Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

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Blarumyrran
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Blarumyrran » April 11th, 2010, 4:59 pm

Spell wrote:You need usable graphics from the beginning. They don't need to be really great but atleast shouldn't look like crap.
Yes, the placheolders may be crap - so the artists can get the context where the later, uncrappy images will be used. Have you even looked at the screenshots of ancient Wesnoth versions?
Spell wrote:Edit: Damn censorship.
Golly, there's no respect for freedom of speech these days :/
thespaceinvader wrote:But you don't get the kind of cohesive look that we're developing for BfW.
Wesnoth's graphics second largest problem after the UI panels is imo the incohesiveness of all the art - portraits are in style A, attack icons in style B, sprites in style C, terrains/scenery in style D (and that group's not completely cohesive within itself either) - and I'm pretty sure that problem will never be repaired, because of the amount of content in each group already. And there is no cohesion between story arts at all, since each campaign uses its own - and little consistency between the portraits of different campaigns. There's no simple solution - other than hiring actual full-time artists.

The most jarring of these inconsistencies is the one between sprites and terrains. Fully pixelarty games can have that neat contrast between the colours of terrains and units, we can't. It really means a lot. I'm quite guilty myself too - my villages are a lot less pixelarty than those of Pekka.

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Spell
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Spell » April 11th, 2010, 6:16 pm

Blarumyrran wrote:
Spell wrote:You need usable graphics from the beginning. They don't need to be really great but atleast shouldn't look like crap.
Yes, the placheolders may be crap - so the artists can get the context where the later, uncrappy images will be used. Have you even looked at the screenshots of ancient Wesnoth versions?
Yes, I have. But first wesnoth had some special development since back then there weren't many (graphical) opensource games and thus wesnoth where something special. Plus the graphics weren't that bad, atleast the units had shadows, the landscape had smooth borders etc. Here are some examples what I mean when I am talking about sh1tty horrible graphics:
http://www.happypenguin.org/images/trichromic.jpg
http://www.happypenguin.org/images/cfpl ... aceset.png
http://www.happypenguin.org/images/screenshot-full.jpg
http://www.happypenguin.org/images/screen04.png
http://www.happypenguin.org/images/faangband.jpg

Blarumyrran
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Blarumyrran » April 11th, 2010, 6:23 pm

Spell wrote:Plus the graphics weren't that bad, atleast the units had shadows, the landscape had smooth borders etc.
Hm? http://www.wesnoth.org/images/sshots/ancient-01.png

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Spell » April 11th, 2010, 6:34 pm

Don't play dumb. The very old screenshots have. And the ancient screenshots are most likely versions which nobody execpt the main developers have ever played.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Blarumyrran » April 11th, 2010, 6:36 pm

What is your point, then.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Spell » April 11th, 2010, 6:38 pm

That you shouldn't release an version of an game before you have made some decent graphics otherwise it will scare all the peoples away.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Blarumyrran » April 11th, 2010, 6:53 pm

What exactly does "release" mean for foss projects? You would probably have a lot of it up on the internet, and alpha releases, just to ease development even before art & other content breach some threshold of okayness, I think.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Unnheulu » April 11th, 2010, 7:03 pm

Besides, I know myself, and probably a lot of other coders would rather code than draw art for a game.
If you have rubbish placeholders, you can put in more time to the code, instead of worrying about art.

http://www.jonespenarth.me.uk/~ieuan/Sc ... olia-6.png <-- Is an example of what I mean, other than the stuff by my brother, all the art was done in maybe, 1-2minutes. Why? Because I want to code instead.
Last edited by Unnheulu on April 14th, 2010, 3:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by artisticdude » April 11th, 2010, 9:04 pm

It's a difficult question, really. I mean, I'd lose sight of my destination and just abandon the entire project if I coded everything first and got good graphics later. Good graphics drive me to create stuff in which to use them.
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Jetrel » April 14th, 2010, 6:04 am

Spell wrote:That you shouldn't release an version of an game before you have made some decent graphics otherwise it will scare all the peoples away.
In theory, yes.
In practice, it doesn't work that way.

Wesnoth got graphics because even without good ones, the game was fun. If he hadn't released with bad graphics, he never would have found francisco muñoz, who made all those improvements you saw by the time of the "old graphics" section. He had to release with placeholders to get that.
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Sgt. Groovy » April 14th, 2010, 6:46 pm

I would even say that one should make the initial release with placeholder graphics even if better graphics already existed. If it manages to convince people that the concept is good and worth contributing to, it must mean that it really is. If you release it with gourgeous graphics from the start, people may be originally drawn to it because of visual appeal instead of playability. If the game is not playable enough, people will eventually realise that, they will abandon the project and it may not be recoverable. if you manage to attract enough people by playability alone to get the project off the ground, you can always get more people on board later by adding good graphics.

There is something to say about totally hideous placeholder graphics, though. It would be better to use something like restroom sign type of figures with differentiating symbols overlaid. Formalistic with instant recognition but easy to produce without artistic skill.
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Yoyobuae » April 14th, 2010, 9:56 pm

True, bad graphics can "scare some people away". The question is: Would potential contributors be among those people? I think that contributors would be the kind of people that will see the opportunity for improvement, rather than complain about the existing graphics.

Everyone has different levels of tolerance for bad graphics. So even with very bad graphics some people might still play the game. I'm guessing there might be a lower bound to this, that there could be potentially be graphics so repulsive and hurtful to the eyes that all potential players would be quickly driven away. But I guess that even the worst art skills can produce something at least tolerable.

I believe that games are fun because of the characteristics inherent to their rules/gameplay. It's somewhat of an artform, "fun" is very subjective. So the only real way to make a fun game is just making it and then playing it. Preferable get the "expert" oppinion of another player. And work from there.

A "fun" game need not depend on good graphics/fancy interface/etc. What it does need is to be played by many people very early in development stages. That's the only way to really test it's "fun" factor. Only then the game should progress in the graphics/interface/etc departments until it feels "complete".

I'm sure everyone has experience games which have good graphics/etc but provide little to no fun. That's one thing I fear and dislike about there being so much emphasis on graphics/technology/etc, frequently "fun" is left out. This is specially true since graphics/sounds/music provide better marketting tools than fun factor.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Dave » April 14th, 2010, 10:22 pm

Spell: I don't think you have a very strong idea of how Wesnoth or most Open Source projects work.

When Wesnoth was started, I was the only developer, and I am not an artist, so there was no way to get decent art. I released Wesnoth 0.1, in the hope that some artists might like the concept and contribute to it. Fortunately it worked out.

Did I expect an end user with no interest in development to download it, try it, and get scared off by the art? No, I wouldn't expect someone to download a 0.1 version game unless they have a special interest in game development.

That is the way to do it: if it's still a work in progress, say so. If you have a good game concept, but no good art yet, it's fine to release a version as long as this is stated.

David
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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Spell » April 16th, 2010, 5:55 pm

I dunno really how far my idea goes away from how it really works but here is my view point how FOSS works:

1. You start with a small team (maybe even an 1-person-team) of developers and start developing the base for everything, in the case of an game the most of the engine and give it some fun factor by adding a little content.
2. You make some first prepacked version and annouce it somewhere where people can find it. (forums, mailinglists whatever)
3. You get feedback, and fiddle around a bit with the main stuff of the game, fix bugs etc. If the game you are working on you may even get some people who make some graphics or stuff, or even some additional main developers which frequently put some effort into the project.
4. You add some new content to the game and release it as an new version.
5. See 3.
6. See 4.
7. See 3.
8. See 4.
...
etc.

But the important point which I wanted to show is that it isn't working that flawless (anymore). To have success you have to attract the people and without some decent graphics this will be really really hard. Btw. I think the story about Wesnoth's graphics were more big luck than anything else. You shouldn't expect that every good idea has this chance. But...

More people = Even more people after some months = Bigger chance that someone finds it worthy to work on it.

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Re: Attracting and keeping artists on an OSS game project

Post by Eleazar » April 21st, 2010, 9:27 am

Jetrel wrote:
Spell wrote:That you shouldn't release an version of an game before you have made some decent graphics otherwise it will scare all the peoples away.
In theory, yes.
In practice, it doesn't work that way.
For me it worked exactly the opposite. I contributed precisely because some of the art was so bad, that i knew i could do something 10x better with little effort. At that point i had no idea what open source, or the GPL was. But Wesnoth was fun, so i made a little effort to fix something that detracted from the game, and eventually did quite a bit more.

Of course at that point there were some pretty decent graphics, along with placeholder junk. The lesson to learn here is don't be afraid to release ugly placeholders especially when other bits of art are of higher quality. It's much easier for an artists to contribute in such a situation where there's:
  • * some context for how art should look,
    * it's obvious what needs to be improved
    * some evidence that quality is recognized, and
    * no sense that if the games going to look decent the artist will have to do it all himself.
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