My Kingdom for an Artist comments

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Post: #1
I've read the article at Linux Gaming about the difficulties of finding artists for freeware games. This is a big issue for me, as I have had extreme difficulty finding any creative help - artist, musician, etc.

From the article:
Quote:Another comment he had was what he called the "snob factor." Almost four years ago, he had tried to contact the Open Zelda project in order to get involved. No one ever got back to him. This may or may not be snobbery, it could be more of a technological failure or someone just not getting around to responding. Still, it can leave someone with the impression that their skills aren't needed or wanted, and make them less likely to try again.

Snobbery or not, I have had only a single artist in 5+ years contact me who actually followed through on creating art for a game.
I have put out calls to all sorts of websites, pixel art ones, regular art sites, and more. I never get a response, and I have a sneaking suspicion many here face similar challenges.

Quote:Another part of the snob factor, according to him, was that often it wasn't good enough to just be interested as an artist. You had to have some sort of prior experience. That certainly cuts down on the possible talent pool.

I have never turned down any potential artist who has not had any prior experience. I rarely get contacted, and as I said, almost no artist I know follows through.

There must be techniques for getting an artist to stay with a project, but so far, I do not know what they are. Someone enlighten me, I could use some help.

My assessment of the situation is that artists on the internet do not desire participation in game development. Plain and simple. It may sound unhelpful, depressing, even obnoxious or cynical, but it's what I've observed for many years, and I'd love to be proven wrong.

Quote:On top of this, there is the unfortunate factor that some in the free software and open source communities seem to have too much fun putting down people new to the scene.
This I have observed, and I think it's horribly obnoxious and snobbish of anyone on the "inside" to criticize beginners. It happens here at iDevGames occasionally, at other websites, and in the real world. I have no patience (at least, I should have no patience) with people who do not encourage new people and new ideas. They are toxic to any endeavor, and good leaders/managers will dispose of such people.

Quote:"Artists are sensitive," he and I agreed.
I give a lot of positive feedback to all testers involved with my game, from the closing "thank you" that I close emails with to words of encouragement throughout, pointing out and focusing on the positive points of someone's submission. I barely ever criticize art, especially initial art, because I know that each artist brings something unique, and I want them to fully explore their style.
I have just never received follow-ups from them,... maybe there's something bad on my side, but I try to be excessively careful of not insulting the work or the artist, to only say positive things and give direction if asked for.

Quote:Maybe somewhere we need an interface site that's appealing to artists, and introduces them to the open source community. There's plenty of artists who love to give back. We just have to figure out how to draw them in, and work with them.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case, at least with my tennis game and other projects I've searched for help with.

What are we missing? We need discussion.

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
@karlbecker_com
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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Post: #2
funkboy Wrote:Snobbery or not, I have had only a single artist in 5+ years contact me who actually followed through on creating art for a game.
I have put out calls to all sorts of websites, pixel art ones, regular art sites, and more. I never get a response, and I have a sneaking suspicion many here face similar challenges.

I think a large part of the problem is simply the amount of art required for any game beyond a small puzzle game.

Artists either:

a) Are not aware of this and are very enthusiastic about helping with a project at the start. Then as the project continues they lose interest.

Or

b) They have come to realise this from experience and therefore won't respond to requests to work on a game - particularly one with no renumeration involved.

Game art is simply a lot of work.
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Post: #3
I may involve an artist with my project this year. My goal is to get a simple version of the game working with placeholder art. This will make it easier for an artist to "plug in." Downside, gives them less invlvement up front, so they may feel that they are being brought in late and with less opportunity for creativity. But I think that's appropriate for a 3-mo project, and I may be able to pay them for their efforts. I just wish I was further along.

This is all rather theoretical unless my day job eases up soon.

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Post: #4
monteboyd Wrote:I think a large part of the problem is simply the amount of art required for any game beyond a small puzzle game.
...
Game art is simply a lot of work.

That is a good point. However, I continue to mention to any possible recruits that I do not want them to work too much, that they can be in charge of one particular area. Either background art (I rarely need many in my games), menu design, or character animation, by far the hardest category to find any help in. It seems the idea of animating a sports player, like a tennis player, is not desirable to many, though I see many characters animated in different forums (pixelation swoo, for instance).

Right now, while I'm thinking about it, it seems that many people are not interested in doing ideas other people have.... I think a game would have to be designed with an artist collaborating at the very beginning, saying what he *wants* to draw and what he's good at. I wonder if it's a case of, "I didn't make it up, so I don't want to do it," too. I have always stressed that any art style will work for me, whatever the artist is most interested in doing, but no bites.

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
@karlbecker_com
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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Post: #5
I am friends with some artists in real live, and what they say boils down to one thing: Money. Artistry is a bread-less job, and getting customers as a freelancer takes up most of the time, instead of the creation of art. Others are employed by a PR agentry, and they just don't have time for side projects, as they need to work 9 to 10 hours a day (which is very uncommon in Switzerland). Of course they also only get paid for 8 hours too.
It could be that you only get inexperienced artists when querying over the internet, as all the guys with experience already have full time jobs. My believe is that these may have a good portion of talent, but lack organisation and knowledge of how much time a drawing takes them. Thus they easily get frustrated, or disheartened, and especially when working for free bail out to make their own stuff.
I only co-operated with one artist over the internet, and he produced high quality art, although a bit late for the contest (also I let him down by not finishing the begun game). So the above paragraph is pure speculation, not experience.
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Roosterhouse
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Post: #6
Quote:Right now, while I'm thinking about it, it seems that many people are not interested in doing ideas other people have...


I think this is definitely one of the main issues, especially in a non-paying job like open-source game art. For any professional (and semi-professional artist), much free time needs to be spent on self-promotion, and with the little free time there is, projects have to be chosen carefully. If the idea isn't something that the artist has thought of themselves, chances are it won't hold the interest for them to do it without compensation.

This is really no different than programming independents and hobbyists - how often have you read posts where individuals ñ the majority of the time, artists ñ ask for programming help with their project. The responses are always the same ñ "I have my own game ideas to work on" and "Why not learn to program it yourself?"

Quote:I think a game would have to be designed with an artist collaborating at the very beginning, saying what he *wants* to draw and what he's good at.

This would certainly help.

Quote:I think a large part of the problem is simply the amount of art required for any game beyond a small puzzle game.
...
Game art is simply a lot of work.

Quote: That is a good point. However, I continue to mention to any possible recruits that I do not want them to work too much, that they can be in charge of one particular area. Either background art (I rarely need many in my games), menu design, or character animation, by far the hardest category to find any help in.

While I believe that spreading the work around is a great idea, it has to be done carefully. More experienced artists do not want to see there finely tuned character animations against either a poorly drawn background, or simply a background that doesn't fit stylistically with there own work.

If you choose to go the route of handing off different areas of the artwork to different artists (and I recommend it, as not all artists will be skilled in all areas), consider making the more experienced and most interested artist (you may have to find an average for this) the Art Director. Get input from both the programmers and the artists and let the art director find a cohesive design that takes everyone's ideas into consideration and works to make each artist look their best in the final product.

Just be careful not to let art director become Art Dictator, and never let ego get in the way by assigning yourself as art director (unless you have a lot of art experience).

I'm sure some will say that an art director will take away the other artist's freedoms, but I disagree. A good art director can maintain the direction of a project, and provide the creative drive and support in the slower paced areas of game art (like the animation), that can really help to keep a project from falling apart, something that no artist wants to see.

I have more I could say on the benefits of art direction, but I need to get to work, and mention one more point before I do -

Quote:(also I let him down by not finishing the begun game)

A very big reason why an artist may not want to get involved in a smaller project is the tendency for these projects to never reach completion, rendering the time they've spent wasted.

These are just (some of) my thoughts on this - feel free to disagree.

-Chris
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Post: #7
Roosterhouse Wrote:I think this is definitely one of the main issues, especially in a non-paying job like open-source game art. For any professional (and semi-professional artist), much free time needs to be spent on self-promotion, and with the little free time there is, projects have to be chosen carefully. If the idea isn't something that the artist has thought of themselves, chances are it won't hold the interest for them to do it without compensation.

I agree, if you're doing something for free, you need to have a lot of interest in it to finish.
However, I wonder why no response happens when compensation is offered.

Quote:This is really no different than programming independents and hobbyists - how often have you read posts where individuals ñ the majority of the time, artists ñ ask for programming help with their project. The responses are always the same ñ "I have my own game ideas to work on" and "Why not learn to program it yourself?"

I don't read the programming sections much, but I imagine it's somewhat common. This attitude is horrible, though... and I also see a lot of help in programming forums the few chances I do look. It seems like good help is going on there, at least some of the time.

Quote:While I believe that spreading the work around is a great idea, it has to be done carefully. More experienced artists do not want to see there finely tuned character animations against either a poorly drawn background, or simply a background that doesn't fit stylistically with there own work.
Definitely, and I want a game that has a cohesive look to it. I don't want 2D drawn figures running around on photo-realistic, almost-surreal 3D landscapes (unless I'm going for some weird contrast of styles).

Quote:If you choose to go the route of handing off different areas of the artwork to different artists (and I recommend it, as not all artists will be skilled in all areas), consider making the more experienced and most interested artist (you may have to find an average for this) the Art Director. Get input from both the programmers and the artists and let the art director find a cohesive design that takes everyone's ideas into consideration and works to make each artist look their best in the final product.
A great idea. Again, my problem is finding any artist at all, though. I imagine one may even have to hire an art director... wish there was a place online where people could post resumes / sample work and be able to be hired for some very part-time work (like art director on a shareware game) for a low-to-medium price range.

Quote:never let ego get in the way by assigning yourself as art director (unless you have a lot of art experience).
I am experienced in commercial art and advertising design, but I'm quite often not too happy with some of my compositions... there's room for improvement. I think I want an art director for myself Smile

Quote:I'm sure some will say that an art director will take away the other artist's freedoms, but I disagree. A good art director can maintain the direction of a project, and provide the creative drive and support in the slower paced areas of game art (like the animation), that can really help to keep a project from falling apart, something that no artist wants to see.
Exactly, and a very important point.

Quote:A very big reason why an artist may not want to get involved in a smaller project is the tendency for these projects to never reach completion, rendering the time they've spent wasted.

Highly agreed. It is vital to get *some*thing done so the artist can see their work inside a game - the artist can make art without the programmer, but he can't see it in action with the programmer. Programmers have a great responsibility here.

I think of a chicken/egg dilemma: wouldn't it be better for a game to have progressed far enough so art assets can be plugged in and the artist can see in-game results instantly? If so, then the artist has to be left out of the picture at the beginning... which violates something we thought is pretty important, for the artist to be around at the inception of the game, so she 'owns' the game.

I'm getting lost, so I'll stop here for now, and go... program! Smile

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
@karlbecker_com
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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DM6
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Post: #8
funkboy Wrote:I agree, if you're doing something for free, you need to have a lot of interest in it to finish.
However, I wonder why no response happens when compensation is offered.

I think a handful of this may be due to the largely differing tastes over the artist/technologist divide. A lot of people (especially in the artistic community) still think games are crass pop-culture stuff that can't lend itself to their self-expression. I don't agree, obviously, but it sure wouldn't hurt if developers were more willing to view games in artistic terms rather than within the context of entertainment alone. And I don't mean everyone should go make Van Gogh video games or try to make their 3D models act out Hamlet, but a good place to start is by thinking about what art tries to achieve versus what games try to achieve, and seeing where the two intersect. Sorry if this is vague.

-Duncan
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Nibbie
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Post: #9
I think it really would work better if you found an fairly decent artist that wanted to make a game that interested you. Then you would have an interested artist dedicated to the work. Sure, you would have less control over the game, but as a programmer you would still have quite a bit of influence on the final product. I would be looking at sites like pixelation and stuff. Every few days (it seems) some artist wants a programmer.
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Post: #10
It may also boil down to a unique aspect of open source, in that apart from some coders, very few people actually want to give their stuff away for free unless for instance it's to demo their talents in a way that will get them 'proper' work.
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Post: #11
I agree with many comment here.

But I often think of all those people creating nice icons, or other pixel art, or 3d renderings. I think that their is still a bridge to build to these people, because crossing the river is a bit hard for both camps.

Also, I agree that someone said about creating good art. It is alot of work. It is one thing to make a single frame of a ship for a shoot'em up game. But it is something else to make a, say a Diablo or Warcraft 2 game where each sprite will need 2 dozen frames. Then multiply that by all the sprites needed.

Next, I think that, and I speak for myself, I need to have a coder who knows what they are doing, and can make my job easier. Here are two cases...

1. This dev says send me a bunch of sprites

2. This dev provides a basic engine so I can save my sprites and see how they will work in the finished game. This allows me to tweak animations, and so on.

New devs often don't have the support tools needed for good work flow. Mayhap this is an issue.

Carlos A. Camacho,
Founder
iDevGames
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Post: #12
Camacho Wrote:New devs often don't have the support tools needed for good work flow. Mayhap this is an issue.

I must say from recent experience that having good tools to go along with a good game are important for motivating and attracting artists. I think when you have a level editor that gives instant visual/audio results, it makes the art end of the team a lot happier because they feel (and are) a lot more closely knit in the game development process. I think enticing artists with nice editors is a key to getting good art.

-Jon
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Post: #13
I like many comments in here, and appreciate them all. Maybe I kind of went on a tirade in that first post, but I was a little heated at the time!

Joseph makes a good point

And Carlos and aarku's point about an engine where the artist can immediately see his work in action is, I agree, a great way to get artists. For my own personal dilemma, I had a game that was already playable, that actually had animated gifs as the source so artists could put in their artwork... but maybe having a specific tool that let them get a better idea of what it would look like, even a primitive drawing tool, would be better.

I just hope the gap can be bridged between artist & programmer.

KB Productions, Car Care for iPhone/iPod Touch
@karlbecker_com
All too often, art is simply the loss of practicality.
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Max
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Post: #14
Iím an artist and I like to do graphics for freewares and sharewares. The main reason why artists are hard to recruit is because too many projects are vaporware or canceled. How many times do you read ìHire artist for FPSî or ìNeed help with MMPORGî? Or how many times the developer gives no information about himself, except a (bogus) Hotmail address? You just know itís shit! Anyway, my motto is ìNo site, no engine, no help!î Perhaps other artists think the same.

Freelance video game artist and video game compliance tester at Enzyme Testing Labs.
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Post: #15
Great thread, keep the comments coming.
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