just get on with improving, improving improving. Trust me, if you keep at it, it WILL pay off.

    Back to what I did next... after 2 years of sleeping during the day and painting all through the night, (and countless failed job applications) I chanced on an advert in a local job paper that turned out to be for a computer games company. (Gremlin Interactive, if anyone remembers them!) I went for an interview, and for the first half hour it was a bit touch and go, because I had no experience AT ALL, and didn't have a clue how to turn a computer on, never mind how a computer game was made. Then I opened my portfolio, and the whole vibe of the interview changed. In it I had all the painting I'd been doing over the previous year, and truck loads of drawings, sketchbooks and the like.... the interviewer loved it, and more or less offered me a job there and then, purely because he thought I was a talented and commited artist whose skills he could mould to suit computer based art. It just didn't matter that I had no experience, I was in! I couldn't believe it man, the day I thought would never come!!

    The crazy thing about this was that I worked on my folio without ever thinking precisely where it would take me... it's like taking a walk but never looking farther forward than 10 feet in front of you......... you plod on, and one day you look up, and you've climbed a mountain!!!! Ha ha... it's a lame metaphor, but you get my meaning.

    As long as you don't expect anything to happen tomorrow, or the day after, as long as you persevere, and continue to try to improve, you'll get somewhere eventually. And however closed door the industry seems to be these days, there'll still be a few people who'll respond to sheer, raw, energetic talent when they see it.

    Phew, that's the longest post I ever made! If you're still awake after that, you deserve a beer:chug: ... and if you like, check out my site, the dog paintings on there were some the paintings in my folio that got me that job in the first place!!! HA ha!!! Can you believe it???

    Good luck Josh, and peace to ya

    Kev

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  12. #11
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    Cool

    I don't usually chime in on stuff like this, but I'm moved to this time... I am really impressed with the level of mature, helpful responses that a thread like this gets. It's the sort of thing that makes a place like this stand out. Well done, fellas...

    Josh: I'm sorry I have nothing to add to your question, as I'm just a novice myself, and only an intended hobbyist at that. But I will say this... Don't ever give up! Keep at it and you'll someday arrive at your destination :cool:

    - blind
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    very well said kev, very well said.

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    !

    With these kinds of fantastic replies, we probably won't need a similar thread ever again. Comments like these feel very true. Josh, I'm in that "I'm getting there step by step" mode myself, and I have no doubt that I'm growing artistically every day. It's just a matter of time and effort. Keep it up!

    Portfolio: www.torsteinnordstrand.com
    Working on / for: Age of Conan / Funcom
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  15. #14
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    I have never seen a forum like this one (well, maybe epilogue) where the responses are so helpful and sincere. I signed up right after I read this thread. 3dtotal, cgtalk, Epilogue, cgchat, eatpoo and now this one, it's a wonder I get any work done.

    Otherwise, I certainly agree with Kev Crossley, "Perseverence and Self Belief" do help. I am 26 and I have never so much as sent one portfolio out yet, and to this very day, I remain jobless and inexperienced. But I do try my very best to keep my skills honed and current and I do believe that I have the potential to be more (an essential thought). I love art, and I know, that’s what I want to do hence I try, try, and try even harder (I just wish I applied the same energy to looking for work).

    In short, Jason Manley said it, one has to make art his number one goal in life, and make everything else a distant second. Well, here is how I went about achieving this: In the past few months, I found that the best way to enhance ones own skills is to get proper motivation. One way you can go about getting this motivation (besides school) is through entering art contests (only WIP contests, not those simple hand in at the end type contests). Beside myself, I have witnessed many people improve dramatically over the span of a short time. And in the end, not only did they get the confidence derived from finishing a project quickly, on time, and with the best of their ability, but they also gained a valuable piece of art that they could proudly put into their portfolio as a start for more to come. At the same time, you find friends with similar interests and it’s always good to be surrounded by people who love art as much as you do.

    However, this doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, for it’s important that you always finish what you start. Only the people who hand in there work in the end, good or bad, improve (they try harder not to embarrass themselves the next time heheh). But all in all, it’s fun and addictive, which are two essential things.

    Well, those are just my experiences. I wish you luck with your endeavor. Just always remember, if you love it enough, you shall succeed.

    Otherwise, having entered 6 contests so far, I thought I would try and enter my next biggest challenge, Siggraph 2003 . . . but, after reading that story Jason Manley wrote on the Thunderdome winners . . . “Lord oh mighty,” I want IN!!!! It would certainly be a BIG challenge for me to create something as good as the art work in here and it would certainly be fun trying (then again, I don’t believe in trying. It’s do or do not ).

    Good Luck ~
    - Apt Pupil
    www.magicswithin.com

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    Keep at it!

    Josh, My names Kierston. I graduated High school in 97 and then spent 3 years working in a bread factory, where I decided I wanted to work in the gaming industry. Why? Because I really ejoyed playing them and felt I had something to offer. I quit my job and took a one year course in 2D and 3D animation. I learned how to create model sheets, model, texture, and animate. But the most important part of that course was the life drawing class held once a week, we even went to the zoo. With in that one year I built a portfolio www.rubygenesis.filetap.com I was hired a month out of school with no industry experience. All I'm saying is, it can be done, you just have to put you heart into it. This webpage got me my first job, its not much but it had what they wanted to see and it got me in the door.

    Do not give up!

    K!erston
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  17. #16
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    Hi josh ! I agree with all the coments that have been said before but if you want to keep up with the industry buzz in your corner of the world you might want to check with the International game developers association

    They also go by towns. Here in Montreal there are meetings every months or so.

    Rubygenesis there is some really nice stuff in your portfolio !

    ege *squirrels back to the shadows*

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    Hello,

    I thought I might add my 3 cents.

    First let me qualify myself by introducing myself to you. I am new to this forum, but not new to the gaming industry. In fact I have 3 products on the shelf world wide.

    I mainly deal in the 3rd Party gaming end as I found it was one the easier areas to advance in and get into the gaming market.
    I have 3rd Party gaming sites of which I build for a specific game and dedicate that site to that end.

    For instance one is for a portion of the simming community.
    Here is an example of some of the work and quality to make it in that arena. 3RD Party Development

    I looked at your models, and where I agree in some respects with Android, I dont completely agree.
    You do have potential even now to work in some areas of the simming 3rd party creation.
    However, before you get to excited let me say that you do need some direction. Also some points on how to make your models pop.
    I noticed some modeling types you are much stronger in and others weak.
    I advise you find your strengths and make them even better. In other words.... if you lets say build buildings great but are real weak when it comes to human anatomy..... then dont show your weakness but your strength.
    For example.... One of the fellas on my modeling teams I found Him in a forum where he was seeking help in trying to create a scenery project for one of the Simulation programs my team was working on.

    Well, He didnt get much help, that happens sometimes, its real conpetitive none the less I took a look at His first scenery project.
    Well, it needed a lot of work, and his modeling well.... it wasnt his strength.... but, His terrain work I felt had a good feel though He needed some direction.
    So I invited Him to jump on board..... offered Him some training and put him on a test project.
    To make a long story short He is one of the best in the business today and also became a close friend.
    We just recently launched a new project......


    Ok, back to your question..... was your method right... well sort of....its not that you dont have passion, I feel your passion is misdirected.... and lacks focus....

    As an employer let me ask you some questions... an important one... 1. Strengths.... What programs do you model with?
    2. Which do you feel most comfortable working with?
    3. How are you at adapting to new programs?

    Are you familiar with GMAX? if so Have you worked with it or 3Dmax?

    Lets say I asked you to build a 3D car low polly, can you create the textures for it?

    Things to consider....

    I hope I have helped in some way... feel free to email if you like or ask here if its ok... be glad to offer any help I can.

    Also, just to let you know... we are always looking for new modelers.... if your interested Drop me an email...as we have some exciting new projects coming up...

    MBStudios

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  19. #18
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    Hey Josh,

    I haven't had the time to read through the other replies, so if I repeat advice that's already been given, I apologize. I've been in the industry for 10 years and have some titles worth mentioning under my belt, (Rogue Spear, Deus Ex, X-Men: Next Dimension) and some that aren't worth mentioning.
    If I'm blunt with my critiquing, I apologize, but it's only with the intent to get you motivated to make the effort you'll need to improve your skills. The amount of time you've spent so far and your work does show promise, but you have a long road ahead of you.
    From a character modeling standpoint, you're skills aren't at the level that they need to be to be commercially competitive. Compare your work to what's out there commercially and I think you'd agree. Modeling-wise, you'll need to improve your knowledge of anatomy, or atleast structure, surface anatomy and proportion. I would suggest John Cody's book 'Visualizing Muscles: A New Ecorché Approach to Surface Anatomy' or John Vanderpoel's book 'Human Figure'.
    From a texturing standpoint, that's just going to come down to your draftsmanship and traditional painting ability which is just mileage, putting in the hours of drawing and painting (from a live model preferrably).
    Right now, if getting a job is a must priority, you're going to have a hard time. You could probably be useful production-wise in an entry level position/intern making background objects and vehicles, so I would stock a portfolio with images of those. I wouldn't show any samples of art that highlight artistic weak points. In the meantime, trying getting into mod development. It's excellent training and you really get the idea of how to implement art assets into realtime 3d engines and potential employers recognize the self motivation it takes to work on them.

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