Dare 2007- Part 3

In Part 2 I mentioned the problem I had with the other artist – but the team also had other problems. The characters I designed, modelled, textured and animated had to fit into an animation system one of the programmers was working on. He never finished this. So we had a game that involved daemons searching for a child, who the player was supposed to protect. The game itself had no daemons in it. The game didn’t work and looked terrible when compared to the other games in the competition. The games that tend to do well in Dare are casual games that are bright and colourful. Our game was a difficult, dark game that involved devils, an apocalypse and a child that could die. Not exactly cheerful.
At the end of the competition we had to present the game in Edinburgh to the general public- an event called Dare Protoplay – imagine a large room filled with games and young kids running around playing them- kinda like a trade show and a playground. This was actually fairly enjoyable, despite the fact no one understood the game, no one could work the FPS controls and the game was not finished. It would crash after about 5 minutes. Luckily most people had lost patience with the game by then. Not to mention after 10 weeks of working hard to get the finished the last thing I wanted to talk about was a game that wasn’t working.

Apart from these problems I believe that I completed a lot of great work and the team generally did get on and work very hard for the ten weeks. Never the less 4 years later and I don’t work in the games industry. But at least I can show some good work which I still stands up 4 years later and is still a major part of my portfolio. Some of the promotional images I created are below. The first image was taken by the organisers of Dare and partly used to promote Dare 2008. It was published in Edge Magazine and other publications. My association with Dare didn’t end there and I’ll post about this in the future. Never the less this years competition starts soon, but if I’m honest I’m not really aware of what’s been developed in the competition over the past few years.

Even though I was part of Dare To Be Digital 4 years ago I wanted to blog about it now. I feel my participation was wasted opportunity. Recently Dare was part of a channel 4 documentary. One of the industry experts in the documentary said (and I am paraphrasing here) “It’s unheard of a participant to apply themselves and not get a job in the games industry”. I disagree. I applied myself and even though I don’t work in the games industry (although I did after I left university), I still have a good body of work that allowed me to develop projects for Scottish Screen and Channel 4, not to mention the artwork I have exhibited recently.

Dare 2007- Part 2

I spent the first 5 weeks of Dare To Be Digital designing, creating and animating the characters in the game. I was then going to spend the final 4 weeks creating the game environment models and the last week cleaning up and tying up loose ends. However after 1 week the other artist had done nothing. His knowledge of 3D art and animation was minimal to say the least. He also wouldn’t ask for help and would not admit he didn’t know what he was doing. His major task was to model and texture a house. On the first day I ask him to design the house. He never did it and said he would model it without sketching and designing it first – this was his way of working. However, he did not have much modelling experience. When I asked him if it was going well – he always said yes and that he would have it ready in a few days. I gave him time to do this, even though we were behind schedule. Probably a bad move on my part but I didn’t want to boss him around. I just made the team know that we would have to scale the environment down, as he was taking too long on the house. This was how the first 5 weeks went on.
To cut the story short all the animation, art and promotional art in relation to the game was completed by myself. After 5 weeks I had enough, as a team we highlighted the problem to the organisers and they done nothing. As we only had 5 weeks left it was now my job to complete the art for the game on my own and leave the other artist to – pretty much do what he liked.

To put the problem in perspective the team that went on to win the competition and a BAFTA award had 3 artists. We had 1 – me. I don’t want to bad mouth the other artist but he had very little experience or knowledge and was a member of the team before I was – as mentioned in the previous post I joined the team only a week or so before the competition started. I joined Emergence Games in the understanding that, as the other artist had pitched the idea, he knew the game and had an idea of what he was doing. Turns out he showed the team a portfolio which had artwork that he never created. He joined the team on the backing of the folio and he hadn’t produced all the work in it. I had my work cut out. The organisers of the competition would do nothing as the artist has signed a contract for the 10 weeks and he was prepared to honour the contract.

In Part 3 I’ll talk about why the characters I created are hardly seen in the game.

Dare 2007- Part 1

In 2007 I took part in Dare to Be Digital. This is a Video Game design competition where teams of 5 students form a team to make a video game prototype over 10 weeks during the summer. The teams are made up of Artists and Programmers.
The competition is very prestigious and the reward for the winning teams is a BAFTA nomination.
In 2007 I was very lucky. I was in a team that put forward an application which was unsuccessful. I was then fortunate, as a member of my team knew another team with a successful application who were looking for an artist. I joined this team and we pitched an idea for a motorcycle racing game to a panel of industry experts. The pitch was unsuccessful and the team never got in. I thought my luck had run out- but it hadn’t.
Another team who did a successful pitch were looking for an artist. The team Leader in this team knew the team leader in my second unsuccessful team. So I ended up joining Emergence Games who were in Dare to Be Digital 2007 with the game Forgotten Souls (turns out it isn’t what you know but who you know).
Forgotten Souls was to be a First Person Survival Horror game for the PC. The concept of the game involved a post- apocalyptic world where a child had survived. The world was roaming with daemons who wanted to steal the child. The player had to protect the child by using different found objects (boxes, debris etc) to build up barriers and ward of the daemons.

I could write at length about the competition and the problems the team had. Unprepared, badly organised, lack of vision and basically not knowledgeable enough to make the game the team pitch to the panel.
As I joined the team late I expected the current artist (the team was made up of 2 artists, including myself, and 3 programmers) to have done some concept work – he hadn’t. We were behind schedule before the competition began. This was annoying as teams had to prepare before competition starts and this was a pre-emption of what was to happen during the competition.

In Part 2 I’ll talk about the development of the game and the problems myself and the had.