Friday, May 29, 2015

What is Collaborative Art Process?

Everyone on the team needs to contribute action.
A good art director in game development should be able to communicate a vision that is compelling, yet realistically attainable in a production sense.

But how the A/D goes about including the whole team in the process, from all disciplines, is the key to a healthy culture. No one should ever pretend to be an absolute authority on everything. That doesn't exist.

Knowing one's limitations, and working with people who complement them gives a project the best chance of success. It should never be about ego, instead always about making the game better.

I have a rule that I set when working on game project:

Anyone who feels something in the game could or should be better is encouraged to offer up a better solution.
But they have to show it, not tell it.

Think the lighting isn't up to par? Great, start up the game tools, build a better rig, and demonstrate why it's better. Assuming it looks better and runs efficiently, why wouldn't we want that?

Of course we would. We all want the game to be better.

In non-territorial development, we should always welcome & encourage this positive energy from competent developers.

But what if a team member's proposal isn't better?

In that situation the person putting forth the effort should be rewarded with a concise, professional explanation that is steeped in art fundamentals & best practices. Not "I didn't like it". That is in no way fair or respectful.

We learn from each other, and we grow stronger. That's the essence of collaborative art process.

But, it can all go wrong is when tell supplants show. Talk is a data point, action offers up real solutions.

Avoid becoming or collaborating with a person who believes that talking about game dev is actually creating something.

These people sometimes closely guard their role and build a fictional narrative about their worth. They may attempt to counter their lack of substance with politics or drama.

These are toxic elements which can fracture a healthy studio culture and mute collaboration.

As an art director or studio manager it's absolutely your responsibility to nip this kind of thing in the bud. Let it fester, and watch your team stop trusting you.

The people you work with are important. 

After you spend enough time in the industry you will seek out collaborative folks who know their stuff and are pleasant & professional to work with.

Nurture this culture, and evangelize it to everyone you work with. Build up a team that collaborates freely and creates the best game possible!