To help inspire submissions for the GDC 2012 call for papers, the event's advisory board members for the Visual Arts track spoke out on the challenges facing modern artists, and outlined what they hope to see at the upcoming March 2012 San Francisco-based event.
Seasoned industry professionals Jeff Hanna from Volition (Saints Row: The Third) and Steve Reid from Red Storm Entertainment (Ghost Recon: Future Soldier) discussed the most significant accomplishments, challenges, and trends facing game artists as part of their drive to encourage submission ideas for the GDC 2012 Main Conference.
As GDC advisory board members, these industry veterans oversee the show's Visual Arts track and ensure that each of its sessions remain relevant and hold up the high bar of quality that GDC attendees have come to expect.
The call for papers for GDC 2012 will close on September 6, with a list of Visual Arts-specific topics available on the official website. In the following interview, the advisory board members discuss key issues they'd like to see addressed at next March's show.
As tech continues to advance, what sort of new opportunities will arise for artists? And what complications?
Jeff Hanna: For every year that passes, artists have more and more opportunities to fully express their creative vision. As processor speeds increase, RAM expands, and graphics SDKs expose new features, a game artist's toolbox grows extraordinarily large. My hope is that none of these new technologies ever unduly complicate an artist's life. As long as tools programmers, graphics programmers, and technical artists strive to create artist-centric tools to encapsulate these new avenues of expression, artists can concentrate on what they do best: creating great art.
Steve Reid: Technology helps make technically savvy artists better, but it also risks alienating the traditional artists. Technology can help talented people become great craftsman, while not actually transforming them into great artists. As we have games now of all styles and genres, I still believe that technology can help, but it is more often a band-aid than a cure. I think the greatest project impact still comes from good artistic direction, planning, and prototyping, while the greatest personal impact comes from a traditional education with a thorough understanding of foundational skills and visual narrative.
In terms of visuals, what needs to be done to help developers get out of the uncanny valley?
Jeff Hanna: To get out of the uncanny valley, the first thing you need to determine is which way you want to go. Striving for fully photorealistic 100 percent human-appearing characters in many cases will not be the right art direction choice. In fact, backing out of the valley will often yield better results than pressing forward. I feel that we already posses the capability to make engaging characters that can seamlessly exist within a given art style. As with all game art direction, the design of the characters will be a balancing act between what is possible and the overall visual look of the game.