Sunday, May 18, 2008

No excuses! Back to it!

Wow...alright. *whew*

Not sure if anyone even reads this crappy excuse for a blog anymore (or even if they did in the first place)....But hey. I'm going to start again.

My name is Kelly....and I am an artist and 2D animator for the BEST casual games company in Vancouver called Fit Brains. You should go and take a look. =3
Coming from a classical animation background, I've found the world of gaming to be...well, the road to paradise isn't often paved. =P As my creative director once said: " In gaming, we work hard, and we play hard."
Now, keep in mind that casual gaming (making them, at least) is hardly a career choice filled with the same perks that Triple-A gaming does. (For those of you new to this, a 'AAA' game is one with a massive budget, and anywhere from a 1+ year timeline...think any EA game, for example.) But seeing the comparison in the two iconic industries of gaming and animation, I was honestly shocked. I always thought them to be pretty much the same, and believe me, while gaming certainly does have it's pitfalls, it's...well, dare I say better than animation.
By no means am I ever giving up animation! God no! I love the art form, and while I'm hardly very good at it, I'm passionate about it, and that's gotta count for something. But, while I was working in animation (I won't mention what studios); while it was a fantastic experience both times, it was always the people you worked with who made it. The animation industry itself shows no love for it's subjects; I worked with many talented animators who were raising or just starting to raise young families. Now, that I'm in gaming, where I definitely work hard, I feel I'm treated so much better in the long run than I was in animation. Animation is SO UNSTABLE; I can't imagine having a kid and a husband and just jumping from contract to contract...
I guess, as a whole, you have to know what you're getting into. Anyone will tell you that the entertainment industry, whatever branch you may take (film/tv, gaming, animation, music, etc.) is the life to live if you're single, or at least have very few committments. But even if you do have more dependancies, if you play you're cards right, and don't burn your bridges, you should be okay.
I feel there's so much more that I can say, or, at least, somewhat educated opinions....but I've only been a industry girl for the past year and a bit, so take what I've said with a grain of salt. =)

An important thing that's been coming up over and over again is art within video games. Personally, that's what I live for: rich storylines; a veritable tapestry of love, heroism, tragedy, and perserverance accompanied with characters that all have their own story to tell...their own quirks, talents, likes and dislikes. To me, THAT'S a game I'd want to play, and THAT'S the quality of game I would one day like to contribute to. But is what you connect with on the screen.
We live in a time where technology is only getting better. We can do amazing things with computers; effects, shots, anything you can imagine, it can almost definitely be made to reality. Same with animation.
In my opinion, animation within gaming has the ability to take that leap! Now, I'm not a 3D animator. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I'm probably the WORST 3D animator on Earth. But I wish that game studios and creative directors would stop hiring people who taught themselves Maya in their mother's basement, and get some REAL animators on board. Take Pixar, for example - they won't even so much as glance at your portfolio unless you've got a solid 2D/classsical foundation. I realize there's only so much you can do, and the difference between interactive media (gaming) and non-interactive (animation, art films, tv media) is quite large. Little animated flourishes that end up looking great in storytelling, but only try the players' patience in gaming, are not always possible. I get that. But there is a happy medium...we only need to find it.
One of the best examples I can think of is Odin Sphere for the PS2. Odin Sphere, developed by Vanillaware (also responsible for GrimGrimoire) and published by Atlus, is a 2D game with entirely hand-drawn art and animation. Watching it play, I couldn't even tell what they used to animate. I'll assume Maya, was like Flash, but was so much more beautiful. It's a game I recommend not only for it's thrilling storyline and fantastic art and animation, but because it shows what greatness can be achieved when art takes the forefront - there are no guns, no explosions, no nothing like's a beautiful and tragic tale of five characters fighting for what they believe is right.
Now, that leads me into my next point: while games like this are truly art, does it pay the bills for the developers and publishers?
Sadly, for the most part, no.
Next case: Okami for the PS2. Developed by Clover Studios (also having done all Viewtiful Joe games, along with God Hand), Okami was what is best called a 'sleeper hit.' Certain people loved it, and despite winning awards hand over fist, and getting rave reviews from major sites and game journalists, Okami suffered lack-luster sales. Why? Who knows? Some people think that it was marketed poorly. Other people think that the average moranic American kid with a bb-gun wouldn't be interested in playing the reincarnation of the Japanese sun goddess in wolf form. I remember watching in excitment as Okami was announced a re-release on the Nintenod Wii. "Finally," I thought. "Maybe with Nintendo's label slapped on it, Okami will finally get the recognition it deserves."
...It didn't go as well as I had hoped.
First off, in this 'comedy of errors' as Joystiq called it, the grand re-release of Okami was marred on the goddman front cover! Yes, oh yes - if you look by Amaterasu's mouth, you'll see a big, fat, ugly, corporate 'IGN' watermark. I kid you not. Take a look for yourself.
Then, if that was a slap to the face to the now-disbanded Clover Studios, then this was the kick to the junk: the staff of CS, all those hardworking artists, programmers, name it...all of them, who gave us their blood, sweat and tears in the form of one of the greatest games you will ever behold, got their credits taken out of the Wii version. Yeah, way to go, Crapcom! Their excuse was "Oh, well, the end credits was all one big pre-rendered movie, and it had the Clover Studios logo in it, and, uh, we didn't have the rights to use it, so, we just like, took it all out." My jaw literally hit the floor when I was reading this - imagine something you worked on for...god, three years? More? Had your name taken off and showcased as someone else's work? You'd be pissed, right? Because IT'S A GODDAMN INJUSTICE, that's why!!, what a tyrade. I guess, in closing, don't give up, artists. I know it's hard to make a living in a world where how much revenue it generates is more important that creativity or health, but keep at it.
We'll change their mind eventually. =)

Peace out, yo~

Next week: I stop sucking, and acutally start updating! I will most likely talk about my love-affair with WoW. =3