To understand who would benefit most from my research, I investigated various stakeholders working in the game industry. As mentioned in a previous post, from a product perspective my research would mostly affect 3D modeling software and repositories, but the people it would mostly affect work in game studios or other creative enterprises. Here are some of the archetypes I found.
Lead (Character, Environmental, etc.) Artist
- These individuals may work at any size game development company, from a small three-person startup to a 1,000+ person AAA studio. They are broadly responsible for overseeing the creation of various (3D) art assets for their game depending on their role, though their day-to-day activities would be different depending on the size of their studio.
- At a small company they may be responsible for the actual creation of all of the 3D assets, but at a large company these people would be more like managers for a team of artists, and would be involved more with meetings, email, and communication and less actual work on creating 3D assets.
- Challenges faced by these individuals include:
- Producing the required assets on schedule and to specification
- Coordinating their team of artists to work together to meet goals
- Working with an art director to ensure that their work is meeting the creative vision for the project
- Meeting with other teams such as animators, designers, and programmers as well as a creative director to ensure that the work meets their needs and expectations. For example environments need to be created so that they can be navigated as designed, etc.
- Keeping up to date with technology so that they can tweak their team’s workflow as needed for better results
- Things that are important to these people are:
- A development process that works well for them and their team, which makes use of the team’s skill to deliver quality results in less time and for less cost
- Modeling tools that are easy for them and their team to leverage and don’t get in the way of the creative process
- A low but expressive poly count to maintain computational efficiency in complex games
- Resources available depend on the company size. CD Projekt Red spent $81M to produce The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Source) which gave their artists the ability to put lots of time and effort into detailed environments. AAA companies such as these would probably be more willing to spend on new technologies such as those in my research area than indie studios that are much more constrained in their budgets, and may even be relying on outside funds from venture capital or crowdfunding.
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A lead artist benefiting from my research need not necessarily work at a game company either; similar roles with somewhat similar responsibilities exist at film and television studios as well. However those lead artists would not be concerned with making their creations work in a programmed game world, but may have other concerns such as greater realism than might be expected for a video game. On the other hand, film studios in particular have more cash at their disposal and thus may be more willing to try new technologies: for example Pixar is a studio known to constantly pursue the cutting edge in 3D modeling technology. Alongside this, their current films are reported to cost between $175M and $200M each to produce (Source), more than twice as much as many AAA video games.
- Creative directors are still connected to the art team, but take on many more managerial roles.
- Compared to lead artists, creative directors oversee a larger part of the company. Their responsibilities involve working more closely with upper management as well as other teams such as programming to facilitate coordination between teams and ensure goals are met.
- One challenge creative directors face from managing so many teams is determining which ones are working efficiently and which ones need to have their process improved. Because of this, I believe creative directors would appreciate the time-saving value that the results of my research could bring.
- Since creative directors are so concerned with balancing so many teams, one of the things they value most are solutions that allow them to save money, time, human capital, or poly count so that those resources can be allocated to other places and deliver even better final products.
- Company-wise the resources creative directors have at their disposal are the same as those for lead artists, but individual-wise they have command of larger groups of people and can decide how to manage them to meet project goals. In this way, compared to lead artists these individuals would have more power to choose what tools and technologies get used in the creative pipeline.
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- Another role that could benefit from the results of my research, technical artists exist between the art and programming teams.
- Their responsibilities include creating tools and technologies for the art team, as well as making the technical connections for getting art assets into the game. This could vary widely per person but could include tasks such as writing shaders, rigging models, managing lighting etc. However as they are interested in tools for the art team I think technical artists still may be interested in what my research brings.
- The biggest challenge technical artists face is making sure that the assets produced by the art team can be worked into the game without causing an overload in computational load or storage space. These individuals prioritize lower poly counts for models and other ways that assets can be simplified while still retaining realism and the desired vision.
- In this way, technical artists value systems that allow for the creation of assets that fit the vision but are not too detailed or would not fit into the game.
- Technical artists have similar financial resources available as the previous roles mentioned, but have unique power as they straddle the programming and art teams. In this way they also might be good candidates for deciding what technologies get incorporated into the pipeline, especially something more complex like my research that may be out of scope for much of the general art team.
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