Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Plagiarism, penalties and punishment

Now as I sit on the back row of the computer I can usually cop an eyeful of others students progress and something I’ve started to notice more frequently is the use of downloaded textures.

Now it clearly states at the bottom of every brief, in bold red text, that downloading textures is plagiarism and you may fail, but quite frankly I don't think this is quite getting across to everyone and the punishment that should follow has yet to be demonstrated.

I have a couple of non-game art friends who have witnessed a fellow course-mate kicked out of uni for plagiarising a mere 300 words.

Culprits on this course use the excuse that 'well industry do it' but this is a university course not a games company.

It infuriates me because at the start of every project I carefully plan outings to gather photographs and textures for my own library, this process can take up to a week as I patiently wait for the perfect overcast day. Whereas a few fellow course-mates never leave the comfort of their room and just happily click away taking a whole 5 minutes to complete the process.

It just annoys me to think that there students who are going to better marks than me, when I put so much time and effort (which doesn't always show btw) into sourcing my own materials and experiencing the brief in the real world, I mean I rarely even use google for reference.

I know it might take time and effort to cross reference all the sources, but a quick loop around the labs are even a quick look through their texture folders will be more than enough evidence.

Source, live and experience it.

Learn from the old

Taking a break from a serious case of mind mush, after, god knows, how many hours and weeks I have spent constantly on Max or udk. However it's paid off as i'm finally approaching the final hurdles of my FMP.

All major buildings are done as well as over 100 different assets all textured and imported. It's now at the point where adding the final touches of detail will complete the look, but it's getting pretty hard to spot them. Maybe a few pairs of fresh eyes will be able to pick out the flaws as I have staring at my level for so long I think I’m missing some major aspects from it.

A major problem I have is with trees. Some trees in my level are nearly as big as the windmill but they are all behind the buildings and out or reach so it seems pointless to waste time and tris on something you can barely see. On this basis, I have created some Tomb Raider style trees, that do the job and use my own tree photographs for that added realism.

Game Art not Games Design

With the majority of the FMP behind me it's time to stimulate my mind in a more intellectual direction.

Today's blog takes inspiration from the interviews I’ve sat in on for the past couple of weeks.

One main theme I noticed was how many applicants were currently on a college 'Games Design' course, thinking it would fast track them into the games industry.

How wrong they are.

For starters, judging from examples of their work. These courses are poorly researched and structured. Their portfolios produced no evident skills that would ever prepare them for the games industry. In fact they would be a lot better off enrolling on a more structured art or foundation course as these will at least develop your fundamental art skills.

The major flow of these 'Games Design' courses is in the name. A lot of people confuse Game Art with Game Design. Countless times I have had to correct people as they think I will be responsible for design games.

Far from it.

Game Art is purely commercial, if you apply to DMU wanting to deigns your own game then don't bother as that does not entail the life of a Game Artist. Sure we can put our own spin on the concepts but for the majority of the time we are working to a strict brief as part of a pipeline.

Another flow these courses have is the broad approach they take to the Games Industry. The teach everything from concepting to scripting, to character design and programming sound. This would only be helpful in a crash course where it would help students gain better insights to how games work and then follow a specialised path. So that their time at college isn't wasted on a vague and skilfully weak portfolio.

Fundamental skills of a Game Artist is the ability to perceive the world for what it is and get that vision down on paper. We need to demonstrate skills of perception, lighting and colour theory which will show through with the 3D side of things.

We are Game Artists and we like to draw.