Bonsai Slice: The Twists and Turns in Game Development
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 27, 2014
Illustrator Joey Ellis has published an eye-opening account of his travails in developing the iOS game, Bonsai Slice (by Playground Theory). The game is fairly simple: players attempt to slice through a variety of objects, assisted by a tree-stump dwelling robot residing in a Japanese garden. Users play the game by making slicing motions with their device, and rack up points, giving them access to a variety of swords. As simple as the game’s premise sounds, the development of the story, characters, and visuals was a labor-intensive, two-year journey. And as Ellis writes, “where you think you'll end up is never ever where you actually end up.”
Initially, the developers explored a number of game ideas. It wasn’t until the mechanics which permitted gamers to “chop wood” by making motions with their iPads were developed that the idea of a chopping game was settled upon. To test the concept, Ellis created crude GIF animations, eventually developing a quick workflow that took ideas from sketch to playable content within a couple days. While Ellis thought Abraham Lincoln might be a suitable character on whom to hang the game’s backstory, the team decided on a quirky robot, Multus, as the main character. The full backstory, game mechanics, rules, and scoring were worked out as Ellis – the art director and sole illustrator – developed the interface graphics. The team soon realized that simplicity was key, rejecting ideas such as a second robot antagonist and streamlining the game’s action.
Ellis’ recounting is a fascinating read that reveals the detail and behind-the-scenes development necessary to game development. His sketches show the thought process that went into minute details, such as the app icon, the weapons, and the library of “fun things to chop.” His development of Multus’ appearance and behavior was meticulous; he even created a “launch screen” – never intended to go into the game – to provide the developers with insight into the robot’s character.
Anyone interested in working in game development, or interested in developing their own app, should read Ellis’ post. It’s a thorough description of an arduous and lengthy, but from all appearances, very fun project. (The project did take a toll; Ellis reports that he’ll “never ever want to do wood texture illustrations ever again.”)
Below: User interface screens from various points in the game, under development. © Playground Theory, used with permission.
Paperwork: The Project Journey
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 15, 2014
The UK-based Illustrators’ Union has created a campaign to help illustrators stay on track in managing their paperwork. Called “The PaperWork Campaign,” the project tranlsates effective project management into simple steps, illustrated as a journey. The campaign breaks a project into four parts: First Contact, Agree to Proceed, Do the Work, and Project Wrap-Up. For each stage except “Do the Work” (which is self-explanatory), key questions and tasks are identified. The campaign covers often overlooked steps, such as setting copyrights and usage rights at the outset, or updating financial records and setting aside a percentage to cover taxes when the project concludes.
The PaperWork Campaign flags key steps with large, hard-to-ignore graphics. Even better, they back each step with a "Why Do This?" justification, followed by more detailed, relevant advice from seasoned professionals. The Campaign articles are liberally peppered with links to more in-depth articles on the zero2illo website, on topics such as “Marketing 101 for Illustrators” and “Managing Your Projects 101.” It’s a valuable resource for anyone structuring their project management workflow, or looking to revisit the systems they have in place.
Image © Illustrator’s Union. Used with permission.
Art Licensing: Free Teleclass and Member Discount on Webinars
Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 30, 2014
J'net Smith of All Art Licensing has announced her Summer/Fall schedule of licensing webinars and teleclasses, and is offering a mix of free and discounted events. Her “Ask J'net” free teleclasses are open to anyone, and are a live phone event in which participants can submit their questions on any aspect of art licensing. Upcoming “Ask J’net” teleclasses are scheduled for May 14 and July 16. Smith has also extended to Guild members a deep discount on her licensing webinars. Her next scheduled webinar is “Character Licensing,” taking place on May 21 from noon to 2 p.m. PDT. The discount code for this webinar can be accessed by logging into Member Central on the top right of our website, and visiting the Professional Discounts page.
The summer schedule of All Art Licensing events is:
Ask J’net Q&A free teleclass
Wednesday, May 14th, 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT
Wednesday, May 21st, 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT
Sales & Trade Show Follow Through Techniques that Close the Deal
Wednesday, June 25th, 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT
Ask J’net Q&A free teleclass
Wednesday, July 16th, 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT
Designing Product Lines that Manufacturers Want
Wednesday, July 30th, 12 noon – 2 p.m.PDT
Getting the Million Dollar Deal
Wednesday, August 13th, 12 noon – 2 p.m. PDT
Happy World Communication Design Day, and Happy Birthday Icograda!
Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 28, 2014
Break out the cake. April 27 marked both World Communication Design Day, and Icograda’s 51st birthday. The organization marked the anniversary by soliciting graphics on “What a Designer Does,” and posting them on the event’s Facebook page. The submissions – from around the globe – speak to designers’ ability to create, connect, problem solve, amuse, and envision. For long-time members, perhaps the most moving submission was by former president Robert L. Peters. He incorporated text on a black-and-white photo of Guy Schockaert, the visionary former president and long-time supporter of Icograda who passed away last year. The French text translates to “Competition stimulates, cooperation reinforces, and solidarity unites” – a fitting tribute to the organization’s goals.
Copyright Forums and Roundtables
Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 24, 2014
The Copyright Alliance notified us that the Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF), a working group within the U.S. Department of Commerce, has scheduled a number of roundtables on copyright issues. In following up on their Green Paper on copyright issues in the digital economy, the IPTF is soliciting input from artists and creators on their concerns.
On May 8, the IPTF is holding a second public meeting in Berkely, California, on online piracy. This meeting will specifically solicit feedback on problems creators face in handling online piracy as a result of the lack of standardization in the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) takedown process. The IPTF will be publicizing the agenda and webcast information for the meeting in early May.
Roundtables on a variety of copyright issues, including remixes, statutory damages, and first sale doctrine have been scheduled:
May 21: Vanderbilt University Law School, Nashville, TN
June 25: Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, MA
July 29: Los Angeles, CA (location to be determined)
July 30: Bancroft Hotel, Berkeley, CA
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