GDC 2012: Art Director / Lead Artist Roundtable
3-Day Summary | March 7-9, 2012
Problem Topic: Scope Creep
- Weekly Reviews.
- Milestone Bucket.
- Prioritized Backlog.
The next question posed: What is the greatest contributor on your projects to scope creep?
- Increasing Complexity.
- Shifting Priorities.
- Story Development.
- Competing Art Direction.
- Creative Director.
The next question posed: What strategies have your studios employed to address scope creep?
- “Baby Kills.”
- Broad vs. Specific.
- Strike teams/Scrum/P.O.
- Find Allies.
- Pick Your Battles. Priorities.
- Change Date.
- Communicating Consistent Vision.
- Overscope Early.
- Broadcast for Ideas & Actively Cull.
- Know Team Strengths.
The next question posed: Is scope /feature creep always a bad thing?
- Feature Creep Can Be Good.
- Art Leads Manage Process for Change.
- Tools Impact Viability.
Problem Topic: Creating Effective Art Critique
- Artist-driven vs. Director-driven.
- Peer critique first.
- Animation – block out, checkpoints, asset viewer, game approval.
- Get it in Game.
- Group Meetings > Emails.
- Space Planning for Interaction.
- Let it sit; Use time.
- Remote Development -> Skype, Vid Conf ; Face-to-face > email.
- No Meeting days; Preserve time.
- Impacted by Team Seniority.
- Time for playing the game
Peer Critique: The next topic that was discussed was how peer critique was leveraged in different studios.
- 360 Feedback.
- Adaptable / Flexible.
- Safe but hierarchy for decisions.
- Start with technical checklist and then teach aesthetics.
- Break the production pace.
- Too rigid a schedule for reviews.
- Show WIP.
- Allow for iteration time.
- Different structures
- Different teams critique.
The last component of the critique discussion focused on: Taking Non-artist Feedback.
- Reframing / Understanding Comments.
- “Lunch & Learn.”
- Encourage whole team to participate.
- Providing context.
- Teaching visions and values.
- Clarity of Design.
The struggle between leadership and delegation.
- Student projects – lack of authority
- Programmer / Tools feedback – usability from staff and priorities from leads
- What type of leadership training is offered.
o targeted mentorship
o one-on-one interactions.
- Structure of leadership training, identifying the right people.
o best artists frequently do NOT make the best leaders.
o “theater analogy” director != artist
- The first quality voiced was sociability.
- Consistency over time.
- Response to critique
- Willing to let go of content creation
- Can share the vision
- Caretakers for the careers of others
- Maintain credibility with their team:
o Regular interaction with the team
o Focus on the culture
- Sharing the vision while adhering to the stylistic goal?
o "Stubborn in vision, and flexible in details.”
o Clearly establish the guiding principles
o The right team to accomplish the goal
o “Letting Go.”
- Can learn from past mistakes,.
o solicit input/feedback from the team
- Break the routine
o events over lunch
o after hours sessions
Career Development for Art Teams:
- Art Lead - reliance for input
- career development regularly (from content to leadership).
- Path to Senior Artist?
o always respond with “Why?”
o talk about why they want to be a senior artist
- Principal Artist.
o Most difficult problems
o Sets the standards, in both process and quality
o Frontline of problem identification and risk mitigation.
- Senior Artist
o Expanding influence
- Lead Artist
o Management and Organizational Ability
o Communication Ability
- Focus on those who ask for responsibility (not title)
What do you do when an employee asks for more money?
- Send them to HR.
- Discuss experience and level of contribution
- Kick-off a conversation around opportunities
- Number of projects shipped” as a contributing factor?
- Entry level (associate position), little relevant experience.
- Impact the individual has on the team
What was most important attribute in the next employer:
- Values of the studio
- Work / Life Balance
- Defining Individual Growth beyond work
- Size of company
- Opportunity to build the art culture
- Presence of Veterans (implied stability and satisfaction)
- Opportunities to network, learn from others
- Life drawing, Sketchcrawl
- MONEY WAS NOT MENTIONED