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The Art of the first game job.


NeilJones313

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So like everyone else on the internet these days I'm an art student. I have read so many books and GDC talks about how to get that first game job. And if it takes you a really long time to land that first job then you just need to get better and try again in a year or so. Don't get me wrong I'm all for getting better everyone can always get better at what they do. But today one of my friends told me today that he has been told to get better for the last five years and has just given up on the game industresty. He is just going to get a job at target and try to pay off his student loads for the next 15 years. After I heard this I started freaking out and spent 20 hours online applying and sending emails (with not one reply) and just trying to find out if I myself would end up like my friend years from now.

I guess what I'm asking is how does everyone feel about how crazy it can be sometimes to find any kind of work with-in games and why isn't there and industry standard for students. when I say standard I mean a model or concept art that every student can look at and say if I can model that or draw that within this amount of time then I will be o.k.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, I just know a lot of good students and game designers that work at gamestops or walmarts and should be making the game's that make kids want to grown-up and do the same.

kidoncomp.jpg

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Ok firstly your friend probably applied to the best studios in the world and got no replies. No wonder.

I know of a few friends who took a long time to get into the industry for various reasons, the biggest seems to be setting sights too high and being unwilling to move too far. being unable to accept criticism and improve is a big problem among art students, who have big ideas but might not understand that the games industry is an industry and you don't go from studying straight into being cliffy b. you start low and work up and it takes a while.

i looked at your portfolio and there's a few things: your work is fine for a junior or an intern. your course should have an intern stage at which point they should at least provide you some small amount of help finding an internship at a studio, where you work your ass off and hopefully either land a job or improve enough, and get a real understanding of how the industry works, so that you can apply to other studios and stand a good chance.

it's my humble belief that anyone can make good art, all it takes is time, it;s like playing an instrument or riding a bike, you just practice, watch other people, listen and learn. the internet is so full of great resources to do this that nobody should be making bad art at this point. what lands you a job is having experience making games. joining a mod team or making levels/campaigns for games with an SDK (HL2, gears of war, etc etc). this shows you at least have an understanding of what it takes to create something, mods are great because they show you can work with other people - releasing it isn't as important as just getting that experience.

a small personal anecdote: my first portfolio was a piece of shit, worst art i ever made. i was proud of it though, and thought i was hot shit. i wasn't. i applied to about a hundred studios, all over the UK and Europe, i ended up getting a shitty job at a shitty studio making shitty games. but i worked hard and i learnt, and things got better, i grew as a person and an employee. i still think i'm hot shit but at least i understand enough to know that i am just fooling myself.

so, here's a gameplan for you:

1) don't worry about it

2) work hard and work outside of school - join a mod team, or make something yourself, try to work with others and get some real experience.

3) go to polycount and look, listen, learn. post your work and do what people tell you. at this stage every criticism is valid, not just the good stuff.

4) look at portfolios of people in the industry (polycount, not mapcore, everybody here sucks), see what the quality is like. your portfolio should feature the best work you have, not just the stuff you feel proud of.

5) fix your portfolio, render things in real engines (cryengine is great because it'll make everything look good regardless of whether it is or not, unreal is also good because it;s so widespread in studios). don't make me download your resume to sdee it. your about page should be called your resume page, and it should have a html resume. link to your resume in pdf and doc form. get a new email: neiljones@gmail.com or whatever. use real fonts, i can't copy/paste your resume and see what your actual name is.

6) when you're done with edumacationing, fixing your resume, and creating some pieces that showcase engine and pipeline knowledge - apply for an internship, apply for junior posiitons. there's game dev maps online - apply to everyone, send a nice email to their HR, be specific about your role, link to your website and resume.

7) keep applying, this is going to take a long time.

8) sign up with agencies who will seek work for you, it's not going to be the best work, but it's work and it's experience.

9) be prepared to move far away from friends and family.

10) hate your life.

Magic.

Edited by Rick_D
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Yeah I totally agree with Rick. Most of student of my school who left it at the same time of me didn't find any job because they think what they did at school was enough to get a job. WRONG !!

Being able to make quality levels and other content for an existing (and popular? ) game is far one of the best option to have a job because they know you can work on a real project.

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i want to emphasize the point about criticism. i think that one of the hardest things is to puncture your own ego, and realize that while your work may be of a certain quality, you need to swallow your pride and accept the critique that comes your way. once you've opened yourself in that way, things come much easier. at least that's my personal experience.

Edited by Sentura
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i want to emphasize the point about criticism. i think that one of the hardest things is to puncture your own ego, and realize that while your work may be of a certain quality, you need to swallow your pride and accept the critique that comes your way. once you've opened yourself in that way, things come much easier. at least that's my personal experience.

I agree but how do you know what criticism to take? over the last week people have told me they love my work and other have told me that I shouldn't even try to go into games because my work isn't good at all. So it leaves me with mixed feelings.

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I guess everything is already said, that's a lot of guidelines and it will be very hard and time consuming but if you're not 40 years old you will make it.

I found a good method to learn more even if you don't wanna look for new things. Try to get a nice concept or game screenshot and make the same thing as on the shot. It's like copy/paste but you will see some rules and methods that desingers/artist used.

Oh and by the way. I see you have a very low poly folio. Try to "move to far" with graphics, use crazy polycout and then optimize it when it's to much... I see that lots of people are affraid, they are stiching to oldschool rules of modeling. Make it crazy fucked up and get it down slowly until it will work on most game engines and it will still look epic.

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I agree but how do you know what criticism to take? over the last week people have told me they love my work and other have told me that I shouldn't even try to go into games because my work isn't good at all. So it leaves me with mixed feelings.

TL:DR => Everything Rick said.

Don't take this the wrong way but what are you gonna do with positive feedback? Eat it? Print it and hang it over your bed? "Very nice, I like it". That's ego-boosting but mostly useless feedback.

The best feedback is to the point, honest feedback that's very descriptive about what areas you can improve in. So then you go back to your work and make it better.

Overly negative feedback that doesn't explain anything is pretty worthless as well. (At least you'll know something went wrong :P)

So basically, if people just state their opinion, both positive or negative then that's mostly useless to you. What you want is substance. If you go post on these kind of forums then you'll notice hardly anyone is fishing for compliments, they just want others to spot flaws so they'll end up with a better work. So don't get offended when people critique your work, when people go out of their way to give you feedback it's quite a compliment. It tells you you're not a lost cause and there's potential in your work if you just improve what they said. Why would people spend their time giving feedback on a worthless piece that's not gonna go anywhere, nobody wants to waste their own time!?

Portfolio feedback:

To go back to your portfolio. I hardly see any in-game level work. There's no way of telling if you got a sense of composition, etc etc. Yes, there's artists in the industry that just make props day in day out but if you wanna go that route then you'll need a portfolio that reflects that and justifies your lack of level related work. Meaning, a portfolio filled with kick-ass props, of all sorts and styles and usually some high poly work as well. Try to look for some portfolio's of really good guys that don't do level specific stuff.

Have you ever tried putting your work inside an engine? Making a town scene with those fantasy props for instance (and making more props off course so you have a complete scene). That's gonna make you look way better. Look at it from an industry perspective, how does an employer know you can put this stuff in the engine and that it's gonna end up looking good? They don't, then they might as well hire the guy that made awesome props but also put them into a level... See what I'm getting at? Competition is tough!

Edited by Chimeray
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obviously you want to take critique that compels you to change something in a constructive way. sometimes at work i show off something that i don't even think is flawed, but i do it because i'm blind to what the potential mistakes of my design could be.

like, one of the critiques i would take out of this thread would be (and i'm just paraphrasing others here): put your work inside a game engine, do not just show off work in a 3d package.

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