Friday, March 13, 2015

The shift

When video games stopped being clones of Pong and Asteroids, programmers realized that they were going to need some art to make their games. And artists realized that they needed programmers to put their vision in motion. That was the beginning of a love/hate relationship. Programmers didn't really want to lend their toys to people who couldn't understand code and artists had to deal with the bazillion technical limits. And then Macromedia Flash came. It was designed to make the Web prettier with some fancy animations. Instead of just exporting their assets and let the web designers do the rest, artists started to produce their own Flash applications and not just buttons and menus. They also started to code because Flash was shipped with a script language called ActionScript that became really powerful with version 3. Suddenly artists made games without developers.

Whenever an artist tells me that code is too complicated, I think about the tools they use everyday. Photoshop and Maya for examples are to me unbearable pieces of software. The UI was invented by some sadistic designer who tried to pack layers after layers of buttons and sub-menus without any kind of logic and by using the most cryptic names and the smallest fonts/icons possible. Any human being who can work his way in this kind of complex cypher has the logic skills and the patience required to code.

Anyway thanks to script languages and tools getting better and better, artists were making more and more complex games. Two of my favorite recent games (Hotline Miami and NaissanceE) were made by artists without any developers. But the opposite is not necessary true. You can make a game without any art or just a little (Minecraft !). Some developers are famous for it like  Terry Cavanagh and Kenta Cho. They use mostly simple geometric forms But the truth is that you will probably need some assets at some point.

The solution might be to just buy it on stores like Turbosquid, the Unity Asset Store or the Unreal Engine marketplace. But you never get what you want : it's either too much (you just want one model and you have to buy the pack) or the format is not the right one so you have to import/reexport from Blender or the orientation/scale is off. But artists do not just provide content : they provide a vision. As a developer, I know what I find pretty but I have no idea how to achieve it. A tutorial might teach me how to make beautiful particles but will not give me the art sense required to make a different one.

1 comment:

  1. Knowing what's pretty is very subjective and artist don't always make good games.Once, I bought a game (forgot the name) because of it's amazing artwork and incredible visuals on the box but it was completely unplayable. Some think that by improving graphics they can make a game better, Duke Nukem Forever is a good example of this epic fail. In truth the artist and the programmer need to work together. Its through the combination of their skills that they give birth to incredible games.