miércoles, 17 de julio de 2013

Gamepolis: Sunday and Final Conclusions

Welcome to the last day at Gamepolis. If you missed the earlier posts, you can take a look at Friday and Saturday summaries. 

Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, I couldn't turn up in the morning and I arrived by 2.00 p.m, and as usual, first thing I did was lining up to participate in the XBox 360 raffle. I promised you to tell you in this post if I'd won anything. I'll do it. 

The first presentation was '3D Character Design: from Drafts to the Engine'. The speakers, Jesús del Pozo and Sergio Castro, started the talk by stating the greatest panic that every artist faces: 'the blank page'. 

Once you, as an artist, are requested to perform a character design, first thing you must do is organizing all the information that is sent along with the request. This is a tough, boring task and nobody likes it, but it is necessary and you have to do it. Then, you should note down every idea (no matter how stupid turns out to be) because this process creates a snow ball effect where new ideas comes straight. 

Figure 1.- Drafting many versions of kind robot.

Many people would sketch the physical characteristics of the character now, but they should be delayed until the end, because you, as an artist, want these characteristics to define the character rather than the character to define the characteristics. This is to assure that any pre-defined image of the character doesn't stand up against your creativity. For example, if you start sketching a pirate from the very beginning, it's natural that you'll end up drawing Jack Sparrow or similar, without adding a personal touch. 

After noting down all your ideas, you should document yourself in order for the final character to have some 'traces of reality'. Then it's when the first drafts should be drawn and color tests (many of them) should be performed. 

Figure 2.- Colouring the final chosen robot.

The modeler will then take that conceptual design (which should be precisely drawn in different angles) and will create a model using some modeling software such as Blender or 3DS Max. As a curiosity, it's important to model the character at different level of details, because depending on the proximity of the camera, different models will be used for performance reasons.

The next talk was actually a panel discussion named 'Women and the videogame', where the speakers, all of them women, discussed the status of videogames and their often sexist design orientation.

Miguel Ángel Carrillo, from Tragnarion Studios, gave the next talk: 'Tools for creating graphics resources and work pipelines'. The presentation began by giving a helicopter view of how an art department is organized: character design department, level design department, technical artists, illustrations department, etc. Of course, this organization depends on the size of the company. Something interesting that he pointed out is how important the figure of the technical artist has become in the last years. Technical artists are people that bridge the gap between artists and programmers, who know what each of them needs and can collaborate with them. So you know, if you have artistic skills and are good at programming, this is an interesting professional path to explore...

During the rest of the talk, Carrillo listed different tools for different processes: UV Mapping for texturing, shaders creation, etc. And during the round of questions, I asked him whether other tools were used in order to organize the work among people and departments. The answer was obviously yes. That's very important, as in a big company, you have to wait for some input that is provided by a colleague who you may not know, and vice versa. 

Figure 3.- Graph that represents all the effects (shaders) that will be applied to a pixel prior to being drawn on screen. Artists obviously prefer these graphical tools so they don't have to program the shaders.

Last talk of the day was a presentation of a game called 'Embrion', a survival horror made by a new Andalusian studio that uses a sensor to measure the heart beating of the player in order to create more immersive environments and to influence on the gameplay. I think that the idea is brilliant and I can think of myriad of ways to exploit this idea so as to fill the player with authentic horror. I really wish them the very best of luck.

Final conclusions

It's amazing that Malaga has been the cot for a videogames event with such a great success, and I want to personally thank all the organization staff for the invested effort. There are some issues, however, that I'd like to comment as constructive criticism. 

First, talks should be more controlled in time as all of them were too delayed. There should be a moderator who controls the time and who starts the round of questions. Second, there should be some more technical workshops or meetings where developers and artists could interact in order to open the possibilities of forming potential development teams. Third, next-gen consoles should be in any videogames conference, with some recent titles. Fourth, please, free WiFi! I would've loved to comment the talks on this blog with my laptop while being there, but I could only do it by Twitter using my data plan. 

In any case, it's been a fantastic event that I've really enjoyed, and I'm looking forward to the next edition, the organization of which has already began! 

See you!

P.S.: No, I didn't win anything... :( Let's try next year!!

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