Nearly final proportions n’ stuff for my hybrid character.  I went with a fallout-ish backstory and style for everything.  My thought is he was a guard in a vault where the animal-human hybrid experiments were performed.  As most vaults seem to have issues with things going awry, I figure it’s plausible that he got caught in the middle and mutated. 

I still have more detailing and refinement to do.  I’d like to bring a little more tech into the armor pieces, and concept out his shock baton as well as the back part of the armor. I’m also considering adding some more accessories.  Should get that done this weekend and be ready to move onto modeling this coming week.

In other concepting news, I signed up for an 8 week concept art workshop that starts mid-february.  Looking forward to pushing my skills and boundaries conceptually.

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Well, I finished it on time and was able to submit this year!  Following is the presentation shot I submitted.  I also had to submit a beauty shot, construction shot, texture sheet, and inspiration sheet. 

Click on the above image for fullsize.

I learned quite a few things working on this project, and think I did some things right.  The things I learned/did wrong are as follows:

-Make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible.  This seems pretty straight forward being that I always schedule stuff out at work, but it’s definitely important not to get stuck at the end with a ton of stuff to do. 

-Have a character(or 2-3) picked out before the competition starts so I don’t waste 4-5 days trying to figure out what subject I’m going to be doing. 

-Be even more active on the forums.  I left a decent amount of genuine comments this year, but I think it’s necessary to get even  more dialogue going.  I used to think stuff like “good job, keep it up” was kind of silly and meaningless, but those sort of comments can keep you going if you ever hit a sticking point.  As long as it’s a sincere pat on the butt, I think it’s fine to leave short, positive comments.  It also gets more people looking at your stuff.

The things I did right:

-Spent the time necessary to design a character and resolve the design issues that I had.  I could have just thrown something together and moved on to the modeling phase, but it definitely paid off in the end to have spent the week+ on a concept.

-I finished!  Basically, I didn’t finish last year’s comicon, and haven’t finished the past 2 dominance wars, so this was a huge accomplishment.  I’ve got a much better idea of what to do from here on out with competitions while working full-time.

-Achieved a level of quality I’m happy with.  Yes, there are things I would’ve done differently and fixed had I had more time, but ultimately I’m pleased with the end result.

So, that’s about it.  For the next competition I have a schedule in mind, working backwards- 1 week for final presentation, 1 week for textures/lighting, 1 week for low poly+baking, and the rest for concepting+high poly work.  If I look at dominance war’s deadline, that would give me essentially the following:

2 weeks for concept

3 weeks for high poly

1 week for low+bakes

1 week for textures/lighting

1 week for final presentation

This seems pretty reasonable for finishing on time, with little stress, while still working full-time.  If I look at comicon’s schedule for next year, it would be more like:

1 week for concept

2 weeks for high poly

1 week for low/bakes

1 week for textures/lighting

1 week for presentation

I would potentially take some time out of the presentation and low/bakes estimate to add to the high poly, but again, this seems reasonable.

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Coming in near the end of a project is pretty interesting.  You’ve got to adapt quicker than usual and try to work within everything that has been done previously.  Typically you might have a grace period of sorts where everyone is figuring out what and how things need to be done, and you might have a milestone or two to hit, but not an end of project deadline.  It’s been good, though, and I’m working on things that have to be done or the game doesn’t ship.  It may not be the most prestigious stuff, but it is important.

Guitar Hero: Metallica was just released last week for the PS3, 360, and Wii, and it’s gotten some really good reviews.  Even though I didn’t work on it, I still feel a sense of pride sitting next to people that did.  Hopefully it will be a sales success, and lead to many more high profile projects for the studio.

My latest game purchases have been Fallout 3’s “The Pitt” expansion, and a DS+Henry Hatsworth and Scrabble for my wife’s birthday.  The Pitt was worth a purchase, and more story driven than the last expansion, operation: anchorage.  I’m still amazed at the scope Bethesda pulled off with Fallout, and it makes me want more.  It does make me question the DLC(downloadable content) from others, though.  For 10 bucks, you get roughly 5-6 hours worth of new scenery, characters, and story in FO3.  For other games, you might get 3 new multiplayer maps for the same amount.  You might also get an entire downloadable game like Castle Crashers or Braid, that provide hours of fun.  That same 10 dollars will get you roughly 5 songs to play in Rock Band.  My issue is how much content you get compared to the initial purchase price.  In RB, you get roughly 50 songs to start for your $60 purchase price.  You also are getting the game itself including all the characters, venues, story, etc.  Why does a song cost 2 dollars when downloading?  That’s more than it is to purchase from itunes or other services, and the only thing you can do with it is play a game.  Seems a bit ridiculous to me.  So does charging $10 for 3 new multiplayer maps for a game who’s multiplayer is essentially broken for many people.  I’ll chalk it up to this being the first generation of consoles that provide DLC, and hope that they’ve figured things out a little better the next time around. 

I’m not entirely sure what my next purchase will be, as the release list looks a little barren this year.  Possibly UFC Undisputed, as long as they get the controls right.

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I’m excited to announce my employment with Budcat Creations in Iowa City, IA will begin in middle February.  They flew me out Monday night, put me in a hotel, and I interviewed on Tuesday morning.  Got an offer today, and overall it’s been a great application experience.  The studio really seems to have a sound business model in place, and the people were all extremely nice.  Most people have probably not heard of the company before, but they do the Wii and Ps2 versions of Guitar Hero games, and have worked on many other notable titles.

One of the best things about this job is the opportunity to do a variety of work.  All of the artists are generalist in nature, and that fits perfectly with my skills.  If I had to take a rough guesstimate, I’d say 99% of the companies I’ve seen hire specialists.  This is great for some and I can see the benefits with hiring specialists, but I think at some point more and more studios will hire people with wider skill-sets.  It’ll take the education system to catch up with the industry and start pumping out more quality artists.  As it is now, with the way academic programs are setup, it’s near impossible to teach someone everything they need to know about everything in 3-4 years and have them be any good at anything.

This is really my first legitimate post, and I have quite a few others in mind for the future.  I’ve got a lot to say about computer graphics education in this country, and really would like to start doing game reviews.  It’ll be a good way for me to pick out the successful elements I see, and hopefully incorporate them into future games that I work on or create.

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This blog shall chronicle my time in the computer graphics industry.  I’m still in the process of editing this thing, so I’ll make a proper post once it’s all setup at least halfway decently.

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