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Archives for Games » Shawn Woods - Art Director/Senior Artist
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Category Archives: Games

Effective Art Directors: Gaming’s Something Something

Effective Art Directors: Gaming’s Something Something

By Ben Cammarano

[In a detailed feature, Microsoft Game Studios' Cammarano documents the five major traits that make the video game art director truly effective, from partnerships through unlikely inspiration.]

The game industry has reached a crossroads, where the demand for creative, unique IP and immersive experiences is becoming a priority for many studios, rather than your classic tech demo or iterative, licensed project.

“Quality” is the popular (and somewhat ambiguous) term to help measure a franchise’s success, and a number of teams have done a better job of defining it than others.

One of the key roles important in making this happen is that of the art director. It’s a relatively new role when compared to other creative industries like advertising or film.

It’s even defined differently among game companies: art lead with technical experience, lead artist who can script, art director but must be hands-on, publishing art director with program management skills, etc. Art director turnover is high and it can be hard to find the right mix of creative, technical, and management experience.

I’ve had the privilege of working for, with, and managing effective (and not-so-effective) art directors. I’ve also learned the hard way that those lacking certain qualities will make developing successful experiences that much harder.

The goal of this article is to share my perspective on what separates the average Art Director (AD) from an Effective Art Director (EAD) in this challenging, evolving and exciting industry. Let’s take a look at five of the most common traits:

1. Proactiveness

2. Building Bridges: Forming the Right Partnerships

3. Less Detail, More Big Picture

4. You’re Only As Good As Your Artists

5. Look Outside the Norm for Inspiration

Continue Reading Article…

 

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The Art of Magic Word Party Game

The Art of Magic Word Party Game

The Art of Magic Word Party Game

iPhone App

Magic Word Party Game is a social iPhone game you play with friends and family.

What is Magic Word Party Game?

  • A party game you play with Friends and Family.
  • A trivia game you play by yourself.
  • Must have “word” and “party” in the title.

Iterative Design Process

  • Focus on User Centered Design – Anyone can play!
  • Early Designs
  • Sketch > Mockup > Final
  • Color Research
  • Fonts – Hiero Font Editor (bitmap fonts)
  • Fonts – Standard iPhone fonts for most

Rapid Prototype Development

  • Using Flash for proof of concept, quick animation demos, and flow.
  • PhoneGap for early working demos.
  • Decided not to use it due to performance issues we could not overcome at the time.
  • Cocos2D for final development.

Refined Design and Polish

  • Use Apple template for standard sizes and placement to stay familiar with apps and lingo.
  • 32-bit PNG files – no sprite animations.
  • Animations are coded.
  • Learning to develop for the iPhone over time.
  • Exporting final assets.
  • Sharing folders.

Organic Main Menu

  • Main Menu changes depending if the app is free (supported by AdMob), logged into Facebook, Friends, or Resuming a Game.

Key Features

  • Connect to Facebook – Story Feeds
  • Post to Twitter
  • Email-a-Friend
  • Single Player Trivia
  • Multiplayer Party Game
  • Customize Game Length & Win Conditions
  • Multiple Game Types

Download the entire Magic Word Party Game Design – PDF Document

Facebook – Search for Magic Word Party Game
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Relic Rescue Social Facebook Game

Relic Rescue Social Facebook Game

Relic Rescue Social Game

Art Direction, Interface Design, 3D Design

The following images are screenshots from the Facebook game Relic Rescue. I was an original team member and Art Director. I had to hire and train a team of senior AAA artists to learn the processes of building game specifically for the casual market. I was also in charge of creating the Relic Rescue brand – logo design, styleguides, art outsource management of the artifacts and animal obstacles, central marketing support (Facebook Ads), community art support and creation of many original assets for the game including 3D design of the buildings. After launch, the game required extensive feature updates based on weekly metrics reviews and customer feedback. We used agile development to quickly change direction and maintain momentum to keep up with the fans playing the game entice them to make micro transactions.

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CONCEPT ART OF: Warcraft

From the author of the original post:

Welcome to our periodic spotlight feature where we take a look at the concept art and design of a game or film. The intent here is to get the creative juices flowing, remind people what’s out there and what’s being done, and to not lose sight of the quality of professional work. We can also discuss what works and maybe what doesn’t, what you dig, or what you DON’T dig.

—————————————————————–

Game: Warcraft / World of Warcraft [link]
Release Date: 1994/2004
Company: Blizzard Entertainment [link]
Lead Concept Artists: Sons of the storm [link]

You KNEW it was coming! It is impossible, you might even say disrespectful, to study the art of concept design and not acknowledge the art of Blizzard Entertainment! Ignoring the titan in the room with the six-meter sword at our tea party would be.. dangerous.

Continue reading…

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Realism in UI Design

The history of the visual design of user interfaces can be described as a gradual change towards more realism. As computers have become faster, designers have added increasingly realistic details such as color, 3D effects, shadows, translucency, and even simple physics. Some of these changes have helped usability. Shadows behind windows help us see which window is active. The physicality of the iPhone’s user interface makes the device more natural to use…. continue reading article…

http://ignorethecode.net/blog/2010/01/21/realism_in_ui_design/

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Social Gaming Network Connections

Social Gaming Network Connections

Social Gaming Network Connections

Social Gaming Network Connections

Finding the idea for an iPhone game is one thing. Making it all work together is another. It can be quite overwhelming and confusing. Which is exactly why I decided to take a more visual approach to connecting these social networking outlets.

It all starts with the iPhone App or Game. I believe every new app should include the basic necessities and viral hooks: Connect to Facebook to brag to your friends and compete on leaderboards, post high scores to Twitter, tell a friend through email, even bump and email if you get that far.

If you post a message on Facebook (or Facebook Pages), it should automatically feed into Twitter. AdMob (now Google) has a great system of sharing similar apps and cross promoting one another. If I am playing a game I like, I will click an ad at the bottom that appeals to me (Tap Tap by Tapulous does a great job of this). Posting on my blog should connect to Facebook, which in turn puts a note on Twitter. The company website is separate from the game website and linked together. LinkedIn takes feeds from your blog. It all works together.

Create a CafePress storefront for print-on-demand t-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, environmentally safe grocery bags, calendars, etc. Stores can be created for free or you can upgrade to the premium model with unlimited products for a small fee of $5.95/month. Linking to your store and back creating yet another link in the social networking ring. Of course, as you create movies its wise to post on all the major video sites like YouTube, and Vimeo.

And then there are your “traditional” online advertising campaigns through Press Releases, Google Adsense, and good old fashioned emailing to noteworthy bloggers, news sites, and gamers. A company called Moo has custom “mini cards” for a cheap price ($20 for a 100 pack). These are excellent quality cards with a waxy finish. They are great for in person promotions and starts an interesting conversation to break the ice. You can customize each double-sided card with your app on the front and information how to download it on the back.

If you’d like you site linked here, I’ll start a list below to make connections. Or post a comment/ping back below.

Wildfire Game Labs
Magic Word Party Game on the iPhoneFollow us on Twitter!Facebook Page

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Dominance War IV Entry – 3D

Dominance War IV Entry - 3D

Dominance War IV Storyline:

The two heroes in the third Great War for Dominance foresaw what would happen if Machines were allowed to continue their hostilities, but it was too late. 5 year’s after their sacrifice to end Machines’ disruptive means for war with unstable dimensional travel, the sinister threat they foretold, emerged!

…Reality collapsed.

Everywhere, dimensional tears opened to hellish realms and everywhere, nightmares emerged! In the first wave alone, Machines were struck down with such ferocity that for the first time in any war, Machines had to take a more conservative stance. Norms were clearly outnumbered on all fronts and had to withdraw to their great magically protected cities. It was a new era and everyone soon began to realize, including Machines, that it might very well be the beginning of the end in a new chapter of the Epic Dominance War Series: The Rise of Demons!

But there is still hope. The tears in reality are not normal. Something is keeping the dimensions destabilized. Both machines and norms have the mystical power or technology to correct the crisis, unfortunately, to find the source of the problem and to revert everything back to normal requires a luxury neither Norms nor Machines have… time. With death beating down on their walls, and darkness looming around every bend, the missions are as follows:

Norms:
Your mission, again, armed with a powerful magical weapon, is to protect the cities, lead an assault to other worlds and destroy the mysterious force that is keeping the dimensions destabilized.

Machines:
Your assigned tasks: Protect homeworld, destroy all resistance, terminate the dimensional rifts caused by a yet unknown source, and reclaim your rightful dominance over the entire planetary system.

New Race: Demons!
Your purpose: Destroy every man, woman, bot, alien or child. Leave nothing unscathed!

Topic:
Choose and create a character class from one of three races: Norms, Machines and an all-new class – Demons!

Time period:
Post-apocalyptic futuristic fantasy where magic exists.

Dominance War IV Races: Demons
Demons are a new race in the Dominance War universe. Unleashed by Machine’s dimensional tampering, Demons are the shadows from untold nightmares made real. Pure evil in nature, they only care for chaos, feeding and destruction. Demons cannot manipulate or wield magic, but they do possess a single fusion of power with one of the following elements: Fire/lava or Ice/cold or Death/Darkness.

Demon Prince – Demon Princess
Demon Princes are human sized demons with human-like or alien-like characteristics. If not for a few demon-like body traits (bat wings, horns, tail etc), they could easily pass for a natural intelligent human, alien, elf etc of that kind. Demon Princes, like Demon Lords, can manipulate their inborn fusion of power.

My Dominance War Entry Thread on CG Society:
‘Demon Prince Maluum Ex Nihilo’ – Evil Out of Nothing

http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=282&t=744261


Your creation’s budget:

Up to 10 000 tris max for everything (everything = characters, laser beams, shield effects, glows, other special effects, magical weapon, gear, steed(s), pet(s), twin(s), multiple characters, summoned monsters, personal equipment, etc).
1 x 2048 Color Map
*1 x 2048 Reflection Map
*1 x 2048 Specular Map
*1 x 2048 Specular Color Map
*1 x 2048 Normal Map
*1 x 2048 Bump Map
*1 x 2048 Opacity(transparency) Map
*1 x 2048 Glow map
*1 x 2048 Glossiness map

*Optional

Important – You cannot break your 2048 sheets into smaller sheets.
2-sided tris are permitted.
Shaders: All shaders from any game engine or 3d software package on planet earth, is allowed.
Lighting/rendering: All lighting/rendering solutions from any software package on planet earth, is allowed.

Your Presentation Pedestal’s Budget:
ALL 3d entries must include a pedestal in their Presentation Image. You have unrestricted polygons and textures to create a pedestal with the following guidelines:

A pedestal is NOT a floor and/or it is NOT a room. It’s a block, pillar, coffin, box, crate, stone slab, etc. Pedestal Examples: Hela by Chang Gun Nam | The Mole by Rémi Monier
No additional weapons or gear that your character can pick up and use can be put on the pedestal.
No additional characters, pets, animals, pieces of characters, dead characters, etc, can be put on your pedestal. Only Bones and skulls are fine.
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Dawn of War: Making of the Greater Knarloc (Tau)

Dawn of War: Making of the Greater Knarloc (Tau)

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

The Making of the Greater Knarloc (Tau Race)

About the Greater Knarloc
A huge dinosaur-like creature from the Kroot genetic family. Originally, they were used as beasts of burden but were later trained for war after proving as effective at eating enemy infantry as at carrying heavy loads.

I had a lot of fun creating the Greater Knarloc. The original Dawn of War game did not support normal maps… only diffuse maps were used. However, I tried a different method. Instead of using zBrush to create a high resolution normal map, I used to to build up the musculature in a seamless way and then baked out a grayscale diffuse and lighting map. After that, I could paint over what I had and add the colors as overlay layers. This worked out well since our team coloring for the game was also done using overlay layers.

It was a different method to texturing old school but i am happy with the results! If I had only known zBrush back when I modeled and textured the Ork Squiggoth. That was time consuming trying to create a seamless texture!

Knarlocs have a lot of stuff on them, like a camel caravan in the Sahara Dessert. This worked out great for the animators to add secondary motion to their animations.

They also look a lot like a T-Rex with a more bird-like head. I referenced the skeletal structure of the T-Rex to make sure he was anatomically correct. These photo references from Forgeworld worked out great for the details of the skin.

For his skin, I looked at many reptiles like alligator skin and how it cracks and splits, along with the pattern along their spine.

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