Having the right VISUALS for your gameplay is key. Not having the proper marriage can literally COST MILLIONS and ALIENATE your AUDIENCE. It’s all about FEEL to your players but behind the scenes there is a SCIENCE to it. Below is a taste of what my ART DIRECTION process looks like.
LETS GET STARTED
Some games will blow you away. In those projects the art just feels right for the gameplay. There is a reason for that synergy. My personal philosophy are the 3M’s. MECHANICS, METAPHOR and MARKET. These three keys matter most in giving your audience the best experience possible.
HIGH LEVEL PROCESS
There is a lot more to ART DIRECTION than just trying to make things look cool. Below you will see a very HIGH LEVEL view of my process.
Have to start somewhere. It’s key to define your product and your audience upfront. It can be done quickly and cost very little. Done correctly this will give the team some core PILLARS to rely on as the product takes shape.
Little bit of research, lot of visual reference, several visual design docs and pinch of analysis. Will net a fairly solid stick in the ground to create the foundation for your product.
PILLARS - ART VISION
COMMUNICATION is key with any large project. As a leader I need to make sure everyone buys in on what we are making and understands the keys to making it. having visual PILLARS is instrumental to getting the team start off on the right footing.
I have found over the years that PILLARS typically take two forms. FORM 1 – High Level pillars. These are 4 to 5 key factors that help guide the team in building a PROTOTYPE & VISUAL TARGET. After the prototype has been completed all the lessons learned the pillars are updated and create FORM 2. FORM 2 should be solid for the duration of the project.
Now lets make it PRETTY! Building this visual target is key. Everyone internal and external will now have a visual goal to reach towards. This bench mark should help your team to push the boundaries and guide them through development.
We’ll start with the production concept out a portion of the space in engine or alternative 3D program to drive home the vision. Lessons learned here will help the team build those crucial PIPELINES needed for production.
The name of the game is AGILITY when it comes to building a solid prototype. Build UGLY, build FAST and find the FUN! As devs we need to have confidence that the game will become pretty….but later. If it’s not fun NO ONE will care!
This is the time to get the ART TEAM important metrics on how to build out the project. How should we build levels, what features are the most important about the characters, what is the right camera and etc. The key is to explore quickly to make better informed and decisive actions.
PIPELINES & COMMUNICATION
This is where teams struggle the most in studios. There is never a shortage of excitement to get the ball rolling. Things tend fall apart when a solid plan ISN’T in place. Solid PIPELINES and clear COMMUNICATION aren’t exciting but are so important!
It’s very common for folks to freak out and over think solid decisions and start making changes to improve elements. They rarely do. As any top tier athlete knows you have to rely on muscle memory and solid training to get the job done. Teams need a framework and consistency to rely on!
Like putting a cake in the oven, this is when the game comes alive. Once you have all the guides in place it’s all about getting it done. As a servant leader it’s my job to get what the team needs to be successful and get out of the way.
Each team varies in skill and culture, part of understanding the product is KNOW YOUR TEAM and how to best UTILIZE their skills.
WANT TO KNOW MORE
There is a lot more to the PROCESS If would like to see more in depth practical examples of the things mentioned above please reach out I would be happy to send privately examples of:
- Style Guides
- World Building
- Brand Bibles
- Pitch Docs
- Character Design Docs
- Environment Design Docs
- Feedback Examples