Saturday, 14 April 2012

Elements of Game Design part two: Art Direction for Games

Games are being created in all sorts of interesting visual forms. From games such as Call of Duty 4 and its first person cinematic feel, to Marvel VS Capcom 3’s 3d Comic styled visual. However games weren’t made like that just because the document said so. I every game needs artists to work on the visual of the game, and every game needs someone to hold all the artists together in a collaborative effort. This is where the art director comes in

Call of Duty 4, A very brown and gritty game
Being an art director isn’t about being the best person at drawing or painting. An art director consists of much more. The Art director is more of a visionary and is responsible for pushing the visual direction of the game. From choosing the palette to affect the mood of the area, guiding artist to the amount of detail models should have to how many characters should populate the level and the type of terrain on the floor. The art director shapes the art design of the game by closely working with the other artists of the company.

Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3, a VERY vibrant game
An art lead is someone who helps the other artists technically and artistically. They guide the artists to create what the art director and game designer envisions. Lead artists would also manage the artists and would look to keeping the group working comfortably and efficiently.
An art director must be creative as well as being able to explain and show the kind visual feel and direction they want. By working closely with the art lead, they can ensure that they get exactly or close to the visual they want.

Many games of the present have a very high cinematic theme towards them. Particularly in games such as Call of Duty and Uncharted, the cinematic cut scenes make it seem almost like a movie. It may be with the use of professional actors used with motion capture software to give games very convincing movements and along with their voice acting that gives many games of today that same feel we get from a film. I also find that it comes to as no surprise when many games have employed or collaborated with professional film writers and directors.

Uncharted 3, A very cinematic game!
I was at the Eurogamer convention at the end of 2011 and I attended an Uncharted 3 Q&A as well as showing off the the game. They had the actor Nolan North, who voiced and did the motion capture for Drake and started to talk about how he worked and what he did, showing a video behind the scenes of his acting and voicing for the game. It was very interesting to see that they are hiring big time professionals and take it just as seriously as those in films.

Metal Gear Solid 4, a VERY cutscene heavy game!
When I think of a very cinematic game and cutscene heavy, I think of Metal Gear Solid 4. It comes to a point where the game, in my opinion had too many cutscenes and where gameply was a little dull. It was as if they were concentrating on giving the player a movie to watch. I find that although I enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 4, I felt like I was watching a movie with all the cutscenes. I remember the ending being extremely long, and I was bursting for the toilet and wasn't sure when it was going to end!

An art director within the film industry has a similar role as one within the gaming industry. An art director in films would attend meetings with other directors of the company. They would also assign tasks and roles to other members of their department and overlooking the creative decisions and budget.

An art director must be able to inspire and encourage his department as well as others to see his vision of the product. He must be able to see the bigger picture of the entire project and direct his department in the right direction and creating the right feel of the game.
If I am to ever become an art director I feel I must broaden my horizons with my creativity as well as work on my communication skills as I have a hard time getting across my thoughts and ideas to others.

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