Curious to know what it's like working at a game studio

ptgibson14
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Hey guys, I've been posting some work lately and I've decided I'm gonna go for character art.  I'd really like to know what working in a game studio is like.  I've heard they have game playing sections to decompress and also things like ping pong.  I see some job postings on artstation stating they have perks like car wash allowances, massages, yoga, gym memberships.  It seems like these companies really have the artists and other employees health in mind (mental and physical).  I know they put you on salary and there's deadlines so there can be late nights at crunch time.  I was just looking for more info on this topic from artists in the industry.  Could you give some real life examples or insight on this? Thanks a bunch, I'm sure alot of outsiders looking to get in would like to know.  

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  • Add3r
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    Add3r polycounter lvl 7
    There is a lot of information floating around about life as a game developer, on Polycount, but ill sum it up as best I can based off my 10-ish-year career thus far.  Salary and benefits hugely range between department, role, experience, project/team size, company size, and how well you negotiate your employment details.  Usually you will have salaries range from $50,000-$200,000+ yearly for actual developers on the floor.  $200,000+ is on the very top end, and usually only super seasoned leads or principal artists/designers within a large company.  ~$120,000 is pretty average depending on cost of living in the area of the studio and a 5+ years of experience.  Director and executive levels, the salaries can rise much further.  As for benefits that go alongside of salaries, it also widely varies.  Avalanche Studios (where I currently am employed) has some of the best corporate level staff health benefits that a U.S. company can provide, it is pretty amazing.  We don't have the niceties of a ping pong table or a motion capture suite, or even massive parties that some large AAA companies hold, though we are on the smaller end of AAA development.  These sort of benefits are pretty normal with any large company, regardless of industry (games, pharmaceutical, construction, etc).    Most studios do have a play-test space and almost all conference rooms where meetings are held they contain all active platforms/consoles the studio is working on.  

    Work - Life Balance.  This is the toughest thing with the industry in my opinion.  This is largely up to the developer themselves, but game studios have built a pretty bad rep for putting a lot of pressure on their development teams to cram as many hours and content into the game as possible, or to make up for over-scoping the project from the get go (not the developer's fault, largely the publisher and/or employing company).  Thankfully there has been a huge effort across the industry to cut out as much overtime as possible and developers are actively making an effort to change the fundamental mentality we had grown to be accustomed to.  It comes down to you knowing your limits, making sure you are living a healthy balance of hours between home and work, controlling commute times to/from the office, and working with the leads/studio to build a schedule that works for both of you.  That said, I have worked jobs where the employer has threatened to let me go purely because I wasn't working the required amount of OT hours (we were doing 12+hr days, 6 days a week for months).  Part of the work life balance also has to do with the amount of time you spend building portfolio to maintain your body of work for future employment.  This time can range from none at all to all your waking spare time spent making games or art or whatever if you know you might need to shift studios or there is impending layoffs, etc.  

    What do we actually do on a day to day?  From an Artist and Project Manager perspective, I start my day with a coffee and a friendly chat about current games, life, project, industry news/rumors.  Back to my desk and spend the morning catching up on internal art reviews, feedback, and tasking for my team.  Spend a chunk of the day in meetings and in between meetings making some art or helping with more complex/challenging tasks that a more junior artist may have trouble with (or might be stuck with).  End the day with more feedback/reviewing the current state of the build, prepping for the next day's agenda, and R&D type work that might be more fun to end the day on a high note.  After hours and at lunch it is pretty common for developers to join up with friends and play games together, anything from Magic the Gathering, whatever online team game people are playing at the time, or catching up on a cool personal game project.  

    As a game developer, I do wholeheartedly believe that I (we) have the best job in the world.  We get to make the entertainment that as a kid could only dream about, as well as work with my idols and role models on a daily basis.  On the other hand, if I was not entirely consumed by the lifestyle and the obsession of building these experiences, I probably wouldn't have made it 2 years into my career as an artist.  It is not an easy job, but that is why we do it, every single day is a more difficult challenge than the one before.  It is a business, but a business conceptualized from the idea of making fun.  


    TL;DR, making games is tough but rewarding.  Yes we play games at work, yes the other benefits can be awesome, and also yes there is sometimes ping pong in the office.  More than likely there is good amount of beer and/or whiskey.

  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Trust me I'm not getting into this because I wanna play ping pong lolllllllll i was just looking for examples of what its like.  I was literally thinking to myself today how any other job in the world would be lame.  I grew up drawing dinosaurs and dragon ball z characters, making my own stories in a composition notebook, and so on....i got into sports and went on to play in college but about a year ago i discovered feng zhu's youtube channel and I've been bing watching videos ever since becoming obsessed with this industry.  Props to bigtimemaster and panda for dragging me away from youtube and other vidoes to get me into the action phase. I'm gonna go ahead and make the decision to be a character artist.  I gravitated to that when I was a kid mostly so it seems like that's more of my inclination but i do find all of the game development process interesting. I was also recently wondering if i should go for a prop artist position since that is what cgma told me would be the easiest way to get a job but people  on here are saying to choose the discipline i want to go for, so if i had to choose it would be character art. I am dissecting a pluralsight video today called the immortal design and its definitely what i need right now because all of these game art disciplines are overwhelming when you really learn what has to go into them and its too much to handle unless you're an art god.  I need to get my mind prepped for character art so this course on the theory behind it is really helpful if one doesn't know what the hell to do.  

    I'd like to eventually diversify my art abilities but I need to focus and get into this industry asap. I never thought as a kid that i could do this.  I have been putting in 6ish hour sessions so far and its enjoyable but also kinda frustrating because of the lack of knowledge right now, but I know this will be a fulfilling career and life once I make it.  Thank you Add3r for your in depth response.  

    I really just wish I could be in the industry right now.  What is the best way to get involved? I still kinda think props might be smart to go with since a character artist might have to do the character props or could i get a job by doing costumes, anatomy, humanoids, creatures??? I basically need to know what's the minimum requirement for a character artist to land a job.   But I'm not about to go into 100-200k debt to go to school when pluralsight polycount, the gnomon workshop, etc. have quality instruction. I feel like even simple characters as long as they're game ready would work for getting a job. I think my problem is is i want everything to be a masterpiece instead of faking it till i make it.  So basically I've been aprehensive to get to work because I've felt like there's more to know and if I just watch this new video maybe that will give me a more clear picture.  I realize now its just about action being more important perhaps.  I do think going after good tutorials is key though so u learn the smart way and not waste too much time.  But for now i should probably work on basic anatomy, basic texturing, getting the character game ready with the UVs and retopo.  Instead right now I dont wanna move on from anatomy until its like Michelangelo's david statue. 
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Here's work i did the other night.  Im looking at it now and its too planar or boxey (maybe that's not a term) but i think it was a definite improvement to my first torso sculpt.  I think it looks like those dragon ball z zbrush sculpts of like broly or something.  I looked at body builders like arnold.  And im definitely aware of the bony area below the chest looking off and also the top of the chests intersection where the sternocleidomastoids meet the chest isnt quite right.....ill have another go at it or maybe ill just go for basic proportions and hold on fine surface detail...idk...so much work to do so little time.   
  • Zi0
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    Zi0 greentooth
    What kind of perks you get depends on the company you work for. To me the best things are doing what you love and being surrounded by great people.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    Quickest way to anywhere is a straight line. Stay focused.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Thanks for highlighting whats more important, I was just trying to see what company culture was like.  As for networking, there isn't much going on with game dev in my area. I know sitting at a computer for hours on end it not super healthy so I didn't know if theres like mid shift yoga sessions or a culture of being active somewhat throughout the day.  Or maybe that's just up to the individual to do after work hours like most every other job. 
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm interpolator
    I'd say it's up to the individual - even using the company gym is.Most important is changing your posture during the day. Standing desks are actually on of the perks that you rely on the company for - I haven't seen anyone yet lugging their own standing desk to work ;) I know some people who brought their own office chairs in though...
  • ptgibson14
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    I was curious because I sit a lot at work now and its not healthy. I know they have those medicine ball chair thingies too that don't compress your spine as much, could you bring that in if you wanted?  I assume so.
  • Add3r
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    Add3r polycounter lvl 7
    Most studios these days (at least in Canada and the US) are super accommodating to ergonomic, software, hardware, and general quality of life requests as long as they are reasonable.  Kwramm nailed it in his response, and furthers my point of focusing on you first.  Worry about your future, your quality of life, etc., the job is just an added benefit/reward of all your hardwork to get a job in the games industry in the first place.  

    In terms of college and student debt, that is frequently covered topic so I will keep it short-ish.  You do not need a degree to build a very successful career in this field specifically, I like to think of myself as an example of that.  I dropped out of school, walked away with about $35,000 student debt, and spent the next 9 months building my portfolio to land my first games gig. That said, a degree will only help, especially if you are looking to apply for a VISA or are looking to break into your first gig (needed for the VISA app without like 15+ years of experience, and even then its pretty much needed, IIRC).  Make the decision that fits your learning style.  Some need that guidance, and that is 100% okay.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    I think I can get a job by utilizing polycount, pluralsight, and other resources.  I’m also tryin to work a deal w family for them to lend me money (and I still live w family so I don’t need much) and I can go all out towards this. I’m tryin to pay them back cuz going into a little debt is worth it for me to make this career change. If I can’t get the support I’m looking for I’m still gonna work towards it it’s jist gonna take longer.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Add3r, what did you go to school for? Did it set you up for success or did you start fresh with game art after you dropped out? I’m trying to sell the idea that I can probably land a job in a year or two if I can work at it full time. But I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been told it typically takes that long or like 1-5 years, depending on the person, of being in the action phase of producing game art to break in....i messed up this reply i did it on mobile and it was weird.
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm interpolator
    Add3r said:
    That said, a degree will only help, especially if you are looking to apply for a VISA or are looking to break into your first gig
    Or if you get tired of making games - or your place in the production pipeline. I think this is an often overlooked factor, especially when you are starting your journey as a motivated games artist. But burnout and bad work conditions are a reality in our industry and it's not uncommon that older folks turn to more lucrative and/or less stressful occupations after spending a few years in games.

    Knowing something else, or having the option to study further to learn something new, may come in handy later. The biggest challenge is probably finding a degree that gives you good value for your money. 

    Personally, I'm so grateful I got my bachelors, even though it was from the often derided Art Institute. It enabled my to work abroad and get into a masters program, 10 years after I worked first in games.

  • Biomag
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    Biomag interpolator
    Depending on what kind of personality you are you might see this as a perk or an issue but frequently moving is part of the job. If you are not living in a hub and have some connections, chances are you might have to move every couple of years. So having some savings is quite a big thing. Keep in mind what pressure this might put on relationships - family, partners, friendships,... its nothing minor. While its always cool to get some new experiences and learn something for life, it comes at some significant social costs.

    I honestly don't recommend the games industry to anyone who doesn't have this feeling that he needs to be doing it to be happy. All those perks mentioned get quite fast old once you start worrying if the studio will last for the next few months. If you have other alternatives in life that make you feel complete, they might be the better path. I love a lot of the things that come with game development, but my life would have been a lot easier if I decided not to switch to games. On the other hand I am one of those who would have to battle depressions if I didn't pick this path, but I can't ignore the fact that it also demands a lot of understanding from people close to me. When you get older priorities and responsibilities are a lot different than when you are 20.



    When it comes to day-2-day working its nothing spectacular. Similar to working on your portfolio, except far more interactions, feedback, meetings, issues popping up. I was lucky enough to always have had product/project managers who were reasonable and didn't make unrealistic plans and were easy to talk to so that overtime was mostly avoided. Personally I am not someone to go and play in the game corner (few of my coworkers do during working hours). Usually I work those 8 hours, with some minor breaks and go home. Often enough going home means spending time on some additional portfolio stuff to keep up with things that interest you or new things or doing things that you don't get to do at work. You can take some time off and not always work on your personal stuff, but at the end of the day you will most probably need it for your next application, so its not really optional.

    Biggest difference to working in my previous job in legal departments is the atmosphere. Less formality, more enjoyable people, more diversity, more love for the work they do. On the other hand far harder to get jobs, less security, far more sacrifices. But you have to treat a job in games with the same serious approach that you would any other. The tasks are more fun, but it remains a job.
  • Neox
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    Neox sublime tool
    Biomag said:
    Depending on what kind of personality you are you might see this as a perk or an issue but frequently moving is part of the job. If you are not living in a hub and have some connections, chances are you might have to move every couple of years. So having some savings is quite a big thing. Keep in mind what pressure this might put on relationships - family, partners, friendships,... its nothing minor. While its always cool to get some new experiences and learn something for life, it comes at some significant social costs.
    While the thread is about working in a game studio not working in games in general, i still would like to add:
    that you can definitely work in gamesproductions, without ever moving or without living in a hub.
    While I did move inside Berlin a couple of times, i wouldnt have to ever move at all. I worked a lot to build a reputation, a somewhat safe job, without crunch, in a studio that works on some of the biggest game brands in the world . While I do understand my situation might be somewhat special, it certainly is doable and certainly not completely exclusive to me or my colleagues here.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    @Neox , you are a business owner though, right? Not a "grunt?"
  • Neox
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    Neox sublime tool
    well it's not like i "owned" anything over night you know :)

    i was an employee in a german production that barely made waves in germany, yes we crunched our asses off, to the point of serious injuries to some employees including me, yes the product failed in the eyes of Ubisoft, it happens (this is mostly why i want to avoid crunch for any of our employees and freelancers). I went freelance to work for a marketing agency doing small shitty games for kids ("Mein Beautyhotel für Tiere" google it, fantastic right... ?),
    On the side i worked on my portfolio. Then i started working on bigger german brands over time the freelancing became more of a collaborative thing.
    Over more time the contracts got so big that running the money through my personal account made the tax authorities raise their eyebrows "why is there so much money on your account in June and why is it all gone in July?!" - "well it's not my money, it's for my friends who happen to work with me".
    So we founded a small company, contracts gotten even bigger so we formed a more stable company.

    we stumbled upwards, but it's not like any of us planned any of this 12 years ago when we started to work in a small group of freelancers.

    And we are by far not the only studio with a similar background. 
    All I am trying to say is, if there is nothing around you hat pleases you, you can always try to make it yourself. It doesnt need a hub, it doesnt need traveling the world if thats not for you.

    it needs good work on a good portfolio that makes people interested in your work. in the end, it all comes down to quality.
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    so you were working remotely for many of those beginning projects is what you are saying?
  • Neox
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    Neox sublime tool
    i worked on 2 games nobody outside of germany knows, even inside germany the amount of people knowing those games should be pretty limited. After that I worked on 2 or 3 even smaller games, that even less people know, but already as a freelancer.

    After that all the other games i worked on, i worked on as a freelancer. Be it alone, together with friends or working for my own company. If you mean by working remotely that i worked alone, not since about 10 years, i worked in a team or studio in some form since my second freelance gig.
    There have been times where i wanted to quit, where i thought moving to California might be easier. 
    But it all worked out in the end, now we work for the companies i wanted to leave Berlin for. 
    Yes a lot of luck was part of it. But for about 58 games i worked on, i didnt have to move a bit. Only 2 of which I have been employed for.
    I went to Berlin at age 19 for an internship and never left since. It's a big city sure, but a game hub? By no means does something like that exist in Germany.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Yeah from my perspective as an outsider, this industry is mysterious and even though there's more resources now than ever, I still would like to know more vivid details of what goes on.  My thoughts are now that I need to just get my ticket in by choosing something, I'll get to see the industry for myself, and more doors will open up. 
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle

    Character art and concepting are close relatives, I'll eventually be able to do both.  I can work on my own concepts sure but regular character art is good too.  I need to work off of other good concepts perhaps to gain skill before I try doing my own thing. What's important is getting a job doing this stuff.  Design might be a little tricky to tap into initially so getting character art skills may be the first step.  I have confidence I will eventually be able to do concepts though and I actually have some old pictures that I want to redesign once I get some more essential skills.  I'll continue with my 30 day challenge and go from there.  Figure drawing and anatomy for now.

  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    Concept art and 3d character art are entirely different disciplines that both take years of focused study to be good at.

    Yes, you can do both.... eventually. And yes, being good at one kind of art can benefit other types of art. But if you are in a big rush to get a job, you need to absolutely focus on one discipline. Most important of all though is developing professional working habits. This goes beyond the utility of the forum but it is probably the biggest hang-up many beginners will face. If you are a student or student aged person, it's probably best not to try and gain yourself full-time unemployment so that you can sit and do nothing but art. In the long run it will be better to gain some actual work experience -- both to fund yourself but also to develop important habits and skills anybody needs to perform well professionally.

    This is the real purpose of the 30-day challenge. You must develop reliability. Everything depends on it.

    Also, consider the words of Stavro's Melissinos :
    " A writer who does nothing but write is like the moon, which gives off some light, but borrowed from the sun. A writer needs first-hand experience, which only working in another field can give him. Otherwise he is rewriting what he has read in other books."

    That's just my opinion, of course.



  • garcellano
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    garcellano greentooth
    Hmm. If I were to separate it with freelance/working remotely and working onsite at a studio. Freelance/Remote is just you and the job. You don't have to worry about anything else, just who you work with for the task. 

    Onsite, it's like any office job. The perks are different. Location of the studio can be a pain or a walk in the park. I live nearby work. I use to live like 15 minutes north from the office, and with traffic, it would add up.

    You will be amazed how 8 hours can go by fast. I remember hearing way back that most people get just about 4-6 of productivity. Something like that. Once people settle in, and finish their meetings, the most productivity will be like during the daytime, then there's lunch, and after like 3pm it might be different lol. I've worked with some artists that talk a lot during the day, and I always wonder how in the hell are they working, but that's just how some work (I came across one wayy back, he ended up being a Production Coordinator. Just kept rambling, and now he's a Producer lol.) The quiet ones, heads down, headphones one, working, is what most do. There's a mix of personalities that just won't click, and some that will. You'll be around programmers, qa testers, directors, etc. Younger people, older people, anything, etc.

    Don't know how to explain it, but when you're in the office with the team, there's something to be said about that. Even when a game ships or you're in the grind. You're there. 
     
    I prefer working at a studio, than remote. You deal with the good and bad stuff, and if you can handle it, that'll carry on to your next job, knowing that you can deal with certain situations, like crunch or tight deadlines. The crunch part might be a pain, but it depends on the studio.

    Aside from that, sometimes I just fly solo lol, I need my space haha. I have that effect like Batman in the Justice League cartoon lmao. I'll be around when the time comes, but aside from that, I'm going rogue. (lolololol)
  • Neox
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    Neox sublime tool
    Freelance/Remote is just you and the job. You don't have to worry about anything else, just who you work with for the task. 
    this is not so black and white anymore, yes you can be a lone wolf kinda freelancer. but you certainly do not have to.
    distributed development via internet using tools to close the distance between individual people has gotten to the point where entire game productions can be done this way. I am not talking about 3 people indie groups, proper teams of actual quite impressive size are not a fiction anymore.
    But there are also shared spaces, you rent in and can collaborate with others, or just share the social space working on your own stuff. There are collectives, small groups of freelancers renting their own space. And of course there can be mixes of the above.
    There are game developers who help with outsourcing to other developers, moving freelancers into their offices to combine powers without losing freedom, happens all the time around the globe. Freelancers/Outsourcers can be part of the meeting culture of their clients, being quite intertwined with the on site teams.
    Outsourcing/Freelancing can be just as much of an office job as working for the actual developer of a game.

  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    So is it quite possible to get some decent income as a junior freelancer before landing an actual studio job? I’m curious to see the level of work for character artists when they start to generate income for their work.
  • Neox
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    Neox sublime tool
    define decent income. either way, if you are good enough sure. big studios will likely not outsource to junior artists but small studios or indies might.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycount lvl 666
    So is it quite possible to get some decent income as a junior freelancer before landing an actual studio job? I’m curious to see the level of work for character artists when they start to generate income for their work.
    The quality bar regardless of freelance or in house jobs needs to be that of what you see in recently released games these days. Most freelancers I have met/seen usually have a bunch of in studio job experience that then allows them to have the fully fleshed out skillset to work autonomously.

    freelancers need to be experienced, it helps cut down on  revisions and back and forth because a client is dealing with someone who most likely already knows about common problems with game assets due to atleast a few years experience.

    junior artists can produce kick ass art but a lot of the time they need a lot more hand holding, mentoring or guidance to get to the same end point as a senior artist who can get there quicker and on their own. If I was looking to hire a freelancer I would lean more towards people with production experience and a proven track record. 

    Either way, I wouldnt hire an artist as a freelancer if I didn't think their skills were good enough to hire them at the studio as an onsite artist.
  • Meloncov
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    Meloncov polycounter lvl 8
    So is it quite possible to get some decent income as a junior freelancer before landing an actual studio job? 
    No, it's not. You can get a trickle of money off of indie games, but getting a substantial, reliable stream of decently paid freelance work is substantially more difficult than landing a studio job.
  • ptgibson14
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    So for a beginner like me, will it most likely work where I get enough work posted and on artstation that looks acceptable for indie games, then they'll perhaps contact me or I'll reach out to them and maybe get some work?  Can someone shed some light on that situation? That would be greaaaaaaaaaaaaaat (office space).  And is there a magic secret for not being so dependent/needy or is that just part of the process in getting up to par?
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    being needy is fine as long as you show that you are growing and intent on becoming self-sufficient. Everybody comes from different backgrounds.

    But here's a little secret : Google search before you ask a question. 99% of the time you can find not just one but 500 answers to your question, or at least tons of in depth conversation about it. In fact, this forum alone is full of sooo much advice to questions like that ^^^ it's crazy. You just have to understand the value in slowing down to do some research -- slow is smooth and smooth is fast. If you try to rush things, you'll fuck shit up. This is educating yourself. With the internet and the constant discipline to self-evaluate, you can give yourself a better education than you could get at many expensive schools. But know the difference between practical self-evaluation and spiraling with useless thoughts that lead nowhere.

    Knowledge is power and accruing it is how you become self-sufficient. Notice that word, "accrue." Google it. It is the same as accretion, which is the process by which planets are formed. In other words, a slow-ass fucking process. But it works, and it's the only way to grow. So whenever you notice impatience pestering you, just surrender that shit and trust that time will take care of things.

    I remember a great passage from an anthropological study of Native Alaskan's in which young seal hunters complained that a certain method of hunting was too cold and too boring. But the old hunters only say, "a man must eat."

    Also, just relax and be yourself. Your art is fine, man. You have plenty of natural talent. All you have to do is put in the work to develop it further and you'll be fine. You are only making everything harder by spending too much time in your head, changing your mind every twelve seconds, and not finishing work. Every time you finish work, you are going to accrue more knowledge and more confidence. You've got to finish work. Make that your mantra and everything else will slowly but surely fall into place.




  • NikhilR
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    Meloncov said:
    So is it quite possible to get some decent income as a junior freelancer before landing an actual studio job? 
    No, it's not. You can get a trickle of money off of indie games, but getting a substantial, reliable stream of decently paid freelance work is substantially more difficult than landing a studio job.
    Depending on what you're portfolio is comprised of you can freelance for studios that aren't god tier AAA companies or game companies for that matter. They are also capable of giving you the means to a lifestyle sometimes a great deal better by comparison. 

    For instance you can freelance for companies doing medical/military simulation, for animation houses that do 3D cartoons, for vfx, advertising agencies and architecture visualisation companies.

    You don't necessarily have to have the industry experience equivalent to a senior from Naughty dog, if you're going to be freelancing as an artist on Paw Patrol, they likely won't be able to pay you what a Naughty dog senior artist expects nor give you the kind of work that feels challenging to do.

    Know your market and where you stand with your work, that is way more important than having the greatest portfolio (AAA next gen.etc) atleast for a freelancer.


  • Taylor Brown
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    Taylor Brown interpolator
    So is it quite possible to get some decent income as a junior freelancer before landing an actual studio job? I’m curious to see the level of work for character artists when they start to generate income for their work.
    Straight up man, youre going to burn out before you even get going if you're thinking about a job this early in to your training. Put your head down for a year or two and bust ass. 
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Well I like to gather info on what I'm getting into and I'm just sitting at work bored between customers.  But I'm getting to work now and I'd like to think I'm getting serious.  I want to do this so it'll happen eventually.  I've been able to go after goals in the past and accomplish them so this should be no different. This is intense for sure but that's why its worth it. And the future of gaming is very bright so I'm hyped.   
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR greentooth
    1) I've decided I'm gonna go for character art.

    Make sure that is what you are passionate about, start small, perhaps making speed sculpts from creature box to get a hang of the interface of various programs.
    If you already have a good idea of what company you want to work at and everything else (visa.etc) is in order you can tailor your portfolio towards this.
    Lead Artist at naughty dog is not the same as Lead Artist at toon box. Though both might make the same amount monetarily and the studio perks may be comparable. People pick studios for various reasons.

    2)  I've heard they have game playing sections to decompress and also things like ping pong. 

    You could buy a ping pong table and decompress on a park bench, don't let this be a deciding factor about where you work especially if you're required to take a paycut which is not realistically justified


    3) I see some job postings on artstation stating they have perks like car wash allowances, massages, yoga, gym memberships.

    This is usually standard, all of which can be availed on your own as a freelancer. Remember that at a studio they are paying for all this through your salary/compensation.

     4) It seems like these companies really have the artists and other employees health in mind (mental and physical). 

    Uhh, maybe. Did you hear about what happened at Activision this week?

    5) I know they put you on salary and there's deadlines so there can be late nights at crunch time. 

    They don't always put you on salary, you might be contract and you might be temp.
    If you're not on salary, don't count on severance. HR may smile at you but in the end its the company they care about more since their jobs depend on it.
    Of course as long as your with them they'll care about you too. 
    About late nights/crunch time, well it can be inevitable, then again some companies handle it far better than others.
     
    I just wanted to address some of the quotes above.
    Its vital that you get into games because your passionate about game art, or want to brag about working in game art (I prefer the former since it has more longevity)

    While many people start at studios, they might eventually transition into freelance for the challenge and opportunities.

    If you want real perks and pay, join Amazon, Google, Microsoft, AirBnB, Kickstarter etc. What they provide is way better than any AAA game company I know especially when you factor in developer salaries and stability.


  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    I could say a bunch of stuff about me and my upbringing but its not worth going into unless yall really wanna know.........so I'll ask this instead.....what is the ideal way to think about all this video game business?  be passionate for it...ok....what else?  It seems to also be a smart bet cuz thats where the money is headed in the future.........for me my logic is....true i didnt use my child brain to think about doing this as a career (idk many kids who think of work forreal unless their parents get them thinkin that way but who knows maybe im wrong) and no i didnt have a family that opened my mind to think of these possibilities...i naturally wanted to draw characters throughout my life so this makes sense for me..i sit and think if theres anything else id rather do and no theres not really.....saying ping pong was probably a mistake but that wasnt really what i was getting at....i wanted to know if working for a studio is good for ones mental health as well.....i already knew there is good enough salaries to make a living if ur ok, and great salaries if ur great...........

    but my responses seem to be annoying some people or are not ideal.... whats the ideal game artist mindset (in as much detail as can be given) so i can see if i align with it and if i can mold my thinking to that..... i realize doing the work and liking it is the most important but lets see if there's more.  Part of me is really hopeful that I'll actually be able to meet cool artistic people cuz I've been surrounded by normal people my whole life it seems...im just tryin to learn...sorry if my posts are annoying
  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor quad damage
    i realize doing the work and liking it is the most important but lets see if there's more. 
    nope. that's it.
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR greentooth
    I could say a bunch of stuff about me and my upbringing but its not worth going into unless yall really wanna know.........so I'll ask this instead.....what is the ideal way to think about all this video game business?  be passionate for it...ok....what else?  It seems to also be a smart bet cuz thats where the money is headed in the future.........for me my logic is....true i didnt use my child brain to think about doing this as a career (idk many kids who think of work forreal unless their parents get them thinkin that way but who knows maybe im wrong) and no i didnt have a family that opened my mind to think of these possibilities...i naturally wanted to draw characters throughout my life so this makes sense for me..i sit and think if theres anything else id rather do and no theres not really.....saying ping pong was probably a mistake but that wasnt really what i was getting at....i wanted to know if working for a studio is good for ones mental health as well.....i already knew there is good enough salaries to make a living if ur ok, and great salaries if ur great...........

    but my responses seem to be annoying some people or are not ideal.... whats the ideal game artist mindset (in as much detail as can be given) so i can see if i align with it and if i can mold my thinking to that..... i realize doing the work and liking it is the most important but lets see if there's more.  Part of me is really hopeful that I'll actually be able to meet cool artistic people cuz I've been surrounded by normal people my whole life it seems...im just tryin to learn...sorry if my posts are annoying
       Sorry if I came across as too direct. I just wanted to make sure that when you're looking on getting into the industry your motivation is your art and you do that to the best of your ability. 

       Work will come, maybe you might not have the opportunity to work at a studio right away, but if your art is what drives you, you will ultimately get what you want and other passionate artists who are considerate (and not competitive psychos) will be there to help you along.

       So just keep working at your art, also if you wish to experience a studio environment there are ways to join the ranks without being the worlds greatest character artist.

       I'd say that more than the studio is the people you'll meet that is the best thing about working there so long as you've done your homework and aren't voluntarily joining a sweatshop.

       If you are just beginning into learning character art, more specifically sculpting and making low poly characters, once you have a hang of the basics I'd recommend either a paid course at a place like CGMA or look up their syllabus and find free alternatives all over the internet, there's tons on youtube.

      You could also get full character tutorials/prop for a few dollars on gumroad.

       During this time study the market around you as well to see where the jobs are.

       About the money heading into games in the future, its true you hear about this all over the net, and it might translate into more jobs.
    Can't definitely say all game devs will see the lot of it, really depends on your working capacity, networking and general opportunities. 

      Keep your focus on really mastering a skill that's relevant to the industry if you want to be more than an employee that's easily replaced. 
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    Thanks Nikhilr, I wasn't tryin to be fiesty back i just dont wanna seem stupid on here lol.....i was encouraged by rafael grassetti (if thats not spelled right sorry) saying that there's actually alot of opportunities for great characters artists, so i wanna go for that cuz that may be my best bet since i enjoy it....all of these art disciplines are badass so we'll see where my future ends up...i wonder if theres like a 2d and 3d generalists art god out there, havent really seen that yet...but i just wanna join the ranks....itll be a better environment i imagine....i got to check out cbn's studio once where a character artist for them showed me around....it was for their show superbook but it was cool to see all the artists in their office and u can just go to ur buddy down the hall and have an intelligent conversation.....and i saw their art director and a few other artists watching the dva overwatch short and them commenting on it so that was cool...honestly watching a gnomon video on game art or vfx stuff is more entertaining to me than regular shows....and now that im actually doing work and am not so scared anymore its going well....its just gonna take time to get there and thats kinda sad....but i know itll be sweet once i can fly (so to speak) and can just create and not have to learn everything from scratch
  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycounter
    Yeah, @Meloncov definitly has the gist of it. Freelancing can at times throwup an unique set of challenges let alome endeavoring to make a sustainable living, at least via limited personal experience during my two years partime having a crack.

    Addendum:
    OP, if you've finally settled on a discipline which I gather leans heavily towards character art, then think very seriously about enrolling in Scott Eaton's "Anatomy For 3D Artists" if memory serves I'd linked in another of your recently posted threads or similarly attain self-accrued competent level anatomical knowledge a industry career practically demands as point of entry these days.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    So the plan for me is to get decent at figure drawing, then anatomy, then on to 3d technical stuff and making my characters and building a portfolio. Does that sound right?
  • sacboi
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    sacboi polycounter
    Yup, got it in one.
  • ptgibson14
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    ptgibson14 triangle
    NikhilR said:
    Uhh, maybe. Did you hear about what happened at Activision this week?

    I just read up on what happened at Activision and it seems like I have my head in a hole.  I probably do sound really nieve on here but I'm glad I have you guys that are helping me understand.  So what is the opinion of the artists on here on how to handle situations like we saw with Activision?  Simply being the best artist you can be seems good and dandy and if you're really good then u might not have to worry about financial struggle, but what is a realistic and mature way to make sense of game dev life?  And what do u guys think the future of game dev is gonna be like? maybe ill make another thread for this topic cuz i'd like to know what popular opinion from insiders is. 

    I see in one of your replies too NikhilR how u recommend attaining in demand skills, i guess that answers my question....just get the skills that keep u workin and ur makin it i guess....if u wanna chase the money there's that option too.... i just read through all the comments on an article on the activision deal and it seems like it was coming to them cuz of their execs taking too much from the pie and not making better games...so it seems like the artist needs to just position themselves in the best environment on a winning team, not get lazy, love their craft, produce epic shit, and be a boss lol....it seems like games are in a wild wild west situation which is kinda cool cuz regulation hasnt crept its controlling head in yet sooooooo i guess natural selection is ok...it is sad when people get laid off like they did though....im curious to know other peoples opinions on this matter though
  • Biomag
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    Biomag interpolator
    Games industry isn't really what comes into mind when I think about financial security and stability. With the effort needed to make it here you can get more than a decent income in other fields.

    Just look at the number of people finishing schools for 3d and how many jobs are out there. I think the estimation here on polycount was that there are about 300-500 AAA-character artist jobs in the world (it's been a couple of years when people here were counting and maybe my count is a bit optimistic and it depends on what you consider a character artist and an AAA-studio, also adding those cg-jobs). Now compare that to the number of students just the Game Art Institute (online school) has - right now on their site there are 1449 registered users spread between all courses (environment and character art, some staff also included in that number). So lets just say 700 of those are character artists - that's more than there are jobs in the industry (not even talking about open jobs). And that is just one school... honestly speaking a lot of students never put the necessary effort in, I would say at least 50% don't even put the minimum requried. But even then you have a lot of people left - and lets not forget that there are veterans doing the job out there that are your actual competition. And the truth is if you are just 'ok' you won't even get the job. When people in the industry say something is 'ok' its still good enough to make it into a game and very few on the outside looking in can claim that they can produce on that level.

    Once you've made it it becomes a good job, solid pay, but still you deal with the instability of the studios. Look at how many people lost their jobs just last year working for big names - Tell Tale, Starbreeze Studios, now Activision,... Yes, the top artists will have an easier time to find the next gig, but being among the best in a field where less than 1% make it, isn't exactly a save bet in life. And now read Kwramm's post again and realize that the things he mentioned he considered perks and not something that is a given in this job.


    I am not trying to discourage you from persuing this path, just be ready that it comes with a lot of work and sacrifices to just make it and what you get then is far from the holy land.
  • Taylor Brown
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    Taylor Brown interpolator
    Yep. Chances are very high that hopefuls like us will remain exactly that. That's why I said don't think too hard about a job. The realization that you will spend 3+ years of your life working full time on art just for a nearly non existent chance to go pro is discouraging at the best of times. Unfortunately for me, nothing has ever captured my heart and mind in the same way. Fall in love with it first!
  • NikhilR
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    NikhilR greentooth
    NikhilR said:
    Uhh, maybe. Did you hear about what happened at Activision this week?

    I just read up on what happened at Activision and it seems like I have my head in a hole.  I probably do sound really nieve on here but I'm glad I have you guys that are helping me understand.  So what is the opinion of the artists on here on how to handle situations like we saw with Activision?  Simply being the best artist you can be seems good and dandy and if you're really good then u might not have to worry about financial struggle, but what is a realistic and mature way to make sense of game dev life?  And what do u guys think the future of game dev is gonna be like? maybe ill make another thread for this topic cuz i'd like to know what popular opinion from insiders is. 

    I see in one of your replies too NikhilR how u recommend attaining in demand skills, i guess that answers my question....just get the skills that keep u workin and ur makin it i guess....if u wanna chase the money there's that option too.... i just read through all the comments on an article on the activision deal and it seems like it was coming to them cuz of their execs taking too much from the pie and not making better games...so it seems like the artist needs to just position themselves in the best environment on a winning team, not get lazy, love their craft, produce epic shit, and be a boss lol....it seems like games are in a wild wild west situation which is kinda cool cuz regulation hasnt crept its controlling head in yet sooooooo i guess natural selection is ok...it is sad when people get laid off like they did though....im curious to know other peoples opinions on this matter though
    The Activision situation was more them laying of departments they weren't interested in maintaining, so as there's no work the employees in them are either laid off or intergrated into other departments if there is availability which isn't always the case.

    Lots of companies do this, what Activision did which could be considered cold hearted was announce it at the same time as announcing that they've been successful. 

    The employees likely knew beforehand. In contrast to this the telltale games shutdown was far more abrupt.

    Realistically its probably a good idea not to be too dependent on a job in this industry or at the very least continuing to remain relevant.

    For instance, every artist needs to keep practising and learning current workflows so same thing applies here.

    However I also see the point of view that there are things more important than just maintaining a job and making money.

    Not all off those laid off are going to get placements easily or have the opportunity to relocate if they have families and other obligations.

    While a union might balance this out when north americans are more amenable to them, things might change, until then its important to keep developing those skills after establishing solid fundamentals of the development process.
    That said I understand not everyone is willing to make the compromises to do so. So many people join this industry simply because they like playing the games or are fans of the studios. 

    Really depends on what your end goal is. If you're that passionate maybe you'll find a way to own what you create and make a business around it instead of holding onto a job for stability.

    Lifestyle is another aspect, not everyone is smart about spending/saving money. 
    I had this discussion with a few torontonians about raising the minimum wage. The government had just raised it to 14 from 11.50, and they said it wasn't sufficient for a single person reason because out of the $2000 they make monthly
    rent (1 bedroom apartment)     - $1200 
    clothes/month                           - $100
    alcohol                                      - $100
    eating out/groceries/dating       - $500 (they can't/won't cook)
    strip club                                   - $100
    drugs/weed                               - $100

    total - 2100 lol
    and the justification for this was american/canadian culture (zero idea about living within their means)
    solution - raise the minimum wage/basic income, win lottery, become CEO and screw others who's situation was once yours.
    Not just a simple a change of lifestyle and I'm pretty sure none of these people are in games because of a love for art.

    In toronto most artists with entry level/insufficient portfolio's get into QA which pays about 16$/hr, so you get a bit more, not that its motivating a change in lifestyle or the learning of new skills. Some people are pretty satisfied living with this wage forever. 
    What a union would do is try to raise this, possibly at the expense of what people at the top earn, or just raise it period.

    However QA regardless of how seriously companies take it, replacements are easy to find, so they don't really have a lot of leverage to keep  them on. Not sure how viable a union full of QA people would be, the company could just outsource the whole department, they do it as is.

    One way is for governments to support studio wages with tax credits or upfront grants (happens a lot in canada) though that isn't a perpetual solution. 

    Being payed with tax money which is then retaxed does little to nothing to raise provincial income and only increase debt.
    And when profits are going to a private company in the guise of creating jobs its a horrible business move on the governments part.

    Supporting a billion dollar company with record profits that's cheap because capitalism is not the same as paying garbage men to take out the trash. (since taxes are supporting both)

    The best thing you can do is better yourself and work towards working with a company that respects your worth. Eventually if you want you could also become an independent business owner/partner instead of remaining an employee for the better part of your career.
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