Would you like to learn more about the actual CGI trends? If “yes”, this blog is for you. Here you can find recent industry news, detailed articles about video game development, interviews with top minds, our corporate updates, and more.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller
Devoted Studios have always been a part of a beautiful and powerful community, and we see one of our goals in supporting the industry by bringing everyone together. Sometimes we collaborate and create some great projects together, sometimes we network to exchange opinions and experience, but also we celebrate and have fun together.
Recently we gathered together at the Devoted Speakeasy: Thanksgiving Edition to celebrate the holiday and give thanks to each other for creating the environment of support and encouragement. It was the first event after two years’ brake caused by pandemics, and this fact made the party so special for us.
We chose “Roaring 20th” as a main theme of the event in order to dive into the rebellious yet elegant atmosphere of speakeasy bars during the Prohibition. And The Obscure, unique distillery in LA became a perfect location for our setting.
Hosted by the CEO of Devoted Studios, Ninel (Gryuner) Anderson the event was visited by about 50 game industry professionals who reside in Los Angeles. That was a great joy to meet old friends, make new ones , and share this great experience together.
We are looking forward to meeting you soon at our upcoming events!
MagicCraft Character and Weapon Customization Stages
Character customization is one of the most interesting parts of the production. Here at Devoted Studios, we are very proud of our projects and the opportunities we have to support them with beautiful characters. And we would like to share some notes about the production process we made while working on MagicCraft, one of our recent projects.
Before we actually got to 3D modeling, we started with creating 2D concepts to customize characters and weapons. The customization of characters includes two main levels.
Customization Level 1
The first level of customization is focused on the basic parts like colors and patterns, this stage is the early exploration of character looks. In the example you can see our basic character design and some of the pattern variations that we have explored. So this first level will include four different color palettes and two additional patterns as well.
Customization Level 2
In the second level of customization we include the actual new armor design. This is the example for Guild Wars II: as you can see, it’s basically like different tiers and various kinds of upgradable armor. The new armor set will be based on certain topics or dedicated to a certain event. So the second level is actually a completely new armor set or a new tier that the players would desire to get.
Examples of MagicCraft Characters at an Early Stage of Production Stage
These are a little bit more in-depth examples of what we have created at the very early stage. This is basically the first level of the initial design: the color palette examples and some of the patterns. When we were creating these designs we try to emphasize some of the accent colors and keep the overall palette consistent, so the character looks cool.
We also performed some weapon customization for this project. For the weapon customization, we had a little bit more room for creativity. The examples represent the early exploration of how we can actually proceed with weapons. Here we also take two levels of customization, almost the same as for characters. The first one includes colors and decor, but also different ideas and topics.
For example, the basic version of an axe can be rusty, silver, and have some runes, or the more advanced one can have fireballs and poisoned rune packs.
These are the six basic weapons that we had in the first MVP, some of the ideas that game designers came up with.
3D CustomizationBasically what we have here are a lot of variations that can be done with the same geometry and silhouette of the character. So basically if we change the color, the patterns, and some details, we can have a lot of different variations. We can achieve different visual color ranges of the same geometry so basically the process so far is actually based on this level of character customization.If we have an archer character and we want to create some more representative armor or different design staying within the same set of character’s silhouettes, we can also create some new geometry for the character.
The left side represents level one skin and levels two and three can be achieved in the gaming process. At the same time, we can create different color variations of each set of armors, and in the end, we will have much more variations of the same character.
This is very typical for NFT games where players like to customize their favorite characters more. Geometry changes are the best way to achieve this kind of stuff while the character stays recognizable.In order for us to preserve the basic silhouette of the character, we will set the silhouette boundaries so that we can have a recognizable shape.
As you can see, the options are numerous whether we plan to work with colors, patterns, or geometry in order to enable your players to customize their characters in different ways.
Portfolio Review with Horia Dociu. Devoted SpeakEasy E11 Highlights
Have you ever tried to look at your portfolio as an Art Director and find out the way they assess it? In the last SpeakEasy episode, we prepared a bunch of portfolios by notable artists. We reviewed them with one of the most charismatic Art Directors Horia Dociu, who has worked with such studios as 343 Industries, ArenaNet, and SuckerPunch. Watch this episode in order to get some precious insights and use them when you prepare your profile for studios, and read this article to get inspired by amazing artworks from the episode.
Kekai Kotaki is a Concept Artist and Illustrator from Hawaii who has worked as a Lead Concept Artist on Guild Wars 2, and has made stops at places such as Bungie and Monolith, working on titles like Destiny and Mordor Shadow of War.
Horia: The thing with Kekai is he is a consistent artist you know exactly what you’re getting from him in the result and you know it’s gonna be brilliant. For example, the monster from his portfolio is done at a high level and it fits commercially many projects, like Fantasy Sonic style. It just shows that every time he will prepare concepts that hit the goal.
From his portfolio, we can find out that Kekai loves this kind of Dark Fantasy or sci-fi stuff – there’s this kind of visual poetry in it. I think that the portfolio shows that you don’t hire this guy if you don’t want Kekai-type stuff, something that screams badass like this. You are not going to hire him to do cute icons for the Hello Kitty game, right?
One of his artworks depicts a knight using a magic mace and throwing ghost hammers, and there’re wolfmen with axes in it. And when I see it I immediately realize that these pieces do what the art in Guild Wars 2, for example, was intended to do with a viewer, all those Paladins, and the Guardians. There’s clear communication of emotion coming from his works, they are not just drawings of people standing in armor, but they tell us about the spirit and the badassness of the characters. I mean the poses are there that help us to see the story, and we can distinguish good guys’ and bad guys’ vibes.
And what is more important, is that his concepts will give a clear understanding and inspire the whole team working on a project – the animation, lighting, effects, and even game design. At the end of the day we want players to feel that excitement, passion, energy, and so sticking to a guy like this you know it’s going to happen. It can be not a perfect production concept, but it’s a hugely inspirational piece that gives energy and information to the whole entire team.
Levi Hopkins is a Concept Artist from Seattle. Levi has over 18 years of experience in the industry in various roles: Principal Concept Artist, Art Director, Prototype Team Lead, Environment Team Lead, and 3D Artist.
Horia: Levi is another freak of nature from Arena Net, he actually started in 3D modeling and over the years he has learned all sorts of new tools and rendering engines, and now he is building these gorgeous scenes that look like stills from a movie.
He uses his 3D superpowers to create really artsy scenes, and when you look at them, you think “Oh, wow, that would look amazing in the game”. That’s the best thing in using tools and technology and mastering texture software, render software, 3D stuff, sculpting, etc. – to be able to tell these things that would give goosebumps to the viewer. When I look at his picture, I know what the sea mist smells like, and I hear its sounds. I mean, it feels like I walked into this place, I’m there. And when I look at it as an Art Director, I say that we need to get this across to the player, this just feels amazing.
And again, with these artworks, sound and lighting teams, texture artists know what they need to create.
Carlyn Lim is a character-creature concept artist for games and films. She has worked for Arena Net, EA Games, Riot Games, etc.
Horia: If you meet Carlyn in real life, she’s this sort of petite girl, kind of quiet. And then you find out she creates these badass fantastic monsters. They’re elegant, ornate, and beautiful, and all her work has this really strong identity. You’re not going to hire her to make a Sci-Fi gun unless it’s a Haunted Gun for a fantasy setting. All these creatures and monsters are just so beefy and ballsy and special. It’s not the giant scorpion monster, which already sounds cool, but it’s a kind of scorpion I’ve never seen before.
She’s got this very creative poetic lens and yet she’s making these things even though they’re not photo-realistically drawn like Levi’s stuff.
Yet there’s enough uh obvious care about the references for anatomy architecture. If you look at her Mummy Cat, you know what that dead stretch skin looks like and you’re seeing its spine through it. So there’re enough references that she’s tacking on there to take something completely dreamlike and make it a palpable believable thing.
She’s got this consistency that is fresh and cool and you want to hire her on your team if you want to create something completely different and unique.
John Powell is a Concept Artist, Lead Artist at Sucker Punch Productions.
Horia: John Powell is somebody who’s really really able to work on every different kind of thing. When the artists we mentioned earlier have a very distinguishing style and would make a perfect match with a certain kind of project, John could fit anything. He is sort of the Swiss army knife who produces stuff of high quality.
Whether this is an interior for a tent that looks like a big palace you can imagine the smells inside and the muffled sounds coming from outside with tons of historic references. Or a cinematic keyframe artwork telling you a story of characters who escape from something. Or it could be these 2D cutscenes that are inspired by traditional Japanese art and then they turn into animated illustrations. It can also be a prop for a boat, or a character concept.
He could become a precious asset to almost any team or project and become a universal warrior that deals with any kind of task.
So when you collect your portfolio, try to think, first of all, about what kind of artist you are, and what style characterizes you the most. You can create boots and have a collection of boot concepts, but with every detail polished to perfection. And it could work with some project that needs a person who is professional in boots.
And after you gather all those artworks just think about projects and studios that work in your style, require a person with your skills, and could hire you.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection offers players their own exciting journey through six games – Halo: Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST Campaign, and Halo 4. It is a military science fiction media franchise, primarily taking place in the 26th century, the franchise centers on conflicts between humanity and a variety of alien species.
We collaborated with 343 Industries and Horia Dociu as an Art Director to create five brand new armor sets for the Halo 2: Anniversary (Halo: MCC). Halo 2: Anniversary is a remastered version of Halo 2 and features extra content, high-definition resolution, and remastered audio and graphics. It was released on November 11, 2014, as part of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox one.
The armor sets we have successfully concepted and developed together have appeared in the game update released in August 2022.
Devoted Studios at External Development Summit 2022
Building a strong community is an essential goal for Devoted Studios, that is why we do our best to keep in touch with industry-main events and take every opportunity to network, share our experience and collaborate with game art leaders and trendsetters. For this reason, being a part of XDS Summit 2022 was important and honorable to us, especially because this is the annual event with a primary focus on external development. Ninel (Gryuner) Anderson, the CEO of Devoted Studios attended the Summit as the speaker for the panel “Right Person, Right Place: The Golden Age of Global Mobility”. Read further to know more about this amazing event.
What Is XDS?
For 10 years already External Development Summit has gathered professionals from over 45 countries who specialize in external game development producing art, animation, software engineering, QA, audio, and localization. This year the conference took place in Vancouver, Canada, and lasted for 4 days full of unique events, panels, and discussions. The Summit aims at building the community with a focus on sharing knowledge, B2B networking, collaboration, and industry stewardship.
It is a professional event attended by game developers, service providers, and middleware providers, as well as influencers and decision-makers in the sphere of external development. The XDS community includes more than 14K contacts worldwide and is considered one of the industry’s best events and award-winner as the Most Outstanding Virtual Event in 2021.
Devoted Studios at XDS 2022
Ninel Anderson, the CEO of Devoted Studios, who represented the company at XDS 2022, has shared that she had a nightmare the night before the conference that she was late for all of the appointments she had for the Summit. But at the end of the day, the event turned out to be very successful for Devoted Studios.
The team of Business Development Managers that arrived at the summit together with Ninel carried out more than 50 productive meetings, secured some thrilling collaborations, met old and new friends, and got a bunch of precious insights.
Right Person, Right Place: The Golden Age of Global Mobility
On Thursday, September 8th, there was a panel “Right Person, Right Place: The Golden Age of Global Mobility” with Ninel Anderson as one of the speakers. Together with Eric Nofsinger (CCO, High Voltage Software), Jeaneane Falkler (President, Technicolor Games), Marc Henry de Frahan (Director, EA Operations & Strategy, Electronic Arts), and Dan Prigg (Executive Vice President, Head of Studio, Skydance Interactive) they discussed the nowadays abilities of multinational companies.
Global Mobility has a golden moment to align more closely with top AAA talent. Now companies are capable of sharing resources all over the globe and leveraging talent for success and strategic development advantages. They can now enhance attraction for top talent, deployment of capable employees, knowledge sharing, and talent retention. The speakers discussed the current tendencies in the full-time remote schedule, exchanged their companies’ best practices, and shared their insights on this topic.
After the event, Ninel wrote on her LinkedIn account that the event was bright and insightful and thanked her colleagues for the beautiful discussion.
Unity is a cross-platform game development environment created by Unity Technologie and used to develop video games for the PC platform, consoles, mobile devices, and websites. A significant advantage of Unity is portability without performance loss. The demand for highly skilled talent in Unity development exceeds supply, this creates an impressive shortage in the market.
The Profession of Game Developer
A game developer is a person who writes the code for the game using some game engines such as Unreal, Unity, and others. There are plenty of options where you can find a job and start your career in game development.
Among the advantages: are stability, better pay, social bonuses, most likely a really cool team, and well-established work processes. At the same time, you won’t always be working on something you’re really interested in.
Indie developer is often described with their eyes signing bright while they are working on the project they love. However, it’s not always like that. Indie teams are much smaller, which means that one person can do much more work by themselves, and they probably won’t be paid as much as those working on large projects.
You can earn enough and work on a bunch of different projects, however, it’s only you who is responsible for looking for the clients, and managing your workload.
Which of these ways is better? It’s only you to decide.
Pros and Cons of the Profession
Here’re some positive aspects of working with game software:
Enjoyment of your projects;
On the other hand, there’re also some disadvantages:
Burnout – some developers even stop playing games because of the loss of interest.
Crunches happen, and they are not uncommon. And companies do not always pay for overtime.
Why Choose Unity Software
The two main conventionally free popular game engines in the industry are Unreal and Unity.
Unity is more often used in mobile development, it supports many platforms, has a large community, and uses the simpler and more accessible C# language. Unreal is probably more high-budget AAA games, built-in free visual scripting, and cool tools, but less friendly C++ language.
Unity has great potential for job hunting and freelancing opportunities and is becoming even more used primarily because of the huge popularity of mobile games. Some of the most popular games built on Unity are Pokemon GO, HearthStone, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Albion Online, and others.
It’s a great time to become a Unity game developer because the industry is booming. A lot of companies that weren’t involved in games before are starting to develop their own game projects, hence the increased interest in developers and hiring unity game development companies. Speaking specifically about Unity, it is a great opportunity for aspiring Unity developers to get their first job more quickly.
What Do Unity Developers Do?
Examples of duties a Unity developer might have:
Achieving high-quality project graphics for next-generation consoles and PCs;
Working with shaders, optimizing code, offering solutions, and implementing them;
Creating toolsets for 3D artists and game designers;
Leading game development from scratch on Unity for iOS and Android;
Building project architecture, thinking through approaches to implement game mechanics and features;
Maintaining and improving processes within the team;
Leading the development team;
Setting and overseeing tasks, estimating the scope of work, planning, prioritizing, and decomposing tasks;
Conducting code reviews, mentoring, and training other team members;
Solving complex technical problems independently;
Optimizing games (RAM, build size);
Participating in application updates.
General requirements from Unity game development company may include:
Game logic programming
Creating optimal Low Poly model topology
Knowledge of Unity API
Game development for various platforms
Working with High Poly models
Creating a Character Skeleton
Designing and maintaining design document
3D Modeling and Animation in Blender
Texture Map Development
Importing Models and Animations into Unity
Getting Started in Game Development
When they talk about a low threshold of entry into game-making, it’s largely a marketing ploy. Yes, you can quickly learn how to do visual scripting in Unreal, and simple things in Unity, but it is not where the real work begins. In order to get your start in Unity game development, it’s best to learn C#.
Other than that, you have to make sure you have a technical mindset – if you prefer to draw characters or make them up, then most likely the development profession is not for you. However, I never give up on anyone: I believe that strong motivation and desire will bear fruit. After all, I went all the way from a 3D artist to a Unity developer myself.
I recommend watching any video tutorial on the subject at the start, trying to get into the process, and writing code for hours – see if you enjoy spending so much time going over the details of game mechanics implementation. And whether it works. If the answer is yes, then go to gamedev.
To make a game you need a good idea and a very good game development team. Once you have created a clear vision of your project, the next step is always to find a team of programmers to bring it to life. Finding the best game developers who are really passionate about video games is no easy task.
Choosing Game Technology
Game development teams consist of various professionals with competencies in programming, 3D modeling, sound, animation, UI / UX, and visual art. The size of the team obviously depends on the complexity of the game to be created. The Ninja Theory development team that created the famous game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice consisted of 20 to 25 people. But if you’re planning a big project, you will definitely need at least 5 times more.
Finding a dedicated game development team can be difficult. However, there are several ways to find and hire talented game developers:
Game developer communities – TIGSource, IndieDB, and Develteam can be a starting point for finding game programmers;
Freelance networks such as UpWork;
Recruiting agencies that have their own database of programmers and specialize in recruiting IT staff;
Outsourcing companies with well-managed teams;
Networking at conferences;
Social media, Discord communities.
If you want to save money, you may try to pick professionals on freelance platforms or from social media channels, however, no one could guarantee you the quality and keeping the deadlines. Recruiting staff from the agency database is a more reliable option. At the same time, you will have to review every candidate separately, and build the whole team out of them.
If you want to make part of the work done by the well-vetted and perfectly-managed team of professionals in line with your budgets and deadlines, just contact Devoted Studios. We have Unreal game development teams for hire that you can be confident in.
Requirements for Unreal Engine Developer
Unreal Engine developer is in charge of setting up the visual parameters of the game, testing it, looking for bugs, and working on improving functionality for the user. In other words, the programmer works out sounds, animation, and interface of the future game on the popular UE engine.
The duties of the developer include full work with Unreal Engine, he makes games with ready-made models and textures, as well as developing new models from scratch.
A senior specialist often holds the position of lead developer, they have a team of 5-7 people in his charge, and set the pace of work and controls the deadline for the project. In their portfolio, you will find their experience with several projects on Unreal Engine, created by them from scratch. Usually, such a specialist has at least 4 years of development experience under their belt.
Earn money while playing games. Check the list of top NFT games on the today game market.
TOP 5 TRENDING NFT GAMES
Blockchain games are those that add non-fungible tokens (NFT) and cryptocurrencies to the gameplay providing the players with the ability to earn tokens while playing and trade them in the market. Platforms that include such features are called “play to earn” (P2E) NFT games. Blockchain games range from collectible card games, pocket monsters to role-playing games. Top NFT game companies generated $2.3 billion pf trading volume in the third quarter of 2021 according to The Motley Fool. In order to find out what is so special about them lets have a closer look at Top 5 the most popular NFT games on the market.
It is the mastodon of NFT, the first game that is a decentralized project built on the Ethereum blockchain. It gives players an opportunity to adopt and breed kitties, trying to secure the right traits in them for progression and collection. Cryptocat cross-breeding has been going on since November 2017 to this day. All of the cats are unique ERC-721 tokens, validated on large NFT markets like opensea.io.
Gameplay in CryptoKitties is quite simple. One should crossbreed kitties and occasionally solve puzzles. The goal of the game is to provide the cats with the rarest characteristics. The value of a cat depends on its starting characteristics and how they adjust as it grows. Cats with rare genes or old ones are especially expensive. Moreover, once you have a collection of fluffy cats, you can send them to KittyVerse, where they can participate in battles, obtaining useful items and reputation. A starter contribution is a must because you can’t improve the kitties without having them.
A collectible card game with the ability to earn money? That already sounds more interesting, at least from a gameplay point of view. Gods Unchained is a pure pay-to-win for an average player because one can collect the strongest cards for good price on the local exchange, or buy packs of cards directly from the developer. The basic set of cards available at registration allows you to assemble an adequate build and compete. The downside of these cards is that they cannot be speculated on the exchange, but you can use them to obtain rare and unique cards.
Of course, strong cards make it much easier to win in Gods Unchained, so without the upfront investment, it can take a while to develop your deck. The price depends directly on the rarity of the card and ranges from $2.49 to $149.99.
Town Star was developed by one of the creators of the popular Farm Frenzy franchise. The gameplay of Town Star largely copies the gameplay of its progenitor, complementing the mechanics of the farm with the ability to manage their virtual assets and earn money.
The project is a part of Gala Games’ blockchain gaming platform, which aims to transform gamers’ experience by incorporating NFT into a farm algorithm that is already familiar to many gamers. Town Star is a real-time strategic city management simulation game. The player needs to make buildings, purchase equipment, hire employees, and interact with other players to develop their city and earn TOWN game currency.
All in-game assets which are buildings, equipment, and inventory are NFT tokens, each of them contributes to earnings. Every account in Town Star has its level called Gala Power. With each additional level of Gala Power, the player can add 1 additional NFT-item to their town, allowing them to earn more TOWN currency. In other words, the owner of the first level can profit with only one NFT-item, while the player with the fifth level can do the same, but with five active NFT-items.
Thetan Arena is a full-fledged MOBA where players have to assemble heroes and fight in the arena. An important difference from previous games is the possibility of a free start, so you can try out the game without investing and start saving THC, the main game currency needed to acquire characters.
The higher the rank of the character is, the more battles with rewards it can take part in. Similar to the level in Town Star, where Gala Power reflects the number of active NFT-assets, here the rank affects the number of available games with the reward. That said, the higher a character’s rank, the more THC it gets for winning battles. As you can imagine, a free character will get very little reward, but it helps to understand the basic mechanics of the game.
In addition to THC, there is a second kind of token in the game called Thetan Gem (THG). The holder of THG is entitled to participate in the development of the Thetan Arena meta-universe, as well as take part in stacking, receive dividends from the project treasury and improve their characters. To omit a misunderstanding, stacking is a type of passive income by simply storing cryptocurrencies.
Axie Infinity is a kind of controversial collectible NFT game. First of all, it looks pretty similar to CryptoKitties. The only difference is that you have to collect and interact with not only cats but various cute Axie animals. Collecting animals is tightly intertwined with the card system and turn-based battles.
Of course, all of the animals are unique, and what distinguishes them is their special set of skills that is used in battle with other players. Each pet in the game is tied to an NFT token. They can be traded on the in-game exchange and rented out to new players, because Axie Infinity requires an impressive investment for a minimally comfortable start. For example, a new player needs a team of three Axies, starting at $90 each.
As you may see from our top list, NFT games include different genres and scenarios. One can choose a game according to their taste and preferences and benefit from it while enjoying the whole process.
Game Art Behind-the-Scenes: How Art Directors Estimate Artists’ Portfolios with Horia Dociu | Devoted SpeakEasy E11
This episode is an absolute must-watch for those who are looking for a job for exciting and huge projects. You will find out what happens to your portfolio after you send it out to prospective employer— how it is estimated by the studio and Art Director.
Together with Horia Dociu and Ninel Anderson we reviewed the portfolios of some amazing artists such as Kekai Kotaki, Levi Hopkins, Carlyn Lim, John Powell, and others. Have a look behind the scenes of the candidate review process and get some precious piece of advice how to improve your own profile.
Timecodes for your quick navigation:
( 00:00 ) — Intro ( 00:28 ) — Horia’s tips for designing a portfolio
( 2:23 ) — Kekai Kotaki’s art and portfolio analysis
( 9:53 ) — Levi Hopkins and his gorgeous environments
( 13:40 ) — Carlyn Lim and her epic monsters ( 20:03 ) — John Powell — a “Swiss knife” of the CGI industry ( 23:22 ) — David Heidhoff and his universal art skills ( 24:26 ) — Concept art pieces and illustrations of Naomi Baker
( 27:29 ) — Putting your own touch to portfolio pieces ( 32:00 ) — Attention to details when designing your portfolio
Art Director’s Tips for Creature Designing. SpeakEasy E10 with Horia Dociu
How to create realistic creatures that immediately grab the attention of your players? How does the color palette build the whole atmosphere in the scene? Why is the balanced approach to the idea-generation process so important? And what approach do we call balanced?
If any of these questions seem relevant to you, we know someone who has the answers. That is why we invited Horia Dociu to our Devoted Speakeasy podcast and had an informative and inspiring conversation. Horia’s advice is priceless, as his track record includes such projects as HALO, Ghost of Tsushima, inFAMOUS, and Guild Wars 2.