For my first article here, I would like to thank my friend Javier Benitez for giving me the chance to be in the Game Art Blog.
My name is Oguzhan Kar, and I'm the creative director at Leartes Studio. In this post, I'd like to take you through my creative direction experience during our Latest Unreal Engine asset pack project with Leartes, our 1950`s New York City Environment Megapack.
How can you manage a team composed of both full-time in-house and Remote artists at the same time? How can you keep the quality standards consistent while working with Artists from Different Countries? How can you answer the community needs with one Product?
Let's start answering those questions.
What made me start my Marketplace Journey?
Frankly speaking, this was not much of a planned career switch.
Around 5 years ago, while working as a freelance environment artist, I was getting game environment projects that used premade models from various marketplaces.
While creating modular buildings using these packs, many of the advertised as "modular" buildings could only be used in one scenario. This led to huge differences and quality sacrifices when comparing your creations with the intended use of the packs.
It was also very challenging to find useful packs in the market that could fulfill the needs of most game or virtual projects.
Those insufficiencies made me think about the open spot for more functional packs with modular buildings and high-quality environment assets suitable for different scenarios.
With those thoughts in mind and my previous knowledge, we started planning, creating, and publishing packs in the Unreal Marketplace. With every pack, we try our best to give developers the chance to work with more functional and customizable packs.
As much as this is a business, I'm also taking a personal challenge to achieve more user-friendly products for our customers.
Back to the matter at hand, after many requests for a 1950s USA /Mafia and Godfather-themed pack, we decided to go with this idea in mind for our product.
This has been the biggest project and challenge I've had to deal with so far as a creative director and environment artist.
For this project, we have worked with many part-time remote artists for our props and some of the modular buildings.
At first, we thought that working with artists with a great portfolio would ensure a great experience and quality. The truth is that working with remote artists is hard, especially when it comes to maintaining a high-quality standard for all our content.
Using tools like Trello, Notion, and version control software helped us organize the team. However, we had to use them in a way we weren't used to. Going into detail for every organizational bit helped us remove miscommunications from our processes.
This leads me to this section's piece of advice. Always organize your work in a very well thought and informed manner. If you are unsure how to do this, seek for a second opinion and use software like Jira or Trello to achieve this goal.
Creating technical briefs for each separate piece of work was vital too to help artists develop their work in a much more worry-free way, reducing the amount of feedback we had to give them drastically.
Integrate In-House / Remote Teams and Let Them Work Together.
Each Artist has a strong and weak point.
As a Director / Manager, the challenge for you is to ensure they work together without any desynchronization. In our experience, assigning at least one lead and assistant lead artist for every group of artists helps solve this issue.
Our leads are mostly in-house artists who can dedicate more time to the project and are more responsive than remote, as you are working with them in the same studio.
Including concept artists in the team is also essential to create visually stunning Environments. We make sure concept artists give feedback, too, for better results. This allows us to get concept art-like visuals in real-time environments.
Challenges / Issues we have dealt with.
Looking back at the times we worked on this project, our bigger challenge was assuring modular buildings worked. These assets tend to be very tricky, especially when trying to make them functional.
Fitting them all to a 10 or 50 centimeter grid translates to a big workload and requires a lot of dedication from the team. This made me think working with remote artists wasn't a great idea for our modular buildings, even if their visual quality was good.
Doing this in the past led us to have to update them all as they weren't connecting properly, had too many draw calls, etc. Fortunately, we could deal with fixing these internally.
Learning from this, I think we should improve the briefs and grey boxes we provide them with to get better results in the future.
It is also extremely important to spread the work to artists that have a passion for that particular task. You don't want to give an environment to a character artist if they are not interested in the process, for example.
If creating your own environments or even managing a team to do so is your desire, I hope these experiences will benefit you.
It is key to upgrade your workflow with new and more innovative methods, but you have to be brave about it. Try to be as organized as possible, and plan ahead before committing to any project.
It is important to leave some room at the end of the project to fix any unexpected issues. It makes the difference between a good pack and a half done job.
Thank you for reading my article!
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