Wanted: Artist Capable of Doing Low-Poly 3D Modeling, Texturing and Animation

***THIS POSITION IS FILLED, THANKS TO EVERYBODY FOR YOUR INTEREST***

I’m looking for a 3D modeler capable of doing low-poly modeling, texturing, and animation. Position pays a little in form of royalties and possibly small (read: tiny) monthly “pocket money”.

The artist would take responsibility in modeling 3D characters and objects for our upcoming Eastern themed Edoiki online multiplayer game. I’m not looking for a guy who necessary has decades of industry expert and does extremely high quality work – when he finds time. I’m more interested in enthusiastic hobbyist or somebody who does pretty good art and could be interested in seeing his work in real published game. More information about the project in the end of this entry.

You are:
Here’s the qualities I’m after in a nutshell:

  • NOT a top-notch 3D artist who never finishes anything.

  • Can do pretty good low-poly modeling (You should be able to do 3D models that have at least the quality like in these pictures: [1] and [2])

  • Can spend roughly 5-10 (or more) hours every week to make the game

  • Is willing to work on royalty based work or for a small (tiny) monthly payment until a certain sum is reached (as an indie my game budget is shoe-string tiny and thus I’m not able to pay a salary, but I can pay some pocket money every month)

  • Positive minded, has passion for games and works well in team.

  • Has texturing and animating skills (feel free to download my Hightailed game to see what type of animations I’m after)

  • Basically a guy who is interested in doing art for games, can do pretty good 3D art, and is interested in working together also in the future.

Then some other qualities that are considered as good

  • Is interested in martial arts (has perhaps even belt rank in some martial art) as the game characters know martial arts and need to be animated.

  • Plays online multiplayer games (my company Polycount Productions is focused on making games that people can play together).

  • No need to be good at making concepts, although that’s a plus.

Required work
The first assignment requires you to do following:

  • 3D character (concept art is available for those who apply)
  • around 1000-2000 polygons (triangles)
  • 512×512 texture file
  • .3DS file format (or possibly .B3D, 3D Studio Max has plugin that exports .B3D files)
  • Some animations

Location & timezones
It doesn’t matter where or on what timezone you live. As long as you have Internet connection and preferrably Skype or MSN account (ICQ is okay, but I prefer using Skype/MSN) it’s okay. I’m mostly online around 6 am to 2 pm (or 06 – 14) GMT time, but timezones never have been a real problem as emails and forums work fine.

About the Edoiki game project
Edoiki game project started in January 2006 and was aimed to be released at Q3/Q4 2006. The first beta was aimed to summer, but the deadline was missed and my summer holiday postponed the project. Some time ago, the 2D artist “left the building” leaving only 2 members in the team: me (producer/programmer) and sound artists (who is waiting for tasks). Meanwhile I approached one movie company in Finland about possibility to brand Edoiki for them, but I haven’t heard from them after the phone I had with their producer. At

The Edoiki project uses a tactical combat system which means it requires more brain over speed. The “simple and quick project” wasn’t so simple and quick (partially because of 2 key persons leaving the team) but today the network framework works pretty well and tiny parts of the actual gameplay has been programmed.

I have tested the first gameplay with couple of people and it looks like there’s need for more interaction in the game. The framework that I’ve programmed makes it lots of easier to me to add features, and so I have planned 3 different game modes (all can be played online with other players). Three play modes range from “real time” to “partially turn based or partially real time” to “turn based” playing.

  • First mode: Kata training. This is the original concept where 2 (or potentially more in the later versions) players compete in doing different katas – or series movements – using weapons. The main idea of this mode is to secretly choose your movement and make sure it’s better than opponent’s move. This mode will require bit similar logic as there’s in Stratego board game.
  • Second mode: Class training. In this mode there will be one instructor and class full of students practising different moves. This mode requires reflexes and faster response from player.
  • Third mode: Free fight. In this mode there – surprise, surprise – occurs fighting that combines the need for both wits & quickness (that you hopefully learned in the first 2 modes…).

Apply
To apply, please contact me and tell a few words about yourself and also either attach images or send links to work you’ve done.

One of Those Annoyances You Don’t Want to See…

Game production is filled of “little annoying things that take lots of time to fix”. I’ve just experienced one of them. I’m making a prototype level to experiment how “triggers” or “special points” (such as “player spawn” or “special item”) can be placed to the game using 3D World Studio. I have “bases” in the level and I’ve painted some textures on terrain to also learn the level building tool.

Look how neat everything looks in 3D World Studio…

(You can click the images to view full sizes)

… and see how it looks in game (Blitz3D).

Uh… this is bad. I hope that I’m doing something terribly wrong or that somebody at Leadwerks support forums knows how to deal with this.

These type of small problems are quite typical in game production, and usually there’s a solution for every problem. Some take more time to solve, but in the end there’s usually some clever way to handle things. At least I have high hopes for it…

Catching Two Rabbits

In the past I quoted a zen story where it basically says that “if you do too many things at once… nothing gets done”. I’ve been working on Edoiki and also with Morphlings.

I have quite good framework (for network / multiplayer gaming) done and I’ve read more articles about networking and programming multiplayer games than ever before. I’ve planned the engine to work so that the same network code can be used in both games. Previously I had a poor structure on how to handle network traffic – I simply added new stuff without thinking the impacts too much. Now I’ve made the code much more nicer and I’m pleased with the results. I can use much of the code for both games and I’m actually starting to make some level testing to see how things work out.

In English this means: When I’m progressing in coding the other game – or updating the network code – that means the other game gets improved as well. I can also reduce testing time (for network code, not gameplay or level testing) as the both games use the same underlying technology.

Maybe I can catch two rabbits…

Dealing With Deadlines

Before my summer vacation, I had a plan to get the first version of Edoiki online, but we missed the deadline. Basically we didn’t have the necessary art, user interface, code and music to put the first version online. What we have is some art, some music and some code. Not enough to put the first version out.

When I look back I can see some reasons for why we missed the deadline: first reason being the fact that our artist is overbooked. The second reason is that I had been terribly busy doing marketing, promoting and negotiations with 3rd parties – to prepare the launch. As I have been the only programmer – after Arex left – I haven’t got enough time to do the necessary programming. What I have managed to do is to make the core of networking system done: two players can now move the cursor (read: 3D hand) over the board and move units. The online multiplayer system is pretty much done to make player finding fast & easy. Several other things – such as level system, and design for moddability – have been done or prepared.

Third reason is that it has took more time than I realized to put things together. As we have several members in the team, it requires more work to get parts from everybody, and assemble everything together. The project management has taken more time than I thought. I was thinking that the myth of ‘simple game would be simple to code’. I realize there is no such thing as ‘simple game’ or at least no ‘simple game project’. There’s way too many moving parts to even think that simple game would be fast to do: number of team members, design considerations, online networking, user interface – everything takes time. I had planned time for them in the project plan, but I didn’t realize that after our programmer left, I should have find another one to program the game.

The next moves will be:
– I’m going to search for a Blitz3D programmer to work on royalty basis. I’m not looking for expert coder, or guy that would need to be top notch coder. I’m also not looking for unexperienced coders. I’m looking something in the between: somebody who can work in a team, understands what objects and modules are, has finished at least some modules (or mini games) that are available, and has time to put several hours per week for coding.
– I’m currently trying to put together the first working demo… although there’s quite many missing pieces (besides code, I need art and music) so it will take some time.
– I’m also proceeding with contacting couple of corporations regarding distributing deal of online games.
– I will simply move the deadline for Edoiki. I won’t rush the launch until the quality level is what I want it to be. The game will be published when it’s done.

Edoiki Progress

It’s good to be on holiday. While I’ve been away, our graphics artist and music artist have been busy. New tracks and new graphics for Edoiki is finished. The image above is a new ‘background’ texture for units.

Just before I started my holiday, I managed to program the latest pieces of code to have *playable demo* finished. The new graphics, and few more (hundred…) lines of code are needed – but when they are done (and my holiday ends, and my pile of emails, and 800 other things is finished…) we are getting closer and closer to the launch of the first demo version.

Exciting.

Router Configurations

In our previous office I used DSL connection and could have 2 computers using the same net through a simple DSL modem. Secret Game Project – Edoiki – worked fine without problems.

After relocating the office I needed to purchase a new router and couldn’t get Edoiki connection to work. I have never installed a router, and knew nothing about configurating them. Luckily it’s better to hire people that are smarter than you and one friend of mine kindly adviced me to get the router to redirect calls to computers.

The router configuration screen explains it:

Virtual servers can be used for setting up public services on your LAN. A virtual server is defined as a service port, and all requests from Internet to this service port will be redirected to the computer specified by the server IP. Any PC that was used for a virtual server must have a static or reserved IP address because its IP address may change when using the DHCP function.

I configured the router to redirect calls to my computer, and now the network code in Edoiki is working fine again. Problem solved. (Edit: And naturally you need to take care of the system security: use firewall or redirect only certain port calls that are needed. Thanks Matt for giving this reminder.)

Pre-Orders

We are progressed enough to get our game project Edoiki for you players to test. I haven’t experimented with pre-ordering before, and for this game I’m going to try it.

Other developers recommend some tactics for pre-orders:
– discounts
– status or special ranks.

If you have good suggestions (besides optimizing the website), feel free to share them. It will help me and others in similar situation.

I haven’t decided the price for Edoiki, but we will propably either start with $19.99 or $29.99. Pre-ordering costs the same. I will add screenshots, concept art, game rules, descriptions in the edoiki.com as the pre-ordering begins.

The status/rank I shall use, very much actually. There is a 3D hand in the game. As players get more wins, their rank will get better and they will get new rings or marks in the hand. I thought about having a small wound for each loss… then you could determine how much a person has played by simply looking at his virtual hand in game. Now, those who pre-order will get a special rank. I haven’t decided it yet, but they could get a special tattoo in their hand, or a special jewelry (or bracelet) that would be available only for those who pre-order the game.

I will make an official press release using the indiegamebusiness.com press release service when the pre-ordering begins.

As mentioned already – this is the first time I’m using pre-orders, so I have no first hand experience about this. This means that I have pretty much nothing to lose. After the pre-ordering period is over, I will have either more experience or experience and money. It’s a win-win situation for us.

I keep you informed on how the experiment goes.

Don’t Blame The Dogs

Some time ago our two dogs decided that I spend too much time online. The newcomer chewed the network cable. I was hopelessly offline.

First I was bit angry, but managed to think who was to blame here: was it the dogs or me. My initial thought was to blame dogs, as it was the smaller one that chewed the cable. Then I thought that maybe the dogs thought had found a new toy. They have never seen a network cable before, how could they know it wasn’t meant to be eaten. I also thought that it wouldn’t have required much from me to plug off the cable when dogs were left alone.

It was me to blame. I hadn’t taught the dogs. Dogs had a reason to chew the cable – they wanted to play. I didn’t plug off the cable.

How this philosophy works in games production?
I hadn’t heard from our artist for a several days, even when I had emailed him and given game specific instructions. I was bit surprised, but I decided to give him time. I know he is a busy man (terribly busy man) so he simply might not have had enough time to deal with my post. After few days I was about to ask him… an email had arrived to my mailbox. He apologized… and said that he had wondered why I hadn’t contacted him after his latest post, but realized that the post was still saved in his drafts. He thought he had emailed me, but the email was not sent. Simple human error caused us both to wonder what’s happening.

The lesson behind these stories are that you shouldn’t blame others – they might have reason for their behavior. Instead of blaming others, ask yourself how you could take responsibility and contribute to solving the issue.

Don’t blame the dogs.

How to Name Your Game

Finding a proper name for your game be tricky. Here’s the process we went through in naming the game.

#1 – Brainstorm: First step in finding a proper name is to get all possible ideas on paper
When we started looking for the name for Secret projet – Edoiki – I used couple of japanese books (as the game’s theme is japanese/chinese) and tried to look for phrases and names that could be useful. I got some names on paper. None of them were used in the end, but still that doesn’t mean that books couldn’t be a good source for finding the name for your game.

The next step was to find some kanji symbols and japanese names Japan Guide proved to be quite useful resource. I managed to get some hints from there for later usage. About.com’s 50 popular kanji symbols were also good help.

Next I asked some suggestions from our artist, who (amazingly) happened to have friend in Japan who he can “pester” with some questions.

#2 – Mixing ideas
Next we started mixing different ideas… like ‘ai’, ‘iki’, ‘edo’, ‘senshi’, ‘do’ that were suggested.

#3 – Availability: Check whether the domain name for your game is available.
After we found a name, we had to try whether it was available to register. Register.com offers an easy way to check out domain names. My initial suggestion ‘Senshido’ – senshido.com was taken, but senshido.net was available. I’d prefer to have .com domain name, but decided to proceed.

#4 – Are there other games with that name?
Use google to compare whether there are games with that name. Senshido game did receive some sites, but fast checking didn’t reveal other games named as Senshido.

#5 – Ask others and either go back or decide the name
I started asking people how they felt about the name. Senshido (which I liked) got poor or average results from the people I asked. Also the problem with pronounciation (which might hurt word-of-mouth) and bit difficult name to remember (when you need to google for the game) were also bit problematic.

Even though I liked the name, others didn’t like it that much and as there were small problems: word-of-mouth, difficult to remember and the fact that senshido.com was taken all resulted in declining this name.

We stepped back to phase #2 and started mixing ideas, checking google (“Edoiki game” in google resulted in no matches), asking others (who rated the name as “good”, better than Senshido anyway) and finally decided to get that name.

I spent several hours in getting the name and I must say that without the help of others, it would have been even longer process. Now secret game project has a name: Edoiki (and a website: Edoiki.com).